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Magic: The Gathering Rules FAQ, v5.10 (part 3)
Section - 3.01: Templating and identification

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   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.

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Top Document: Magic: The Gathering Rules FAQ, v5.10 (part 3)
Previous Document: 3.00: Advanced Discussion
Next Document: 3.02: Spiders and stone

Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Single Page

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM