Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Magic 2010 Rules Changes

If you haven't read this article over at then you really need to do that now. Even if you don't care about the rules changes, read it for the Magic 2010 preview cards. Go ahead. I'll wait.

I'm not happy about some of these changes, but I understand and support them. Except for parts of change #5. I'll get to that in a bit.

Change #1 - Simultaneous Mulligans. This is good stuff. Not a huge change, but I approve.

Change #2a - In-play zone now referred to as the battlefield. Probably a good idea. It's just going to take some getting used to, and I know I'll be inadvertently saying things like "comes into play" (as opposed to "enters the battlefield") for quite some time. But then, that's true of all the terminology changes.
Change #2b - You cast spells again instead of playing them. The term "play" is now reserved only for playing lands and playing cards that might be either a spell or a land. Wizards is cleaning up the muddle surrounding "play" and that's good stuff. Now if they could only tackle counters...
Change #2c - RFG (removed-from-game) now referred to as exile. This is the one change that I'm really enthusiastic about. I taught several people Magic during Time Spiral block, and the removed-from-the-game aspect was really hard to explain. Exile is so much easier, and so much more flavorful. And I love that it's also a verb, just like bury used to be.
Change #2d - "At end of turn" changed to "At the beginning of the end step." This change should have been made a while ago. I'm kinda miffed that you can still pull Rootwalla shenanigans, but not terribly. At least they're easier to understand now.

Change #3a - Mana pools empty at the ends of both phases and steps now (as opposed to just phases). I was wrong about this one before and am glad the update has changed that. Here's when mana pools empty now:

Untap Step
Upkeep Step
Draw Step
First Main Phase
Combat Phase
* Beginning of combat step
* Declare attackers step
* Declare blockers step
* Combat damage step
* End of combat step
(They might empty again for the end of the combat phase. I'm not sure about that one.)
Second Main Phase
End Step

Change #3b - No more manaburn. I can understand why they would get rid of it, but that doesn't mean I like the change. No longer will I be able to use mana to burn, as Valleymaker (or Bustling Port) let me do. I remember games where my opponents have manaburned themselves to avoid Hidetsugu's Second Rite. I remember games where I manaburned myself to manipulate convalescent care. I remember a deck Benny made that used manaburn in conjunction with Children of Korlis, Deathrender, and Enduring Renewal to gain infinite life. But that's all those are - memories. Goodbye, manaburn. You will be missed.

Change #4 - Tokens are now owned by the player under whose control they entered the battlefield. I didn't know there were unintuitive tricks in the old system, but there were and they're gone now. This is a good change.

Change #5 - Combat damage no longer uses the stack. This is the big one. I can't make a list of memories like I did with manaburn because the list would be too damn long. I'm so bewildered by the immensity of this change that I'm probably just going to accept it. All but one part. I despise the new way assigning chump-blocks works. Here's a situation:

I attack with a Hill Giant(3/3). You block with Llanowar Sentinel(2/3) and Windborn Muse(2/3). That's how I order them. Under the new system, I have to assign lethal damage to your Sentinel (and thus no damage to your Muse.) Damage is assigned and resolves, killing my Giant and your Sentinel. Muse takes no damage.

What if I had pyroclasm in my hand? I can't split the damage and then pyroclasm to take out both your creatures.
What if I had Mephidross Vampire in play and the extra +1/+1 counter would have won me the game or at the very least saved my Giant's life?
What if you had a Hissing Iguanar?
What if you had a Mortivore?
What if I knew you had an Avatar of Woe in hand and there were eight creatures in the graveyard already?
What if I wanted to play Avatar of Might and killing one of your creatures would leave you with an excess of only three?
What if your creatures were Zubera, or Sojourners, or one of the literally hundreds of creatures in Magic that care about being put into a graveyard from the battlefield?
What if I was already losing and just wanted to die in the most spectacular way possible?

The reason isn't important. What is important is that you can no longer split damage among blockers unless you are dealing lethal to all or all but one of them. And that pisses me off.

Change #6 - Deathtouch is now a static ability. There goes a card idea. It was a 1/1 and it had deathtouch three times. It was stupid, and I'm not too upset to see it go. The damage splitting is not a problem with deathtouch, but a problem with the new combat damage system.

Change #7 - Lifelink is now a static ability. Good. This was one of the most irritating things to the new players I taught. When they have a creature with lifelink, they expect it to actually gain them life before they die.

I do not intend to go back through the archives of this site and errata all the cards, but I am going to do that for all my cards in Magic Set Editor and would suggest that other ABW contributors (i.e. Nameless One and Shore Snapper) do the same. Starting next Monday, all ABW cards will be made in accordance with Magic 2010 rules. Even change #5.


  1. I'll do my best to remember all the changes. Although most of them are just the word changes.

    I agree with #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 pisses me off and makes things hideously complicated with the blocking changes, #6 is good and I disagree with #7. I really loved stacking my lifelinks.

    -Nameless One

  2. #1, #2, #3, #4 all make sense, seem natural and didn't really surprise me at all.

    #5 made my jaw drop. It also confused me, briefly. However, the explanation cleared things up and won me over.

    Yes, I understand the issues it poses with chump blocking. Or, rather, I understand that some people have issues with how it affects chump blocking. I do not. The situations you listed do not occur very often. The only one that rang any kind of alarm bell in my head was the pyroclasm to wipe out both and frankly, mass removal and board sweepers don't need to be any stronger, so I'm fine with that slight weakening. In case you've forgotten, Volcanic Fallout is hideously powerful.

    As for the rest of your reasons, the answer to your "what if" is simple: don't attack. The changes have been made and they have some affects (although minor, in my opinion, compared to the 6th Edition changes) that will affect strategy and how the game is played. If you are in a situation like that, Grell, then there would be no good reason for you to attack with your 3/3 into the two 2/3's, especially if you're going to kill none of his guys and have yours die.

    Oh, wait, you had a trigger that cares about creatures attacking or your guy dying or...No. I honestly do not believe that this complaint of yours comes up very often. I could be wrong. I may be. I plan to make very many play mistakes at drafts starting July 11 because of the changes, in order to see how they affect my strategy but I don't expect your particular complaint to affect anything any time soon.

  3. Got sidetracked. Forgot about the last two.

    #6 and #7 are things I have longed for. What exactly is "double lifelink?" Lifelink means when a creature does damage you gain that much life. Having it twice makes no sense. It's like using an ability to make a Cylian Elf an elf twice to give it twice the pump from Elvish Champion. You can't be twice an elf.

    Same with deathtouch. Deathtouch kills things it hits. Period. You can't do it multiple times unless you damage it multiple times. Say, a doublestriker with deathtouch or lifelink (take note, Grell. I expect to see these cards by morning). These changes make sense to me.

  4. Also, manaburn. I wanted to discuss this (sorry for the multiple posts).

    The examples you gave, Grell, are some of the examples they gave as to why the change was being implemented. Manaburn was never supposed to manipulate life totals, it was supposed to punish you for not utilizing your resources properly i.e. adding too much with powerful spells like Black Lotus, Dark Ritual, Seething Song, Rite of Flame, etc. I never thought it was particularly useful, interesting, or necessary. I am honestly glad to see it go, especially as it was hinted that this change opens up design space. I love design space.

  5. You mistake my bitching for legitimate complaints.

    There is really no way to remove combat damage from the stack without favoring either the attacking or the defending player. The current system (well, the new system) favors the defender. I would prefer a system that favors the attacker. I would also prefer stronger mass removal. In my mind, that would make people play better creatures instead of more creatures. My mind is a dangerous place.

    Oh, and my pyroclasm example isn't really that strong. You could play it precombat and achieve much the same result. Maybe you have some Grizzly Bears that won't be able to attack because of that, but as you (sorta) said you just gotta play around it. I just like to complain, and change #5 was an easy target. Remember when I said I'd quit Magic because Lorwyn was going to be tribal? I wonder how that turned out.

    I used the same examples as the article for a reason. I wanted to emphasise my personal connections with manaburn. But even though I don't like it, I feel the change should occur. And you're absolutely right about design space. Among other things, now that Wizards has gotten rid of manaburn they can bring it back. I suspect we'll see a rare in the future that reinstates manaburn. A red enchantment, perhaps.


Empty your mind.