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Magic: The Gathering Rules FAQ, v5.10 (part 3)

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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 ability. - 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 abilities. - 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.) Flying-evasion: Stone Spirit {4}{R} Creature - Elemental Spirit 4/3 / Stone Spirit can't be blocked by creatures with flying. Nonflying-evasion: 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. Example: 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 creatures. Player B is attacking with one creature. Player A's blocking options are: - 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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