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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
One of Adeyke's posts in another thread led me to looking up some rules. Rather than post this question in that thread, where it's not really relevant, I'll just make a new thread.

Let's start with:
CR wrote:
416.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.
Example: If a player is holding only one card, an effect that reads "Discard two cards" causes him or her to discard only that card. If an effect moves cards out of the library (as opposed to drawing), it moves as many as possible.

How does that mesh with:
CR wrote:
103.3. If an instruction requires taking an impossible action, it’s ignored. (In many cases the card will specify consequences for this; if it doesn’t, there’s no effect.)

I can't see how the example in 416.3 is correct unless the discard two cards "effect" contained two separate "instructions" to discard one card.

Is an effect that says "discard 2 cards" really considered to be two separate instructions?
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
Further thoughts:
103.3. If an instruction requires taking an impossible action, it’s ignored. (In many cases the card will specify consequences for this; if it doesn’t, there’s no effect.)

What does "it's" refer to in that rule? Is "it" the action or the instruction? Is only the impossible action ignored or is the entire instruction ignored? And is there any difference?

Ultimately, I'm not sure why 103.3 is even needed. 416.3 seems to be better worded, but only covers effects, not instructions. Shouldn't 103.3 be modeled more like 416.3 is? Maybe just expand 416.3 to cover instructions as well?
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
greatlordofall
Joined Oct 2007
4446 Posts
"It" presumably refers to the instruction. I believe the real question is, "what's the difference between an effect and an instruction?" If an instruction can be part of an effect, the two could work together.
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
Further thoughts:
What does "it's" refer to in that rule? Is "it" the action or the instruction? Is only the impossible action ignored or is the entire instruction ignored? And is there any difference?

Ultimately, I'm not sure why 103.3 is even needed. 416.3 seems to be better worded, but only covers effects, not instructions. Shouldn't 103.3 be modeled more like 416.3 is? Maybe just expand 416.3 to cover instructions as well?

Well, if 'it' refers to the particular impossible action instead of the full instruction, then the two rules don't really contradict--'doing as much as possible' and 'ignoring impossible actions' seem to be the same thing. The instruction 'discard two cards' has two actions of 'discard a card,' so if a player has only one card, it does as much as possible, ignoring the impossible action of discard a card a second time.

I read it that way (the one instruction containing two actions) due to the fact that each separate discard, even if done during the carrying out of a single instruction, will trigger anything that triggers on discard on its own (i.e. multiple actions during one instruction == multiple instructions).

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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
"It" presumably refers to the instruction. I believe the real question is, "what's the difference between an effect and an instruction?" If an instruction can be part of an effect, the two could work together.

Instructions certainly can (and are) parts of effects. Any effect that has multiple parts contains multiple instructions. That's not the question.

The question really is, how do you get two instructions out of what really looks like a single instruction (namely "discard two cards"). The rules specify that drawing multiple cards constitutes separate instances of drawing a single card. But that's an exception, not the norm. I can't find anything similar about discarding multiple cards being treated as separate instances of discarding a single card.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
I can't find anything similar about discarding multiple cards being treated as separate instances of discarding a single card.

Megrim.

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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
Well, if 'it' refers to the particular impossible action instead of the full instruction, then the two rules don't really contradict--'doing as much as possible' and 'ignoring impossible actions' seem to be the same thing. The instruction 'discard two cards' has two actions of 'discard a card,' so if a player has only one card, it does as much as possible, ignoring the impossible action of discard a card a second time.

I read it that way (the one instruction containing two actions) due to the fact that each separate discard, even if done during the carrying out of a single instruction, will trigger anything that triggers on discard on its own (i.e. multiple actions during one instruction == multiple instructions).

That interpretation works, but isn't at all how I would read it. The focus of the sentence seems to be on instructions, not actions within those instructions. I would have thought the "it's" referred to the primary object of the sentence, not the secondary one even though the secondary one appears last.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts

That's a card with an ability which triggers based on events that occur. I'm not saying that "discard 2 cards" doesn't have multiple actions, only that it is a single instruction.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
That interpretation works, but isn't at all how I would read it. The focus of the sentence seems to be on instructions, not actions within those instructions. I would have thought the "it's" referred to the primary object of the sentence, not the secondary one even though the secondary one appears last.

Well if I recall correctly about English rules (and WotC is very picky about using correct English rules for good reason, even though they miss it sometimes), a pronoun always refers to the most recent (applicable) noun in the sentence. Example: "If Nick hit Jim, he would hit back."

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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts

Well if I recall correctly about English rules (and WotC is very picky about using correct English rules for good reason, even though they miss it sometimes), a pronoun always refers to the most recent noun in the sentence. Example: "If Nick hit Jim, he would hit back."

Well, it's been a long time since I took English 1A in college. You might be correct.

I still think the question is easily misread by anyone that isn't an English Major or hasn't recently gone through an English class. And it would be easy enough to fix by simply replacing "it's" with "that action is".

Oh well. Problem solved, I guess.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
It took me quite a bit of searching, but I finally found a page which discusses ambiguous references similar to what we have in 103.3. And that page supports what I'm questioning. (I found plenty of other pages talking about vague references, but none which had a similar example.)

Specifically http://www.beyondbooks.com/law81/1e.asp?pf=on contains the following:
Vague Pronoun Reference
Even when there is agreement, pronouns can be troubling. The writer needs to make clear to the reader to whom or to what a pronoun refers. In the sentence "Mom wasn't sure if Jane had her pool pass," it is unclear if "her" refers to Mom or Jane. Whose pool pass is it? In this example, "her" is a vague pronoun referent. If the pool pass was Jane's, the writer might reconstruct the sentence this way:

"Had Jane brought her pool pass?" Mom wondered.

If the pool pass was Mom's own, the writer might rework the sentence and write this to clarify the vague antencedent:

Mom thought, "Has Jane brought my pool pass?"

That example clearly shows that pronouns do NOT necessarily refer to the closest preceding noun, but can refer to ANY preceding noun which matches gender, number, etc.

103.3 has two preceding nouns to which "it" can refer. But, just as in the example above, we get very different results depending on which noun we decide that "it" refers to.

I really do think that 103.3 should be re-written to replace the ambiguous "it's" with "that action is" or "that instruction is", depending on which they meant. Given the potential conflict with 416.3, they probably meant for "it" to refer to the action. But the reference needs to be clear.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
It took me quite a bit of searching, but I finally found a page which discusses ambiguous references similar to what we have in 103.3. And that page supports what I'm questioning. (I found plenty of other pages talking about vague references, but none which had a similar example.)

Specifically http://www.beyondbooks.com/law81/1e.asp?pf=on contains the following:
That example clearly shows that pronouns do NOT necessarily refer to the closest preceding noun, but can refer to ANY preceding noun which matches gender, number, etc.

103.3 has two preceding nouns to which "it" can refer. But, just as in the example above, we get very different results depending on which noun we decide that "it" refers to.

I really do think that 103.3 should be re-written to replace the ambiguous "it's" with "that action is" or "that instruction is", depending on which they meant. Given the potential conflict with 416.3, they probably meant for "it" to refer to the action. But the reference needs to be clear.

(Edit: RTFP more carefully, Kedar.)

The 'vague pronoun reference' is another example of today's society, instead of teaching people the right thing, telling them that they're correct until that thing becomes an accepted usage or practice. The rule for pronouns is that it always refers to the most recent appropriate noun, under the real rules of English. The above sentence ("Mom wasn't sure if Jane had her pool pass,") still refers to Jane, technically, with the 'her,' so if it means the mother's pool pass, it needs to say "Mom wondered if Jane had brought the mom's pool pass." A bit clunkier, but also correct. This rule was originally there to avoid pronoun confusion, but because of people being taught incorrectly, that pronoun confusion is a rather large concern.

So, by that (and by the fact that WotC tries to use real English rules, hence the 'him or her' or 'his or hers' instead of the incorrect 'they' when referring to a player and needing to use a gendered pronoun but wanting to make it neutral), 'it' refers to the action, not the whole instruction.

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Avedomni
Joined Apr 2004
2787 Posts
Actually, whoever used that as an example for 'vague reference of pronouns' was actually using an outright incorrect use of it, if the 'her' was (supposed to be) referring to the mother.

You misread the quote.

The ambiguous phrase is:[indent]"Mom wasn't sure if Jane had her pool pass."[/indent]The suggested clarifying phrases are:[indent]"Had Jane brought her pool pass?" Mom wondered.[/indent]or[indent]Mom thought, "Has Jane brought my pool pass?"[/indent]
Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
Actually, whoever used that as an example for 'vague reference of pronouns' was actually using an outright incorrect use of it, if the 'her' was (supposed to be) referring to the mother.

'Had Jane brought her pool pass?' is a sentence on its own, and that sentence just happens to be the direct object of the sentence '[this] mom wondered.' If someone used 'her' there, there is no ambiguity except to someone who is rather uneducated in the English language: By the rules of English, the 'her' refers to Jane. For that 'her' to be ambiguous, the sentence would need to read "Mom wondered if Jane had brought her pool pass." Directly quoting what the mom wondered ("Had Jane brought her pool pass?") and saying the "her" is ambiguous is flat-out wrong; it's not ambiguous at all. Whoever used that example is not someone I'm going to trust for English rules, so I'm sorry, that site is not a good source of information about the English language.

May I recommend that you try re-reading the passage. Everything you just said actually coincides with what they said. It does NOT contradict it.

They suggested "Had Jane brought her pool pass?" as a way to FIX the ambiguous reference. It isn't listed AS the ambiguous reference! Read the quoted section again!
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
You misread the quote.

The ambiguous phrase is:[indent]"Mom wasn't sure if Jane had her pool pass."[/indent]The suggested clarifying phrases are:[indent]"Had Jane brought her pool pass?" Mom wondered.[/indent]or[indent]Mom thought, "Has Jane brought my pool pass?"[/indent]

Ah, so I did. I'll edit that paragraph out of my post then. The rest still stands, however. Vague Pronouns are a device of today's rather unintelligent society, not an actual flaw in the English language itself.

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Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
May I recommend that you try re-reading the passage. Everything you just said actually coincides with what they said. It does NOT contradict it.

They suggested "Had Jane brought her pool pass?" as a way to FIX the ambiguous reference. It isn't listed AS the ambiguous reference! Read the quoted section again!

Yes, I see that now. About edit those two parts out of my post. The rest still stands, however.

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Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
And, at the behest via PM for a citation of what it is I'm saying, I'll link a site and quote the relative passage.

http://www.eduqna.com/Teaching/352-teaching.html

Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and during part of that time, Mr Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it.
two grammatical rules help us to determine the reference of the pronouns "her," "him" and "his." The first of these is that a pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender and number; this rule associates "her" with Elizabeth Bennet (rather than Darcy, who would otherwise be a possible antecedent) and prevents our associating "him" or "his" with Elizabeth Bennet. The second is that a pronoun must be associated with the most recent possible antecedent; by this rule we understand "his friend" to mean "Bingley's friend" rather than "Darcy's friend."

So, there it is.

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nereusren
Joined Jul 2003
310 Posts
I don't think that site's a particularly authoritative source. Try reading a bit further down the page... It is simply plagiarized from a book called "Introduction to Old English." Every other reference I can find simply refers to ambiguous pronouns as an error, although one also refers offhand a "rule of thumb" or "convention" of referring to the closest matching noun.

http://academic.reed.edu/writing/grammar_review/pronouns.html
http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000030.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaphora_(linguistics)#Anaphor_resolution

The Chicago Manual of Style's section on Grammar says "An antecedent may be explicit or implicit, but it must be clear. Miscues and ambiguity commonly arise from [...] (2) multiple possible antecedents (as in Scott visited Eric after his discharge from the army, where it is unclear who was discharged—Eric or Scott)".
(http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/ch05/ch05_sec035.html, my emphasis)

CMOS implies that an ambiguous antecedent is actually incorrect grammar (or at least incorrect usage), not merely hard to understand. Either way, it seems the fault is with the construction of the original ambiguous sentence, and not "today's society."
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
I don't think that site's a particularly authoritative source. Try reading a bit further down the page... It is simply plagiarized from a book called "Introduction to Old English." Every other reference I can find simply refers to ambiguous pronouns as an error, although one also refers offhand a "rule of thumb" or "convention" of referring to the closest matching noun.

http://academic.reed.edu/writing/grammar_review/pronouns.html
http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000030.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaphora_(linguistics)#Anaphor_resolution

The Chicago Manual of Style's section on Grammar says "An antecedent may be explicit or implicit, but it must be clear. Miscues and ambiguity commonly arise from [...] (2) multiple possible antecedents (as in Scott visited Eric after his discharge from the army, where it is unclear who was discharged—Eric or Scott)".
(http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/ch05/ch05_sec035.html, my emphasis)

CMOS implies that an ambiguous antecedent is actually incorrect grammar (or at least incorrect usage), not merely hard to understand. Either way, it seems the fault is with the construction of the original ambiguous sentence, and not "today's society."

Actually, if the rule once was that the pronoun referred to the most recent appropriate noun and it's changed to become "an error" and it's only "convention" to follow the old rule, that does sound like it's another example of today's society being too coddling of the new generations. It's the same reason 'they' has become acceptable to be gender neutral, even though 'they' is plural and, if referring to a single person of indeterminate gender, the pronoun should be single. It's also the same reason that it's now acceptable to end sentences with prepositions when taking a grammar test instead of just doing it for ease of reading. (Novels and journalism are allowed to ignore rules for easier reading, but that doesn't make the grammar correct.) It's also the same reason people are trying to push for getting rid of competitive activities in school: "Oh my god, we can't tell anyone they're wrong or that they're not as good as others. We have to make all our kids think they're all equal to one another and set them up for huge failure in the real world when someone better than them comes along and takes a job they want! We're retarded like that here in the United States of America!" Not to say all citizens of the US are that way, but it is unfortunately a large part of them.

To sum up: Yes, it is a problem with today's society because heaven forbid we tell someone they're wrong.

Back on topic: The pronoun refers to the most recent appropriate noun. I quoted it on a page which quoted it from an Introduction to Old English (gasp, the older rules? So, they've been changed to make it easier on people so we don't have to tell them they're wrong? Gasp! I'm shocked an appalled and would never have imagined such a thing. *glances up*) 'It' in that rule refers to the action, not the instruction.

And to use common sense as proof: If the older rule says 'he or she' is what to do for a singular pronoun but wanting to remain gender neutral while the new rule says 'they' is acceptable, and the old rule says 'a pronoun refers to the most recent appropriate noun' and the new one says 'it's ambiguous because heaven forbid we make people actually use the correct rules of English even if it makes a sentence a couple of words longer', and Wizards of the Coast uses 'he or she' instead of 'they,' what are the chances they'd use the older, more correct English rules in other places? Pretty good, I'd say. Such as the 'it' in the rule referring to the action because 'action' is the most recent appropriate noun.

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condor
Joined Mar 2001
818 Posts
One of Adeyke's posts in another thread led me to looking up some rules. Rather than post this question in that thread, where it's not really relevant, I'll just make a new thread.

Well, it was relevant there, since it is what caused (and continues to cause) the misunderstanding there.

No, there is no conflict. Magic uses two kinds of words: those it defines itself, like "destroy," and those where it relies on English meaning, like "gain." English meaning is heavily dependent on context to resolve possible ambiguities. (Sometimes Magic meaning, too; although it is clearer there, since the two meanings of "draw" are different parts of speech). Since Magic does not define "instruction," just like it does not define "event," it is used as an English word. Apparent contradictions need to be resolved through context.

And it really isn't hard to do. You never misunderstood it before, or noticed a possible ambiguity, until someone in that other thread tried to attribute a specific Magic meaning to "Instruction." You read each rule for the meaning it conveyed alone. And you got that meaning. It is only by trying to force there to be one, and only one, Magic meaning that causes the problems.

And you even missed most seemingly-contradictory rule, which makes most of the sidebar in this thread moot:[INDENT]419.5. If an event is prevented or replaced, it never happens. A modified event occurs instead, which may in turn trigger abilities. Note that the modified event may contain instructions that can't be carried out, in which case the player simply ignores the impossible instruction.[/INDENT]
As used most often in Magic, the English meaning of "instruction" is something like "a direction to take a specific (set of) action(s)." It can mean the entire text of an ability that describes that direction (see the Glossary, under "ability"), or a subset of an ability's text as it applies globally (since sometimes it is used as a plural in the context of the ability text), or as the effect it applies to a single object. It's a lot like "event" that way.

I can't see how the example in 416.3 is correct unless the discard two cards "effect" contained two separate "instructions" to discard one card.

Well, one good way to determine the meaning of a potentially ambiguous English word in a rule, is to use the meaning that fits the example. You don't assume a Magic meaning for "instruction," and use it to see if the example is right. You start from the example, and use the English meaning that it indicates. That's why the example is there. That's how rules with examples should be read: using the examples to clarify them, not test them.

Another example that I used in that other thread, to point out this very issue, is Wrath of God and Darksteel Colossus. We all "know" what happens. The meaning of "instruction" that fits that is the correct one, here. You only get into trouble if you assume "instruction," has one, and only one, Magic meaning.

It doesn't. And nothing requires it to, so don't tell me we need to have just one. These rules, taken individually, are all clear. The only "error," if you can call it that, is in trying to make "instruction" mean the same thing everywhere it is used.
Further thoughts: What does "it's" refer to in [rule 103.3]?

I had thought of pointing that out in the other thread, but didn't want to derail it further than it already was.

Again, it is only by assuming some unstated, Magic definition for "instruction" that leads to being unable to decipher the meaning of the sentence. While "it" can refer to either the direction to take an individual action of drawing a card, or to the individual action itself, it really doesn't matter if you are using the correct meaning for "instruction" in that sentence.
unusvirunuscalx
Joined Mar 2005
394 Posts
Doesn't the "Discard two cards." Have a similar meaning to the "Draw 3 cards" concept of "Draw a card. Draw a card. Draw a card."?

Now, I know that with "Draw 3 cards." it could have an effect for dredge, etc. But, wouldn't the same (yet opposite) action take place with a "Discard X Cards." I'm not certain that it would have any /real/ issues, but would help explain the difference in the rules?
Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
Again, it is only by assuming some unstated, Magic definition for "instruction" that leads to being unable to decipher the meaning of the sentence. While "it" can refer to either the direction to take an individual action of drawing a card, or to the individual action itself, it really doesn't matter if you are using the correct meaning for "instruction" in that sentence.

I'll say again that the bold part there is incorrect. Looking at the rules of real English instead of the accommodating rules and using the logic that Wizards uses the real rules instead of the 'accepted' rules, 'it' is referring to the most recent appropriate noun: 'action.' How you view 'instruction' is moot because it's telling you to ignore the impossible action.

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condor
Joined Mar 2001
818 Posts
I'll say again that the bold part there is incorrect.

What I meant by "can" was that "it" could have been meant to refer to either. And, the evidence from the other rule is that it was intended to refer to the instruction. Whoever wrote that rule wasn't being careful to follow the rules that you think are right for such references, whether or not you are, because it doesn't matter in this case. The "instruction" is what causes you to do the the "action" in question. Ignoring either accomplishes the same thing as far as the game is concerned, so it is pedantic to worry about which should be meant by the reference.
DragonFox1001
Joined Sep 2005
1878 Posts
I haven't been on the boards in a couple of months. I come here and find this thread.

I LOVE the types of in depth rules debates/discussions that go on here, I miss them. Everyone here is so exact, I feel at home.
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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
Doesn't the "Discard two cards." Have a similar meaning to the "Draw 3 cards" concept of "Draw a card. Draw a card. Draw a card."?

Now, I know that with "Draw 3 cards." it could have an effect for dredge, etc. But, wouldn't the same (yet opposite) action take place with a "Discard X Cards." I'm not certain that it would have any /real/ issues, but would help explain the difference in the rules?

I thought there was something specific in the rules that said that "Draw 3 cards." is actually handled as "Draw a card. Draw a card. Draw a card.", but I can't find any reference. Does anyone know whether it is just a ruling that it is handled that way, or if there is any support for that in the CR?

For my way of thinking, if it's just been a ruling, then there's no reason why "Discard 3 cards." wouldn't be treated similarly. If there's actually something in the CR about it, then I'd like to read it.

Being able to separate instructions with multiple actions into their individual parts would solve this whole thing as far as I'm concerned. But in the past, I was under the impression that separating the card drawing into individual actions was an exception, not the rule. It would seem to make sense for it to be the general rule. I just don't recall it being that way. So far though, I have been unable to find anything in the CR one way or the other on this matter.
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cyphern
Joined Jan 2003
19353 Posts
I thought there was something specific in the rules that said that "Draw 3 cards." is actually handled as "Draw a card. Draw a card. Draw a card.", but I can't find any reference. Does anyone know whether it is just a ruling that it is handled that way, or if there is any support for that in the CR?

Here you go:
423.2. Cards may only be drawn one at a time. If a player is instructed to draw multiple cards, that player performs that many individual card draws.

To my knowledge there is no analogous rule for discards.
Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
I'll say again that the bold part there is incorrect. Looking at the rules of real English instead of the accommodating rules and using the logic that Wizards uses the real rules instead of the 'accepted' rules, 'it' is referring to the most recent appropriate noun: 'action.' How you view 'instruction' is moot because it's telling you to ignore the impossible action.

Is there any particular reason you are against them changing the wording? Regardless of whether you are correct or not, you obviously recognize that modern usage has shifted (whether through laziness or something else is irrelevant). The wording they've chosen is ambiguous to most people. How many players do you really expect to have studied the Old English rules and know that they are what WotC uses when common usage today is different?

Again, I really don't care whether you are technically correct or not. The situation is ambiguous to many and is easily fixable by simply changing the wording without changing any of the meaning in any way.

Here you go:

To my knowledge there is no analogous rule for discards.

Darn. That means it is an exception rather than the norm. Which puts the problem right back there.

What I meant by "can" was that "it" could have been meant to refer to either. And, the evidence from the other rule is that it was intended to refer to the instruction. Whoever wrote that rule wasn't being careful to follow the rules that you think are right for such references, whether or not you are, because it doesn't matter in this case. The "instruction" is what causes you to do the the "action" in question. Ignoring either accomplishes the same thing as far as the game is concerned, so it is pedantic to worry about which should be meant by the reference.

Sorry, given the existence of 423.2, I gotta disagree with you. There's no evidence to suggest that the instruction "discard two cards" can be treated as two separate instances of "Discard a card". And if that's the case, then when you are told to ignore the instruction, you have to ignore the whole thing.

On the other hand, even if the instruction is indivisible, it can still result in two individual "actions" of discarding a card. One of the actions could be possible while the second isn't even though there is only one instruction.

423.2 is what keeps your interpretation from working. While you may be correct that there's no set definition of what an "instruction" is, that it is decided on a case by case basis, can we at least agree that in the example we've been using the instruction is "Discard two cards"? 423.2 sets an exception to what can be inferred to be an underlying rule that you cannot divide other, similar instructions into separate parts.
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2goth4U
Joined Oct 2007
10379 Posts
so if the instruction "Discard 2 cards" isn't divisible to 2 actions
could I not infer that Megrim does not trigger?

It triggers whenever a card is discarded. "a" meaning one?
So if I discard two cards then it shouldn't trigger.

or alternatively it should only trigger once...

as 2 cards are being discarded as a single instruction
and a card (at least one) is being discarded.

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condor
Joined Mar 2001
818 Posts
Sorry, given the existence of 423.2, I gotta disagree with you. There's no evidence to suggest that the instruction "discard two cards" can be treated as two separate instances of "Discard a card".

And there is equally no evidence to treat it as one. You are making assumptions to get there. Baseless assumptions.

Read what I said before. The word "instruction" is used in at least three different contexts in the rules. The closest any use comes to "defining" it (what you were assuming was a definition) is "An instruction in an object's text is an ability." That's a one-to-one correspondence between instructions and complete abilities. They also seem to suggest there is a one-to-one correspondence between "instructions" and "effects." So, are you saying that something like Sneak Attack has one, single "effect" ? As I see it, it has two different kinds of effects, that can't be called "one."

I put to you that the only quantifiable item in all this is an "ability." The others cannot be so quantified; their meaning has to come from context. And you will find no rules support for any other conclusion.

Because they are not intended to be quantized.

And if that's the case, then when you are told to ignore the instruction, you have to ignore the whole thing.

Which violates an example in the rules, so it is obviously wrong. The error was the assumption you made, that "instructions" are quantifiable.

Prove me wrong.
Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
so if the instruction "Discard 2 cards" isn't divisible to 2 actions
could I not infer that Megrim does not trigger?

I said it isn't divisible into two instructions, NOT two actions. The rest of your argument fails because this premise isn't true.
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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
Which violates an example in the rules, so it is obviously wrong. The error was the assumption you made, that "instructions" are quantifiable.

Prove me wrong.

There's no clear definition in the rules. Therefore, we use common English and context to determine what is meant, right?

Well, the instruction we're dealing with (via English usage and context) is quite clearly "Discard 2 cards". It isn't "Discard a card. Discard a card." With similar situations, specifically "Draw 2 cards.", the rules specifically tell us that we may treat it as "Draw a card. Draw a card." The rule that does so gives no indication that this is true for ANYTHING other than drawing cards.

Why do you assume that "Discard 2 cards." and "Discard a card. Discard a card." are interchangeable when not only is there no support for that in the rules, but there's actually indirect support AGAINST it?
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2goth4U
Joined Oct 2007
10379 Posts
I said it isn't divisible into two instructions, NOT two actions. The rest of your argument fails because this premise isn't true.

but there is no analogous rule to 423.2 for discards that explicitly specifies that it is breaking an instruction of "Discard 2 cards" into either 2 instructions or 2 actions of "Discard a card".

so is there some other rule that prevents my assertion?

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Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
And there is equally no evidence to treat it as one. You are making assumptions to get there. Baseless assumptions.

Read what I said before. The word "instruction" is used in at least three different contexts in the rules. The closest any use comes to "defining" it (what you were assuming was a definition) is "An instruction in an object's text is an ability." That's a one-to-one correspondence between instructions and complete abilities. They also seem to suggest there is a one-to-one correspondence between "instructions" and "effects." So, are you saying that something like Sneak Attack has one, single "effect" ? As I see it, it has two different kinds of effects, that can't be called "one."

I put to you that the only quantifiable item in all this is an "ability." The others cannot be so quantified; their meaning has to come from context. And you will find no rules support for any other conclusion.

Because they are not intended to be quantized.

Which violates an example in the rules, so it is obviously wrong. The error was the assumption you made, that "instructions" are quantifiable.

Prove me wrong.

Ah, but now you're making assumptions that an instruction isn't a set thing.

As far as I can tell from the rules, there are three layers to any spell/ability text. The bottom layer, which covers everything, is the 'effect.' It contains all instructions and actions. The next level up, the 'instruction' layer, can have multiple parts to it: each verb corresponds to another instruction to happen, regardless of if they're simultaneous or one at a time. And the top, most detailed 'layer' is that of the actions, of which there can be multiple within each instruction.

To sum up: Effect is whole ability; number of instructions is tied to the number of verbs (each verb starts a new instruction); number of actions is tied to how many times the instruction tells you to do it ('discard two cards' is one instruction with two actions; 'destroy two target creatures' is one instruction with two actions).

Admittedly, I am playing a little 'devil's advocate' here because I like having a good discussion like this; and admittedly, I'm still arguing from the standpoint that Wizards of the Coast is using real English, not accepted English, rules, but again they've shown a tendency for such in the past. Even assuming I'm correct with the above stuff, the fact that 'it' refers to the action is correct.

I will also say, Ahlyis, that until you brought this up, I doubt that many people found it ambiguous. However, now that you've brought it up and referred to its ambiguity under the accepted (incorrect) rules of English, it probably is better to be changed so that people can't reference this discussion to say it's ambiguous.

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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
but there is no analogous rule to 423.2 for discards that explicitly specifies that it is breaking an instruction of "Discard 2 cards" into either 2 instructions or 2 actions of "Discard a card".

so is there some other rule that prevents my assertion?

Rule of common sense?

Discarding cards requires that they move from your hand to the graveyard. They must be individually chosen and physically must be put into some order. It's simply not physically possible to do as a single action. Yes, there are parts that you could consider as a single action involving both cards. But there are other parts of the process which must be individual. So an argument can fairly easily be made that discarding two cards requires 2 actions.

Even so, it can still be a single instruction that causes you to perform those two actions. There's no reason why the instruction must also be broken into two separate parts.

EDIT: If you don't like that, try Kedar's explanation of the three different layers in the post above. I think he makes a pretty good argument right there.
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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
I will also say, Ahlyis, that until you brought this up, I doubt that many people found it ambiguous. However, now that you've brought it up and referred to its ambiguity under the accepted (incorrect) rules of English, it probably is better to be changed so that people can't reference this discussion to say it's ambiguous.[/SIZE][/FONT]

Much as I hate to admit it, I think you are probably correct. I never noticed any ambiguity until another thread prompted me to take a specific look at this interaction. Only then did I discover my "ambiguity". In fact, the original post of this thread went through 3 re-writes as I kept changing my question as I looked closer and closer at the wording. Originally, this thread wasn't going to be about any ambiguity at all. :D
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2goth4U
Joined Oct 2007
10379 Posts
Rule of common sense?

Discarding cards requires that they move from your hand to the graveyard. They must be individually chosen and physically must be put into some order. It's simply not physically possible to do as a single action. Yes, there are parts that you could consider as a single action involving both cards. But there are other parts of the process which must be individual. So an argument can fairly easily be made that discarding two cards requires 2 actions.

Even so, it can still be a single instruction that causes you to perform those two actions. There's no reason why the instruction must also be broken into two separate parts.

EDIT: If you don't like that, try Kedar's explanation of the three different layers in the post above. I think he makes a pretty good argument right there.

Rule of common sense....

so then if I have one card in hand and I'm told to Discard 2 cards...

Common sense says that I get rid of the one card, right?
Afterall, a hand can have any number of cards (CR217.3b) and 1 - 2 = -1 cards in hand (which kind of nullifies the whole impossible part)

Which leaves Kedar's interpretation of "it" referring to the impossible action and not the instruction as correct, right?

by common sense...

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Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
Rule of common sense....

so then if I have one card in hand and I'm told to Discard 2 cards...

Common sense says that I get rid of the one card, right?

Which leaves Kedar's interpretation of "it" referring to the impossible action and not the instruction as correct, right?

by common sense...

By common sense and by the correct rules of English, yes. Which is what I've been trying to say to prove that there is in fact no ambiguity. :P

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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts
Rule of common sense....

so then if I have one card in hand and I'm told to Discard 2 cards...

Common sense says that I get rid of the one card, right?

No. Why would you think that? If I'm told specifically to discard 2 cards, and I don't have two cards, common sense would seem to me to say that I cannot do what you are asking of me. What you want is impossible unless someone gives me another card I can discard.

Why do you think common sense says differently? Is it simply because you're preconditioned by knowing what the rulings are?
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Kedar
Joined Sep 2007
6823 Posts
No. Why would you think that? If I'm told specifically to discard 2 cards, and I don't have two cards, common sense would seem to me to say that I cannot do what you are asking of me. What you want is impossible unless someone gives me another card I can discard.

Why do you think common sense says differently? Is it simply because you're preconditioned by knowing what the rulings are?

Mmm, good point, it is only common sense if you know the rules regarding this situation... But other than that my last post stands.

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2goth4U
Joined Oct 2007
10379 Posts

Mmm, good point, it is only common sense if you know the rules regarding this situation... But other than that my last post stands.

exactly...

why would I necessarily think that a trigger of "whenever a player discards a card" would trigger if I simultaneously discarded 2 cards?

sure we know it does but the rules don't spell it out like it does for drawing.

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Ahlyis
Joined Aug 2003
11161 Posts

Mmm, good point, it is only common sense if you know the rules regarding this situation... But other than that my last post stands.

Over time, languages change. New words are added. Old words become obsolete. Grammar rules change. Not every change is bad simply because it is a change.

For example, you call the use of they/their as a singular non-sexist pronoun incorrect and unnecessary. I call it correct and preferable. There's no confusion when you see it used is there? You might groan because you think it incorrect usage, but you aren't confused in any way about what the writer is referring to, are you?

This is a change that is occurring over time and is becoming more and more accepted. Eventually, I expect it to be adopted as a proper usage by the rules of English. It may not be right now, but that day would seem to be approaching. The more people that continue to use it that way, the more accepted it will become until it is eventually made into an accepted usage by the rules as well as common usage.

I see our issue with proper antecedents the same way. Based on the vast number of articles regarding proper English available on the web (and I grant that none of them are necessarily official), we can get a good idea of how the academic field views the situation. Given that almost none of them specify that a pronoun must refer to the immediately preceding noun that matches gender and number, I think it fair to assume that common usage has moved away from that rule. Eventually, the rules of English will likely be changed to reflect the common usage.

In the meantime, you may be technically correct, but if the common usage disagrees, it doesn't make much sense for WotC to force the technical use over the common use when there's no need for any conflict in the first place.
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