The Returning Player Rules Primer

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Rules Primer for Returning Players

Introduction

The purpose of this thread is to give players who left Magic some time in the past and are just getting back to the game a quick rundown of any rules changes that may have occurred since the last time they played. If you're a returning player and you want to make sure you know about any relevant rules changes since you last played, check here first.

If you find a rules error, a broken link, or a missing change in this primer, please PM me so that I can fix it. Be aware that I may not respond; if it's nitpicky, I might decide to leave it out in the interests of clarity. If you have some other comment, PM me if you think it is important. Note that this primer does not list changes that were made and then later reversed or altered. Everything recorded here is part of the current rules structure. This is not intended as a comprehensive historical reference work.

Remember that if you wish to learn more about the rules of Magic in general, the main Rules Q&A FAQ thread is an excellent starting point, and the Keyword FAQ should be able to answer most of your questions about any given keyword ability. If you have questions about how a specific card works, try checking the Specific Cards and Combos FAQ.


How to Use this Primer

This Primer is organized by date and set release, from oldest to newest. Each post is dedicated to a particular set and details any rules changes that were made at the time of that set's release or since the release of the previous set. To catch up, find the set you last remember playing with or the date you last remember playing (err on the early side if you aren't sure exactly when you left the game), and read on from there. By the time you reach the end of the primer, you'll be fully caught up with the changes to the rules made since you left.

You don't have to read the entire primer; if you're just interested in one particular area of the rules or with specific types of changes, you may want to skim through the thread and only read the changes that interest you. The list of changes is sorted and color-coded to help you determine what you need to read.

Red denotes the most important changes--major alterations in the rules structure, reversals of previous rules, or things that change the way the game is played. You should familiarize yourself with these changes, because they will probably come up at some point.

Orange is for changes that, while most players won't need to know them, might be relevant when playing in tournaments; this includes both nitpicky things that tournament players might expect to know that casual players might not, as well as things like mulligans and sideboarding that are much more relevant in tournament play than casual play.

Green is for additions and expansions to the rules, such as new keywords, card types, and things that weren't previously covered under the rules.

Blue is for changes that are purely cosmetic, simple changes of terminology that don't really have any effect on how the game is played, but that you should probably be aware of, as they often cause some confusion for returning players.

Purple denotes changes that are relevant only to special play formats and casual variants such as multiplayer or Vanguard. If you're not interested in playing alternative formats you can safely ignore these changes.

Black is for essentially everything else. They're changes that you probably won't need to know for the vast majority of your games.

Small font denotes changes that you will probably never need to know to rules that you probably never knew existed anyway; it's nitpicky stuff that will usually only be relevant in those obscure corner cases rules gurus construct to give each other headaches, or perhaps if you play around with stuff like Humility more than is healthy. If you really want to dive into Magic's inner workings, you may want to check these out, but most people can just ignore these changes


The kinds of non-minor changes that happened for each release are marked by the colored boxes after each set's name and month of release in the table of contents. (Minor, small-font changes will only be marked here if they are reversals of previous rulings.)

If for some reason there is no entry for a particular set, the link for that set will go to the first update following the release of that set.


Table of Contents


Resources
  • Rules Q&A FAQ
    To the best of my knowledge, our FAQ on these forums is the most extensive and comprehensive Rules FAQ for Magic available today, and in my admittedly biased opinion, it's the best there is. With extensive coverage of a wide variety of commonly confusing topics, there's a very, very good chance that your questions are answered here. We wrote it for you. Read it.

  • Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules (TXT file; also available in DOC, RTF, and PDF formats.)
    The current edition of the comprehensive rules. If you want a complete detailing of the current rules structure, you can always find it here. Be warned: it may be confusing for those not familiar with it.

  • Oracle Card Reference (Integrated into Gatherer)
    The current official rules text for every playable card in existence. Note that this takes precedence over what is actually printed on the card.

  • Yawgatog's Magic Resource Page
    Yawgatog has been kind enough to provide a number of excellent resources for the average player on his website, including an indexed and hyperlinked version of the CompRules, downloadable Oracle text files, lists of the changes made with each new version of the CompRules and Oracle since Ninth Edition, and a full list of creatures whose creature types have been retroactively altered.

  • Official Tournament Rules
    The official rules for sanctioned tournaments.

  • Banned and Restricted Cards
    The official listing of banned and restricted cards in every sanctioned tournament format. Also includes information on set legality and deck-construction for said formats.

  • Set FAQs
    The official FAQs for each released set. Each FAQ contains informations on rules updates and additions made for that set. Note, however, that since these FAQs are not updated after their initial release, they may contain outdated information.

  • MTG-L mailing list archives
    A good place to get official answers for rules questions, or to search for previous answers.


Contributors:

Anyone who helped out in some small way with this primer (you know who you are).
Lots of people who have suggested changes; I can't list you all.

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Here Be Dragons

This primer does not contain entries for rules changes prior to Sixth Edition, because frankly the world of Magic rules was a dark and scary place before Sixth Edition, scarcely recognizable from the one you know today. The Comprehensive Rules as they are today did not exist. Magic's rules were held together by tiny official rules booklets and an intricate, fragile, and sometimes unintuitive and self-contradictory web of judge rulings.

Sixth Edition brought order to chaos, light to darkness, and hope to the downtrodden. Its impact and importance to Magic as we know it today cannot be overstated. On the surface, it may seem like not a lot has changed, but that can be attributed to the sheer brilliance and awesome subtlety of the Sixth Edition rules changes.

Sections pertaining to changes prior to Sixth Edition may be completed some time in the future, but for now, and the forseeable future, that web of rulings remains too dangerous to my fragile sanity for me to attempt to cover it.

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Changes For: Sixth Edition
Previous Set: Urza's Legacy
  • The Grand Unified Timing System (aka The Stack)
    The Sixth Edition rules overhaul brought with it the Stack. Right now, forget all the nitpicky details you ever learned about batches, series, dealing damage, and how triggered abilities work. Things have changed.

    The Stack, to put it simply, is a new game zone--the place where spells and activated and triggered abilities (provided they're not mana abilities) go while waiting to resolve. When you cast a spell or activate an ability, or when a triggered ability triggers, it is placed upon the stack, where it then waits to give players a chance to respond to that spell or ability by casting/activating other spells and abilities. (For an explanation of "cast" and "activate", see the Magic 2010 entry.) If anyone does so, those responses are also put on the stack and players can respond to them, and so on and so forth until nobody wants to respond with anything. Once everyone's done responding, the top spell or ability on the stack resolves, then players have a chance to respond again. The whole process repeats over and over and over until the stack is empty. Then, if nobody wants to do anything and start the whole rigmarole over again, the game moves on to the next step or phase.

    So, what does this mean for you?
    • You can respond to any spell or any activated or triggered ability that isn't a mana ability.
    • Objects on the stack resolve one at a time with chances to respond in between each resolution.
      So, for example, you could Twincast an opponent's spell, wait for the Twincast to resolve and create the copy, then Cancel the original spell. Or you could Mana Leak a spell, wait for that Mana Leak to resolve, then Mana Leak it again if they paid.
    • Changes to how spells and abilities that deal damage, prevent damage, and regenerate things work, as detailed below.


  • Interrupts/Mana Sources --> Instants
    The Interrupt and Mana Source card types have been completely eliminated. Everything that used to be an interrupt or a mana source has received errata to be an instant instead. Anything that affected/worked with interrupts or mana sources has received errata to affect/work with instants instead.


  • Damage Dealing, Damage Prevention, and Regeneration
    When a spell or ability says it deals damage, it means it. You don't wait before doing it, you just do it right when it tells you to. This means that spells and abilities that attempt to prevent damage or regenerate permanents have to resolve before whatever spell or ability will be dealing damage.

    To use an example, under old rules, if an opponent used Lightning Bolt on your creature, you would wait until the Bolt resolved and the damage was "dealt" (which really meant "assigned"), and then cast your Healing Salve to prevent the damage during a special "damage prevention step". Under new rules, if an opponent uses a Lightning Bolt on your creature, you respond with Healing Salve. The Salve resolves first, setting up an effect that will prevent the next 3 damage to your creature, and then Lightning Bolt resolves; it attempts to do 3 damage, but the Salve's lingering effect prevents all of that damage.

    Note that this means you can now cast/activate spells and abilities that prevent damage or regenerate permanents at any time, just like any other instant, even if there's nothing around that's trying to deal damage or destroy things. If you do, the effect will hang around for however long it specifies (usually until the end of the turn) looking for damage or destruction to prevent, and then will disappear.


  • Losing the Game and 0 Life
    If you have 0 life after any player casts/activates a spell or ability or after any spell or ability finishes resolving, you now lose the game immediately, before any player (including you) has a chance to do anything. No more waiting until the end of the current phase.


  • Tapped Artifacts
    Tapped artifacts no longer "turn off". This rule was eliminated because it made a lot of cards very confusing. Now, tapping an artifact doesn't have any effect on how it works.

    Note that Howling Mine and Static Orb were given errata so as to maintain their functionality under the old rule--these cards still "turn off" if you tap them, but now they do it because they say they do, not because the rules say it.


  • Phase Abilities
    Phase abilities have been completely eliminated. All abilities that used to say "During [phase]", "At the start of [phase]", or "At the end of [phase]" are now triggered abilities that trigger at the beginning of the appropriate step or phase--they say "At the beginning of {step or phase}, {do something}." (Note that "At the end of combat" really means "At the beginning of the end of combat step"; cards that say "at end of turn" have since been reworded to say "At the beginning of the end step", which doesn't change how they work—see the Magic 2010 entry.)

    This also eliminates some of the rules that were relevant to phase abilities. Prior to this rules update, you had to deal with "beginning of" phase abilities before "during" phase abilities, which had to be dealt with before you could deal with "end of" phase abilities. This is no longer the case; since all of these abilities trigger simultaneously, if you control all of them you can put them onto the stack in any order you choose, and therefore have them resolve in any order you wish.

    In addition, the rule about not being able to activate abilities of a permanent before dealing with any "phase costs" (phase abilities that involved paying some sort of cost) has been eliminated.


  • Tapped Blockers
    Tapped blockers now deal combat damage just like untapped blockers do; you can no longer tap a blocking creature to prevent its combat damage.


  • Combat Damage
    Combat Damage is assigned and dealt at the beginning of the Combat Damage step of the combat phase (yes, combat is now a phase proper). Note that there are some restrictions about how damage can be assigned--see the Magic 2010 entry for more information on that. (This is an area that has changed somewhat over time.)


  • Triggered Abilities
    Triggered abilities that aren't mana abilities go onto the stack and can be responded to just like spells. You choose targets and modes for them as they are put onto the stack, and all other decisions they call for are made when the ability resolves.

    (Before this rules change, triggered abilities could never be responded to and resolved first-in, first out. This is no longer the case.)


  • Ending the Turn
    The first step of the Ending phase is called the End Step. At the beginning of the End Step, any triggers that do their thing "at the beginning of the end step" trigger and are put onto the stack, and players can respond as normal. (Note that until Magic 2010, these kinds of triggers were worded "at end of turn", which was more confusing than they liked, so they changed the wording to the current "at the beginning of the [next] end step". It doesn't change how they work, just how it looks.)

    Remember, the end step only begins once per turn. So anything that is created at this time that wants to do something "at the beginning of the end step" is going to wait until the beginning of the next turn's end step to do its thing.

    Once all of those triggers have been dealt with and nobody wishes to do anything else, the game moves on to the Cleanup Step, which is where damage is removed from creatures, anything that lasts "until end of turn" stops working, and the player whose turn it is discards down to his or her maximum hand size. If something triggers because of this or something happens because of this, players will have a chance to cast spells and activate abilities and then there's another Cleanup step after this one, and this will continue until finally there's a cleanup step where nothing happens and nobody can do anything. Then the turn ends.


  • Trample
    The rules for the trample ability have been changed. Prior to this change, a player could deal a trample creature's damage however he wished among blocking creatures, and any "excess" damage dealt to any given creature carried over to the defending player--this meant that if a 5/5 trampler was blocked by 4 1/1 creatures, the attacking player could have all of the damage "dealt" to a single 1/1 and have 4 of it carry over to the defending player. (Trample automatically took effect when the damage was dealt.)

    This is no longer the case. Under current rules, trample affects only the way damage can be assigned. The attacking player assigns damage among all blockers as normal; if (and only if) lethal damage has been assigned to all blockers, then any excess can be assigned to the defending player. So now if a 5/5 trampler is blocked by four 1/1 creatures, the attacking player must assign at least 1 damage to each of the 1/1 creatures before any can be assigned to the defending player; the defending player in this case can be dealt a maximum of 1 damage. See the Trample entry in the Keyword FAQ for more information on how Trample currently works. (This change was actually made slightly prior to the Sixth Edition rules change, but we're including it here for the moment because we don't have a proper entry for it yet.)


  • Summon --> Creature - Major!
    The wording used on creature cards has been changed. Instead of being described as "Summon [whatever]"s on their type line, creature cards are now described as "Creature - [whatever]"s. This wording was changed because prior to this change, nowhere was there ever anything on a (nonartifact) creature card saying that it was a creature card, and this was causing considerable confusion in some quarters.

    Note that this change has no effect whatsoever on the functionality of the cards it occurred on. Cards that referred to creature cards or spells by some other name under old rules have received appropriate errata; something that affected a "summon spell" now affects a "creature spell", and so on. This created a few minor changes in functionality for things like Remove Soul, which can now counter artifact creature spells, but nothing egregious.


  • Paying for Spells and Abilities
    Prior to Sixth Edition rules update, you had to have enough mana to cast/activate a spell or ability before you actually started to do so--once you started, you weren't allowed to use mana abilities to produce additional mana. Under the Sixth Edition rules, however, this is not the case; if the game asks a player to make a mana payment (of any amount) at any time, even during the casting/activation or resolution of a spell or ability, that player is given the opportunity to activate mana abilities right then and there. (Unless that mana ability specifically says otherwise.)

    For information on exactly what does and does not constitute a mana ability, see the Abilities section of the Main Rules FAQ.


  • Turn Structure
    The turn now consists of five phases: Beginning, Main, Combat, Main, and Ending. The Beginning phase has three steps: Untap, Upkeep, and Draw. The Combat phase has five (or six) steps: Beginning of Combat, Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, First Strike Combat damage (which doesn't happen if no creatures would assign damage during it), regular Combat damage, and End of Combat. The End phase has two steps: End and Cleanup. For more information on the turn structure, check out the Turn Structure FAQ entry.

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Changes For: Mercadian Masques
Previous Set: Urza's Destiny
  • Can't vs. Can
    If something tells you something can happen, and some card's effect says it can't, the can't effect will always win.


  • Simultaneous Zone-changes
    If two or more cards would go to a library or graveyard at the same time, their owner decides the order they'll be in when they get there. (Note that this doesn't mean they go there at different times; they still go there at the exact same time. It's just that they're put in the order their owner chooses.)


  • Division of Effects
    If something tells you to divide or distribute something as you choose among some set of targets, you can't choose to give 0 to something just so it's in the set. (In other words, if you control Horobi, Death's Wail, you can't use a Rolling Thunder for 0 as a one-sided Wrath of God, because in order to target something, you'd have to distribute damage to it, and there's no damage to be distributed.)


  • Mana Abilities
    Triggered abilities that don't trigger off of mana abilities aren't mana abilities, even if they can produce mana.

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Changes For: Seventh Edition
Previous Set: Planeshift
  • [color=red]"May" - Reversal![/color]
    If some ability says you "may" perform some action, you don't decide whether or not you actually want to do so (or pay any costs involved in doing so) until the ability is actually resolving. And if an ability says that more than one player "may" do something, the ability doesn't split up into one ability for each player like it used to--it remains one ability, and players decide whether or not to do whatever it is in turn order as that ability resolves.


  • Shuffling/Cutting
    When a player presents his or her deck to his or her opponent for shuffling at the start of the game, the opposing player is permitted to shuffle the deck any way he or she likes, rather than being limited to a single cut.


  • Redirection
    If damage would be redirected to a creature or player that's no longer there to be dealt damage, the redirection doesn't do anything and the damage is dealt to who/whatever it would have been dealt to initially.


  • "Comprehensive" Rules
    With this update the Comprehensive rules received a lot of additions for keyworded abilities and some mechanics that had previously not been covered, including poison counters, the "Enchant World" rule, ante, phasing, banding and bands with other, rampage, cumulative upkeep, buyback, horsemanship, cycling, echo, fading, and kicker.

    Also added were rules relating to copying objects, face-down cards, and split cards.


  • Casting Spells
    You must decide whether or not to pay any additional or alternate costs before you choose the targets for that spell or ability (previously, it was the other way around). As a result of this, if a spell or ability would target something only if some additional or alternate cost is paid, and you decide not to pay the cost, that target isn't chosen at all; it effectively doesn't exist.



  • Self-Replacement
    If two or more effects are trying to replace a single event, and one of them is from the thing that's generating the event, (ie, something is trying to replace part of its own effect), the self-replacement effect is applied first. (In cases where none of the relevant effects are self-replacements, they're still applied in whatever order the affected player chooses.)



  • "Delayed Abilities"
    So-called "Delayed Abilities" (such as found on Lost in Thought or Channel) are no longer activated abilities; they're simply special actions.



  • Clarifications
    A few minor clarifications and ruling codifications were made to the existing rules with this update; you probably won't need to read anything in here unless you were intimately familiar with the intricacies of the rules prior to this point.

    • Continuous effects (things that have an effect that last for some length of time rather than being one-shot actions) that were created by spells or activated or triggered abilities that don't change control of anything and don't modify anything's characteristics are actually directly modifying the rules of the game, so they can affect things that might not have been on the battlefield when the effect was created.

      For contrast, such effects that do modify something's characteristics don't start affecting things that weren't there to be affected when the effect was created. (If I castInfest, then cast a creature, my new creature doesn't get -2/-2 because it wasn't there when Infest's effect was created.)



    • Under Sixth Edition rules, when using a spell or ability, if you realize midway through the process of doing so that you're not actually permitted to cast the spell the way you're trying to (like trying to use Terror on an artifact creature), you reverse the process and undo any payments you have made, as well as mana abilities used to produce mana that was spent. But this update made clear that you can't undo mana abilities that moved cards to or from a hidden zone (such as Millikin's ability); you also can't reverse any mana ability that's output was used to pay for mana abilities that weren't reversed. Mana abilities that weren't used during the actual process of casting the spell also can't be reversed.


    • In previous editions of the rules, creatures with trample ignored creatures that "didn't receive combat damage" for the purposes of deciding how much damage could be dealt to the defending player. Due to errata, such creatures no longer exist, so this rule was removed.


    • Previously, tapping a creature when declaring it as an attacker was a cost. This is no longer the case; attacking simply causes the creature to become tapped.


    • Players don't actually get priority until state-based actions are finished resolving.



  • Magic Isn't Simple
    The timing system for when players are allowed to cast/activate spells and abilities is no longer described as "simple". Take this as you wish. ;)

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Changes For: Odyssey
Previous Set: Seventh Edition
  • New Keyword
    Odyssey introduced the [post=9971917]Flashback[/post] keyword.


  • Cumulative upkeep
    Cumulative upkeep now uses "age" counters, not "cumulative upkeep" counters.

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Changes For: Torment
Previous Set: Odyssey
  • New Keywords
    Torment introduced [post=9971928]Madness[/post].


  • Taking Extra Turns - Reversal!
    Previously, if multiple effects allowed a player to take aditional turns, those turns were taken in the order they were created; this is no longer the case. Now, extra turns are taken in the reverse order; the most recently created additional turn is taken first.



  • Colorless Mana Symbols
    Colorless mana symbols were previously only used to denote generic mana costs. Now they can be used in a card's text to denote an amount of colorless mana.

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Changes For: Judgment / Onslaught
Previous Set: Torment
  • Face-Down Spells and Permanents
    The rules for face-down spells and permanents have received a serious overhaul thanks to the introduction of the [post=9971938]Morph[/post] ability.

    If a spell or permanent is face-down, it has only the characteristics defined by the effect that allows it to be face-down, and no others. A player who controls a face-down spell or permanent may look at it at any time, but can only turn it face-up as allowed by its morph ability or the ability that is allowing it to be face-down. Players must make it clear at all times which face-down permanent is which; they cannot be shuffled or rearranged so as to confuse one's opponent as to which is which. If a face-down spell or permanent would leave the battlefield or go to any zone other than the battlefield from the stack, it is revealed at that time. Face-down spells and permanents are also revealed at the time the game ends. (See the [post=19009963]Magic 2010[/post] entry for an explanation of the term "battlefield".)


  • New Keywords
    Onslaught introduced [post=9971932]Fear[/post] and [post=9971938]Morph[/post].


  • Spell Copies
    The rules have been altered to be able to properly handle copies of spells. A copy of a spell is a spell even though it has no card associated with it, and is controlled by the player who created it. A copy of a spell in a zone other than the stack ceases to exist as a state-based action.


  • Static Abilities Outside of the Battlefield
    The rules have been altered to accomodate cards that have static abilities that apply when the card they're on is not on the battlefield. (See the [post=19009963]Magic 2010[/post] entry for an explanation of the term "battlefield".)


  • Choosing Creature Types - Reversal!
    Previously, if an effect asked you to choose a creature type, you could choose any single noun. This is no longer the case; if you are asked to choose a creature type, you must choose a type that currently exists in Magic. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Playing with library revealed
    If an effect tells you to play with the top card of your library revealed, and that card changes during the announcement of a spell or ability, the new card is not revealed until the completion of the announcement of that spell or ability.



  • Putting Instants and Sorceries onto the Battlefield - Reversal!
    If something tries to put an instant or sorcery onto the battlefield, it used to exile it instead. Now, the instant or sorcery simply remains where it was instead. (See the [post=19009963]Magic 2010[/post] entry for an explanation of the terms "battlefield" and "exile".)

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Changes For: Legions
Previous Set: Onslaught
  • New Keywords
    Legions introduces the keywords [post=9971946]Amplify[/post], [post=9971954]Double Strike[/post], and [post=9971958]Provoke[/post].


  • Creature Type - Plurality and Gender
    Previously, the rulebook simply stated to ignore plurality and gender of creature types; this is no longer the case. Instead, it points you to the Oracle Card Reference to determine a creature's proper type; creatures who had genderized or pluralized creature types have received errata to de-plural/genderize them.

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Changes For: Scourge
Previous Set: Legions
  • New Keywords
    Scourge introduced two new keywords, or rather one new keyword and a new variant on an old one: [post=9971963]Storm[/post] and [post=9971893]Landcycling[/post], respectively. Those were the only changes of note in this update.

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Changes For: Eighth Edition
Previous Set: Scourge
  • Draw Step
    Drawing a card during your draw step used to be a triggered ability that went onto the stack at the beginning of your upkeep. It is now a turn-based action instead. You can no longer do anything during your draw step before you draw your card for the turn; if you wish to do something before you draw a card, you must do it during your upkeep.


  • Retaining Card Types
    Previously, there were some confusing interactions with effects that changed a card's card type, generally by turning it into a creature. These interactions have been simplified; anything that implies that the card retains at least one previous card type (such as land-animation spells that say "it's still a land" or spells that say an artifact "becomes an artifact creature") now retains all of its other former card types as well.


  • Land Types
    Land types now work the same way creature types do; a land has all the subtypes that are listed on its type line, and if it doesn't have any listed, it doesn't have any at all. (Previously, a nonbasic land's type was the same as its name.)


  • Supertypes
    This update introduced the concept of supertypes, additional types listed before a card's card type(s) that mark it as being subject to special rules. "Legendary", for example, is now a supertype, rather than simply a quality. The supertype "basic" was also introduced for use on basic lands.


  • "Characteristic-Setting Text" and "Spell Text"
    All text on a card that is not reminder text or flavor text is now an ability. Formerly, there were certain kinds of text that were not considered abilities--the instructions on an instant or sorcery spell or text that defined a characteristic of the permanent. This is no longer the case; the former are "Spell abilities" and the latter are "Characteristic-defining abilities".


  • Simultaneous Actions
    If two or more players have to perform actions simultaneously, first, the active player makes all decisions relevant to the action, then the next player in turn order, and so on, until all players have made their decision. (Players can't change their decisions based on what a player who decides later chooses.) Then the actions are performed simultaneously.



  • Declare Attackers Step
    During the declare attackers step in combat, if no creatures were declared as attackers, the game formerly skipped the rest of the declare attackers step along with all the other steps until the end of combat step. Now, the declare attackers step continues and finishes as normal, regardless of how many attacking creatures are declared. The game still skips over the declare blockers and combat damage steps if no attackers are declared, however.



  • Separate Zones
    Formerly, all zones except the stack and the battlefield were separate for each player; each player has his or her own exile zone, and so on. Now, only players' libraries, hands, and graveyards are separate. All other zones are shared by all players. (See the Magic 2010 entry for an explanation of the terms "battlefield" and "exile".)



  • Basic Land Type-changing - Reversal!
    Previously, changing a land to one of the basic land types changed its name and removed 'legendary status'. This is no longer the case; turning a land into a land of one of the basic land types won't change its name or supertypes, only its subtypes and abilities.



  • Enchanting a Player
    Auras ("Enchant " cards--see the Ninth Edition entry, under Enchant --> Auras) can now enchant players, if the card allows it.



  • Clarifications
    A number of small clarifications were made during this update; again, this section can be ignored if you weren't intimately familiar with the rules as they were before this update.

    • Many terms that were formerly only defined in the Glossary can now be found within the confines of the rules themselves.


    • The card types of a spell used to be referred to as 'spell types'. No longer. (Spell types are something else now; see the heading 'Subtypes' in the Champions entry.)


    • Formerly, if you activated an ability, it would put what was called a "pseudospell" on the stack. This rule has been eliminated; now abilities go on the stack themselves. Abilities are now also a characteristic in and of themselves, independent of rules text.


    • Subgames now have their own set of rules telling you how to run them. No functional changes were caused by this, but it's nice to have.

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Changes For: Mirrodin
Previous Set: 8th Edition
  • Equipment
    A brand-new kind of artifact, Equipment represent weapons, armor, and tools you can use give to your creature in order to enhance them in some fashion, much the same way positive Auras (see the Ninth Edition entry) do. When an Equipment spell resolves, it enters the battlefield (see the Magic 2010 entry) like a regular artifact. You can then use the artifact's Equip ability to attach it to a target creature you control any time you could cast a sorcery. (During your main phase, when the stack is empty.) And the best part is, if something happens to the creature, the Equipment just "falls off" and sticks around so you can use it again on another creature.

    Equipment can't be attached to anything that isn't a creature or anything that has protection from it, and an Equipment that is also a creature can't be attached to anything at all. If that happens somehow, the Equipment falls off, but remains on the battlefield.


  • Artifact Lands
    Mirrodin also introduced a cycle of five Artifact Lands, which are exactly what they sound like: lands that are also artifacts. Artifact Lands are played just like regular lands (you can't cast them as a spell like you can regular artifacts) and count towards your one-land-per-turn limit. As they are artifacts, they'll power up your Broodstars and other artifact-friendly cards, but the drawback is that they're vulnerable to your opponent's artifact-destruction spells.


  • New Keywords
    Mirrodin introduced Magic players to four new keywords: Affinity, Entwine, Equip, and Imprint. For more information on any of these keywords, see their entries in the Keyword FAQ.

    Affinity makes your spells cheaper if you control cards of a certain type or subtype. The more of the appropriate permanents you control, the cheaper your spells are! Be aware, though, that Affinity can't reduce colored portions of a mana cost.

    Ever been stuck with choosing just one effect of a modal spell when you really wanted both? Entwine solves that problem for you! When casting a modal spell with Entwine, you can pay a small additional cost and get both effects, rather than just one. Even better, many spells with entwine have modes that combine to give you an effect that neither half can do alone.

    Equip abilities are found on Equipment (see above); they're what let you attach your Equipment to your creatures. Any time you could cast a sorcery (meaning during your main phase, when the stack is empty), you can pay the Equip cost of an artifact you control to attach that Equipment to a target creature you control. You can do this even if the Equipment is already attached to a different creature. You can't just pay the Equip ability in order to unattach it from a creature, though; you have to choose a new creature to attach it to.

    Imprint is an ability word--imprint abilities allow you to customize your cards to do what you want. A card with an imprint ability will exile some other card, and then use some other ability does different things based on the properties of the card you exiled; it may protect you from cards with the same color as the imprinted card, for example, or simply allow you to create duplicates of the imprinted card at will. (See the Magic 2010 entry for an explanation of the term "exile".)


  • Controlling Players
    The card Mindslaver allows you to gain control of your opponent during his or her next turn. Controlling another player means that you can see all the cards they can see (their hand, their face-down cards, everything) and make all the game-related decisions that they would normally make--what to attack with, what spells and abilities to use and how you use them, everything. You can't cause them to do anything they wouldn't normally be able to choose to do themselves, but other than that, the only exception is that you can't force your opponent to concede, nor can you stop them from conceding.


  • Subtypes
    Artifacts can now have subtypes (called "artifact types"), just like lands have land types and creatures have creature types. For a full list of currently existing artifact types, see this post.


  • New State-Based Action
    A new state-based action has been created to go along with the addition of Equipment: if an Equipment is attached to an illegal or nonexistent permanent, it "falls off" of that permanent, but remains on the battlefield.



  • Layering System
    A slight change occured with this update in the layering system that deals with applying continuous effects; now, characteristic-defining abilities (that is, abilities that define the characteristic values for the card they're on) apply before any other abilities in each individual layer.



  • Casting During Resolution
    The rules have now been expanded to allow spells and abilities to give you the ability to cast/activate other spells and abilities during their resolution. The spell or ability is cast/activated during the resolution of the first spell or ability, before it leaves the stack. Normal timing restrictions do not apply, so any spell may be cast this way, though the spell/ability you're resolving may restrict what you can cast.

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Changes For: Darksteel
Previous Set: Mirrodin
  • Indestructibility
    Darksteel introduced the concept of permanents that are indestructible; they simply can't be destroyed. Any effect that tries to "destroy" an indestructible permanent will fail to do so, and creatures that are indestructible can't be killed by lethal damage (because lethal damage tries to destroy the creature). Note, however, that there are a number of forms of removal that don't involve actually destroying the permanent, and all of those will still work. Only effects that try to destroy the permanent will be stopped.


  • New Keywords
    Darksteel introduced one new keyword: [post=9971986]Modular[/post]. For more information on Modular or any other keyword, see the appropriate entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=9971986]Modular[/post] allows the parts to be as strong as the whole. Artifact creatures with Modular enter the battlefield with a certain number of +1/+1 counters, and when they die, you may put all of their +1/+1 counters onto any other artifact creature you wish, even ones that the creature only received later. The more of your creatures your opponent kills, the stronger the rest of your creatures get! (See the [post=19009963]Magic 2010[/post] entry for an explanation of the term "battlefield".)


  • Creature Types
    This rules update introduced a list of all official creature types within the Comprehensive Rules Glossary. To see the full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.


  • New State-Based Action
    Copies of cards in zones other than the battlefield or the stack now cease to exist as a state-based action. This rule was introduced to clear up a minor rules loophole accidentally introduced by the creation of some of the imprint cards.



  • Drawing from an Empty Library
    The state-based action that kills a player who has tried to draw cards from an empty library now only does so if the action was taken since the last time state-based actions were checked, rather than at any time previously. This change was made to correct an unintuitive interaction introduced by the creation of Platinum Angel.



  • Continuous Effects
    If a continuous effect with multiple different effects would be applied in more than one layer, the respective parts are applied in each layer separately, rather than all together in what may or may not be an appropriate layer.



  • Aura Creatures
    This rules update closed a minor corner-case loophole by specifying that an Aura (see the Ninth Edition entry) that's also a creature can't be attached to a permanent.



  • Undefined Mana
    If an ability would produce mana of an undefined type, it produces no mana instead.

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Changes For: Fifth Dawn
Previous Set: Darksteel
  • New Keywords
    Fifth Dawn introduced two new keywords: [post=9971992]Scry[/post] and [post=9972003]Sunburst[/post]. For more information on either of these keywords, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=9971992]Scry[/post]ing allows you to improve the quality of your draws and find you what you need. To scry, look at the top few cards of your library (the card will tell you exact number of cards to scry). You can put any number of those cards on the bottom of your library. Then, put the remaining cards back on top of your library in any order you wish.

    [post=9972003]Sunburst[/post] allows you to make your permanents more powerful by spending more colors of mana to cast them. When you cast a permanent spell with Sunburst, it enters the battlefield with a counter on it for each different color of mana you spent to cast it; creatures get +1/+1 counters, and noncreatures get charge counters. (The card will have an ability that makes use of the charge counters.) Remember, you can't decide to spend extra mana to cast a spell if the cost isn't high enough to let you, and you can only get a maximum of five counters, because only five different colors of mana exist.


  • Expansion of the Golden Rule
    Previously, the so-called 'Golden Rule' (if the rules and the cards are in direct conflict, the cards win) didn't apply to a number of rules that were concerned with deck construction and the process of starting the game. This has now changed; currently, the only rule that the cards can't override is that a player may always concede the game at any time, regardless of what the cards say.



  • Mana Abilities During Announcement
    Previously, you could activate mana abilities (see this post for an explanation of what mana abilities are) during the announcement of any spell or activated ability, even if that spell or ability didn't require a mana payment to cast/activate. This loophole has now been closed; you may now only activate mana abilities during announcement if a mana payment of some kind is required.



  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Tokens, Lands, and Mana Costs
    Previously, tokens and lands couldn't have a mana cost. This has been changed; now, any token or land may have a mana cost if it is specified that they do.



  • "Type" of Mana
    This rules update clarified that the "type" of an amount of mana only refers to its color, or lack thereof; it doesn't include any restrictions or special properties that may be associated with the mana.

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Changes For: Champions of Kamigawa
Previous Set: Fifth Dawn
  • Legends are no more! - Major!
    The Legend creature type no longer exists; it has been replaced with the supertype "legendary". All creatures that used to be "Creature - [Whatever] Legend"s are now "Legendary Creature - [Whatever]"s. Check the card's Oracle Text (listed in Gatherer) to see its current creature types.


  • Change to the Legend Rule - Reversal!
    The Legend Rule has been changed. It used to be that if two or more legends or legendary permanents with the same name were on the battlefield (See the Magic 2010 entry), all except the one that had been on the battlefield the longest was put into their owner's graveyard. This is no longer the case. Now, if two or more legendary permanents with the same name are on the battlefield, all of them are put into their owner's graveyard. It no longer matters when any of them entered the battlefield; all of them die regardless. This happens before any player can take any action.


  • Walls
    The Wall creature type no longer has any inherent rules attached to it; being a Wall no longer affects whether or not a creature can attack. All existing Walls have received errata to have a new keyword ability called Defender instead, which means simply, "This creature can't attack." Changing a creature into a Wall no longer bars it from attacking, and changing a Wall with Defender into a non-Wall creature does not remove the Defender ability.


  • Targeting - Reversal!
    Previously, the same spell or ability could only target a given object or player once, no matter what. This rule has been changed. A spell or ability may now only target a given object/player once for each instance of the word "target" in its rules text. For example, the spell Early Frost has only one instance of the word "target"; thus, you cannot choose the same land to be all three potential targets. On the other hand, the spell Decimate uses the word "target" four times; if there is a permanent on the battlefield that is both an artifact and a creature, you may choose it as both the "target artifact" and "target creature" of the spell, since those are two different instances of the word "target".

    Note that some spells deliberately stop you from choosing the same object for two different instances of the word "target" using the words "...another target [whatever]..."

    This rule was made to allow cards with the Splice ability of Champions of Kamigawa work intuitively. It has since been used to clear up the wording of cards such as Bounty of the Hunt and to create cards such as Seeds of Strength.


  • New Keywords
    Champions of Kamigawa introduced no less than five keywords, though two of them are simply new keywords for old abilities: Bushido, Defender, Splice, Soulshift, and Vigilance. For more information on any of these keywords, see their entries in the Keyword FAQ.

    Bushido is an ability that makes your creatures stronger when they're fighting other creatures. When your Bushido X creature blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the Bushido number. Note that your creature only gets the bonus once, no matter how many creatures it's blocking or are blocking it.

    Defender simply means "This creature can't attack." With the elimination of the rules baggage that used to be attached to the Wall creature type (see above), something was needed to replace it, so Defender was created and errata'd onto all the cards that were printed as Walls. Note that changing something into a Wall won't give it defender, and changing a Wall with defender into something else won't remove defender.

    Splice is an ability that you can use to combine a whole bunch of small spells into a few much bigger, more powerful ones. As you're casting an Arcane spell, you may reveal any number of cards with "Splice onto Arcane" from your hand, and pay their splice costs in addition to the mana cost of the original spell. If you do, you add on all of those spliced spells' effects onto the spell you were casting. And the best part is you keep all those splice cards in your hand to do it again with the next spell!

    Soulshift is an ability that allows you to return your dead Spirits from your graveyard to your hand. When a creature with Soulshift X is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, you may return a target Spirit creature card with converted mana cost equal to X or less from your graveyard to your hand. If you build your deck right, you can make daisy-chains of Spirits. Each new Spirit represents not just one threat, but all of the others your opponents thought they had already gotten rid of, too!

    Vigilance is a new keyword for the old ability "Attacking doesn't cause this creature to tap." It still works exactly the same, but now it's a keyword instead.


  • Flip Cards
    Champions of Kamigawa introduced "flip cards", cards that are one thing, and then "flip" to become something entirely different when some condition is met. When unflipped and in all places other than the battlefield (See the Magic 2010 entry), a card only has its "unflipped" characteristics. It is only when a permanent is on the battlefield and has been flipped that it gains its flip characteristics. These characteristics override the "normal" characteristics of the card; the normal characteristics don't exist as long as the permanent is flipped.


  • Ending the Turn
    The card Time Stop introduces the concept of ending the turn. To do so, exile all spells and abilities that are currently on the stack (See the Magic 2010 entry), and the game skips directly to the Cleanup step, skipping everything else. The active player discards down to his or her maximum hand size and all "until end of turn" and "this turn" effects end. "At the beginning of the end step" effects do not trigger (because the game skips over the end step).

    For more information on the turn structure, see the Turns and the Turn Structure entry in the Main Rules FAQ.


  • Subtypes
    Instants, Sorceries, and Enchantments may now have subtypes in the same way that creatures, lands, and artifacts do. Enchantment types are unique to enchantments. Instants and sorceries may share subtypes; such shared subtypes are called "spell types". Champions of Kamigawa introduced the first spell type (Arcane) and the first enchantment type (Shrine). See this post for a full listing of currently existing subtypes.


  • Supertypes
    Two new supertypes have been created, to consolidate similar ideas that previously used different implementations: "Snow-covered" (Now just "Snow"; see the Coldsnap entry) and "World".

    "Snow" is a marker supertype with no inherent rules baggage.

    "World" means that a permanent is subject to the "world rule": If two or more world permanents are on the battlefield, all except the one that has been on the battlefield the shortest period of time is put into its owner's graveyard. (Note that while similar, this is not the same as the legend rule.) The only existing world permanents are the old "Enchant World" cards from the early years of Magic.


  • Creature Types
    Legend is no longer a creature type; all creatures that used to possess it have received errata to be Legendary instead. (See above.) The list of legal creature types has also been changed in other ways. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Auras and leaving the battlefield
    Auras (see the Ninth Edition entry) that trigger on their enchanted permanents leaving the battlefield could always track and locate those cards in the graveyard. Now, they can do the same with themselves; if an Aura triggers on its enchanted permanent leaving the battlefield, the Aura can track itself to the graveyard and do things with itself there. This rule was introduced as clarification only to fix an oversight in the rules; no functional changes were introduced.

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Changes For: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Previous Set: Champions of Kamigawa
  • Drawing while Casting - Reversal!
    Some effects can potentially cause you to draw cards while someone is in the process of casting a spell or activating an ability. If this happens, the drawn card(s) are kept face-down until the spell or ability has finished being cast/activated. This is to prevent you from potentially gaining additional information during the process of casting/activating spells or abilities that may influence your will to continue doing so.


  • New Keywords
    Introduced in Betrayers of Kamigawa were the [post=9972027]Ninjutsu[/post] and [post=9972019]Offering[/post] abilities. For more information on these keywords, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=9972027]Ninjutsu[/post] is a tricky ability that you can use to exchange unblocked attacking creatures on the battlefield for a surprise creature from your hand. To use a Ninjutsu ability, you must return an unblocked attacking creature you control to its owner's hand and pay the Ninjutsu cost. You then put the Ninjutsu creature onto the battlefield from your hand, already tapped, attacking, and best of all, unblocked, ready to strike your opponent upside the head and do all sorts of nasty things to him. Note that attacking creatures are only considered "unblocked" once the defending player has decided how to block, so no Ninjutsuing out creatures before your opponent can block.

    [post=9972019]Offering[/post] is an ability that lets you cast big, expensive creatures much cheaper by sacrificing other ones with particular creature types. You can cast a creature with "[Random Creature Type] offering" any time you could cast an instant if you sacrifice a creature of [Random Creature Type] as part of the cost to do so, and best of all, the cost you need to pay is reduced by the mana cost of the creature you sacrificed! Remember, though, you can only sacrifice one creature to cast an Offering creature.


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Sunburst - Reversal!
    The rules for [post=9972003]Sunburst[/post] have been altered slightly. Sunburst now determines what kind of counter (+1/+1 or charge) the permanent will receive as it enters the battlefield using the characteristics of the card as it exists as it enters the battlefield, rather than as it existed on the stack. This ensures that copy cards such as Sculpting Steel that copy cards with Sunburst will get the appropriate kind of counter.

    Note that this does not take into consideration abilities that may apply to the card once it actually does enter the battlefield.

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Changes For: Saviors of Kamigawa / Ninth Edition
Previous Set: Betrayers of Kamigawa
  • Multiplayer [color=green]Rules[/color] - Major!
    This rules update brought along with it a set of official rules for multiplayer games, and the alteration of the appropriate existing rules to accomodate such games. While there's too much information to go into detail here, the topics covered include general multiplayer issues as well as the major, officially-supported variants (Free-for-All, Two-Headed Giant, Emperor, Grand Melee, and Teams) and several sets of optional play rules (Limited Range of Influence, Attack Multiple Players, Deploy Creatures, and Attack Left/Right). Be aware that as these rules are still relatively new, there may be accidental oversights and omissions within them. If you have a question about the multiplayer rules, don't be afraid to ask in Rules Q&A.

    The various supported options are:
    • Limited Range of Influence
      Basically, players can't affect anyone outside of their "range of influence", nor can they affect things controlled by players outside their range of influence. A player's range of influence is a number defining how many players on either side his or her range of influence includes.


    • Attack Multiple Players
      In normal multiplayer, a player can only choose one player at a time to attack. This variant allows exactly what it sounds like it does; this constraint no longer applies, and players can attack multiple opponents at once with different sets of creatures.


    • Deploy Creatures
      Creatures each player controls have ": Target teammate gains control of this creature."


    • Attack Left/Right
      Creatures can only attack the players sitting directly on the left and/or right of their controller.


    The supported variants are:
    • Free-for-All
      This is what many consider to be "traditional" multiplayer. It's pretty much exactly the same as a normal game of Magic, only there's more than two players. The last player standing wins.


    • Two-Headed Giant
      Players are divided into two teams of two, each team with a shared life total of 30. Instead of individual players having turns, the players on each team take their turns as one. Creatures attack the team, not the players, and creatures controlled by either of the players on the defending team may block. If an attacking creature would deal combat damage to the defending team, that creature's controller decides which player the damage is to be dealt to at the time the damage is assigned. Damage from a single such creature cannot be "split" between the two players on a team; it must be dealt to one or the other. Players do not share anything except their life total, and are considered separate players for things that refer to things such as "each player", "all players", or "you". When one player on a team loses or wins the game, the entire team loses or wins. There is a short list of cards banned in sanctioned Two-Headed Giant play.


    • Emperor
      Players are divided into two teams of three. One player on each team is designated the emperor, and the others sit on each side of him or her and are designated generals. The two teams sit opposite. Players can only attack the players directly to the left and right of him or her. When an Emperor loses or wins, his or her entire team does so as well. When a General loses, he or she leaves the game. Emperor is usually played with the Deploy Creatures and Limited Range of Influence options, generals having a range of influence of 1 and emperors having a range of influence of 2.


    • Grand Melee
      Grand Melee is a variant of free-for-all generally used when there are too many players, making playing true free-for-all games tediously time-consuming and complicated. The Limited Range of Influence and Attack Right/Left options are used in this variant to allow more than one player to take turns at a time, each player taking a turn safely three seats away from any other turn-taking player, such that players cannot be within the range of two turn-taking players at once, nor can two players within the range of such players influence each other. This is accomplished using turn markers that pass between players.


    • Teams
      As with free-for-all, only with teams instead of individual players. Resources are not shared among teammates.
    The number of players in games of each variant can vary and may spawn hybrid formats, such as Three-Headed Giant, Emperor Teams, and so forth. Feel free to mix and match formats as needed.


  • Enchant --> Aura - Major!
    The wording of local enchantments (Enchant [whatever]s) has been changed. All cards that used to be "Enchant [something]"s are now "Enchantment - Aura"s with the keyword ability "Enchant [something]". This change was made to standardize the card types and ensure that all card types that a card has actually appeared on the card.

    Auras and "local enchantments" are the exact same thing. There has been no significant change in functionality for these cards, though some cards that referred to them (such as Nomad Mythmaker and Tallowisp) have slightly altered functionality. There's also been a slight terminology change in things that move Auras between permanents that accompanies this change, but that functionality hasn't changed either.


  • Mana-cost-less Cards
    This update introduced rules for cards other than lands that don't have mana costs. Originally, the rule was that a card without a mana cost couldn't be played as a spell, no matter what. This rule was later reversed to allow the printing of the suspend-only cards of Time Spiral. The current rule is that a nonexistent mana cost cannot be paid. Thus, you cannot cast spells without mana costs normally, as that would require paying their mana cost, which doesn't exist. You can only cast them by methods which circumvent the need to pay the mana cost, either by ignoring it entirely or by paying some other cost instead. Note that a nonexistent mana cost (also written as {}) is not the same thing as a cost of (written {0}). The converted mana cost of a card with a nonexistent mana cost is 0.


  • Ability Words
    This update introduced the idea of [post=10159806]ability words[/post]. Ability words are italicized words written before some other ability. Ability words have no game function except to emphasize to players that certain sets of similar abilities function essentially the same way. Note that ability words, like all other text that has no game function, are always italicized. Any text that is not italicized is not an ability word, even if it appears in a similar place. (Though Threshold and Imprint used to be keywords, they are now ability words instead.)

    Forecast is not an ability word, but a keyword. For example of ability words, see Channel and Radiance.


  • New Keywords
    This update introduced the [post=9972032]Epic[/post] and [post=9972035]Enchant[/post] keywords. For more information on these keywords, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=9972032]Epic[/post] is an ability of some sorcery cards that are so great, so powerful, so...epic, they're all you'll ever need to cast. Once an Epic spell you control resolves, you can't cast any other spells for the rest of the game, but you get a brand new copy of the Epic card at the beginning of every one of your upkeeps for the rest of the game, too. Epic spells are designed to give you the ability to win using their effects alone, with proper foresight and planning. Note that Epic spells don't stop you from activating abilities or taking other actions that are not casting spells.

    [post=9972035]Enchant[/post] is a new keyword for an old concept. With the change of "Enchant [whatever]" cards to Auras (see above), the restrictions on what a particular Aura can be attached to have been moved to the text box in the form of the Enchant ability. For more information on the enchant ability and Auras in general, see the entry on [post=9972035]Enchant[/post] in the Keyword FAQ and the entry for Auras in the Main FAQ.


  • Revealing as a Cost
    If a card is revealed as a cost to cast a spell or activate an ability, that card remains revealed until the spell or ability it was revealed to cast/activate leaves the stack.



  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Tokens, Lands, and Mana Costs
    With this update, lands and tokens were changed to have a nonexistent mana cost by default, rather than their former mana cost of . They still have a converted mana cost of 0.



  • Spell Copies
    Copies of spells are controlled by the player who put them on the stack. This addition to the rules was made for clarification only.

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Changes For: Ravnica: City of Guilds
Previous Set: Ninth Edition
  • Phasing and Leaves-the-Battlefield Triggers - Reversal!
    Permanents that phase out no longer trigger abilities that look for permanents leaving the battlefield. Previously, phasing worked slightly differently, by moving the card to a different zone but having the game ignore any abilities that triggered on it entering the battlefield. (But not leaving the battlefield, for some reason.) Phasing works differently now; the card never leaves the battlefield at all--the game just pretends it doesn't exist. As such, it no longer triggers any abilities that look for it moving into or out of the battlefield. This change changed phasing's interaction with a large number of permanents with leaves-the-battlefield abilities, notably Wormfang Manta.


  • The Layer Rules
    A number of changes were made to the layering rules that lay out how to determine the characteristics of permanents on the battlefield when two or more effects are vying to change them. Some special exemptions were eliminated, and the rules were made clearer. Now, all effects that want to apply in more than one layer do so, and once an effect has begun to be applied, it continues to be applied even if the ability that created it is removed as part of the layering process. In addition, power- and toughness-switching effects such as Strange Inversion were made to apply after all other effects did, so that if your creature's power and toughness is switched, you take the (otherwise) final value of its power and apply it to its toughness instead, and vice versa. This eliminated a lot of the weird tricks that could be done with such effects. Most of the other changes that were made to the system won't affect you unless you play with Humility way more than is healthy.

    For a rundown of the current layering rules, you can check out the Layer System entry in the main Rules Q&A FAQ.


  • Hybrid Mana - ()()()()()()()()()()
    Ravnica introduced the concept of mana costs that can be paid with either of two colors of mana, creating an entirely new type of multicolored card that doesn't need to be played in a deck that uses both of its constituent colors. A hybrid mana cost can be paid with mana of either of its two colors, but not colorless or other-colored mana. Cards with hybrid mana symbols in their mana cost are always all of the colors in the cost, no matter what colors were actually used to cast them. Hybrid mana appears only in mana costs; there is no such thing as mana that is two colors at once. If an effect would add some amount of hybrid mana to your mana pool, you choose one of the colors of each hybrid mana symbol to add to your pool instead.


  • New Keywords
    Ravnica introduced the Convoke, Dredge, and Transmute keywords, as well as the Radiance ability word. To learn more about any of the keywords and about ability words in general, see the Keyword FAQ.

    Convoke is an ability that lets you use your creatures to cast your spells. When you cast a card with Convoke, you can tap any number of untapped creatures you control. Each creature you tap this way reduces the cost of your spell by one mana of any of its colors or by one colorless mana. If you have enough creatures on the battlefield, you can cast your spells without ever needing mana!

    Dredge allows you to reuse the cards in your graveyard over and over and over and over...well, you get the idea. If a card with Dredge is in your graveyard and you would draw a card, you can choose to instead put some cards from the top of your library into your graveyard and put the Dredge card back into your hand! You'll never need to worry about running out of useful spells again. Remember, though, you can only dredge a card back if you have enough cards in your library to do so, and you can only dredge back one card for each one card you would draw.

    Transmute lets you turn dross into gold, turning spells you don't want into the spells you do! If you have a card with Transmute in your hand, you can pay a small cost and discard it any time you could cast a sorcery to search through your library with any card that has the same converted mana cost as the card you discarded and put it into your hand. If you build your deck right, you'll never need to worry about whether you're going to draw that crucial spell or not--just transmute for it! Remember, you can get any card with the same converted mana cost; it doesn't have to have the exact same mana cost, or even be the same color!

    Radiance is an ability word that is used on cards that affect not just one creature or permanent, but every other creature or permanent that shares a color with that one, too! Radiance cards allow you to affect many different creatures using just a single spell. Use it to devastate your opponent's army, or to strengthen your own!


  • New State-Based Action
    A new state-based action has been introduced: a permanent that's not an Aura or Equipment (or Fortification) but that's attached to some other permanent becomes unattached from that permanent, but remains on the battlefield. This rule was made to eliminate a tricky loophole involving a number of older cards that could allow this kind of thing to happen. You probably will never come across a situation in which this effect will apply, but if by chance you do, you now know how to handle it.



  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Zones as Targets
    Game zones (such as your hand, library, graveyard, or the battlefield) can now be targeted by spells or abilities if the spell or ability specifically says that it does so. Don't expect to see this new capability being used too much, though; it's only used on one card, because they couldn't make the text fit any other way.



  • "Linked" Abilities
    Some cards have an inherent ability that can exile cards , and another ability that refers to cards "exiled with ". (See the Magic 2010 entry for an explanation of the term "exile".) These sets of abilities are intristically "linked"; the latter ability applies only to cards exiled using the former ability. Even if the card gains some other ability that also exiles cards, or that also refers to cards "exiled with ", the linked pairs of abilities still only refer to each other. This addition to the rules was a codification of existing rulings, and introduced no functional changes.

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Changes For: Guildpact
Previous Set: Ravnica: City of Guilds
  • Division of effects
    If a player is to divide or distribute some effect, such as damage or counters, amongst more than one recipient as a result of a spell or ability, the appropriate division is decided upon when the spell or ability is played, not when it resolves. If the division is automatic, without player input, the distribution is decided upon resolution.


  • New Keywords
    Guildpact introduced three new keywords: [post=9972049]Bloodthirst[/post], [post=9972057]Haunt[/post], and [post=9972064]Replicate[/post]. For more information on all of these keywords, see the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread]

    [post=9972049]Bloodthirst[/post] is an ability that makes the creatures you cast stronger if your opponent has been dealt damage. If any of your opponents has been dealt any damage at all any time during the current turn, any creature with Bloodthirst you cast will enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters on it.

    [post=9972057]Haunt[/post] is an ability that lets your creatures and spells come back from the grave to "haunt" living creatures. When your card with Haunt is put into your graveyard after doing its thing, you exile it haunting a creature on the battlefield, and when that creature dies, you get nifty extra effects at no extra cost.

    [post=9972064]Replicate[/post] is an ability that lets you make a whole bunch of copies of your spells when you cast them. When you cast a spell with Replicate, you can pay the additional Replicate cost as many times as you like; then you get that many extra copies of your spell! Can't decide whether to kill that creature or burn your opponent? Do them both!


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Range of Influence and Damage Prevention
    If a damage-prevention effect prevents damage from an unspecified source to an unspecified recipient, that damage is only prevented if both source and recipient are within your range of influence. Note that this change only affects multiplayer games that use the Limited Range of Influence option.

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Changes For: Dissension
Previous Set: Guildpact
  • Abilities from Hidden Zones
    When you activate an ability of a card that's in a hidden zone, such as your hand, you must reveal the card whose ability you are using in order to activate the ability. This is not technically a cost; it just happens as part of the action of activating the ability.


  • New Keywords
    Dissension introduced two new keywords, Forecast and Graft, as well as one new ability word, Hellbent. For more information on Forecast, Graft, and ability words, see the Keyword FAQ.

    Forecast abilities are special activated abilities that you can activate from your hand during your upkeep. To activate a Forecast ability, you reveal the card from your hand and pay the required cost. The Forecast card remains revealed until the end of your upkeep, and you can't activate the same card's Forecast ability twice in one upkeep, though if you have more than one of the same card with Forecast, you can activate all of their Forecast abilities during the same upkeep. Remember, Forecast abilities are activated abilities, not spells.

    Graft is an ability that allows you to move +1/+1 counters around to customize your army. Creatures with Graft enter the battlefield with a certain number of +1/+1 counters on them, and whenever another creature enters the battlefield (even under your opponent's control), you can choose to move a +1/+1 counter from your Graft creature onto the new creature. Many Graft creatures have abilities that work with creatures with +1/+1 counters on them.

    Hellbent is an ability word that is used on cards that have some additional effect as long as you have no cards in your hand. Hellbent cards reward you for going all-out and holding nothing back, with additional abilities, stronger creatures, and lots of other special bonuses.


  • Status
    The rules for cards being tapped or untapped, flipped or unflipped, and face up or face down have been cleaned up and consolidated under the heading of "status", along with the rules for phasing. A permanent's status is its physical state. There are four status 'categories', and each has two possible values: tapped/untapped, flipped/unflipped, face up/face down, or phased in/phased out. Status is not a characteristic in and of itself, though it may affect characteristics.

    Cards not on the battlefield don't have status, though they may be face down. Permanents enter the battlefield untapped, unflipped, face up, and phased in by default. A card's status remains unchanged until some spell, ability, or game rule changes it, even if that status isn't relevant any more.

    This change was mostly done to clean up the rules by consolidating several different related ideas; no major functional changes were made.


  • Adding Hybrid mana to your mana pool.
    If an effect would somehow attempt to add some amount of hybrid mana to your mana pool, you must instead choose one of that symbol's colors, and the effect adds mana of the chosen color instead. This choice is made individually for each one hybrid mana that would be added to your pool.



  • Power and Toughness of Noncreatures
    To put it simply, they don't have any. Cards that aren't creatures never, ever have power or toughness, even if they used to be creatures. This rule was introduced to fix a few weird corner cases that most players will never encounter, so you don't need to worry about it too much.

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Changes For: Coldsnap
Previous Set: Dissension
  • Cumulative Upkeep Choices and Payments
    If there is a choice involved in paying a cumulative upkeep cost, all of the choices for the cost payment are made separately before the costs are actually paid. For example, if you control a Jotun Owl Keeper with one counter already on it, when the cumulative upkeep ability resolves, you will put an age counter on it; decide whether you wish to pay , , , or ; or sacrifice the permanent. Then all cost payments are made simultaneously.


  • Snow-Covered to Snow
    The supertype "snow-covered" has received a name-change. It is now simply "snow". This is just a change of terminology; no functional changes occured as a result of this change.


  • Snow Mana -
    A new mana symbol has been introduced: . This symbol is called a "snow mana symbol" and stands for one mana of any type that was produced by a permanent with the supertype "snow". This symbol appears only in costs; you cannot add to your mana pool, and is not a color of mana. It's simply used as a limitation on the mana that can be used to pay it.

    For example, the in the cost of Rimefeather Owl's activated ability can be paid with mana from a Snow-Covered Island, a Boreal Druid, or a Thermopod; the color (or lack thereof) doesn't matter, only whether or not the thing that produced it was snow. (The part of the cost can still be paid with any sort of mana.)


  • New Keywords
    Coldsnap brought with it two new keywords: [post=9972083]Recover[/post] and [post=9972087]Ripple[/post]. For more information on either, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=9972083]Recover[/post] is an ability of some cards that allows you to get them back from your graveyard when a creature is put into your graveyard from the battlefield. But look out--if you can't pay the cost to return the card right when the creature is put into your graveyard, the card with Recover is exiled for good.

    [post=9972087]Ripple[/post] is an ability of some spells that can allow you to cast many copies of the same spell at once. When you cast a card with Ripple, you can reveal some cards from the top of your library and cast any of the revealed cards that have the same name as the spell you just cast--for free! And when you cast those spells, their Ripple abilities trigger, and you can reveal even more cards from your library to possibly ripple even more! With a bit of luck, you might just be able to cast all of your copies of the Ripple card for the price of one!


  • Coin Flipping
    Rules for flipping coins have been introduced with this update. These rules define under which circumstances flips are won or lost by particular players and when nobody wins or loses.

    When flipping a coin for an effect that cares whether a player wins or loses the flip, the affected player flips the coin, and only that player wins or loses the flip; you do not win a flip if your opponent loses a flip, nor do you lose if your opponent wins. When flipping a coin for an effect that just cares about whether the coin comes up heads or tails, nobody wins or loses. If a coin is not available, any method of randomization can be used as long as it has two possible outcomes of equal likelihood and all players agree to the substitution.


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.

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Changes For: Time Spiral
Previous Set: Coldsnap
  • How to cast spells without a mana cost
    Nonland cards that don't have a mana cost (such as Ancestral Vision) cannot be cast in the normal way, because a nonexistent mana cost cannot be paid. (Note that a nonexistent cost is not the same thing as a cost of ; a nonexistent cost is denoted as {}, a cost of as {0}.)

    To cast a spell with a nonexistent mana cost, you must find some way to circumvent the mana cost, eliminating the need to pay it, either by ignoring it entirely, or by paying some alternate cost instead of it. (The Time Spiral costless cards have a built-in way of doing this, by using Suspend.)


  • Echo has a cost
    The Echo cost of a card with [post=9971897]Echo[/post] used to always be the same as the mana cost of the card itself. This is no longer the case. Now, a card's echo cost can be anything, and may be entirely different from the mana cost of the card with echo. All existing cards with Echo have been given appropriate errata; there have not been any functional changes, except to a few minor corner cases.


  • Threshold has been demoted
    Threshold used to be a keyword ability; it is no longer. It has been turned into an [post=10159806]Ability Word[/post], with no particular rules meaning; all of the rules text now appears on the cards themselves.

    All cards with threshold have been given appropriate errata; there has been no functional change.


  • Madness has been simplified
    The [post=9971928]Madness[/post] ability used to work by giving you a short window of time in which you could cast the card any time you could cast an instant; this implementation led to minor loopholes that most people were not aware of, one of which involved being able to play a land before casting the Madness spell. These loopholes have been eliminated.

    Now, a card with Madness must be cast as the Madness triggered ability resolves, or not at all. There is no time between the resolution of the ability and the casting of the spell during which other actions have been taken; the casting happens as part of the ability resolving.

    For more information on Madness, see [post=9971928]its entry[/post] in the Keyword FAQ.


  • New State-Based Action - Reversal!
    A new state-based action has been introduced. It is as follows: If there are both +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters on a single permanent, they "cancel each other out", eliminating each other in pairs until only one kind remains.

    This is a reversal of previous rules; previously, having both kinds of counter on a single permanent had no special effect and did not affect the counters. Note that this does not apply to any kinds of counters other than +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters; +2/+2 counters, +0/+1 counters, -1/+1 counters, and so forth are all unaffected.


  • New Keywords
    Time Spiral debuted the [post=10193628]Flash[/post], [post=10193678]Split Second[/post], and [post=10193856]Suspend[/post] mechanics. For more information on each, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=10193628]Flash[/post] is a new keyword for an old ability; you can cast a card with flash any time you can cast an instant. Old cards with this ability (as well as old cards that effectively granted it) have been given appropriate errata. There has been no significant functional change.

    [post=10193678]Split Second[/post] prevents players from casting spells or activating abilities that aren't mana abilities as long as the card with split second is on the stack. Remember, though, that once the card with split second resolves, players will once more be able to cast things. Also, split second does not stop players from activating mana abilities (activated abilities that produce mana) or from taking special actions (like turning a creature with Morph face-up).

    [post=10193856]Suspend[/post] effectively allows you to partially pay for your spells with time rather than with mana. You can pay the full cost to get the card now, or you can "suspend" the card and pay a different (usually drastically reduced) cost and get it for free some turns later. There are also spells you cannot cast normally that you must Suspend.


  • Mulligans in Two-Headed Giant
    The rules for taking mulligans in the Two-Headed Giant format have been altered. Because 2HG matches consist of only one game, each player can take one "free" mulligan, without reducing his or her hand size. After that, mulligans must follow the normal Paris Mulligan rules.

    When taking mulligans, first the players on the team who will be going first decide whether or not they wish to mulligan. (Each player makes this decision individually; one player may decide to mulligan while their teammate might not. Players are allowed to consult one another before making mulliganing decisions.) Then the players on each other team in turn order do the same. Then whichever players decided to take mulligans take theirs simultaneously. This process repeats until no player wishes to take a mulligan. . A player may take a mulligan even after his or her teammate has decided to keep his or her opening hand. Note, however, that a player who has decided to keep their hand at any point cannot later decide to start taking mulligans again.


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Draw Rules
    The rules pertaining to drawing cards have been clarified and put into the rules themselves, instead of being defined in the Comprehensive Rules Glossary. This change was for clarification and confirmation only; it introduced no functional changes of any kind.



  • Minor Change to Morph and face-down cards
    Cards with Morph used to have a mana cost of when face-down. This is no longer the case. Now, all face-down cards have no mana cost. (Note that they still have a converted mana cost of 0.)

    Face-down cards of any kind are now by default 2/2 colorless, nameless, creature-typeless creatures with no mana cost. (Though they can be other things, depending on what turned them face-down.) It used to be only permanents with Morph that were affected like this; now it applies to all permanents.

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Changes For: Planar Chaos
Previous Set: Time Spiral
  • Tokens can't return to the battlefield
    Once a token has left the battlefield, it can never, ever return, no matter what. This rule was introduced to eliminate an unintended loophole that was created by Momentary Blink whereupon a token could be returned to the battlefield after being exiled.


  • New Keywords
    Planar Chaos debuted the [post=11301548]Vanishing[/post] mechanic. For more information on it, see its entry in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=11301548]Vanishing[/post] is a new keyword that works much like the old [post=9971909]Fading[/post] mechanic. A permanent with Vanishing enters the battlefield with a certain number of time counters, and its controller removes one at the beginning of his or her upkeep. When the last counter is removed, the permanent must be sacrificed.

    Note that Vanishing, while similar to Fading, is not the same. For an explanation of exactly how the two mechanics differ, as well as more information on Vanishing in general, see the [post=11301548]Vanishing[/post] entry in the Keyword FAQ.


  • Dead players in multiplayer
    If a player leaves the game while he or she has priority, priority is passed to the next player in turn order. If a player leaves the game while it's his or her turn, the turn is finished without an active player, skipping over any times when the active player would receive priority. This rule was introduced to fix an oversight in the existing rules; no functional changes were introduced.


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Exiling exiled cards
    If an exiled card is somehow exiled again, it's treated as a new object, just as if it had changed zones. (It doesn't actually change zones, though.) Effects and counters that relate to its previous existence won't affect it. (See the [post=19009963]Magic 2010[/post] entry for an explanation of the term "exile".)



  • Copying spells and changing targets
    Some spells, like Twincast, allow a player to copy a spell and choose new targets for the copy. The new target-choosing is done as part of the action of copying; the spells are put onto the stack with the modified targets; they are not put there and then have their targets changed. This was a minor addition to fix an ambiguity in the rules.

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Changes For: Future Sight
Previous Set: Planar Chaos
  • Blocking Restrictions and Requirements - Reversal!
    The rules regarding blocking restrictions and requirements have been changed. Previously, blocking requirements couldn't "team up" with blocking restrictions to force creatures that weren't under a direct requirement to block to do so. This is now no longer the case; if a creature is required to attack or block and you have to do something else in addition to make it possible for the creature to do so, you have to do so if you can.

    An example of a situation affected by this change:


    You control a Goblin War Drums and attack with a Goblin Grappler, provoking a creature the defending player controls. Under the old rules, your opponent didn't have to block the Grapper, because the requirement couldn't force his other creatures to block. He could block if he wanted to (and if he did so, one of the creatures that blocked had to be the provoked one), but he wasn't forced to.

    Under the new rules, the defending player is forced to block with both the provoked creature and some other creature(s), because the provoked creature is required to block, but can't do so on its own. He can only refuse to block if it's impossible for him to block with some other creature in addition to the provoked one. (He has no other creatures, all his other creatures are tapped, his only other creature can't block, whatever.)



    Note that while you are forced to meet the terms of the restriction if it is possible for you to do so, you are not required to take separate actions that would then make it possible for you to meet the restriction. Let's take a riff off of the example above to show what I mean:


    Your opponent controls a Goblin War Drums and attacks you with a Goblin Grappler, provoking the only creature you control. You have only that one creature on the battlefield, but you do have a Sacred Mesa on the battlefield and enough available mana to use its ability.

    Even though your existing creature is required to block and you would need another creature to block with in order to meet the restriction, you are not required to activate the Mesa's ability and make that second creature so you can then block with it.




  • Characteristic-defining abilities - Reversal!
    Characteristic-setting abilities are now known as characteristic-defining abilities, and apply in all zones regardless of what they do. (Formerly, only CSAs that set type or color applied in all zones.) There has also been a change to the layering rules (see The Layer System) that makes it impossible for effects from Characteristic-Defining Abilities to be dependent on other effects.

    This changes a number of minor interactions, notably ones involving the power and toughness of creature cards in libraries that use CDAs to set their power and/or toughness and ones involving spells and abilities that remove abilities from objects. It shouldn't come up too often otherwise.


  • New Card Type - Tribals
    Future Sight introduced a new card type: Tribals. The Tribal card type never appears on its own; it always appears on a card that has some other, non-Tribal card type. The only real function of the Tribal card type is to allow noncreature cards to have creature types. For example, Bound in Silence is a Rebel, and so can be fetched onto the battlefield by cards like Amrou Scout, even though it isn't a creature.


  • Keyword Actions
    This rules update introduced the concept of keyword actions. Just as a keyworded ability is shorthand for a longer ability, a keyword action is a simple verb used as shorthand for a more complex action. Most of the keyword actions introduced here are words you should already be familiar with; this merely codifies and generalizes the role of a keyword action for later expansion.

    As of Future Sight, the existing keyword actions are:

    • Attach
      To attach one object to another, move it from where it is onto that object. You should already be familiar with this process--it's what you do when you use Auras or Equipment.


    • Counter
      To counter a spell or ability is to cancel it and put it into its owner's graveyard. This should also be familiar.


    • Destroy
      Continuing with the familiar theme, to destroy a permanent is to move it from the battlefield to the graveyard.


    • Regenerate
      Regeneration saves a permanent from being destroyed; see the Regeneration entry in the Keyword FAQ for more information. Note that regeneration can't bring a dead permanent back to life and that it can only save a permanent from being destroyed; other forms of removal will still work as normal.


    • Sacrifice
      Just like destruction, to sacrifice a permanent, move it from the battlefield to its owner's graveyard. You cannot sacrifice something that isn't a permanent or that you do not control.


    • Tap
      Last of the old guard keyword actions, to tap a permanent is to turn it sideways.


    • Scry
      Scry is a regular keyword from Fifth Dawn that was revamped as a keyword action for Future Sight. To Scry {N}, look at the top N cards of your library, put any number of them on the bottom in any order, then put the rest on top in any order. For more information on scrying, see its Keyword FAQ entry.


    • Fateseal
      New for Future Sight, Fateseal is a version of scry performed on your opponent's library instead of your own. To Fateseal {N}, look at the top N cards of an opponent's library, put any number of them on the bottom in any order, then put the rest on top in any order. If you have more than one opponent, you can do it to any of them. For more information on fatesealing, see its Keyword FAQ entry.



  • Fortifications
    Fortifications are a new artifact type similar to Equipment, only for your lands instead of your creatures. The rules for fortifications are exactly the same as the rules for Equipment, and they use the Fortify keyword (see the section on new keywords below) the same way artifacts use the Equip keyword.


  • New Keywords - Reversal!
    Future Sight debuted the a large number of new mechanics. For more information on any of them, see their entries in the Keyword FAQ.

    Lifelink, Reach, and Shroud are new keywords for familiar abilities; Whenever a creature with lifelink deals damage, its controller gains that much life; possession of reach (sometimes colloquially known as "web" or "the spider ability") allows a creature to block creatures with flying; and things with shroud can't be the target of spells or abilities.


    Note that cards with the original version of Lifelink (a triggered ability reading "whenever {this} deals damage, you gain that much life") do not have the keyworded version of lifelink; they originally received errata to have it, but Wizards wanted to change the way they keyword functioned and reversed that errata so that they wouldn't have a ton of cards working quite differently from the way they said they worked. For a full explanation of how lifelink currently works, see its Keyword FAQ entry.

    Note also that the introduction of reach reverses the rulings on a few blocking situations. Previously, creatures with this ability blocked "as though they had flying", which meant they could not block creatures such as Gnat Alley Creeper, but could block creatures like Treetop Scout. However, reach is incorporated into the rules for flying rather than making the creature block as though it had flying, so it reverses this situation. Creatures with reach can block Gnat Alley Creeper, and cannot block Treetop Scout.

    Be aware of these changes.



    Absorb is an ability that prevents damage. If something would deal damage to a creature with Absorb N, N of that damage is prevented. Note that multiple instances of Absorb on a single permanent are cumulative.

    Aura Swap is an activated ability that allows you to exchange an Aura you control for an Aura in your hand. Note that the actions of putting the Aura with Aura Swap into your hand and putting the Aura from your hand onto the battlefield attached to whatever the original Aura was enchanting are simultaneous. The exchange is canceled if both parts of it can't be performed, for whatever reason, either because the Aura in your hand can't be attached to the permanent, or the Aura on the battlefield is no longer around or can't be returned to your hand.

    Deathtouch is a modification of the class of abilities generally known collectively as "the basilisk ability". If something with deathtouch deals damage to a creature, that creature is destroyed as a state-based action. (Deathtouch originally was worded as a triggered ability, but was changed later on to function more intuitively.) Note that this exact ability wasn't errata'd onto any existing cards, as the exact variant it described hadn't appeared in this form before.

    Delve is a cost-reduction ability that allows you to exile cards from your graveyard in order to reduce the cost of your spells. When casting a spell with Delve, each card in your graveyard that you exile reduces the colorless portion of your spell's cost by .

    Fortify appears on Fortification cards, which function exactly the same way Equipment does, only for lands instead of creatures. Fortify is to a Fortification as the Equip ability is to an Equipment.

    Frenzy is a creature combat ability; whenever a creature with frenzy N attacks and isn't blocked, it gets +N/+0 until end of turn.

    Gravestorm is a spell-copying mechanic similar to Storm. When you cast a spell with gravestorm, you get a copy of it for each permanent that was put into a graveyard from the battlefield during the current turn. Note that gravestorm only counts permanents (ie, cards or tokens on the battlefield) that were put into graveyards. Cards being put into a graveyard from somewhere other than the battlefield will not provide you with additional gravestorm copies.

    Poisonous is a triggered ability; whenever a creature with poisonous N deals combat damage to a player, that player gets N poison counters. (If a player has 10 or more poison counters, he or she loses the game, much as he or she would if he or she had 0 life.)

    Transfigure is an activated ability similar to Transmute, only it is used while the card it is on is on the battlefield. To transfigure a permanent, pay the transfigure cost and sacrifice it, then search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as that permanent and put it onto the battlefield. You can only transfigure a permanent during a main phase of your turn, and only when the stack is empty.


  • Life Totals in Two-Headed Giant
    The official starting life total in Two-Headed Giant games is now 30 instead of 40, and the team who goes first now skips their entire draw step during their first turn.


  • Subtypes
    The list of legal creature and artifact types have been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature and artifact types, see this post. (See the entry for Fortifications above; as of now, no rules are attached to the Contraption type.)



  • Hidden Triggers
    As of this rules update, if an object has a triggered ability, that ability can't trigger unless that object is visible to all players at the time it would do so.



  • Players with abilities
    Players can now have abilities the same as cards; so far, players have been given protection and shroud.



  • Landcycling
    The landcycling ability has been expanded into typecycling, letting you cycle not only for cards with land types, but for cards with any kind of subtype. If you can find a card that does it, of course.



  • Mana Abilities
    The definition of a mana ability has changed; now, abilities that target cannot be mana abilities. See the FAQ entry on Targets and Targeting for a definition of what does and does not target.



  • Playing Lands
    You can now never play a land during some other player's turn, even if something would seem to allow you to do so.



  • New Sections
    There are now sections of the rules specifically dealing with life and with costs. The section on numbers has also been clarified. These new rules don't introduce any functional changes. The other new section, Keyword Actions, was covered above.

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Changes For: Tenth Edition
Previous Set: Future Sight
  • Multiplayer Mulligans
    All multiplayer formats now incorporate a "free" mulligan. The first time a player mulligans, he or she draws seven cards rather than six. After that initial mulligan, things return to normal, with each subsequent mulligan consisting of one fewer card than the one prior to it.


  • Spell Copies
    The rules now specify that the owner of a copy of a spell is the player under whose control it was put on the stack.


  • Subgames
    The rules for subgames have been altered as of Tenth Edition as part of a general cleanup effort to clarify some odd interactions. The most important changes are that all cards in the subgame, in any zone, are shuffled into their respective owner's library when the subgame ends and the main game resumes.



  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Abilities
    Previously, the rules didn't specify exactly what happened to abilities after they finished resolving. Now they do. This causes no functional changes.

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Changes For: Masters Edition
Previous Set: Tenth Edition
  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.

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Changes For: Lorwyn
Previous Set: Masters Edition
  • Planeswalkers - New Card Type!
    Planeswalkers are a completely new card type. You may cast a planeswalker the same way you cast any other noninstant spell--during your main phase when the stack is empty and you have priority. When a planeswalker spell resolves, the planeswalker enters the battlefield the same way any other permanent spell would, with a number of loyalty counters on it equal to its loyalty number (found in the bottom right-hand corner of the card). If at any time a planeswalker has 0 loyalty counters on it, it's put into its owner's graveyard as a state-based action. If there are ever two or more planeswalkers on the battlefield with the same planeswalker type (listed after the dash on the type line), all of them are put into their owner's graveyard as a state-based action.

    A planeswalker's activated abilities have a cost relating to loyalty counters. A positive cost (+1, +2, etc.) means "put [that many] loyalty counters on this permanent." A negative cost (-2, -10, -X, etc.) means "remove [that many] loyalty counters from this permanent." You may only activate these 'loyalty abilities' any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty and you have priority), and you may only activate one loyalty ability of any given permanent each turn.

    Planeswalkers cannot attack or block like creatures, but they can be attacked the same way that players can be. An attacking player chooses whether each of his attacking creatures attack either the defending player or any planeswalker(s) that player controls. (He can have some of his creatures attack the planeswalker(s) while others attack the player, if he likes.) A defending player may block creatures that are attacking a planeswalker he or she controls as normal. Creatures that are attacking a planeswalker will deal damage to the planeswalker the same way they would to a player--just like a player, the planeswalker won't deal any damage to those creatures in return. A planeswalker who is dealt damage has that many loyalty counters removed from him or her, the same way that a player who is dealt damage loses life.

    While they are similar, planeswalkers are not players, and cannot be targeted by things which target players. However, if a spell or ability an opponent controls would deal damage to a you, that spell or ability's controller may have that source deal (all of) that damage to any planeswalker you control instead. Again, a planeswalker who is dealt damage has that many loyalty counters removed from him or her. (Only opponents can do this; you can't redirect damage from your own things this way.)


  • Keyword Abilities and Actions
    Lorwyn introduced a number of new keywords; for more information on any of them, see their entries in the Keyword FAQ.

    Clash is a keyword action; to clash is to reveal the top card of your library. You may then put that card on the top or the bottom of your library. To clash with another player, each of you clash. A player wins a clash if he or she revealed a card with a higher converted mana cost than any other card revealed during that clash. (If there's a tie, no player wins.)

    Champion is a keyword ability. When a permanent with "champion a {something}" enters the battlefield, you must sacrifice it unless you exile a {something} you control. When the permanent with champion leaves the battlefield, you return the championed permanent to the battlefield under its owner's control.

    Changeling is a keyworded characteristic-defining ability. A creature with changeling is all creature types, no matter what zone it's in.

    Evoke is a keyword that allows you to cast a permanent spell for a significantly reduced cost. If you choose to do so, you must sacrifice the permanent when it enters the battlefield. (All cards with evoke have abilities that trigger on either entering or leaving the battlefield, which means you'll often want to use evoke to get the ability right away, even though it means you won't keep the creature.)

    Hideaway is a keyword that allows you to "hide away" a card for later use. A permanent with hideaway enters the battlefield tapped; when it does so, you look at the top four cards of your library, exile one of them face down, and put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order. As long as that card remains exiled, it can be looked at by any player who has controlled the permanent with hideaway that exiled it. (Other abilities of the hideaway permanent will allow you to play it at a later time.)


  • Planeswalker Types
    Planeswalkers also have a set of subtypes, called planeswalker types. For a full list of currently existing planeswalker types, see this post.


  • Winning in Multiplayer
    In a multiplayer game using the Limited Range of Influence option, an effect that would cause you to win the game instead causes all of your opponents within your Range of Influence to lose the game.


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Control
    The rules now explicitly state that the controller of a delayed triggered ability is the player who controlled the effect that created it.



  • Mana Symbols
    and are no longer supported mana symbols.

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Changes For: Morningtide
Previous Set: Lorwyn
  • Enters the Battlefield - Reversal!
    There's been a change to the specifics of the rules regarding the specifics of how to determine which replacement effects will apply to an object as it enters the battlefield. (For things that affect how something enters the battlefield, such as Loxodon Gatekeeper, Karstoderm, Bramblewood Paragon, and so on.)

    To determine how an object enters the battlefield, apply any effects from the permanent's own abilities that apply solely to itself (as opposed to a general set of things that could include itself) and any one-shot effects from things like Magical Hack or Moonlace that altered it when it was a spell, then apply the applicable replacement effects one by one in the normal way.


  • Keyword Abilities
    Morningtide introduced two new keywords; for more information on either of them, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=14838916]Prowl[/post] is an ability that lets you pay a special cost to cast your spells if a creature you control of a certain type has dealt combat damage to one of your opponents this turn. Some prowl costs just let you cast your spells cheaper than normal; some may be more expensive, but allow your spell to have awesome additional effects it wouldn't have if you cast it for the normal cost.

    [post=14838922]Reinforce[/post] is an activated ability that allows you to discard a card in your hand to put some number of +1/+1 counters on a creature on the battlefield. Extra cards in your hand you can't use? Use them to make your creatures stronger!


  • Auras Entering the Battlefield - Reversal!
    Previously, if an Aura was entering the battlefield directly through some method other than being cast normally, the person putting it onto the battlefield decided what it should enchant as it enters the battlefield. This led to strange situations where some person other than the Aura's controller was putting the Aura onto the battlefield, so they got to decide what the Aura would enchant even though someone else was the controller. This has been reversed. Now, if an Aura is entering the battlefield directly, it's the to-be controller of the Aura that decides what it will be enchanting.


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Clarifications
    A number of minor clarifications to the rules have been introduced with this update; these changes cause no functional differences, simply codifying existing rulings into the rules, but you may wish to be aware of them.

    • If two players are to perform an action simultaneously, they make any choices relevant to the action in APNAP order first (meaning the later players know the choices of the earlier players), then the actions are performed simultaneously. For example, if Innocent Blood resolves, first the active player decides which creature to sacrifice, then each other player does in turn order, and then the creatures are sacrificed simultaneously. This caused a bit of confusion with things like Stronghold Rats that asked for choices to be made from hidden zones. This update clarifies that while the opponent may know that "that card" ("the one three from the right", "the one I am holding in my other hand") is going to be the one that will be discarded, the actual identity (the name, card type, etc.) of "that card" is hidden information, so the player won't know that when making his choice. (Unless he has a Telepathy on the battlefield...)

    • The rules state that effects that edited the characteristics of a spell continue to apply to the permanent the spell creates--this was never meant to include effects from static abilities, so that has been clarified.

    • An ambiguity in the previous wording of one of the rules, when taken literally, implied that the game would never proceed beyond the untap step of the first turn. This has been corrected.

    • The procedure of how one declares attackers and blockers has been clarified in order to make the intended interactions with Master Warcraft clearer.

    • The phrase "its characteristics" has been removed from rules regarding last known information, in order to remove the implication that characteristics were the only things covered by last known information.

    • The definition of costs has been expanded to include costs paid in order to prevent something from happening.

    • The rules for choosing card names have been clarified with respect to split and flip cards. If a player wishes to name a split card, both halves of the card must be named, and a card is considered to have the same name if it has the name of either half. If a player wishes to name the flipped half of a flip card, he or she may do so.

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Changes For: Shadowmoor
Previous Set: Morningtide
  • Monocolor Hybrids
    Shadowmoor introduced a series of new mana symbols, known as the monocolor hybrid symbols. These symbols are (), (), (), (), and (). These symbols appear only in costs and denote a cost that can be paid with either two mana of any color or colorless mana, or with one mana of the appropriate color. For example, Beseech the Queen, with a cost of ()()(), can be cast for , , , or .

    If something would reduce a cost or add mana to your mana pool in an amount designated by a hybrid mana symbol, you pick one of the two halves for it to work based on.

    For the purposes of converted mana cost, a monocolor hybrid symbol always counts as being the largest amount it can be paid for. So the converted mana cost of a card that costs () would be 2.


  • The Untap Symbol
    Also introduced in Shadowmoor was the untap symbol, . This symbol works exactly like the tap symbol you already know and love (), only it means you untap things instead of tapping them. An ability with in its costs is affected by Summoning Sickness the same way that one with in its costs is, and a creature that's already untapped can't use a ability, because it's already untapped and thus can't be untapped to pay the cost.


  • Keyword Abilities
    Shadowmoor introduced three new keywords; for more information on any of them, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=15805642]Conspire[/post] is a mechanic that allows you to tap your creatures to create an additional copy of your spells. When casting a spell with conspire, you may tap two creatures that share a color with that spell. If you do, you get an extra copy of that spell to do with as you please. You can't do this more than once per conspire ability, though.

    [post=15805856]Persist[/post] is an ability that allows creatures to survive being killed off...once. If a creature with persist is put into a graveyard from the battlefield and it doesn't have any -1/-1 counters on it, it's returned to the battlefieldfield with a -1/-1 counter on it. (If it dies again, it won't come back because it had a -1/-1 counter on it...unless, of course, you found a way to remove the counter...)

    [post=15805856]Wither[/post] is an ability that changes what damage does to creatures. If a source that has wither deals damage to a creature, that damage is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters. That means, among other things, that it won't be removed like regular damage at end of turn, turning combat into a war of attrition.


  • Characteristic-Defining Abilities
    Previously, abilities that inherently defined one of an object's characteristics, such as Ancestral Vision's color-defining ability or Maro's P/T-defining ability, functioned "in all zones". This wording had some unintended loopholes, so it has been expanded so that such abilities function everywhere, even outside the game. So now you can finally Glittering Wish for Transguild Courier.


  • "Can't Gain Life"
    If something says a player can't gain life, they can't pay costs that require them to gain life, and can't exchange life totals with a player that has a higher life total than they do--if such an exchange tries to occur, it will do nothing. (Note that saying a player can't gain life isn't the same as saying "If they would gain life, they gain no life instead.")


  • Life Payment in Two-Headed Giant
    Life payment in the two-headed giant format was a bit ambigious, so the matter has been clarified; if you are asked to pay life in two-headed giant, you may pay any amount up to and including the life total you share with your teammate.


  • Prevent + Replace
    If an effect wants to prevent damage and then do something based on that, the prevention happens first, and then whatever else the effect is trying to do.

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Changes For: Eventide
Previous Set: Shadowmoor
  • New Keyword
    Eventide introduced the new keyword [post=16348194]Retrace[/post]; for more information it, see its entry in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=16348194]Retrace[/post] is a keyword ability that allows you to cast spells from your graveyard. You can cast any card with retrace directly from your graveyard the same way you could if it was in your hand, as long as you discard a land card from your hand in addition to paying the card's normal mana cost. Retrace is similar to [post=9971917]Flashback[/post], except that unlike Flashback, it doesn't exile the card afterwards--a spell you retrace goes right back to your graveyard once it's done resolving, ready to be retraced again and again and again.


  • Linked Abilities
    This rules update expanded the role of so-called "linked abilities" in the rules. While this does introduce certain functional changes, they're all extremely minor, involving the kind of farfetched scenarios that normal players never encounter but rules gurus love to debate about.

    The different kinds of linked abilities are as follows:
    • An activated or triggered ability that exiles some number of cards, and another ability that refers to "the exiled cards" or to cards "exiled with [this]" (eg. Synod Sanctum, Bottled Cloister)

    • An ability that creates a replacement effect that causes some number of cards to be exiled, and as above, another ability that refers to " the exiled cards" or to cards "exiled with [this]" (eg. Uba Mask, Shared Fate)

    • An ability that puts one or more objects onto the battlefield, and another ability that refers to objects "put onto the battlefield with [this]". (eg. Saproling Burst, Dual Nature)

    • An ability that causes a player to "choose a [value] or "name a card" and another ability that refers to "the chosen [value]," "the last chosen [value]," or "the named card". (eg. Meddling Mage, Ashling's Prerogative)

    • A static ability and a triggered ability printed as part of the same paragraph. (eg. Booby Trap, Primitive Etchings)

    • A [post=9971915]Kicker[/post] ability and another ability that refers to whether the kicker cost was paid. (eg. Urza's Rage)

    • The two abilities represented by the [post=13941565]Champion[/post] keyword. (eg. Thoughtweft Trio)


    "Linked" abilities, as their name implies, are intristically linked; the things referred to in the second ability can only refer to the things brought about by the first half of the ability. If something manages to gain a pair of linked abilities at the same time, then that pair will be linked to each other as well; they can't be linked to any other ability. (So to give an example, if you exile some cards with Arc-Slogger, then somehow give it the abilities from a Synod Sanctum, you can't use the ability from the Sanctum to return the cards you exiled with the Slogger ability, because it's not linked to the Sanctum ability that returns the cards.)


  • Creature Types
    The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Resolving
    A minor change was made to the rules with this update to cover a weird corner case involving Worms of the Earth, Clone, and Dryad Arbor--if a permanent spell is resolving, but for some reason the permanent cannot actually enter the battlefield, it is put into its owner's graveyard.



  • Clarifications
    A few small clarifications were made to the rules with this update; these changes cause no functional changes, simply codifying existing rulings into the rules, but you may wish to be aware of them.

    • The rules now explicitly define what it means to 'place' a counter on something. Putting a counter on a permanent already on the battlefield counts as 'placing' a counter on that permanent, but a permanent that enters the battlefield with counters also counts as having those counters 'placed' on it.

    • Previously there was a small miswording in one rule that implied that you could not pay 0 life if your life total was negative; this has been corrected. It's always possible for a player to pay 0 life.

    • An oversight with the rules for timestamps has been corrected; the rules previously handled how to order timestamps for multiple permanents entering the battlefield at once, but overlooked other possible ways for two effects to have the same timestamp. This has been corrected; now, if two effects would have the same timestamp, the active player chooses their timestamp order.

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Changes For: Shards of Alara
Previous Set: Eventide
  • Loops
    A few slight changes have been made to the rules for handling unbounded loops. Now, if a loop requires two or more players to do things to keep the loop going, each player chooses a number of times they wish to do their part to keep it going. Note that these decisions are made in turn order, with each player knowing the number chosen by the previous player. Then the loop is played out as though each player performed their appropriate actions the number of times they specified.

    Also, if a loop contains an effect which specifies "[X] unless [Y]," where X and Y are each actions, no player can be forced to choose Y in order to break the loop. If nobody chooses to perform Y, the loop continues as though X were mandatory.


  • Keyword Abilities
    Shards of Alara introduced three new keywords; for more information on any of them, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    [post=16976878]Devour[/post] is an ability that allows you to sacrifice your creatures in order to make the creature that devoured them stronger; many creatures with devour also give you some bonus that gets better with each additional creature you devour.

    [post=16976933]Exalted[/post] is an ability that encourages you to choose a single "champion" to attack with--whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 for every permanent with exalted you control.

    [post=16976983]Unearth[/post] is an ability that allows your creatures to come back from the graveyard for one last stab at your opponent. Activate the unearth ability to return your creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield and give them haste--they get exiled at the end of the turn, but your opponent is already dead by then, right?


  • Entering the Battlefield attacking/blocking
    This update has introduced a new rule to prevent weird things from happening with the new card Gather Specimens. If a creature would enter the battlefield attacking under the control of a player who isn't attacking, it enters the battlefield, but isn't attacking. Similarly, if a creature would enter the battlefield blocking but wouldn't be blocking a creature attacking its controller or one of their planeswalkers, it enters the battlefield, but isn't blocking anything.



  • Replacement effects and entering the battlefield
    An small addition has been added to the rules for replacement effects, again to prevent weird things from happening with Gather Specimens. When applying replacement effects, you must apply self-replacement effects first (effects belonging to a spell or ability that would replace some part of its own effect), then effects that would change whose control something enters the battlefield under, and then the rest in any order you wish, so long as they're still applicable.



  • Clarifications
    A few small clarifications were made to the rules with this update; these clarifications cause no functional changes, but you may wish to be aware of them anyway.

    • The procedure for conceding the game has been clarified; when a player concedes, they leave the game first, then lose. They don't lose before they leave.

    • This update has clarified the distinction between the act of attacking and/or blocking alone (being the only creature declared as an attacker or blocker) and the condition of attacking and/or blocking alone (being the only attacking or blocking creature).

    • Also clarified was the fact that the abilities that form the instructions you follow when instant or sorcery spells resolve are not activated, triggered, or static abilities, but another kind entirely, called spell abilities.

    • If two or more state-based actions are trying to do the same thing, and something would replace that thing with something else, it replaces all of them.

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Changes For: Conflux
Previous Set: Shards of Alara
  • Playing with Cards Revealed - Reversal!
    This update changed some (very corner-case) interactions with cards that reveal and interact with the top card of the library; now, if that card stops being revealed for any length of time (including as short a period as shuffling your library or rearranging the top few cards), it's considered a "new" card.


  • Deck-Construction-Modifying Abilities
    Previously there were some technical issues with abilities that modified the rules of deck construction; the rules have been altered slightly so as to allow them to work properly. This causes no functional change for players; it's just that the cards now have the proper CompRules support to let them work the way they need to.



  • [Type]cyling
    The rules for [type]cycling are being expanded to handle "basic landcycling". This doesn't change the functionality of any existing cards.



  • "Could Produce"
    A new rule has been created to clarify what a card means when it's talking about what type of mana something "could produce". This causes no functional changes; the entry is simply being copied from the glossary into the CompRules proper.



  • Order of Copy Creation
    If two or more objects that are being put onto the stack at the same time, their controller chooses their order relative to each other.



  • Play-Restrictions and Borrowing
    A new rule has been created to clarify some interactions between things with abilities that have some restriction and things that that "borrow" those abilities from other cards.



  • Clarifications
    A few small clarifications were made to the rules with this update; these clarifications cause no functional changes, but you may wish to be aware of them anyway.

    • The rules for basic land types were reworded slightly to make it clear that they apply to even lands that aren't on the battlefield.

    • The step-by-step instructions for how an object changes zones have been reworded so that they actually work with cards that may have abilities that affect how they do so from a hidden zone. This causes no functional changes.

    • The rules for creatures and planeswalkers in combat have been reworded slightly for clarification and to correct some minor omissions.

    • The rules for triggered abilities are being modified slightly to clarify the differences between them and activated abilities.

    • A rule has been added to clarify how things that trigger on a player losing the game work.

    • A rule has been added to clarify what "protection from everything" means.

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Changes For: Alara Reborn
Previous Set: Conflux
  • Keyword Abilities
    Alara Reborn introduced a new keyword: Cascade; for more information, see its entry in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread]

    [post=18557557]Cascade[/post] is an ability that gives you a free bonus spell from your library when you cast the card it's on. When you cast a spell with cascade, you exile cards from the top of your library one by one until you exile a nonland card with converted mana cost less than the cascade spell. You then may choose to cast that spell without paying its mana cost. (No matter what type it is.) The exiled cards are put on the bottom of your library in a random order. Best of all, if the spell you cascaded into also has cascade, that spell's cascade triggers and you get to do it all over again!


  • Becoming a New Object
    The rules that relate to an object becoming a new object when it changes zones have been changed slightly, with a slight addition to the list of exemptions to allow certain cards to have nicer, more intuitive text. Abilities of a permanent that require information about the choices made when it was played refer to the spell the permanent used to be, and abilities that allow you to cast a spell continue to exist while it's a spell on the stack.



  • 0 Power in Combat - Reversal
    A creature with 0 power in combat used to not assign any damage in combat, but this caused some minor unintuitive interactions, so they've changed it; now, a creature with 0 power assigns combat damage like any other creature...it just assigns 0 damage. (This means it will deal no damage at all, which is the same as not dealing damage.)



  • Hideaway
    There's been a slight change in the rules for the [post=13941966]Hideaway[/post] keyword to eliminate a confusing loophole.



  • Clarifications
    A few small clarifications were made to the rules with this update; these clarifications cause no functional changes, but you may wish to be aware of them anyway.

    • An addition was added to the rules for "leaves the battlefield" abilities clarifying that something that triggers when an object is put into a graveyard "from anywhere" is never a leaves-the-battlefield ability.

    • A slight addition was made to the rules for casting spells and activating abilities to clarify exactly when it was that an object becomes targeted.

    • The rules for protection have been expanded to include definitions of "protection from ~ and from -" and "protection from all ~". They work the same way, there's just rules supporting them now.

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Changes For: Magic 2010
Previous Set: Alara Reborn
  • Combat Damage - Major!
    Combat damage no longer uses the stack. Combat Damage is assigned at the beginning of the combat damage step of combat and then dealt immediately, without any chance to respond. This means that you can no longer both have your creature deal its combat damage and sacrifice it for some other effect or return it to your hand to save it from the combat damage it would receive. Either the creature is on the battlefield as the combat damage step starts, and thus deals and receives combat damage before you can do anything (and dies, if appropriate, before you can do anything), or you sacrifice/bounce it before the combat damage step and it isn't around to deal combat damage at all.

    Note that this changes nothing else about what you can do when during combat. You can still do things after blocking but before combat damage is dealt, you can still do things after combat damage is dealt, you can still do things in between 'first strike combat damage' being dealt and 'regular combat damage' being dealt. The only change is that you can no longer do things with combat damage on the stack, after it is assigned but before it is dealt.

    This change comes with an addendum, described in the next point.


  • Damage Assignment Order
    If an attacking creature is blocked by multiple creatures, as soon as the block is declared, the attacking player decides in what order he wants to assign lethal damage to the blockers. Then, once the combat damage step rolls around, the attacking player assigns damage among the blockers; he must assign 'lethal damage' to the first creature before any can be assigned to the second, must assign 'lethal damage' to the second before any can be assigned to the third, and so on.

    Note that 'lethal damage' is either  'damage equal to the creature's toughness, minus any damage already marked on it', or 'any damage from a source that has deathtouch', not 'damage that would actually kill the creature'.

    Also note that the reverse also applies--if the defending player somehow gets his creature to block multiple attackers, he must decide in which order he wants to assign lethal damage to those creatures.


  • Mana and Mana Burn
    Mana now empties from your mana pool at the end of every step, not just at the end of every phase. To go along with that, mana burn has been eliminated entirely. Unspent mana no longer causes mana burn when it vanishes--it just disappears with no ill effects.


  • Mulligans - Reversal
    The rules for mulligans have changed. Previously, the player who was playing first went through all of his or her mulligans before anyone else did, and then each other player did the same in turn order. This is no longer the case. Instead, each player (in turn order) first decides if they want to take a mulligan, and then everyone who did takes their mulligan simultaneously. Then everyone who took a mulligan this way decides whether or not they want to take another, and those who do again take those mulligans simultaneously. This continues until nobody wishes to take a mulligan any more.

    You can't decide to stop taking mulligans and then decide to take one after all at some later point once other people have done some more mulligans--once you decide to keep your hand, you keep it for good.


  • Terminology Changes
    Magic 2010 introduced a number of terminology changes for various reasons, including shortening card text and (hopefully) clearing up rules confusions among newer players. Those changes are as follows.

    • 'In Play' --> 'The Battlefield'
      A lot of players tended to get confused about the difference between 'playing' something and something 'coming into play' or being 'put into play', because "play" meant something entirely different when it was being used as a noun and when it was being used as a verb. The former referred to the game zone known as the 'in play zone', while the latter referred to the action of putting a spell onto the stack and paying its costs before giving people a chance to respond to it. (Except for lands, which just entered play when played...which just made things more confusing.) As such, the 'in-play zone' has been renamed 'the battlefield'. This is purely a cosmetic change; anything that talked about 'coming into play' now talks about 'entering the battlefield', and so on.


    • 'Play' --> 'Cast / Activate'
      As just stated, the act of 'playing' a spell was often confused with 'putting [it] into play', when the two were very different. To help solve this problem, R&D is restoring a bit of old terminology; you now 'cast' spells and 'activate' abilities, not 'play' them. 'Play' now refers only to the act of placing a land onto the battlefield as your one land for the turn.


    • 'Remove(d) from the game' --> 'Exile(d)'
      The (highly inaccurately named) 'removed-from-the-game zone' has been renamed the 'exile zone', in order to cut down on card text and give it a better name. The act of removing something from the game is now called 'exiling' it. Unmake, for example, now reads "Exile target creature." This creates exactly one functional difference, which is discussed below.


    • 'At end of turn' --> 'At the beginning of the end step'
      A lot of people got confused about the difference between an effect that lasted 'until end of turn' and something which caused something to happen 'at end of turn', which really meant 'at the beginning of the end-of-turn step'. As such, the name of the 'end-of-turn step' is being changed to the 'end step', and cards which said 'at end of turn' will now say 'at the beginning of the end step' or 'at the beginning of the next end step'. This is purely a cosmetic change and introduces no functional changes.



  • Lifelink - Reversal!
    The way that the keyword lifelink works has changed. Rather than being a triggered ability that triggered on damage being dealt, lifelink now changes the nature of the damage that would be dealt by the creature with lifelink. Damage dealt by a source with lifelink simply causes its controller to gain that much life, as part of its effects. This happens at the same time the damage is dealt, before anything can happen. As a result of this change, lifelink is no longer cumulative in multiples, and a number of cards that had been given errata to have the old triggered ability version of lifelink were de-errata'd so they wouldn't be functionally altered by this change.


  • Deathtouch - Reversal!
    The way that the keyword deathtouch works has changed. Rather than being a triggered ability that triggered on damage being dealt, the rules of the game now simply watch for creatures being dealt damage by something that has deathtouch. If a creature is dealt damage by something with deathtouch, that creature is destroyed as a state-based action before any player can do anything. For this reason, a creature no longer requires being regenerated multiple times to save it from multiple instances of deathtouch or from the damage itself; one regeneration covers it all. In combat, any nonzero amount of damage being assigned from something with deathtouch is considered lethal.


  • Token Ownership - Reversal!
    The owner of a token used to be the controller of the effect that created it; this is no longer the case. The owner of a token is now the player under whose control the token entered the battlefield.


  • Outside the Game - Reversal!
    A card is outside the game if it's not in any of the game's zones. This is a bit of a change for cards like the Wishes that fetched cards from outside the game. Previously they could fetch cards in the exile zone as well as those in your sideboard (or your collection, for casual play), but they can no longer do that.


  • New Keyword
    Magic 2010 introduced the keyword Intimidate. For more information on Intimidate, see the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    Intimidate is basically a remake of the ability [post=9971932]Fear[/post], only without the built-in reference to black. A creature with intimidate can only be blocked by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share at least one color with it. Intimidate was created to replace Fear; while old cards that used Fear won't be issued errata, no new cards with Fear will be printed. Instead, those cards will have Intimidate.


  • Layers
    The old 'catchall' Layer 5 (in which everything not already applied besided P/T-modifying effects was applied) has been split into two layers: the first for effects which change colors and the second for effects which add or remove abilities. So now effects which change color will always apply before effects which add or remove abilities.

    In addition, effects from things which set P/T to a specific value are now always applied before other modification effects, such as counters, Giant Growth, Glorious Anthem, and so on.



  • Floating Mana
    If a player spends mana or passes priority while still having some mana remaining in his or her mana pool, that player must state what mana is still there.



  • Damage
    There's a new section on Damage in the Comprehensive Rules explaining how to resolve damage being dealt. First, you apply damage prevention/redirection effects, then the damage is transformed into its results, as modified by replacement effects that care about those results, and then the damage is 'dealt' and the results happen.



  • Shortcuts
    The section that used to talk about how to handle 'infinite' loops has been expanded and clarified into a section on shortcuts in general and how to go about them. This introduces a few changes, but nothing you would likely have ever heard of.



  • Bands with Other and Phasing
    The way these two keyword mechanics work have changed. The former essentially had its original functionality thrown out the door and replaced with vastly more intuitive functionality, and the latter still functions much the same, but how it goes about it was changed entirely. For more about how each of these abilities work now, see their respective entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].



  • Imprint and Substance
    These two used to be keyword abilities; they are no longer so. Imprint has been turned into an [post=10159806]ability word[/post], while Substance has been removed entirely. If you have never heard of substance and don't know what it does, don't sweat it, because it's not important. It didn't actually do anything and doesn't affect you.



  • APNAP Order
    If something is being done in APNAP order, and a player who's already been handled is given a new choice to make, that player makes that choice next. APNAP order is restarted for the remaining choices. If you don't know what APNAP order means, just ignore this because you'll likely never see it happen.



  • First/Double Strike Loophole
    A small loophole in the rules for first strike allowed a weird interaction; the loophole has been eliminated.



  • Clarifications
    • The section on winning and losing the game now explicitly states that a loss may be issued by a judge in a tournament or that an effect may cause the game to end in a draw; this was already mentioned elsewhere, but now it's where it belongs.

    • The rules on X have been clarified to make it clear that if X is in a card's mana cost, and you're not casting it without paying its mana cost or any alternate cost that replaces X, X has to be 0, even if X is present in some other mandatory additional cost.

    • The section that talked about *'s within a creature's power and toughness now properly covers creatures like Primal Plasma in addition to those like Maro.

    • If a spell or ability has begun resolving, it will finish resolving even if it leaves the stack somehow during that process.

    • A number of terms that existed only in the glossary have been moved into the CompRules proper.

    • A number of existing terms were added to the section on keyword actions.

    • The section on state-based actions received a few clarifications and was rearranged so they were listed in a more logical order.

    • The copy rules received a minor clarification that to fix an oddity that only complete rules-goobers would ever have thought or heard of. (Guilty.)

    • The multiplayer rules received a bunch of clarifications.

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Changes For: Planechase / Masters Edition III
Previous Set: Magic 2010
  • Planechase - NEW!
    The release of the Planechase decks introduced the concept of Planechase, a new casual variant officially supported by Wizards of the Coast. A lot of rules were tweaked to support the addition of Planechase. For a full explanation of this variant, see this article.


  • Drawing the Game and Range of Influence
    A slight addition to the rules covers what happens if an effect attempts to end a multiplayer game in a draw while the Limited Range of Influence option is being used; everyone within Range of Influence draws, while everyone else continues to play, and may win or lose as normal.



  • New SBA
    A new state-based action was added exclusively to handle Rasputin Dreamweaver; if he has too many counters on him, they are removed.



  • Clarifications
    • A bunch of rules that were overlooked, left incomplete, or improperly updated during the M10 update were corrected.
    • The rules on fortifications were tweaked, since if taken literally they sounded kind of weird.
    • The rules about improper attachments have been expanded to cover things they didn't properly cover before
    • A few obsolete rules were removed, and new reminder rules added in.

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Changes For: Zendikar
Previous Set: Planechase / Masters Edition III
  • Vanguard
    The Casual Variants section of the rules has been expanded to cover Vanguard, both the old oversided paper card version and the Magic Online version based around avatars.


  • Commander (Elder Dragon Highlander)
    The rules have also been expanded to cover Commander (formerly known as Elder Dragon Highlander or EDH), the popular casual multiplayer variant which has been showing up all over the place thanks to strong support amongst players, especially Judges. The full rules for Commander can be found here. Note that the addition of Commander rules into the Comprehensive Rules doesn't mean that Wizards is taking responsibility for the format's rules--that's still being handled by the same outside group of people it previously was. It's just being incorporated for ease of use, and will be following along with whatever they decide.


  • Loyalty Abilities
    A new section has been added to cover 'loyalty abilities', which are activated abilities with loyalty symbols in their costs. (The ones you see on planeswalkers.) Previously, these abilities were limited to one per turn any time you could cast a sorcery simply by virtue of being on a planeswalker card. This meant that if you could find some way to transfer the ability to a card which wasn't a planeswalker (and there were ways), you could use them as much as you liked without limitation. This was Really Weird, so this section was created. Now, the abilities are limited based on the fact that they include loyalty symbols in their costs, so the limitations of only-one-per-turn and only-any-time-you-could-cast-a-sorcery apply no matter what permanent you manage to sneak them onto. In addition, this cleans up some messy corner cases for planeswalkers.



  • Subtypes
    The list of spell types and creature types have been updated. For the full current listing of spell types and creature types, see this post.



  • 'Must target'
    Thanks to the de-errata-ing of the Flagbearers, a rule was added to cover effects that state that things 'must' target something. (Basically, you must obey as many such effects as possible without violating any effects which say you can't target something.)



  • Clarifications
    • The rules for priority included a minor error in stating that players could do things only if they had priority, which isn't quite true--they can also do them when the game instructs them to do so.
    • Rules were added to cover the new terminology for Kicker used in Zendikar.

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Changes For: Worldwake
Previous Set: Zendikar
  • Keyword Abilities
    Worldwake introduced...well, not quite a new keyword, but a tweak on an old one: Multikicker. For more information, see the Kicker entry in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread]

    Multikicker is a variant of [post=9971915]Kicker[/post] that works pretty much exactly the same way, but instead of only being able to pay the kicker cost once, you can pay the kicker cost as many times as you want to get a scaling effect based on how many times you did so.


  • Subtypes
    The lists of creature types and plane types have been expanded. For full lists of existing subtypes, see this post.



  • Unverifiability
    Library of Leng can cause unverifiability issues when something is asking about the characteristics of the card being discarded. (It's impossible for the opponent to verify what the characteristics are, since the card is moving from one hidden zone to another.) An addendum to the rules has been added so that if a card is being discarded to a hidden zone, its characteristics are considered undefined.



  • Subgames
     The rules for subgames have been modified to properly handle certain alternate formats that use the command zone. (Such as EDH or Planechase.) Cards in the command zone migrate down to the subgame, and then migrate back when the subgame ends.



  • Clarifications
    A few small clarifications were made to the rules with this update; these clarifications cause no functional changes, but you may wish to be aware of them anyway.
    [list]
  • The rules for winning the game in multiplayer games have received some slight changes, both to cover some accidental omissions and to properly handle new cards; this didn't change how they interacted with anything that already existed.
  • A number of terms which were previously ill-defined within the rules (or not defined at all) were added to the rulebook.
  • The rules outlining what a spell or ability can or cannot do to something that's an illegal target have been clarified, since taken literally they would have made some weird corner cases. This merely incorporated existing rulings into the rules.

  • A set of rules for shuffling have been added to the CompRules as a compilation of existing rulings on the subject.
[/list]

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Changes For: Rise of the Eldrazi
Previous Set: Worldwake
  • Levelers
    Rise of the Eldrazi introduced a new kind of card, known as 'levelers', with a unique new striated text box. (You can see an example on Transcendent Master.) The levelers' level up ability allows you to put level counters on them, and as they gain levels they'll become bigger, badder, and ever more dangerous.

    A leveler's level is defined as the number of level counters on them (so they start out at level 0), and each striation in the text box describes the abilities (and, for creatures, P/T) the card will have as long as it has the appropriate number of level counters on it. Student of Warfare, for example, is a 1/1 at level 0, but when she becomes level 2 she turns into a 3/3 with first strike, and at level 7 she pumps up again and becomes a 4/4 with double strike instead!


  • New Keywords
    Also introduced were a massive four new keywords: Annihilator, Level up, Rebound, and Totem armor. For more information on what each of them does, see their entries in the Keyword FAQ.

    Annihilator is an ability that makes things even harder for your opponent when you attack, even if your creature get blocked. When a creature with Annihilator attacks, the defending player is forced to sacrifice permanents equal to the annihilator number (written as 'Annihilator X')--this number could be as low as one, forcing them to sacrifice just a single permanent, or a high as six on some creatures. Even better, these permanents must be sacrificed before blockers can be declared, so your opponent can't block and then sacrifice his blockers to protect himself.

    Level up is a keyword used on the new 'leveler' cards. Any time you could cast a sorcery, you may pay the level up cost to put a level counter on that permanent, which will allow your cards to become bigger and more dangerous over time.

    Rebound is an ability on instants and sorceries that allows you to get twice the bang for your buck--literally! If you cast a spell with rebound from your hand, you exile it after it resolves instead of putting it into your graveyard. Then, at the beginning of your next upkeep, rebound allows you to cast the spell again, from exile, without paying its mana cost! (The card goes to your graveyard normally when it resolves the second time.)

    Totem armor is an ability on Auras that allows them to protect the permanent they're attached to, negating the normal two-for-one disadvantage they're vulnerable to. If a permanent with a Totem armor Aura on it would be destroyed, you remove all damage from it and destroy the armor instead! (If there are multiple totem armors present, you choose just one of them to be destroyed.)


  • Life Totals in Two-Headed Giant
    The rules for how effects that check or set a player's life total work in the Two-Headed Giant multiplayer variant have been altered. Previously, if an effect wanted to know a player's life total, it woud see it as being equal to half of the team's life total, rounded up--an effect that set a player's life total would take this number, add or subtract the appropriate amount to it, and then apply that change to the team's life total. While it might sound intuitive on the surface, it led to some incredibly weird interactions of the kind that nobody but rules gurus tended to be able to figure out.

    So, it's changing. Now, if an effect wants to know your life total, it gets your team's life total. If something wants to set a player's life total to a specific number, it sets the team's life total to that number. (By making that player gain or lose the appropriate amount of life, just as in regular play.) If it would set the life total of more than one player on the team at once, the team chooses one, and only that player is affected, bringing the team's life total to that number.

    So:
    • If your team has 11 life and you cast Beacon of Immortality, you gain 11 life and your team will wind up at 22 life.
    • If you control Near-Death Experience, you win the game during your upkeep if your team has exactly 1 life.
    • If your team has 17 life and you want to activate Lurking Evil's activated ability, you'll have to pay 9 life to do so, leaving your team at 8.



  • Clarifications
    A few clarifications were made with this update, mostly consolidating existing rulings into the rules, adding tweaks to properly cover new cards, or modifying things slightly to properly handle things they way they always should have, but which technically wasn't present in the rules. For example:
    • If you're putting a card into your library "Nth from the top", but there are fewer than N cards in your library, just place it on the bottom.
    • Some mentions have been added to the linked abilities rules to properly cover cards like Phyrexian Processor and Minion of the Wastes.
    • The rules for dividing cards into piles now explicitly state that a card can only be in one of those piles.
    • An effect that looks for the 'active player' in a two-headed giant game refers to only one of the active players, whichever one the controller of the effect wishes.
    • An aura that is going to the graveyard at the same time as the permanent it's attached to can track both itself and the permanent if it wants to.
    • Cards that are brought into the game from outside it remain in the game until its conclusion.
    • The rules on cost-modifying abilities were tweaked a bit.
    • The rules now define the source and controller of a delayed trigger created by a replacement effect.

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Changes For: Archenemy
Previous Set: Rise of the Eldrazi

  • Archenemy - NEW!
    The Archenemy decks introduced the Archenemy variant, a casual variant officially supported by Wizards of the Coast. A number of rules were tweaked or otherwise modified to add the new variant to the rules. For a full explanation of the rules of Archenemy, see this article.


  • Shared Turns
    Previously, the concept of sharing turns was exclusive to Two-Headed Giant. With the release of Archenemy, the rules for that are being expanded into a full-blown play option which is used by both 2HG and Archenemy, and which can be used by other team games if desired. This doesn't really change very much.



  • Drawing Cards in 2HG
    Previously, if both players on a two-headed giant team would draw cards at the same time, the primary player drew them first, then the secondary player. This is being changed; now, players on the team draw the cards in whichever order they wish, though each player still has to draw all of his or her cards at once--no alternating between teammates.



  • Attacking creature / Defending player
    The rules for determining who the 'defending player' is, especially in a multiplayer game were altered slightly to account for the possibility that a creature could be removed from combat before something that cared what it was attacking resolved.

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Changes For: Magic 2011
Previous Set: Archenemy
  • Deathtouch - Reversal
    Deathtouch's functionality has changed slightly. During the M10 update, creatures with deathtouch were made exempt from damage assignment orders in combat so that it was possible to assign just 1 damage to each blocker, without worrying about the creatures' toughness. This is no longer the case. Instead, any (nonzero) amount of damage being assigned by a creature with deathtouch is now considered to be 'lethal damage' for the purposes of assigning damage in combat. This means that while you do have to abide by the damage assignment order you chose, even just a single point is lethal, so you can still assign 1 to each of the blockers to kill them all. (Assuming your creature has enough power.)

    This also has the side effect of boosting deathtouch's power when combined with trample. Since even 1 damage is lethal, you can assign just 1 to each of the blockers, and then assign all the rest to the defending player.


  • Emblems
    This update introduced the concept of Emblems, which are game objects that simply hang out in the command zone doing whatever their ability says they do. They don't have colors, names, card types, or anything else except their ability. Their introduction is pretty much solely to help alleviate certain weird rules problems with certain kinds of effects that you likely don't need to worry about.



  • Creature Types
     The list of legal creature types has been changed. For a full list of currently existing creature types, see this post.



  • Grand Melee
    A number of rules changes have been made to the Grand Melee format, mostly clearing up problems or omissions with the existing rules. About the only significant thing is that if a player loses the game, the range of influence doesn't change until the end of the turn. This is to prevent silly things like Darksteel Reactor taking out a table of 120 people in one fell swoop because the ability keeps triggering. (Instead, they take out the people next to them, and then draw the game because their Reactor can't stop triggering.)



  • Really, really small things
    You will likely never need to know these. Still, if you're bound and determined to read about them, here they are:
    [list]
  • If your life total is negative, something that asks you to pay half your life total will be asking you to pay a negative amount of life, which is impossible, so you can't do it.
  • If something would create a token, but something says that a token like that can't enter the battlefield, it isn't created.
  • An ability that reads "Whenever [a player] gains life..." is treated as though it reads "Whenever a source causes [a player] to gain life..."
  • If something is giving you the option of making your opponent draw a card, but their library is empty, you can still try it.
  • If something uses its own name in an ability that changes itself into something else and grants it that same ability, the name still refers to that same thing, even if the name's not the same any more.
  • If you Desertion a permanent spell that was kicked and put it onto the battlefield, you don't get the kicker effect.
  • Permanents that phase out during combat are removed from combat.
  • If a permanent's cumulative upkeep ability triggers, and the permanent is removed before the ability resolves, you no longer have the option of paying the cost anyway.
  • If a subgame begins in an archenemy deck, the archenemy brings his or her scheme deck along for the ride. (Ongoing schemes are left behind.)
  • Actions that caused a library to be shuffled can't be reversed if an illegal action happens.
  • Rules support has been added for Drain Power moving the actual mana it drains between mana pools.
  • Various typos have been fixed.
[/list]

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Changes For: Scars of Mirrodin
Previous Set: Magic 2011

  • New Keywords
    Scars of Mirrodin introduced one new keyword ability (infect) and a new keyword action (proliferate). For more information on these keywords, see their entries in the [thread=695778]Keyword FAQ[/thread].

    Infect is an ability that is an ability that changes what damage does, both to creatures and to players. If a source that has infect deals damage to a creature, that damage is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters. If it deals damage to a player, that damage is dealt in the form of poison counters. (A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.) So not only does infect turn combat between creatures into a war of attrition, but it can potentially kill off your opponent much faster than normal damage.

    Proliferating allows you to manipulate the board by give your permanents more beneficial counters, like charge counters, while adding negative -1/-1 counters to your opponent's permanents or even poison counters to your opponent himself! To proliferate, choose any number of permanents or players that already have at least one counter on them. Then, give each of those permanents or players an additional counter of the same kind. (If something has multiple different kinds of counters on it, choose one.)


  • Subtypes
     The list of legal creature and planeswalker types have been changed. For a full list of currently existing types, see this post.



  • Controlling Turns / Players
    The existing cards that said that you gained control of a player's turn have been reworded--you now instead control the player during their turn, not the turn itself. This doesn't change anything about how the existing such cards worked, but does allow things like controlling other players for periods of time less than a full turn.



  • Really, really small things
    You will likely never need to know these. But in case you want to read about them, here they are.
    [list]
  • An ability that restricts where the card it's on can be cast from works everywhere, even outside the game.
  • Rules have been added to handle a player whose life total can't change.
  • Loyalty abilities can't be mana abilities.
  • Abilities that trigger on something becoming attached to or unattached from something don't trigger if it phases in or out.
  • Various typos have been fixed.
[/list]

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