611.2b - "For as long as" effects

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611.2b. Some continuous effects generated by the resolution of a spell or ability have durations worded "for as long as . . . ." If the "for as long as" duration never starts, or it ends before the moment the effect would first be applied, the effect does nothing. It doesn't start and immediately stop again, and it doesn't last forever.


Let's say I cast and resolve Master Thief, and his triggered ability trigger targeting Squee's Toy (a metaphysical artifact). In response, one of my opponents takes control of Master Thief (with, say, Dominate). After they gain control of it, I also cast and resolve Dominate gaining control back. This is all before his triggered ability resolves.

Now, I know that the intent is that I will NOT gain control of the artifact, but the rule doesn't actually say that, nor does it provide a way for abilities to know whether or not the "as long as" clause has become false since they have been put onto the stack. At the point the ability triggered, I control master thief. At the point it resolves, I still control master thief.

In other words, effects shouldn't begin applying before they resolve, which is what's happening here.

Rules Advisor

Please autocard: [c]Shard Phoenix[/c] = Shard Phoenix.

I am pretty sure the rule was created so that you cannot steal two creatures at the same time with cards like Vedalken Shackles. Everything else is a side effect.

I think the rule is weird and dumb. The condition should be checked the moment the effect would first be applied. If it is true at that time, it should not matter what happened before.
Yes, I used to do this with Callous Oppressor a long time ago before I learned it's not supposed to work like that. The problem is that it does still work like that, it's just not supposed to.

Rules Advisor

Please autocard: [c]Shard Phoenix[/c] = Shard Phoenix.

I am pretty sure the rule was created so that you cannot steal two creatures at the same time with cards like Vedalken Shackles. Everything else is a side effect.

Pretty much, yes, with the caveat that there are no side-effects, or at least none in the situation being described here. "Side effect" implies that it wasn't intended, and not getting the artifact if Master Thief manages to do a dance around the table is definitely the intended behavior.

It looks like what's needed here is a rule noting that the duration of "for as long as" effects that track the status, characteristics, or control of the source of the ability that generated them is tracked from the time the ability is put onto the stack rather than the time the ability resolves.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

This rule was discussed a while back, and I'm not sure that it really is problem-free.
It looks like what's needed here is a rule noting that the duration of "for as long as" effects that track the status, characteristics, or control of the source of the ability that generated them is tracked from the time the ability is put onto the stack rather than the time the ability resolves.

Wouldn't that make Aquitect's Will nonfunctional? Right, I should read posts before replying to them. I still suspect there's some weirdness to be found in a rule like that, though.

Edit: Thalakos Dreamsower with vigilance is the only creature on the battlefield. It hits an opponent and is forced to target itself with its ability. Currently it's locked down forever. Under your suggestion it gets tapped, but will untap as normal (unless you choose not to untap it). I don't know which is more intuitive, honestly.

Edit 2: After reading the other thread I noticed that Dreamsower was the example used there. So I guess it is somewhat ambiguous how it even works now. So...yeah, never mind.
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So, what we're looking for is some way of distinguishing three types of "for as long as" durations:

  1. Durations that (usually) begin as part of the resolution of the relevant spell or ability (Aquitect's Will)

  2. Durations that (usually) begin as part of the cost/trigger of the relevant spell or ability (Vedalken Shackles, soulbond)

  3. Durations that begin in some other way (Thalakos Dreamsower)

The rules currently assume the second type, giving potential problems with the other two.

Maybe some sort of analogy with "Linked Abilities" would work? If the text of an ability with a "for as long as" duration includes text that would normally begin that duration, then the ability refers to the duration started by that text, not to any other, similar duration.
M:tG Rules Advisor
That was my original thinking from a while ago. Each ability references a particular enduring quality. Linking the effect with the stated duration made sense to me.

I'm also pretty keen on working it such that it checks on resolution even if that is a functional change in a bunch of cards. It just seems simpler.

3DH4LIF3

That was my original thinking from a while ago. Each ability references a particular enduring quality. Linking the effect with the stated duration made sense to me.

But that still doesn't make sense with Dreamsower. Neither the cost nor the resolution start the duration (except when it's untapped and targets itself); the "as long as" condition is just assumed to already be true when the effect starts.

For that matter, under the current rules, what happens if Dreamsower without vigilance hits an opponent, targets itself, and is untapped with the trigger on the stack? The rule has an assumption that the "normal" way a duration would start is always obvious, but here's the case where a duration ends before it starts, but then the ability itself causes it to start again.

Thinking about it further, my suggestion would be that regardless of what changes are made to this rule, Dreamsower gets erratta to add an "if Thalakos Dreamsower is tapped" clause to its trigger. It's a (small) functional change, but actually means the card, you know, makes sense. I'm a bit surprised that the card wasn't like that to begin with; I mean Serra's Blessing was in the previous set. I guess they didn't pay as much attention to such things back then.
blah blah metal lyrics
Thinking about it further, my suggestion would be that regardless of what changes are made to this rule, Dreamsower gets erratta to add an "if Thalakos Dreamsower is tapped" clause to its trigger.

If the rule was changed so that the condition is checked only when the effect is generated, Thalakos Dreamsower would not need errata. If Dreamsower is tapped at the moment the continuous effect would first be applied, the effect starts. If Dreamsower is untapped at that moment, the effect does nothing. It would not matter if Dreamsower was never tapped or if it was tapped and then untapped.
Thalakos dreamsower is a bupkiss card... All sorts of wrenches gettin thrown in.

I'm still saying that the abilities should check for a true duration on resolution. I dont see any mechanical problems, just sime functional changes to some pretty fringe cards.

3DH4LIF3

What's wrong with doing it this way:



  • The ability begins to check for it's "duration condition" as soon as the ability starts to exist.

  • At the first time that the duration condition becomes true, the effect starts.

  • As soon as the condition becomes false after that, the effect ends.



Yes, this means that you can damage a bunch of different creatures with a vigilant Thalakos Dreamsower and then use Twiddle to lock them all down. Yes, this means that a player can manipulate the gamestate in order to create a huge memory issue, but only with cards that make poor assumptions such as this one.
Your proposal seems to say that Rubinia Soulsinger can steal a creature immediately upon activating the ability, without it needing to resolve.
You bring up a good point. I was implicitly (and unknowingly) creating an imaginary "effect" that represents a state wherein the actual effect generated by the ability can apply.

So when I wrote "the effect starts," I should have said "an effect begins which will permit the ability's effect to eventually apply." By "the effect ends," I mean to end the duration of that permission effect.

That makes things sort of complex. (We'd be layering a meta-effect on top of a regular effect.) However, it gives the advantage of making the abilities well-defined, even if there are some loopholes that were not intended when the card was designed.
Considering the current card pool, it seems to me we can divide the effect into just two categories, not three:
1) Effects that put a counter and apply an effect "for as long as" that counter remains.
2) Other "for as long as effect"

Seems to me we just need an exception rule for case 1, saying the duration is checked from when the counter is placed, rather from when the ability is put onto the stack. (Along with clarifying the original rule checking duration from when the ability was put onto the stack)

As for Thalakos Dreamsower, I don't see a problem keeping it as part of case 2, having it work the same as now. a tapped TD targeting itslef will have him "locked", an untapped TD will not be "locked" because the duration never started before the ability was put onto the stack.

though it makes me wonder about interactions with Rings of Brighthearth. Say you activate Vedalken Shackles, then somehow get it tapped and untapped, then Rings resolve and put a copy. It seems a bit funny that this copy will consider the duration valid while the original will not. though I guess it's okay to have a small corner case like this, especially if the logic remains consistent.
Are you suggesting that all durations must begin when the ability is put on the stack?

Fiend of the Shadows might have a problem with that.
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Are you suggesting that all durations must begin when the ability is put on the stack?

Fiend of the Shadows might have a problem with that.


I see.
After a more thorough look for cards with "for as long as", I've found 8 kinds of durations :

(source = source of the ability;   target = the affected object, not necessarily targeted)

  1. you control source

  2. source remains tapped

  3. source remains on the battlefield

  4. target has some kind of counter on it 

  5. target is enchanted (Rootwater Matriarch)

  6. target remains exiled

  7. target remains on top of your library (Temporal Aperture)

  8. target's power remains less then or equal to source's power (old man of the sea)

It seems we can divide them into two categories: effects the refer to the source (1, 2, 3 and 8) and effects that don't. So maybe we can rule it like so:
... if the duration refers to the source of the ability, then it is checked from when the ability was put onto the stack. Otherwise, the duation is checked from just before the effect tied to it begins apply.


But I'm not sure where Rootwater Matriarch's effect stands. If it also needs to be checked from when the ability is put onto the stack, then it needs to be included in the first sentence somehow. Or, we can be specific and mention which effects make the duration start from when the ability is put onto the stack (1, 2, 3, 5 and 8)

Edit: Or we can just let Rootwater Matriarch work from when the effect is applied even if it's not supposed to. The situations where this matters are marginal and there isn't really much room for abuse. The worse that could happen is when the opponent would destroy the aura the other player would flash in another aura before the ability resolves.
Edit: Or we can just let Rootwater Matriarch work from when the effect is applied even if it's not supposed to. The situations where this matters are marginal and there isn't really much room for abuse. The worse that could happen is when the opponent would destroy the aura the other player would flash in another aura before the ability resolves.



Most of the time, you could just flash in the second aura while the spell or ability that will lead to the removal of the first is on the stack - there are exceptions (mass-removal, split-second, the first aura granting protection against the second, ...), so there are still corner cases where the break in duration is unavoidable.
M:tG Rules Advisor
Most of the time, you could just flash in the second aura while the spell or ability that will lead to the removal of the first is on the stack - there are exceptions (mass-removal, split-second, the first aura granting protection against the second, ...), so there are still corner cases where the break in duration is unavoidable.

Good point. So it's more marginal than i thought. So having Rootwater Matriarch check the duration from the effect's application isn't much of an issue.

While this sounds like it works, I am philosophically bothered by rules allowing effects to begin to apply while they are on the stack. It seems much cleaner/saner to simply add a condition to duration effects: "If Thalakos Dreamweaver has been tapped since this ability triggered, tap target creature. As long as Thalakos Dreamweaver remains tapped..."
Well, if we're gonna start with functional changes, why not go with the simplest solution and have the effects only care if the duration is true at resolution?

3DH4LIF3

While this sounds like it works, I am philosophically bothered by rules allowing effects to begin to apply while they are on the stack. It seems much cleaner/saner to simply add a condition to duration effects: "If Thalakos Dreamweaver has been tapped since this ability triggered, tap target creature. As long as Thalakos Dreamweaver remains tapped..."


Having some durations start from "after stacking" doesn't mean the effects apply during that time. Durations are not exactly effects per se. It's more of a "history check"  similar to what your proposed erreta does, except it is implied rather than explicitly stated.

 However, I like the idea of making this explicit with erreta, rather than bury it under the rules. We've also seen similar erretas for the Exodus Keeper cycle. (though, for the keeper cycle it was required to make them work while still targeting). It also allows keeping the same functionality for Rootwater Matriarch. So yeah, I think going for erreta could be a better idea (but having it the other way shouldn't be much of a probelm).

Well, if we're gonna start with functional changes, why not go with the simplest solution and have the effects only care if the duration is true at resolution?


Because the idea was that only Rootwater Matriarch would change, and only marginally, so it's more toleratable. But by making all durations check during resolution, it changes something fundemantal from how cards like Vedalken Shackles are meant to work. They're not supposed to allow the player to affect more than one object with untap tricks, which also ruins the notion of these cards as "equipable". And we're talking about lots of cards, not just cards that take control of something or that keep something tapped , but also cards that give bonuses or detriments.
I was speaking to adding language such that thalakos dreamsower would not tap a creature down if it connected via a vigilant attack.

And yes cards like vedalken shackles and Zelyon Sword get a changed functionality. Which seems a small thing for having a simpler and easily understood rule.

3DH4LIF3

I was speaking to adding language such that thalakos dreamsower would not tap a creature down if it connected via a vigilant attack.

But that's exactly how it supposed to works right now. It's not a functional change.
And yes cards like vedalken shackles and Zelyon Sword get a changed functionality. Which seems a small thing for having a simpler and easily understood rule.

I beg to differ, that's not a small thing because as I said, it ruins the notion of this cards as "equipable". In my opinion, it should either be a simple "check at resolution" like you suggest but with erreta for cards that meant to check " at stacking". Or to have a slightly more complicated rule that divides it into source-refering and non-source-refering. I'd also argue that the latter rule is also simple and easy to understand, even if it's not as simple as a one-size-fits-all rule, and it comes with a benefit of not having to change the cards' text to keep their fnctionality.


Do cards like Impulse ruin the notion that Shared Fate should force you to switch libraries? For that matter, does the current 611.2b ruin the notion that cards like Voltaic Key should actually be able to get an extra use out of tap abilities?

Vedalken Shackles is neither an Equipment nor a card with any linked abilities, and there's no compelling reason why it needs to be forced into emulating such.

(Also, the Gatherer mockup for Zelyon Sword appears to have been created on a machine that didn't have the proper title font, so its name looks weird.)
I was speaking to adding language such that thalakos dreamsower would not tap a creature down if it connected via a vigilant attack.

But that's exactly how it supposed to works right now. It's not a functional change.

Right now, if Thalakos Dreamsower has vigilance and its ability triggers, its ability will still resolve and tap the the creature.
Do cards like Impulse ruin the notion that Shared Fate should force you to switch libraries? For that matter, does the current 611.2b ruin the notion that cards like Voltaic Key should actually be able to get an extra use out of tap abilities?

Vedalken Shackles is neither an Equipment nor a card with any linked abilities, and there's no compelling reason why it needs to be forced into emulating such.

You could also mention Rings of Brighthearth breaking the notion of Vedalken Shackles.

Yes some notions are ruined by certain interaction or rules and more will probably be, but it's only because it's almost inevitable with such a complex evolving game. However, it doesn't mean we should ruin notions from the outset. Of course we shouldn't go comletely out of our way to preserve this kind of things, but in this case there are at least two simple solutions either of which preserving them. I don't think there's enough reason to choose a different solution that ruins them just because it is slightly simpler.

As a side argument I'd like to address one of your claims:
Does the current 611.2b ruin the notion that cards like Voltaic Key should actually be able to get an extra use out of tap abilities? No, no it doesn't. The notion of untapping is, well, untapping. it can be used to get an extra tap, semi-vigilance, help "reactivating" cards like Blinkmoth Urn, or for any other reason. Also, rule 611.2b doesn't prevent you from getting an extra tap from Vedalken Shackles, it just removes the effect you got from the previous tap, it can still be used for a quick switch if needed.

Edit: replaced Howling Mine with Blinkmoth Urn 
Right now, if Thalakos Dreamsower has vigilance and its ability triggers, its ability will still resolve and tap the the creature.

I was talking about not letting it untap, I'm pretty sure that's what he meant by "tap a creature down".

Edit: Reread personman's proposed erreta. yeah there's no need to have it tap only if the condition is true, it should be something like :
"... tap target creature.  If Thalakos Dreamsower has been tapped since this ability triggered, that creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step for as long as Thalakos Dreamsower remains tapped."

Edit 2: If we move the conditon to the end it reads more naturally:
"... tap target creature.  that creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step for as long as Thalakos Dreamsower remains tapped, if it has been tapped since this ability triggered."
Oh, yeah, that change was not something I was thinking about, and can obviously be avoided if desired as above. I think that in the abstract, my proposal is not a functional change, but simply a way to expose functionality through card text rather than a deeply counterintuitive rule.

Here's the three solutions with pros and cons:

A. Set the rule to check the duration during the resolution. Don't issue erretas.
pros: same result for all cards- no double meaning;
cons: changes the functionality of shackle cards; (-creating new shackle cards with the original functionality will require devising a new template.)

B. Set the rule to check the duration during the resolution. Issue erretas to preserve functionality.
pros: shackle cards preserve their functionality;
cons: printed text of old shackle cards might confuse players; the new template is longer and somewhat harder to read than the original;

C. Set the rule to check before going onto the stack for some cards (source referers), and during the resolution for the rest. Don't Issue erretas 
pros:  shackle cards preserve their functionality;
cons: double meaning - feels less consistent;
I see no reason why shackle cards would need a new template under your first scenario nor errata for older cards.

Did citadel if pain or mana cache receive errata with the removal of mana burn as the intent of those cards seems to be to create tension between tapping and using mana and keeping lands up for instant speed tricks, which is made more perilous with mana burn.

When rules change so do other things. Cards lose and gain functionality sometimes.

3DH4LIF3

I see no reason why shackle cards would need a new template under your first scenario nor errata for older cards.

I was specifically talking about creating shackle cards that will have the original functionality, meaning they'll enforce affecting one object at a time. But yeah, now that I think about it, under solution A, we can use the suggested ideas of including a "history check" conditon built in.

Did citadel if pain or mana cache receive errata with the removal of mana burn as the intent of those cards seems to be to create tension between tapping and using mana and keeping lands up for instant speed tricks, which is made more perilous with mana burn. When rules change so do other things. Cards lose and gain functionality sometimes.

In the case of mana burn they we're trying to introduce a change, they were trying to get rid of a rule they thought to be bad enough for the game that it was worth the sacrifice. In the case of "for as long as" not being clear,  we're trying to fix the rule, to make it more cohenert and consistent, not to introduce a chang from the outset. We also have solutions that can do so while preserving functionality, so there's no need to choose one that does introduce a change especially if it sacrifices an intended functionality.

If you wish to claim that a solution that include erratas should be avoided, then I find it more convicing to choose C over A. Both A and C allow the cards to keep their original text, but C barely changes anthing with how the game works, so much so that it could be considered as not changing anyhing at all*. This means that C has a huge benefit, if it were to go into effect, it would go unoticeable. Players could continue to play the game whether or not they noticed thte rules' text changed.


*(The only things that C affects are Rootwater Matriarch and Rings of Brighthearth's interaction with shackle cards. And in both cases, the change is only visible in a rare case situation. It's also possible that the rules team can come up with a better defined rule that could cover this cases)

Activate this ability once each turn seems effective at keeping shackle shenanigans at bay for future cards.

But I still dont think preserving the intended functionality is prefferable. A strict reading of a non keyword affiliated ability should be all that is needed to know how it should function. There is nothing in the wording of a "for as long as" ability that hints at the current way they work. In

3DH4LIF3

Activate this ability once each turn seems effective at keeping shackle shenanigans at bay for future cards.

It also seems hideously ugly putting that on an ability that requires tapping. Especially when the card has no inherent method of untapping itself.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Yeah... There's that too...

3DH4LIF3

Activate this ability once each turn seems effective at keeping shackle shenanigans at bay for future cards.

In case they do go with making it "during resolution", for future cards they can use something similar to one the templates suggested in this thread, even if they won't use it for errata as well:
[continuous effect]
for as long as [source] remains [condition], if it has been [condition] continuously since this ability [activated/triggered].
(note: added the word "continuosly" to prevent gaps.)

But I still dont think preserving the intended functionality is prefferable. A strict reading of a non keyword affiliated ability should be all that is needed to know how it should function. There is nothing in the wording of a "for as long as" ability that hints at the current way they work. In

Saying there's nothing that hints the current way they work is a bit wrong- If you read a shackle card as a whole, you see that the condition only starts due to paying the cost, so there is a hint there that the duration starts from when you pay the cost. And this is basically the interpretation the rules team currently maintain, I don't think they wouldn't notice if there was no way at all to interpret the text this way.

This case, where one part is interpreted based on a previous part, is somewhat similiar to the way Living Death doesn't interact with Leyline of the Void. For Living Death, the part about returning exiled cards doesn't refer to every card exiled with it, but only to the cards that the instructions told you to exile. Here, too, one could argue that it should be iterpreted differently. But the current iterpretation is still suitable.

However, this isn't to say an interpretation that doesn't include history checks can't be a valid one, and I like the way it draws a more clear line between cost and effect, But it is still arguable whether it should be prefered over the current one.

I'd like to add at this point that I've been thinking about allowing untap tricks for shackle cards. And while it does ruin their flavory charm, I'm somewhat less sure if it's really that bad, considering they'd still work well on their own. It's even interesting to think what new synergies this might bring. Nontheless, I still think such change is unneccesary and therefore the current iterpretation should be preserved.


TL;DR

  1. Future cards can be fixed with an "if" condition as suggested here.

  2. Cost for shackle cards can hint of history checks, so it's a valid interpretation.

  3. Living Death is an example where a previous part affects the meaning of later part.

  4. A change is unneccesary here so preserving should be prefered.

Yes, some cards have a cost to activate that is then mentioned in the for as long as duration. But what about the wording of Rubinia Soulsinger tells me that if she's twitched once to untap by my opponent, then twitched again by myself so she is tapped at the resolution of her ability (assume some convoluted reason why I wouldnt just use her ability again... Maybe someone flashed in linvala or something) that her ability doesnt steal me a creature?

Knowing that requires special rules knowledge.

if there was a wording for these abilities that pteserved functionality without sounding like a complete kludge (more so with errata... New cards where printed matches oracle wouldn't be a problem) I could get behind it.

3DH4LIF3

Yes, some cards have a cost to activate that is then mentioned in the for as long as duration. But what about the wording of Rubinia Soulsinger tells me that if she's twitched once to untap by my opponent, then twitched again by myself so she is tapped at the resolution of her ability (assume some convoluted reason why I wouldnt just use her ability again... Maybe someone flashed in linvala or something) that her ability doesnt steal me a creature? Knowing that requires special rules knowledge.

Even so, the current interpretation remains valid. Some players could still see the cost as a hint that the duration starts from there, which means that the question could rise under your suggested rule as well. So even then it would require knowing the rule.

One card does stand out, however- Rootwater Matriarch. Its cost has nothing to do with its duration and it doesn't even have a targeting requirement. But I thinki this is just a case where an exception conforms to the way it was ruled for the general. But it does help showing that either the rules and/or the text need to be clarified.

if there was a wording for these abilities that pteserved functionality without sounding like a complete kludge (more so with errata... New cards where printed matches oracle wouldn't be a problem) I could get behind it.

 I'm not sure if it's kludgy. Seems lean enough to have it say:
{T}: Gain control of target creature for as long as you control Rubinia and Rubinia remains tapped, if it has been continuously tapped and under your control since the ability activated.


But perhaps we can even shorten it further with "so":
{T}: Gain control of target creature for as long as you control Rubinia and Rubinia remains tapped, if it has been continuously so since the ability activated.


Finally, there's still the option of keeping a dual meaning when clarifying the rule, preserving the text and the way it works. I like having a seemingly more intuitive meaning and I like the simplicity. but does it worth introducing a change?
I had a nice response... buy my clumsy self hit cancel instead of post.

Basically checking on resolution is the least kludgy, fixes unintuitive interactions, and fits best into the way magic does stuff in other areas.

Also, merieke ri berit is another card where cost differs from duration, though a bit less disjointed than matriarch's

3DH4LIF3

It's a shame the full response got canceled.
Anyhow, you're doing a good job at summing up your points, you definitely make it sound appealing.  
And nice catch on Marieke Ri Berit.

What do you think of the "if it has been continuously so" template? It's basically the same sentence no matter how long or convulated the conditions are. And if required, a rule can be added to clarify that it refers to the duration conditions. I think the word "continuously" can be removed (and if needed the rule can clarify that) and maybe it should be more expressive by adding "but only":

1RedRedTap: Gain control of target artifact for as long as you control Aladdin, but only if it has been so since this ability activated.
Perhaps going forward. doesnt seem to fit the ideal of being able to read older cards and know what they do without having to refer to oracle wording.

But I think its a decent enough wording.

3DH4LIF3