Magic: The Gathering Rules FAQ, v5.10 (part 1)

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Zoe Stephenson

Nov 11, 2012, 12:37:18 AM11/11/12
Archive-name: games/magic-t-g/rules/part1
Posting-Frequency: About every 5 days

Welcome to the FAQ for

Last Modified: 22nd May 2011

By Zoe Stephenson ( based on previous versions from:
Patrik Linell, Laurie Cheers, Bill Dugan.

Copyright (c) 2011 Zoe Stephenson. All rights reserved. This article is
freely distributable except that it may not be sold nor included in any
compilation (book, magazine, disk, CD-ROM, or otherwise) which is for
sale, without the express written consent of the author.


Recent Changes:

version 5.00: Complete overhaul for Magic 2010 rules.
version 5.10: Complete up to New Phyrexia; fixed stray tabs.


Subject: 1.0: Introduction

1.0.01 Notation:

Magic uses distinctive symbols for mana of various colors and for
self-tap costs. To represent these symbols in text, the following
conventions are used:

G: One green mana
R: One red mana
W: One white mana
B: One black mana
U: One blue mana
S: One mana from a snow source
T: The tap symbol
Q: The untap symbol
1: One generic or colorless mana - and so on for 2,3,4...
X,Y,Z: The symbols for variable mana costs

Note the use of B for Black and U for blUe. These symbols are combined
in the same way as on the cards. So, Seething Song produces RRRRR;
Savra, Queen of the Golgari costs 2BG; Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree's
ability costs 2GW, T. Often the symbols are written within braces
(e.g. {2}{G}{W}) to emphasise that they represent the symbols
on the cards. This is especially useful for split-mana symbols
(e.g. {R/G}{R/G} on the Guildpact card Gruul Guildmage) and for
Phyrexian costs ("phybrid" costs) such as "Phyrexian Red" {R/P}.

1.0.02 Structure:

This FAQ is divided into three parts, each with a different focus.
This introduction is attached to the first part.

Part 1:

The first part deals with newcomers to the game. There are a few
very common types of question that new players often need answers to;
this part tries to answer them. The questions are phrased in very
general terms, so you may have to read through to find an answer.

The first part also contains important information about posting to
the newsgroup and other places to find answers.

Part 2:

The second part deals with players returning to the game or only
playing now and again. Returning players will often need to know
what has changed, so this part lists major changes to the rules and
the cards.

Part 3:

The third part deals with complex situations for which the outcome
is unintuitive or for which the outcome has changed because of
rules changes. This goes into some depth and assumes familiarity
with the rulebook.


Subject: 1.1: Beginner Questions

1.1.01: How do I know what's a target and what's not?

Any spell or ability can have any number of targets. Look through
the text for the word target. It can be used in several ways; look
for where it's used in front of a noun, rather than as a noun itself
or as a verb. Some examples:

Shock {R} Instant
/ Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

Shock has one target. The word "target" is used in front of the
phrase "creature or player" to indicate that the creature or player
is the target.

Deflection {3}{U} Instant
/ Change the target of target spell with a single target.

Deflection has only one target. The word "target" is used in front
of the phrase "spell with a single target" to indicate that the
spell-with-a-single-target is the target. The first use of the word
"target" is used as a noun, to say what to change.

Radiate {3}{R}{R} Instant
/ Choose target instant or sorcery spell that targets only a single
permanent or player. Copy that spell for each other permanent or
player the spell could target. Each copy targets a different one
of those permanents and players.

Radiate has only one target. The word "target" is used in front of the
phrase "instant or sorcery spell that targets only a single permanent or
player" to indicate that that instant or sorcery spell is the target.
The first use of the word "target" is like an adjective, the other
uses are as verbs.

Each use of the word "target" to denote targets requires the right
number of different targets.

Hex {4}{B}{B} Sorcery
/ Destroy six target creatures.

Hex targets six creatures. It's not legal to target a creature more
than once in this way. It has to be six different creatures.

If the word "target" is used again to denote targets, the same target
can be chosen as for a previous use of the word "target" to denote

Decimate {2}{R}{G} Sorcery
/ Destroy target artifact, target creature, target enchantment, and
target land.

Decimate has four targets. Each has its own use of the word "target".
If there were one permanent on the battlefield that's an artifact, a
creature, an enchantment and a land all at once, then Decimate could
target that one permanent four times. It would only be destroyed
once, though.

When you cast an Aura from your hand, you target whatever it's
going to enchant. Here, the word target won't appear in the main
part of the text; it's implied by the enchant ability:

Holy Strength {W} Enchantment - Aura
/ Enchant creature
/ Enchanted creature gets +1/+2.

The last thing the Holy Strength does when it resolves is to put
itself onto the battlefield attached to whatever creature it was
targeting. Once it does so, it stops targeting the creature. If
something later stops spells and abilities from targeting the
creature, this doesn't affect the Holy Strength. The reference
to "enchanted creature" (and the similar phrases "equipped creature"
and "fortified land") doesn't target the creature. Another

Firebreathing {R} Enchantment - Aura
/ Enchant creature
/ {R}: Enchanted creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

When you cast Firebreathing, it targets the creature it's going to
enchant. When you activate the ability of Firebreathing, it doesn't
target the creature it enchants. Even if the creature enchanted by
Firebreathing can't be the target of spells or abilities any more,
Firebreathing's activated ability can still affect it.

Some spells and abilities look like they ought to target, but don't
actually target. For example:

Clone {3}{U} Creature - Shapeshifter 0/0
/ You may have Clone enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on
the battlefield.

Clone can copy a creature that can't be the target of spells or
abilities. At the point where you choose a creature on the battlefield,
the word target isn't used, so you choose without targeting.

Many spells and abilities affect things without using the word target:

Hurricane {X}{G} Sorcery
/ Hurricane deals X damage to each creature with flying and each player.

Hurricane can deal damage to a creature that can't be targeted, as
long as the creature has flying. It can also deal damage to a player
even if that player can't be the target of spells or abilities.

Wrath of God {2}{W}{W} Sorcery
/ Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.

Wrath of God will destroy creatures even if those creatures can't
be targeted. It refers to all creatures; it doesn't use the word
"target", so it doesn't target.

1.1.02: What things will stop me from targeting?

There are two things that stop targeting. One is simply static
abilities that state outright that the targeting isn't allowed:

Troll Ascetic {1}{G}{G} Creature - Troll Shaman 3/2
/ Troll Ascetic can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents
/ {1}{G}: Regenerate Troll Ascetic.

This kind of ability is common enough that its simple form has
its own name, "shroud":

Deadly Insect {4}{G} Creature - Insect 6/1
/ Shroud (This permanent can't be the target of spells or abilities.)

The other ability that can prevent targeting is protection.

1.1.03: So what is protection?

Protection is a static ability that's usually found on creatures
and usually confers protection from a particular color. Protection
actually does four related things, all bundled up into a neat package.
Let's take the example of a Hand of Cruelty:

Hand of Cruelty {B}{B} Creature - Human Samurai 2/2
/ Protection from white
/ Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until
end of turn.)

The first part of protection says to prevent all damage dealt to the
Hand of Cruelty from a white source. So, if it blocks a white creature,
the combat damage to the Hand of Cruelty is prevented.

The second part is that the Hand of Cruelty can't be enchanted or
equipped by white Auras and Equipment. If a white Aura ends up on
a creature with protection from white (this isn't straightforward,
but can sometimes happen) then it goes to its owner's graveyard.

Thirdly, white creatures can't block the Hand of Cruelty. It blazes
a trail right on by.

Lastly, the Hand of Cruelty can't be the target of white spells or
abilities from white sources. It can be affected by untargeted white
spells and untargeted abilities from white sources, but it can't be
named as the target of a white spell or of an ability from a white
source. So, the Wrath of God from the first question will destroy
a Hand of Cruelty. However, something like Condemn can't target the
Hand of Cruelty:

Condemn {W} Instant
/ Put target attacking creature on the bottom of its owner's library. Its
controller gains life equal to its toughness.

1.1.04: How do I stop someone being able to pay for an ability?

Generally, you can't. The timing rules prevent one player from
interfering when another player is announcing a spell or ability, and
this is when the costs are paid. You won't get a chance to respond
until after the costs are paid. Read the text of the spell or ability
carefully to identify the cost and the effect.

On a spell, the cost is the mana symbols in the top right, plus any
additional costs listed in the spell text:

Fling {1}{R} Instant
/ As an additional cost to cast Fling, sacrifice a creature.
/ Fling deals damage equal to the sacrificed creature's power to target
creature or player.

The cost to cast Fling is to pay one point of mana of any color, one
point of red mana, and sacrifice a creature. The effect is the Fling
dealing the damage.

For an activated ability, the cost is on the left of the colon (:)
and the effect is on the right:

Blood Rites {3}{R}{R} Enchantment
/ {1}{R}, Sacrifice a creature: Blood Rites deals 2 damage to target
creature or player.

The ability of Blood Rites has a cost of one point of mana of any
color, one point of red mana, and sacrifice a creature. The effect
is the Blood Rites dealing the damage.

In both of these examples, the sacrifice happens when the spell or
ability is played, and during this time no other spell or ability
can be announced. So, it's not possible to step in and interfere
with the payment. Even if the opponent has priority and tries to
interfere with a possible Fling by casting a spell to destroy the
creature that's intended for the sacrifice, the Fling can be cast
in response to that spell.

1.1.05: How does stuff like 'non-black' work?

This can be confusing at first, as color attributes can have multiple
values. The key here is to consider the colors independently. So,
asking whether a creature is non-black is the same as asking whether
the creature is black, and then inverting the answer. This is totally
independent of whether the creature is white, blue, red or green.

Here are some example comparisons that demonstrate this reasoning:

- Doom Blade vs. Scathe Zombies

Doom Blade {1}{B} Instant
/ Destroy target nonblack creature.

Scathe Zombies {2}{B} Creature - Zombie 2/2

This is simple: the Scathe Zombies are black, so not a legal target
for the Doom Blade.

- Doom Blade vs. Moroii

Moroii {2}{U}{B} Creature - Vampire 4/4
/ Flying
/ At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life.

The Moroii is black, as it has a {B} in its mana cost. This means
that it can't be nonblack, so Doom Blade can't target it. Remember that
the check for being black, or being nonblack, doesn't look at the {U}
in the Moroii's cost, just the {B}.

- Doom Blade vs. Shrieking Grotesque

Shrieking Grotesque {2}{W} Creature - Gargoyle 2/1
/ Flying
/ When Shrieking Grotesque enters the battlefield, if {B} was spent
to cast Shrieking Grotesque, target player discards a card.

Even though Shrieking Grotesque was likely cast by spending at least
one point of black mana, it doesn't have {B} in its cost, and therefore
is not black. Doom Blade can target the Shrieking Grotesque just fine.

1.1.06: What counts as a Mountain?

There are 11 cards that count as a Mountain. They all have the land
type Mountain on their type lines in Oracle. Here's the full list:

Badlands Land - Mountain Swamp

Plateau Land - Plains Mountain

Taiga Land - Mountain Forest

Volcanic Island Land - Island Mountain

Steam Vents Land - Island Mountain
/ As Steam Vents enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't,
Steam Vent enters the battlefield tapped instead.

Blood Crypt Land - Swamp Mountain
/ As Blood Crypt enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't,
Blood Crypt enters the battlefield tapped instead.

Stomping Ground Land - Mountain Forest
/ As Stomping Ground enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If
you don't, Stomping Ground enters the battlefield tapped instead.

Sacred Foundry Land - Mountain Plains
/ As Sacred Foundry enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If
you don't, Sacred Foundry enters the battlefield tapped instead.

Mountain Basic Land - Mountain

Snow-Covered Mountain Basic Snow Land - Mountain

Madblind Mountain Land - Mountain
/ Madblind Mountain enters the battlefield tapped.
/ {R}, {T}: Shuffle your library. Activate this ability only if you
control two or more red permanents.

Nothing else counts as a Mountain, even if it happens to produce red

One must be careful to distinguish between effects that specify a basic
land and effects that specify a Mountain. The only basic lands are named
Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, Swamp and their snow-covered variants.

Rampant Growth {1}{G} Sorcery
/ Search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play
tapped. Then shuffle your library.

This can get a card called Mountain or Snow-Covered Mountain, or any of
the other 8 basic land cards, but it can't fetch a Volcanic Island
or a Steam Vents. Those lands are not basic, even though they have
basic land types on them.

Chartooth Cougar {5}{R} Creature - Cat Beast 4/4
/ {R}: Chartooth Cougar gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
/ Mountaincycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Search your library for
a Mountain card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle
your library.)

The Mountaincycling ability can get any of the Mountains listed
together above, but it can't get an Island, a Forest, a Plains or
a Swamp that isn't also a Mountain. The Mountaincycling ability
doesn't specify that the Mountain needs to also be basic, so it's not
restricted to only basic Mountains.

1.1.07: How do I know what a card refers to when it uses a card name?

There are two ways in which a card uses a card name. The card
Squadron Hawk uses both ways:

Squadron Hawk {1}{W} Creature - Bird 1/1
/ Flying
/ When Squadron Hawk enters the battlefield, you may search your library
for up to three cards named Squadron Hawk, reveal them, put them into
your hand, then shuffle your library.

The first usage is in "When Squadron Hawk enters the battlefield".
When a card refers to its own name this way, it means that actual
card itself. It doesn't mean any other Squadron Hawks that may enter
in the future.

The second usage is "up to three cards named Squadron Hawk," and
this usage is always written "a card named..." or "cards named..."
It refers to any cards with that name.

If ability text is granted by another permanent, that permanent
can refer back to itself (and only itself) by using its own name:

Saproling Burst {4}{G} Enchantment
/ Fading 7 (This enchantment enters the battlefield with seven fade
counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a fade
counter from it. If you can't, sacrifice it.)
/ Remove a fade counter from Saproling Burst: Put a green Saproling
creature token onto the battlefield. It has "This creature's power
and toughness are each equal to the number of fade counters on
Saproling Burst."
/ When Saproling Burst leaves the battlefield, destroy all tokens put
onto the battlefield with Saproling Burst. They can't be regenerated.

The tokens made by a Saproling Burst aren't affected by a second
Saproling Burst, for example.

If a permanent gains ability text from elsewhere that contains a
reference to the host permanent, the reference is updated to the
new permanent:

Quicksilver Elemental {3}{U}{U} Creature - Elemental 3/4
/ {U}: Quicksilver Elemental gains all activated abilities of target
creature until end of turn. (If any of the abilities use that creature's
name, use this creature's name instead.)
/ You may spend blue mana as though it were mana of any color to pay
the activation costs of Quicksilver Elemental's abilities.

Imagine Quicksilver Elemental gains the activated abilities of
Shivan Dragon:

Shivan Dragon {4}{R}{R} Creature - Dragon 5/5
{R}: Shivan Dragon gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Then the gained ability costs {R} to activate but {U} can be spent
as {R} to pay for it. Note also that the Quicksilver Elemental can
only gain activated abilities, so it won't get the Shivan Dragon's

1.1.08: Can you tap a tapped creature? Untap one that's untapped?

This isn't possible for the purposes of paying a cost. A permanent has
to actually go from the untapped status to the tapped status to pay a
tap cost. In an effect, however, the rules are different. An effect
tries its best to do as much as it can, and ignores impossible or
contradictory instructions. This means that an effect that instructs
a player to untap a creature will simply be ignored if the creature
is already untapped at that point.

Note that the situation is very different if the targeting specification
calls for a tapped creature:

Royal Assassin {1}{B}{B} Creature - Human Assassin 1/1
/ {T}: Destroy target tapped creature.

Read the effect carefully to distinguish which parts are the targeting
specification, which parts are the cost and which parts are the effect.
The targeting specification must be met when you play the spell AND
when it resolves, and the costs must be paid in full, but the effect
is allowed to skip impossible parts.

1.1.09: When can I sacrifice a creature? Discard a card?

Only when an effect or a game rule tells you to. You can't just
sacrifice a creature or discard a card whenever you wish. There has
to be something to cause you to do so. There are some rules that make
things go to the graveyard automatically, but they generally won't
get invoked unless specific situations occur:

- A creature with toughness 0 or less is put into its owner's graveyard.

- A creature with lethal damage, but greater than 0 toughness,
is destroyed.

- An Aura attached to something illegal, or not attached to anything,
is put into its owner's graveyard.

- If two or more legendary permanents with the same name are on the
battlefield, all are put into their owners' graveyards. This is called
the "legend rule."

- Similarly for two or more planeswalkers on the battlefield with the
same planeswalker type, they all go to the graveyard.

- If two or more permanents have the supertype world, all except the
one that has been a permanent with the world supertype on the
battlefield for the shortest amount of time are put into their owners'
graveyards, regardless of name.

- At the beginning of the cleanup step (after the end step, in the
ending phase) if the active player has more cards in hand than his or
her maximum hand size (normally seven) then he or she discards down
to that maximum hand size.

1.1.10: How do I tell which end-of-turn things can carry onto the next turn?

There are two different ways in which cards refer to the end of turn.
One is to specify a duration that lasts "until end of turn". These
durations wear off in the cleanup step of the ending phase, at the same
time that damage is removed from creatures.

There is no way to get an "until end of turn" duration to last into
the next turn. If players get priority to play spells or abilities
during cleanup (not usual, but not impossible to achieve) then the
game automatically adds another cleanup step before the next turn,
and any durations that were set up to last until end of turn during
the first cleanup step will end in the second; you will also have
to check for maximum hand size again.

The other way in which cards refer to the end of turn is to trigger
at the beginning of the end step. This is literally with the phrases
"at the beginning of the end step" or "at the beginning of the next
end step". The beginning of the end step only happens once a turn,
so these triggered abilities only trigger once a turn.

It is possible for a triggered ability to be set up to wait for the
beginning of the end step during an end step. The delayed triggered
ability will wait around for the next turn's end step before it

Players often say "at the end of your turn, I..." to indicate playing
a spell or ability in a player's end step.

1.1.11: What's the point of turning something into a creature just for a

On the first turn that a creature is on the battlefield, it can't
attack, and none of its activated abilities that have the {T} or {Q}
symbol in their cost can be activated. This condition is informally
known as "summoning sickness".

There are only two things to look for to determine whether a permanent
suffers from summoning sickness:

- is the permanent currently a creature? If so, then it may suffer
from summoning sickness and be unable to attack or have its activated
abilities with a {T} or {Q} in the cost activated. If not, then
summoning sickness cannot apply.

- was the permanent (in whatever form) continuously under its current
controller's control since the beginning of that player's most recent
turn? If not, then the creature is sick and it is unable to attack
or have its activated abilities with a {T} or {Q} in the cost activated.

So, turning a permanent into a creature will allow the permanent to
attack, as long as the permanent (in whatever form) was continuously
under its controller's control since the beginning of that player's
most recent turn.

1.1.12: What order do I do things in when I cast a spell / activate an

- Casting a spell means taking the spell card and putting it on the
stack, and going through all the steps of announcing a spell or ability:

- Some spells use the phrase "choose one - " on them. Make this
choice first.
- Some spells have additional, alternative or variable costs.
Choose which costs to pay.
- For the choices made so far, there will be a certain number of
targets required. Choose those next.
- If the spell affects different targets differently or distributes
its effect, make those choices.
- Determine the total cost of the spell, making sure to add costs
first, then apply discounts afterwards.
- If you need mana, you can now activate mana abilities to get the mana
for the spell.
- Now pay the cost of the spell.
- The spell is now played. If the player had priority when the
spell was announced, that player gets priority back. If you have
leftover mana, you have to announce what's left at this point.

Activating an ability is similar, except that you use the activation
cost instead of the mana cost.

- Some spells and abilities copy a spell. The copy is put onto the
top of the stack. Unless otherwise specified, it reuses all of the
choices that were made for the spell it's copying. The copy doesn't
go through the steps again.

Various effects deal with playing cards from unusual places.
In general, there are two different ways these work:

- Static abilities or resolving spells or abilities with continuous
effects can state that a card that isn't in a player's hand may
be played. These effects always specify a duration during which the
effect applies. They add the card to the set of cards that may be
played using the normal system of priority, according to the normal
timing rules.

- Resolving spells or abilities may simply include an instruction to
cast a card or a copy of a card. The card or copy of a card goes
through the steps of announcing a spell or ability, just like a spell
that's cast when a player has priority. The timing restrictions
associated with casting a spell using priority do not apply in this
situation. The card Panoptic Mirror is a good example of this type
of ability:

Panoptic Mirror {5} Artifact
/ Imprint - {X}, {T}: You may exile an instant or sorcery card with
converted mana cost X from your hand.
/ At the beginning of your upkeep, you may copy a card exiled with
Panoptic Mirror. If you do, you may cast the copy without paying
its mana cost.

Finally, note the difference between copying a card and then casting
the copy, and copying a spell that's already been cast. In the former,
the card is in a zone other than the stack; the copy gets made in the
same zone, then moves to the stack when it's cast, and goes through
the process of casting a spell or ability. In the latter, the copy
arrives fully-formed on the stack as a duplicate of something that's
already been cast, and doesn't go through the process of casting a
spell again. The former will trigger abilities that trigger when
spells are cast, but not those that trigger when cards are played.
The latter triggers neither.


Subject: 1.2: Newsgroup Stuff

1.2.01: Posting:

When posting a question to the newsgroup, there are some simple
guidelines to ensure that your question is well-understood and receives
a prompt reply:

- Make the subject line of your post indicate the cards or rules that
you're having issues with.
- In the body of your article, state those cards or rules again,
and explain the play situation that you're asking about. The more
relevant information, the more accurate a reply you'll get.
- If the question concerns older or less commonly used cards, it may
be helpful to include text from Oracle with the post, to remind people
of the exact wording of the cards. Append them to the end of the post
unless they're small enough to flow with the rest of the text.
- Is your question relevant to constructed tournaments? Draft? Sealed?
Is it just about casual games between yourself and your best friend?
Is it about multiplayer games at your local shop? The more context,
the better the answer might be.
- Did you look elsewhere to try to answer the question yourself?
If so, let us know - if nothing else, it can help to make this FAQ a
better resource.
- The netrep for the group tries to answer all posts, and will also
answer emailed questions. We do not encourage direct email questions,
as the question and the answers may be useful to all of the readers
of the group. However, if you do decide to email a question directly,
please don't also post the same question to the newsgroup.
- Don't worry if your post doesn't appear straight away, or if no
answers show up immediately. It takes time for things to propagate
between computers with usenet, so be patient - every single question
gets an answer (usually several answers) and usually within an hour.
- Don't worry if there are many similar answers. We encourage posters
to have a go at answering questions to practice their rules knowledge,
provide alternative viewpoints and provide coverage in case posts from
some servers don't make it all the way across usenet.

1.2.02: Terminology:

If you're a new player, you'll almost certainly come across unfamiliar
terms and acronyms while reading this FAQ, or the magic.rules
newsgroup... so here are some of the most common ones.

- Cardset Names:

In the midst of newsgroup discussion, there is a tendency to abbreviate
commonly-occurring names. The different cardsets are often given two-
letter abbreviations; since around Champions of Kamigawa everyone has
standardised on three-letter abbreviations.

For the most part, these abbreviations will be obvious, e.g. '5E'
for Fifth Edition or 'MN' for Mirrodin. However, there are some
abbreviations that could be confusing:

- Unlimited Edition: UL or UN
- Urza's Legacy: UL or UY
- Unglued: UN

- Legends: LG or LE
- Legions: LG or LE

- Revised Edition (Third Edition): RV or 3E
- Ravnica: City of Guilds: RV

For these sets in particular, it can be helpful to write the name out
in full rather than abbreviating.

- Card Names:

Cards are often abbreviated in discussion, using just initial letters.
For example, a Circle of Protection: Red is referred to as CoP:Red,
or Mother of Runes as MoR (or often, just 'mom'). Individual groups
will also have their own slang names for cards, some of which may
simply defy explanation - it's usually clear what's meant.

- Miscellaneous terms and acronyms:

"~": Commonly used to stand for the cardname, when quoting card text
MtG: Magic The Gathering
WotC: Wizards Of The Coast, publishers of Magic
DCI: The authority that oversees organised play
Modo: Magic Online Digital Objects, the name of the system that runs
the online version of the Magic: the Gathering game


Subject: 1.3: Further Reading

So, what happens if your question isn't frequently asked, and isn't
in this document? Well, here are a few other places you could turn to.

Obviously enough, asking your question on the newsgroup is a good way to get it answered.
That's what it's there for, after all. Don't worry about whether
your question's basic, or has been asked before, or even if it's a
frequently asked one in this FAQ, that you've been unable to find
or haven't understood the answer to. The group is extremely newbie
friendly, and the people there are very patient about explaining things.
After all, that's why they hang out there.

The detailed rules of the game have changed a lot since it first came
out, so it's helpful to get up-to-date information about the rules
and the wording on the cards. The exact wording can often make the
difference when trying to work out how a card works, and this is found
by using the Oracle.

The Oracle lists the card text for every card in the game, in such
a way as the cards will all work together under the current rules.
It's only officially available through the Gatherer interface at

The official rulebook is located at
It's written in a very technical language to ensure that every
card and every game situation is catered for in a logical and
consistent manner. As a result, it's not a recommended resource
for learning how to play. A much friendlier version is available at
However, by far the most enjoyable way to learn the game is to learn
from another player. Try your local games store, comic store or
University gaming society - most players will be willing to teach the
basics to a newcomer.

An additional source of rules information is Yawgatog's Magic Resources
<>, and an older archive of information
is available at <>.

The rules that govern the mechanics of the game are only part
of the whole story. If you intend to play Magic: the Gathering
in tournaments, then you will need to read about the DCI and the
floor rules. The DCI is the organisation responsible for organised
Magic tournaments; information about the DCI rules is located at
<>. You may
even be interested in locating a judge for an event, or finding out
more about the process of becoming a judge - for this, see

Zoe Stephenson

Nov 11, 2012, 12:37:18 AM11/11/12
Archive-name: games/magic-t-g/rules/part2
Posting-Frequency: About every 5 days


Subject: 2.0: Returning Player Questions

This part of the FAQ deals with players returning to the game after a
time away. It notes when particular changes were made to the rules,
card templates or game philosophy so that returning players can catch
up without being caught out.


Subject: 2.1.00: 1993

Sets released: Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Arabian Nights

The rules were in quite a state of flux, with many interactions
unexplored and undefined.


Subject: 2.1.01: 1994

Sets released: Antiquities. Revised Edition, Legends, the Dark,
Fallen Empires

Major stuff:

- The types 'poly artifact' and 'mono artifact' were dropped for
Revised Edition.
- The tilted-T tap symbol was introduced in Revised Edition.
- Legends introduced Enchant World, the Legend creature type and
Legendary lands, as well as gold-bordered cards with more than one


- The original 'legend rule' restricted Legend cards to maximum one
of each name per deck as well as maximum one of any name in play.


Subject: 2.1.02: 1995

Sets released: Fourth Edition, Ice Age, Chronicles, Homelands

Major stuff:

- Fourth edition contained a batch timing system that delayed damage
dealing until the end of the batch and contained an interrupt window
and a damage-prevention bubble.


Subject: 2.1.03: 1996

Sets released: Alliances, Mirage

Major stuff:

- The card templating for instants and sorceries with an additional
cost changed in Mirage to writing the cost in the one-shot effect,
separated by a colon.


- Mirage was the first set that was designed as a block and with
limited play in mind as well as constructed. It also had 'theme decks',
the first preconstructed decks for an expansion.


Subject: 2.1.04: 1997

Sets released: Visions, Fifth Edition, Portal, Weatherlight, Tempest

Major stuff:

- Fifth Edition tightened up the timing rules even further, bringing in
phase abilities, phase costs, pre-series and all sorts of long-forgotten
- The card templating changed again; abilities with non-mana and
non-tap costs used to be phrased '{0}: <other cost> to <effect>'.
This was changed to the more modern '<other cost>: <effect>' to keep
all the costs on the same side of the colon.
- Fifth Edition saw the introduction of mana source cards.
- Fifth Edition forced players to play interrupt cards that targeted
a permanent using the timing rules for instant cards.
- Fifth Edition removed an older rule about 'pumping' that allowed
a player to announce and pay for multiple activations of an effect
at once.
- April 1997 introduced the modern 'Paris mulligan' rule; previously
a mulligan required either all land or no land in the hand and could
be taken only once, now the mulligan can be taken as many times as
desired with any hand, but reduces starting hand size by one each time
the mulligan is taken.


Portal was a vastly simplified version of the game, using just
creatures, sorceries and lands.
Iconic creatures Serra Angel and Sengir Vampire were dropped from
the base set for Fifth Edition.


Subject: 2.1.05: 1998

Sets released: Stronghold, Exodus, Portal: Second Age, Unglued, Urza's
Saga, Anthologies

Major stuff:

- Exodus brought in a change to the card design to denote the card
rarity with the colour of the expansion symbol and the card number
and set size.


- Several cards from Urza's Saga were given errata to prevent their
comes-into-play abilities working unless they were played from your
hand; the errata were removed in 2006.


Subject: 2.1.06: 1999

Sets released: Urza's Legacy, Sixth Edition, Urza's Destiny, Portal:
Three Kingdoms, Starter, Mercadian Masques

Major stuff:

- Sixth edition was a pretty complete rethink of the whole timing system
and card templating, ending up with the 'Grand Unified Timing System'
- No more batches, interrupt windows, damage prevention bubbles,
pre-series, phase abilities or phase costs.
- No more interrupt or mana source cards, these can be played as
instant cards under the new system.
- The stack was introduced.
- The term 'fast effect' was dropped from the rules.
- The term 'pseudospell' was dropped from the rules.
- The concept of setting up a prevention or replacement shield was
- The term 'bury' was dropped from Magic vocabulary.
- The term 'successfully cast' was dropped as well.
- The ability 'haste' was introduced and the term 'summoning sickness'
was dropped.
- No more summon cards, replaced with creature cards instead.
- Creature cards with multiple-word creature types now count as each
separate creature type individually, with many older types being
- No more 'fizzle', replaced with 'countered on resolution'.
- No more 'cast', replaced with 'play'.
- No more 'total mana cost', replaced with 'converted mana cost'.
- Triggered abilities never resolve at the pauses during a spell,
they all use the stack and resolve independently.
- Players lose from having 0 life almost immediately, rather than
waiting until the end of the phase.
- Combat became a phase of its own.
- Combat damage uses the stack.
- Protection no longer absorb all trample damage, as the damage
assignment ignores the protection ability.
- Tapped blockers now deal combat damage, they previously didn't.
- Tapped artifacts don't automatically turn off; Howling Mine, Static
Orb and Winter Orb got errata to preserve their turning off behaviour.
- The end of turn step / until end of turn wear-off distinction is
- The Oracle was introduced.
- The core set has its own expansion symbol as of Sixth Edition.

- Urza's Legacy introduced premium (foil) cards.
- Urza's Legacy also marked a trend for effects that tap or untap
something to change from only being "target creature, artifact or land"
to "target permanent"


- No cards with trample were printed in Sixth Edition.


Subject: 2.1.07: 2000

Sets released: Nemesis, Starter 2000, Prophecy, Invasion, Beatdown

Major stuff:

- Invasion introduced the split cards and rules for checking
characteristics of split cards.


Subject: 2.1.08: 2001

Sets released: Planeshift, Seventh Edition, Apocalypse, Odyssey


- Some time around here the rule on creature type changed, so that
when asked to name a creature type, only an existing creature type
could be chosen.


Subject: 2.1.09: 2002

Sets released: Torment, Judgement, Onslaught

Major stuff:

- Onslaught brought back face-down creatures with more comprehensive
rules support.


- Torment contained more black cards at the expense of green and
white cards.
- Judgment contained more green and white cards at the expense of
black cards.
- Judgment introduced the cycle of Wishes, cards that retrieve other
cards from outside the game - an effect not seen since the Ring
of Ma'ruf.


Subject: 2.1.10: 2003

Sets released: Legions, Scourge, Eighth Edition, Mirrodin

Major stuff:

- Eighth Edition brought a new card frame with room for more artwork
and text. The frame for artifacts was considered too close to the
frame for white cards in appearance.
- Eighth Edition introduced the 'basic' supertype to identify basic
lands by their type.
- Mirrodin block introduced the Equipment subtype.


- Legions contained only creature cards.
- Legions introduced the first creatures with double strike.
- Mirrodin block saw a change to the card distribution across the block.


Subject: 2.1.11: 2004

Sets released: Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Unhinged, Champions of Kamigawa

Major stuff:

- Darksteel introduced 'indestructible'.
- Fifth Dawn introduced a darker artifact frame to help distinguish
artifact cards from white cards.
- Champions of Kamigawa introduced a new Legend rule (if Legends share
a name, they are all put into their owners' graveyards, not just all
but the first) and removed the Legend creature type, creating 'Legendary
- Champions of Kamigawa introduced flip cards, cards with a compressed
card face on either end and a suitable picture in the middle.
- Champions of Kamigawa introduced a modification to the targeting rule
(targets only need to be unique for each instance of the qualifier
'target') to assist with splice cards.
- Champions of Kamigawa introduced the 'defender' ability, retroactively
added to all of the creatures with creature type Wall, to eliminate
the direct link between creature type and not being able to attack.


Subject: 2.1.12: 2005

Sets released: Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa, 9th Edition,
Ravnica: city of Guilds

Major stuff:

- Ravnica: City of Guilds introduced hybrid mana costs that can be
paid with one point of either of two specific colors of mana.
- Ninth edition introduced the Aura subtype and the enchant keyword.


Subject: 2.1.13: 2006

Sets released: Guildpact, Dissension, Coldsnap, Time Spiral

Major stuff:

- Coldsnap changed the 'snow-covered' supertype to 'snow' and expanded
its use to nonland permanents.
- Time Spiral introduced a rule to make +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on
a permanent disappear in pairs.
- With the online release of Mirage block cards, the rules for phasing
were updated. Phasing out no longer triggers leaves play abilities.
- Time Spiral introduced suspend, a way of playing a card for less
mana by having it resolve some turns in the future.
- Time Spiral introduced split second, an ability that prevents
players from responding to the spell that it's on. The flavour is
similar to that of the pre-6th Edition interrupts.


Subject: 2.1.14: 2007

Sets released: Planar Chaos, Future Sight, Tenth Edition, Lorwyn

Major stuff:

- Future Sight introduced the idea of players being more like objects
in the game. For example, protection was extended so that it could
be gained by a player.

- Future Sight introduced new card types ostensibly from the future:
- The Planeswalker type was referred to but not used.
- The Tribal type was used - it attaches a creature type to a
non-creature card.

- Future Sight introduced new keyword abilities for existing
- The ability reach was introduced to represent the ability of
a creature without flying to block a creature with flying.
- The ability deathtouch was introduced to represent the ability
of a creature to destroy creatures that it damages non-lethally.
- The ability shroud was introduced for permanents or players
that can't be the target of spells or abilities.
- The ability lifelink was introduced to cover some of the cases
where a creature's combat damage triggers life gain.

- Lorwyn introduced the Tribal type "properly", using it on a number
of cards to improve the flow of the "creature type matters" theme.

- Lorwyn introduced the changeling ability, which grants all creature

- Lorwyn introduced actual Planeswalker cards. These cards have
abilities that you can play one of, once, during your main phase.
The card has a loyalty score and comes into play with that
many loyalty counters, and its abilities cost an increase or
decrease of a certain number of counters. The Planeswalker may
be damaged by effects that would deal non-combat damage to you
(as a redirection chosen by the effect's controller) and may be
attacked (you assign blockers for the Planeswalker as normal).

Minor stuff:

- Planar Chaos introduced a "parallel universe" card frame.

- Future Sight introduced a "future worlds" card frame.

- Future Sight created a lot of combinations of ideas that had not
been tried before, and may never be tried again, such as a land,
an enchantment and an artifact with morph, and more general
typecycling abilities such as slivercycling.

- Some terms appeared on only a few cards in Future Sight: delve,
gravestorm, aura swap, grandeur, transfigure, fateseal, frenzy,

- Abilities champion, hideaway and evoke appeared in Lorwyn.

- The Kithkin and Treefolk creature types were used more in Lorwyn
block than ever before.


Subject: 2.1.15: 2008

Sets released: Morningtide, Shadowmoor, Eventide, Shards of Alara

Major stuff:

- Shards of Alara made a move to a smaller set size and introduced
mythic rare cards, approximately twice as rare as rare cards.
- The concept of linked abilities was widened and got its own section
in the rulebook, marking the end of shenanigans with cards like
Callous Oppressor.

Minor stuff:

- The abilities prowl, reinforce and kinship appeared in Morningtide;
conspire, wither and persist in Shadowmoor and retrace in Eventide.
Shards of Alara brought exalted, unearth and devour.

- Shadowmoor introduced the untap symbol {Q}.

- Shadowmoor introduced costs that are paid with a number of
mana of any color or just one mana of a particular color, e.g.
{2/B} can be paid as {2} or {B}.

- Shadowmoor gave the game another multicolored artifact, the Reaper

- Shards of Alara continued the colored artifact theme in earnest.


Subject: 2.1.16: 2009

Sets released: Conflux, Alara Reborn, Magic 2010, Zendikar

Major stuff:

- Magic 2010 came with a complete overhaul to the rules and the rulebook.
The important changes are:
- The base set is no longer purely reprints; it has its own cards
specifically designed for it;
- mana burn was removed from the game, and mana pools empty at the end
of steps as well as phases;
- the removed-from-the-game zone is now the exile zone, to which cards
may be exiled. Cards that fetch cards from outside the game now
can't reach the exile zone;
- the in-play zone is now the battlefield;
- spells are once again cast rather than played, and abilities are
- combat damage is assigned and then dealt in the combat damage step
without any player gaining priority;
- when assigning multiple attackers to a blocker or multiple blockers
to an attacker, the player splitting the damage needs to announce an
order in which damage is assigned. When the assignment occurs, a
later creature in the order can only be assigned damage if all of
the earlier creatures have a lethal damage assignment;
- the lifelink and deathtouch abilities became static abilities;
- the rules on token ownership changed so that the owner is the
initial controller, to match with more intuitive expectations;
- the layering rules changed so that:
- color-changing happens before adding or removing abilities;
- all effects that set power/toughness are applied before all
effects that adjust power/toughness up/down;
- the "bands with other ..." rules were changed so that only one
of the creatures in an attacking band needs the "bands with other
ability, as long as everything else is a "...";
- phasing changed so that "phased out" is a status rather than a
zone, and causes the phased out permanent to be ignored except for
specifically mentioning phased-out permanents;
- the rules for mulligans changed so that both players decide on
mulligans simultaneously and then take them simultaneously, until
no player needs a mulligan.
- Rules were codified to explain how to use cards like the Planechase
planes to play Planar Magic. The Command Zone was added to explain
where these cards sit.

Minor stuff:

- Conflux brings back the domain mechanic from Invasion and introduces
basic landcycling.
- Alara Reborn contains the cascade mechanic and adds a few multicolor
hybrid cards.
- Zendikar introduces intimidate (a generalised fear ability) and
landfall (caring about lands entering the battlefield).


Subject: 2.1.17: 2010

Sets released: Worldwake, Rise of the Eldrazi, Magic 2011, Scars of Mirrodin

Major stuff:

- Emblems were introduced in Scars of Mirrodin. They sit in the command
zone and carry an ability. They aren't permanents, and Emblem isn't
a kind of card. They're essentially a way to get an ability to last
for the rest of the game with a convenient reminder somewhere in the
game, rather than just having to remember.
- The life total rules for two-headed giant got simplified so that cards
that care about a player's life total just see the team life total
- The Magic 2011 update clarified the deathtouch rules; when assigning
combat damage, the declared damage order is used but any amount of
damage from a source with deathtouch counts as lethal damage, so the
rest of the damage can be assigned further down the line.

Minor stuff:

- Worldwake gives us multikicker.
- Rise of the Eldrazi gives us annihilator and a range of colorless
and makes use of the tribal type again. It comes with leveler
rebound spells and totem armor.
- Scars of Mirrodin brings metalcraft, proliferate and infect, and brings
back the imprint mechanic.


Subject: 2.1.18: 2011

Sets released: Mirrodin Besieged, New Phyrexia

Major stuff:

- New Phyrexia introduced Phyrexian mana costs {W/P}, {U/P}, {B/P},
{R/P} and {G/P}. These costs may be paid with one mana of the
appropriate color or by paying 2 life.

Minor stuff:

- Mirrodin Besieged brings battle cry and living weapon.
- New Phyrexia brings
- The rules on poison in the two-headed giant format were adjusted
to create a shared poison tally that can get up to 15 before the
team loses.
- Mirrodin Besieged has the first card in it to restart the game and
a cycle of cards that trigger when revealed from a player's opening

Zoe Stephenson

Nov 11, 2012, 12:37:18 AM11/11/12
Archive-name: games/magic-t-g/rules/part3
Posting-Frequency: About every 5 days


Subject: 3.00: Advanced Discussion

This part of the FAQ deals with advanced issues that delve into parts
of the game that have changed, or which are complex. For beginners,
this section gives the answers to some difficult questions; for players
with more experience, the discussion should provide skills that will
help solve most Magic problems. For this part of the FAQ especially,
it's worth having the Comprehensive Rulebook available while reading.


Subject: 3.01: Templating and identification

Magic card text uses specific templates to indicate that a particular
type of effect is intended. Some of the templates refer to the use
of particular words, some of the templates are simply idiomatic use
of English that Magic has adopted.

The templating has changed over the years, gradually improving to
eliminate ambiguities and inconsistencies. The following points
cover most of the templating found in card texts these days:

- Activated abilities are written with a cost, a colon and an effect.
The effect is a one-shot effect, containing instructions to follow.
The instructions may set up a continuous effect or a delayed triggered
- Triggered abilities are written using the word when, whenever or at.
They specify either a particular part of a step or phase to trigger at,
a particular event to trigger on, or a particular state to trigger on.
When they resolve, they have a one-shot effect containing instructions
that may set up a continuous effect or a delayed triggered ability.
- The one-shot instructions on an instant or sorcery spell are spell
- Anything else is a static ability, including instructions on an instant
or sorcery that modify how it's cast. They have a continuous effect
that is always active in the appropriate zone.

- An instruction can refer to a permanent by its type, by just using
the type word alone. This always refers to a permanent of that type,
not to any other object with that type. So "creature" on its own
always means a creature permanent, and so on.

- A cost can include the tap-symbol. This stands for tapping the
permanent the ability is on, and this cost cannot be paid if the
permanent is a creature that its controller did not continuously
control since the beginning of his or her most recent turn. This is
different to a cost that involves tapping a particular type of
permanent; a creature that isn't eligible for paying a tap-symbol
tap cost may still be used to pay a more general tap-cost. The same
applies to untapping and the untap-symbol.

- An effect may have one instruction that is conditional on choosing
a particular option previously in the effect. This uses the phrase
"if you do". It refers to the choice to perform the action, and still
holds even if a different action actually takes place.

- An effect can place a restriction or compulsion on attacking or
blocking. The template for these effects applies only to the act
of declaring a creature as an attacking creature or a blocking
creature. It does not refer to other ways for a creature to become
an attacking or blocking creature.

- Effects often instruct a player to make a choice of some kind. The
only choices available are those that exist within the game. So, a
choice of permanent is limited to the permanents that exist at the
time, a choice of color to one of the five colors, and a choice of
creature type to an existing creature type in the set of Magic cards.

- An instruction can refer to the card that it's on by using the
card's name as a noun. The instruction refers only to that particular
instance of the card. This can get complicated when instructions move
between cards with copy, gain or grant effects:

- When one card copies another, the name references refer to the
card doing the copying.
- When one card grants new abilities to another, the name references
the card doing the granting.
- When one card gains the existing abilities of another, the name
references the card doing the gaining.

In some cases, a card will refer to itself using just the first part
of its name, rather than the whole name - this follows the same pattern:

Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni {4}{B}{B} Legendary Creature - Rat Ninja 5/4
/ Ninjutsu {3}{B}{B}
/ Whenever Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni deals combat damage to a player,
you may put target creature card from that player's graveyard onto
the battlefield under your control.
/ {1}{B}: Regenerate Ink-Eyes.

Even with all of these guidelines on the templating of Magic cards,
sometimes the templates are not followed strictly in order to fit
the text onto the card in all of the languages in which Magic is
printed. Sometimes there will be a FAQ entry for the card in its
individual set FAQ to explain what is meant.


Subject: 3.02: Spiders and stone

The rules on the spider ability (the ability to block creatures with
flying, without actually having flying) have changed over the course
of the game. First they were mandatory, then they could have been
considered optional, then they were mandatory again but people often
read them as optional, then another wording change was used, and
finally the whole thing was replaced with a new ability, reach. So
now, the situation is as follows:

The spider ability itself:

Giant Spider {3}{G} Creature - Spider 2/4
/ Reach (This creature can block creatures with flying.)


Stone Spirit {4}{R} Creature - Elemental Spirit 4/3
/ Stone Spirit can't be blocked by creatures with flying.


Treetop Scout {G} Creature - Elf Scout 1/1
/ Treetop Scout can't be blocked except by creatures with flying.

The Giant Spider can block a creature with flying, and it can block
the Stone Spirit, but it can't block the Treetop Scout.


Subject: 3.03: Time Vault

The wording and behaviour of Time Vault has changed over the course
of the game, in part to try to clean it up and in part to try to
control its power level. The current wording is as follows:

Time Vault {2} Artifact
/ Time Vault enters the battlefield tapped.
/ Time Vault doesn't untap during your untap step.
/ If you would begin your turn while Time Vault is tapped, you may
skip that turn instead. If you do, untap Time Vault.
/ {T}: Take an extra turn after this one.

This uses turn-skipping, which is an extension of phase- and step-
skipping, to try to limit the number of times the Time Vault could
be untapped and tapped again in a turn.


Subject: 3.04: Trample vs. protection

The interaction between trample and protection has changed over the
course of the game. Nowadays, it's as follows:

Combat damage happens in two distinct steps, assignment and dealing.
In assignment, a record is made of the source, destination and amount
of each piece of combat damage. If a creature has trample, then
it's legal to assign some or all of the damage from that creature
to the defending player, as long as the assignment also assigns
lethal damage to all creatures blocking the creature with trample.
Lethal damage is considered as however much damage is needed to make
up the difference between damage already marked on the creature from
before the assignment was made, and the toughness of the creature.
Effects that would alter the amount of damage that actually gets dealt
are not taken into account at this stage. Note that any amount of
damage from a creature with deathtouch is considered lethal damage.

When the damage is dealt, there may be replacements that alter the
amount of damage or prevent it entirely. This is where the protection
can step in and shield the creature.


Subject: 3.05: Order of triggered abilities

The way in which triggered abilities have been dealt with has changed
dramatically throughout the history of the game.

When any instruction is followed in the game, it may match the trigger
event of any number of triggered abilities. Each time this happens,
the triggered event triggers. When a player is in the process of
gaining priority to play spells and abilities, players put any triggered
abilities that have triggered onto the stack. First the active player
adds all the triggered abilities that he or she controls, in the
order of his or her choice, and then the non-active player does so.
With multiple non-active players, players go in turn order.

With this system, triggered abilities never go onto the stack while
another spell or ability is resolving. They always wait until a
player is about to gain priority. However, the order of events within
the resolution of the spell or ability does still matter. For example,
during the resolution of Hypergenesis, a Where Ancients Tread enters
the battlefield, and then its controller also puts a Woolly Thoctar
onto the battlefield:

Hypergenesis Sorcery
/ Hypergenesis is green.
/ Suspend 3 - {1}{G}{G} (Rather than cast this card from your hand, pay
{1}{G}{G} and exile it with three time counters on it. At the beginning
of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When the last is removed, cast
it without paying its mana cost.)
/ Starting with you, each player may put an artifact, creature, enchantment
or land card from his or her hand onto the battlefield. Repeat this
process until no one puts a card onto the battlefield.

Where Ancients Tread {4}{R} Enchantment
/ Whenever a creature with power 5 or greater enters the battlefield
under your control, you may have Where Ancients Tread deal 5 damage
to target creature or player.

Woolly Thoctar {R}{G}{W} Creature - Beast 5/4

The Where Ancients Tread "sees" the Woolly Thoctar, and triggers. After
the Hypergenesis has finished resolving, the controller of the Where
Ancients Tread puts its triggered ability on the stack, and chooses a
target for it. This could target another creature that was put onto
the battlefield after the Woolly Thoctar.

Some damage prevention effects have "side-effects", extra things that
are written along with the damage prevention:

Brace for Impact {4}{W} Instant
/ Prevent all damage that would be dealt to target multicolored creature
this turn. For each 1 damage prevented this way, put a +1/+1 counter
on that creature.

These are not usually triggered abilities. They just happen as part
of the event that would have dealt the damage.


Subject: 3.06: Flagbearers

The original Flagbearer text tried to constrain the target selection for
spells and abilities that could target them, but it was unclear whether
that constraint also affected spells and abilities that change targets.
Nowadays, the wording is clearer:

Standard Bearer {1}{W} Creature - Human Flagbearer 1/1
/ While choosing targets as part of casting a spell or activating
an ability, your opponents must choose at least one Flagbearer on
the battlefield if able.

This no longer triggers and ends up with targets changing, it just adds
in the constraint the way the original text tried to.


Subject: 3.07: Attack and block restrictions / requirements

The rules handling multiple interacting attack and block modifications
have evolved throughout the game's history. Rules 508 and 509 define
legal attacks and blocks, here is a quick summary of the current state
of affairs:

When you declare an attack, you may pay any costs that are needed to
allow creatures to attack, then pick a set of untapped creatures as
the attacking creatures. Check for any restrictions and requirements
that are violated - if there are, you have to choose a different
set of attackers. To perform this check, first make sure that all
of the restrictions are being met, then look at the requirements.
If the maximum possible number of requirements are being followed,
then the set of attackers is legal.


Player A controls:

Crazed Goblin {R} Creature - Goblin Warrior 1/1
/ Crazed Goblin attacks each turn if able.

Runeclaw Bear {1}{G} Creature - Bear 2/2

Player B controls:

Silent Arbiter {4} Artifact Creature - Construct 1/5
/ No more than one creature can attack each combat.
/ No more than one creature can block each combat.

This situation has one requirement, the Crazed Goblin must attack.
It also has one restriction, at most one creature can attack.

The possible sets of attackers that Player A may declare are:

- Just the Crazed Goblin: legal, as it satisfies the requirement
without violating the restriction.

- The Crazed Goblin and the Runeclaw Bear: illegal, as it does not
satisfy the restriction.

- Just the Runeclaw Bear: illegal, as attacking with just the Crazed
Goblin is legal and satisfies more requirements.

- No creatures: illegal, as attacking with just the Crazed Goblin is
legal and satisfies more requirements.

The situation is analogous with blockers: all of the restrictions
must be met, and then a maximum number of requirements must also be
met. An example:

Player A controls:

Razorgrass Screen {1} Artifact Creature - Wall 2/1
/ Defender
/ Razorgrass Screen blocks each turn if able.

Runeclaw Bear {1}{G} Creature - Bear 2/2

Player B controls:

Goblin War Drums {2}{R} Enchantment
/ Each creature you control can't be blocked except by two or more

Player B is attacking with one creature. Player A's blocking options

- Both Razorgrass Screen and Runeclaw Bear: legal, as the requirement
for the Razorgrass Screen to block is met, and the restriction for
at least two creatures to block the attacker is also met.

- Just the Razorgrass Screen: illegal; while the requirement is met,
the restriction is not, and another legal block is available that
meets the requirements and also satisfies the restrictions.

- Just the Runeclaw Bear: illegal, as the requirement is not met, and
another legal block is available that does meet the requirement.

- Neither creature: illegal, as there is a restriction that could be
met and the requirements can be met as well.


Subject: 3.08: Compost

There has been some debate over the years as to exactly which
circumstances will trigger a Compost. The main issue arises because
it's possible for the card to be black in the graveyard but not when
it's in the hand, or on the battlefield; it's also possible for the card
to be black in the hand or on the battlefield but not in the graveyard.
Under the current regime, the trigger event is now never considered
to be a leaves-the-battlefield trigger. Consequently, it's the color
of the card once it gets to the graveyard that matters when determining
whether Compost triggers.

Compost {1}{G} Enchantment
/ Whenever a black card is put into an opponent's graveyard from
anywhere, you may draw a card.


Subject: 3.09: Madness

Madness was originally a fairly complex series of triggers so that
the spell could be cast using the system of priority. Since then,
other cards have been created that allow a spell to be cast when
no player has priority. This created the opportunity to "clean up"
the madness rules. So, whereas before it was possible under some
circumstances to play a land inbetween the discard of the card and
casting the card for its madness cost, these days it's much simpler:

- playing or resolving a spell or ability, or dealing with the discard
to maximum hand size at cleanup, causes you to discard a card.

- the madness ability on the card allows you to replace the card going
to the graveyard with removing it from the game. Doing so triggers
an ability: "you may cast this card for its madness cost. If you don't,
put it into your graveyard." Since the madness ability retains the
term 'discard' for this new event, it also triggers anything that
triggers on a discard.

- when a player would next get priority, the triggered ability goes on
the stack. When it resolves, you choose whether to cast the removed
card or not. If so, its cost will be the madness cost instead of the
mana cost. If not, it's put into your graveyard.

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