This is an initiative in partnership with Wizards of the Coast.

There are people who say that the rules are meant to be broken, but I don’t think the Magic: The Gathering judges would be too happy with that statement. These titans know the ins and outs of the game by heart, so they can be there if a question arises mid-competition.

But sometimes, even when the rules aren’t meant to be broken, they can be complex enough to motivate change. You know what they’re saying with the spelling rules, that in the end it’s common language that dictates whether it goes one way or the other.

In this Magic Chronicles we will discover that the same thing happens in the card game Wizards of the Coast, and it’s not something that just happened a few times. These surprising tournament controversies were key to changing the Magic rules.

The creatures with the creatures and the lands with the lands

When I first heard about this story in one of Nikachu’s very interesting tournament trivia videos, I couldn’t believe it. I present to you the great protagonist of this surreal confrontation, the dryad in an arbor.

As you’ll see below, this card, which is both land and creature, originally had the mana symbol on the bottom like any other land, while its attack power and toughness were shown in the lower-right corner.

Halfway between ignorance and picaresque, a player placed their dryad in the mana zone and managed to fool an opponent who, unaware of the fact that there was another creature on the table, withstood their last attack without realizing it being aware of actually being slowed down by this elusive card.

The Dryad’s owner got away with it, but Wizards of the Coast understood how problematic this could become, and since then all creatures have had to be placed in their own zones to avoid possible confusion. Even if that creature is also a land.


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You know what card I mean

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to name a card I’ve seen hundreds of times and the name didn’t come out, or just one of the made up names I use for it came to me the sense. It seems difficult for the same thing to happen to a veteran player, but stranger things have been seen.

To show a button. On the table is a deck with a devastating combo, in which the Enraged Borborygmos card is the key to winning and sacrificing lands, while the action deals three damage to the enemy player or creature. When things are going well, a simple accumulation of land is enough to blow up the enemy.

Despite this, on the other hand, the perfect card to stop this combo is a pith that, when entering the battlefield, allows us to choose the name of a card, so not all abilities of that card can be activated.

Everyone would jump into the pool as soon as they picked up the card to stop their rival, but in this case there is one detail that would completely change the situation. When naming the card, the player said Borborygmos instead of Angry Borborygmos, and unfortunately there’s another card in Magic called just Borborygmos.

There was little they could do for a referee who wanted to play by the rules strictly and an opponent who saw the heavens open by taking advantage of the situation. He had slowed the abilities of another card, not the one he wanted to play, so he gave her the win.

The rules have since changed, allowing players to quote what a card does or what it looks like to name which card they want to affect. It is no longer necessary to memorize the exact name and they can simply select the appropriate card based on the context.


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You have to speak properly

The most recent example of how tournament themes can be key to overhauling the way we play Magic is a match where speaking properly was more than enough reason to turn the tables

As you know, the turn in Magic has several phases, ranging from aligning our cards to the second phase of the game after combat. Well, although for those of us who play MTG Arena, following all of these steps sucks, it can play tricks on us in the middle of a tournament and on our nerves.

Well, not really anymore, as there’s no way to skip steps or take shortcuts when attacking. Everything since a professional player said: “I will fight” and the opponent understood that he was going to attack.

With that, the first player would have skipped the start of combat and the opportunity to buff their creatures before declaring attackers, but both the opponent and the judges understood that his words meant he was attacking directly, thus making first would phase of the attack impossible.

Since then, the rules of the game do not allow skipping phases. So when a player says they’re going to attack or enter the damage phase, they actually skip to the start of the combat phase and play continues from there. Doubts are over.