Home Editorial Balance Don’t miss these Magic 2014 rules changes!

Since T3’s resident Magic Pro is busy betraying his beloved cardboard wives with another, digital set of cardboard pieces, I figured I’d take some weight off his shoulders and discuss the upcoming rules change for him. Just for reference, Wizards’ official article about it can be found here and I’m not a pro at Magic, though I would consider myself pretty decent at it.

Without further ado, here’s how the rules are going to change and what that effectively means. It seems only logical to assume that those changes will make it into DotP14, so keep them in mind when playing.

There can be only any variance between zero and two.

Under the old rules, as soon as two legendary permanents with the same name exist on the battlefield, they both instantly evaporated, because… space alien laser tentacles, that’s why. With the rules change, the rule only checks for permanents controlled by a single player and forces you to dump one of them of your choice should there ever be two of the same legend under your control. Essentially the same change applies to planeswalkers, you can only control one of any given planeswalker subtype at a time, but what your opponent has doesn’t interest your ‘walker and you only have to ditch one if you ever have more than one of them.

As far as I’ve managed to gather, this change is getting quite a bit of hate, which I can’t understand. See, I like quirky strategies. Even if the other strategy is a 100% win guarantee, I like to do it in the most nonstandard way possible. As a consequence, I like legendaries. Of course, people hate on them to for being dead draws if you don’t build your deck right. Then again, if your legend is worth playing and you manage to make it stick long enough that you don’t need the extra copy, you probably have already won.

I digress. This change should promote playing with legends a bit more than they are used today, but most of all, it means that the game won’t punish you for random numbers any more. Under the old rules, if you happened to play the same legend as your opponent, it was effectively a kill spell. A good one at that, but I’d say that most people would have preferred a legend of their own. It also means that Clone effects now produce a legendary for yourself rather than just instakilling whichever the opponent had. Is this nerf significant? Not really, since it always felt cheaty and out of the designer’s vision. Besides, you only have to put in a little more work to make your Clones function the exact same as before.

Also, stop thinking about competitive duels for a second. Think casual formats like EDH for a minute. If two people happened to have the same commander, such as by playing the same preconstructed deck, they could at best neutralise each other. Now, everybody gets to keep their commander, as well as any legends which I’ve been told are quite popular in EDH. Funsies to be had for everyone!

As much as is needed, as little as possible: The sideboard

Okay, this change is practically irrelevant for the purposes of DotP, but it’s worth mentioning. With the new rules, when playing at sanctioned events, your deck has to be 60 or more cards, and your sideboard has to be up to 15 cards. Any combination which matches those numbers is a legal build, even if it’s not the same ratio as you used at the beginning, such as taking 5 cards from your sideboard in without taking anything out. I suppose it can add variance to pro decks, though it’s unlikely it’ll happen. If you play 65 cards, you are playing 5 cards that are only in the way of drawing the good cards. Anyway. Next change!

I am bulletproof!

With Magic 2014, we’ll be seeing Indestructible printed on cards without the burden of “CARDNAME is”. Yay, I suppose? There isn’t much that this changes now that Indestructible is a keyword. It mostly means that permanents now HAVE Indestructible instead of BEING indestructible. The two examples mentioned in the official article are about the only situations where it makes any difference. The change is mostly for clearance; Indestructible was often assumed to be an ability when it was truly a property of the permanent. If you hit something indestructible with something to make it lose all abilities, it would still have been indestructible under the old rules, like it would have kept its colour, types, and mana cost. It means that buddies like Darksteel Myr no longer benefit from Muraganda Petroglyphs. I suppose somebody somewhere will now be crying as she dismantles her indestructible/Petroglyphs deck.

On that note, did you know that being unblockable was also a property and not an ability? Well, now that is also clearer. Why didn’t Wizards make it an ability so that it could hang with the cool kids? Because unblockability is mostly Blue, and screw Blue!

Second moon landing? I don’t think so.

With the new rules, you can only play a land if the amount of lands you’ve played in this turn doesn’t exceed the number of extra land drops you have plus one, even if an effect would instruct you to do so. Previously, this applied to and counted only the land drops you made from your hand as the turn’s special action. Here’s a scenario where it would really change the game:

You have a Djinn of Wishes and a Goblin Spy on the field staring down an enemy Blightsteel Colossus. You drop an Island with your normal land drop, use the Djinn’s abilities to shave a Plains off the top of your library and reveal a Path to Exile. Since you really, really want to play that, you play some 1-mana cantrip with the Island you just played, draw the Path, and exile the Colossus into being a boss in Diablo Clone #53. That would have worked under the old rules, but no more. You probably see that this change only gives a few slight nerfs to some cards, nothing to write home. This example is wrong and I blame Wing for it, even though I’m the only one to blame. Take Wizards’ article for real examples. Just how hard it is to find some situation where this is relevant shows you how little the rule affects.

I suppose you get the point. Note that this change will not kill ramping decks, as such spells put land into play. The land count rule cares only about land that you specifically play. Yes, Magic sometimes comes down to a few letters, and you love it for that.

Lessons learnt

In effect, what do those changes mean for DotP gameplay? A lot of nothing and less being punished for playing the same deck as your opponent, I suppose. Think about what a Talrand mirror matchup meant in DotP13. Well, aside from falling asleep because nobody dared do anything, and I suppose nobody played Talrand in the first place because everybody went for that frickin’ infinite turns combo anyway! Back to the point, most of it matters much more in multiplayer than in duels, but we all know that nobody ever played that in the first place.


7 replies to this post
  1. Your play a land example doesn’t work under the old rules. Djinn of Wishes doesn’t give you an extra land drop, it just says you may play it if you have a land drop. By playing a land through your Djinn, you were using up your land play for the turn.

    The old rule prevents you from bouncing an Exploration to play extra lands.
    Play Forest, Play Exploration, Play Forest, bounce Exploration, re-play Exploration, Play Forest, repeat.

    • I’ve slightly restructured the example to reflect my intentions. I’m pretty sure it would have worked under the old rules like that, though. As far as I remember.

      Oh look, the Djinn’s rulings say I am wrong. Well bugger.

      You see how hard it is to come up with examples where that rule is relevant. I’m sure most people didn’t even know about that specific rule and just played it like it let you do two normal land drops a turn, instead of being something like, “0: Put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield. Activate this ability only once each turn and only when you could cast a sorcery. Treat this ability as a mana ability.”

      Eh. I honestly want to see which deck is really affected by this. Maybe somebody has been playing some weird Opalescence / Cloudstone Curio / Dryad Arbor / Concordant Crossroads deck. Yay, ramping up to four lands per game, only one of which stays untapped, using a four-card turn 5 combo.

  2. I feel so conflicted about the legends/PW rules changes. On the one hand, it makes mirror matches much less annoying, especially in EDH. On the other hand, a lot of flavor is lost.

    On the other other hand, this most likely means that Theros will be the spiritual successor to Kamigawa!

    • What the balls is Theros? Oh goodness, now everyone can see that I never actually read any of MTG’s lore. Which I’ve heard there’s quite a book about that for every set, but these days, I tend to write books rather than read them. You wouldn’t believe how much time that takes?

      Still, where were you when I needed somebody to analyse those changes? Except I suppose proofreading the article that I wrote about it.

      This is a conflict you often see, when developers have to make the choice between cutting flavour for fun or vice versa. They’ve made the same choice in WoW, and I think that turned out for the better. (Except for the Holy Cows, I mean, Jesus F. Christ.)

      I can see some justification for that though. Since Magic is literally built on the concept of the Multiverse, it seems odd to say that there are some dudes who exist only once across all planes. Think about it; There are a million million planes, it would seem silly to assume that there is only one Jace across all of them. The idea is already slightly stretched when all of the planes that we visit are so drastically different from one another, when there should also be a million Ravnicas differing only in whether or not the fruit vendor from Tin Street put on underwear this morning or not.

      Coming from there, perhaps you just visited a parallel Ravnica and befriended a parallel Ral Zarek there, whom you can now call to your side in order to tap your opponent’s parallel Ral Zarek.

      Tell me about unintentionally wrong-sounding sentences. Maybe you aren’t actually summoning another copy but just getting the allegiance of that legend as well. This works, but it does feel a little awkward when that legend blocks and kills _itself_. Now that’s some loyalty.

      Moving on, it seems just as weird that your legend would poof as soon as your opponent summoned one of his own. If there truly is only one, then the result should be that your Talrand vanishes and pops up fifty yards in that direction, slightly confused as to what just happened. However, that mechanic would be extremely punishing to whoever plays their legend first, so it’s easy to understand why it never worked like that.

      That’s a matter of preference, I suppose. Either there are multiples and they are just REALLY rare to find (look, I made a pun! ‘Cause there actually aren’t any post-Kamigawa legendary cards, and putting all legends from Kamigawa into rare or higher would have been a bit… awkward) so that you can’t actually summon more than the one you did manage to find, or there is only one and you’re using the same as your opponents. Sharing is caring, after all. With lands and other noncreatures, that even somewhat makes sense. After all, you’re just manabonding to the place, nobody says you can’t bond to the same place.

      Besides, it seems rather weird already that the game allows for two cards which are essentially the same person (such as Mikaeus) to exist simultaneously.

      • Theros is the next plane to be featured in Magic, coming out in September. And try not to think of the multiverse as parallel universes. It’s much more like planets in a galaxy than that. Yes, they ARE parallel worlds but not in the “infinite overlapping possibilities” way. I believe in the lore there are not infinite worlds in existence, just a LOT. Perhaps infinite have existed throughout eternity, but not at any given time.

  3. Don’t know if I’m remembering correctly, but didn’t the first iteration of the legend rule go that if a copy of a legend comes into play, that copy is immediately destroyed? I guess that it might have thematically made sense, but it was also a massive hose.

    • Wow, indeed it did: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/af31
      (Read through that article and you’ll realise that legend as a word sounds pretty dumb.)

      In my opinion, no rulings on Legends really make sense. As mentioned above, if there really is only one across the entire Multiverse, shouldn’t you be able to resummon a legend your opponent has and enslave it to your will (What, did you think creatures beat the crap out of each other for you because they want to?) so that you have it and your opponent doesn’t?

      Same goes for when it dies. I think it’s established that a planeswalker which is destroyed just gets tired of getting beaten up for you and goes back to their Hawaiian vacation plane, but creatures actually die! It’s even explicitly stated in the rules (by using “dies” as a term for going to the yard) so why should you be able to just resummon another three iterations of the same one Talrand which is already all over the battlefield in a thousand pieces because you had him chump an Eldrazi?

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