I have gathered some rules questions about the new rules from letters recently posted to the Dojo. The questions and my answers follow. Bill Rose Magic Lead Designer A player writes: I hope you defined owner and controller inside your stack effects. For instance it is your upkeep and a creature that you own/control has wanderlust on it. This is the hardest thing to explain to new-bies, not how interrupts work. Who decides when it triggers? Does the creature's controller decide or does the owner of the effect that is causing damage decide? I hope you explained this. Response Handling of phase abilities has confused many players in the past. I believe the new rules will reduce this confusion, though they won't entirely eliminate all confusion in this area. (Contrary to what some think, the new rules aren't at Portal's level.) Under the new rules, there are no phase abilities. Old phase abilities are now triggered abilities that trigger at the beginning of a given phase. Wanderlust will now be "At the beginning of enchanted creature's controller's upkeep, Wanderlust deals 1 damage to that player." This rules change was to eliminate the confusion on what happens if during your upkeep you control Kezzerdrix and your opponent starts that upkeep with a creature in play, but ends the upkeep with a creature under his or her control. The rules change will also reduce the confusion when both players have mandatory upkeep effects during the same upkeep. As upkeep abilities are now triggered abilities, at the beginning of your upkeep (before you're allowed to play spells), all upkeep abilities you control are put on the stack. Then all upkeep abilities your opponent controls are put on the stack. For example, if you had a creature Wanderlusted by your opponent and you had Phantasmal Forces in play. First the Phantasmal Forces ability is put on the stack then the Wanderlust ability is put on the stack because you control the Forces' ability and your opponent controls the Wanderlust ability. Now because of LIFO (last in, first out), your opponent's ability resolves first. The basic rule of thumb is: first resolve upkeep abilities controlled by your opponent in any order he or she chooses, then resolve upkeep abilities controlled by you in any order you choose. Both players may play spells and abilities before, after, and in between any upkeep abilities. Note that as these are triggered abilities, once upkeep starts, eliminating the source of the ability won't stop its effect. In the last example, you could Disenchant Wanderlust before resolving the Wanderlust ability. However, doing so wouldn't eliminate the Wanderlust ability that turn so you would still take the 1 damage. Like all abilities, once put on the stack, destroying the source of the effect won't eliminate the ability from the stack. A player writes: There are a ton of other issues you didn't address: Poison cards, Banding, Trample, etc. How about why broken cards get pass the R&D team. Response We haven't made poison cards recently. Poison isn't be part of Sixth Edition. We do have future plans for poison. You will see it again. Banding has been eliminated in the sense that we haven't made or reprinted any banding cards since Weatherlight. Banding will be supported in the rules, in an old rules section. We haven't printed any banding cards recently because banding is confusing and isn't used in tournament play. We know that banding is confusing because when we ran a sealed deck Pro Tour tournament, we were asked a ton of banding questions by the world's best 200 Magic players. Trample is currently being used. Eight Urza's Saga creatures and spells use trample. The only change is that you won't find cards with trample in Sixth Edition. There's no change to the rulebook. And why do broken cards get past R&D? Well, we want to make cards that are on the edge of being too good. Basically that's what a power card is and that's what everyone wants. Sometimes we go over the edge and make a broken card. If you consider all the cards the current R&D team has made (cards since Mirage), I think we've done quite well at keeping broken cards to a minimum while making new power cards. My way of thinking is if you never go over the edge, you'll never get anything close to the edge. A player writes: Dark Ritual is out. Why? It has been printed since Alpha, why take it out. Does it cause a hassle with Portal players? Armageddon is in and so is Wrath because Portal has them in their basic line up, not because they are Tournament cards as you point out. Orangutan is nice but we could have used something a little different. This is not good, you can't just say - "Well we might as well stop printing Dark Ritual in the basic set." It is part of Magic, and should always be that way. Response Dark Ritual is out because it confused many players. A large part of that confusion is my fault, as the rules for playing Dark Ritual seem to change each year. As someone pointed out, Dark Ritual is in Urza's Saga so tournament players won't be loosing it. The only real place that it's lost is from Sixth Edition only sealed deck. I ask you how much will that environment be ruined because there's no Dark Ritual? Armageddon is in, but not because it's also a Portal card. If we put Armageddon in, we're catering to Portal player. If we omit it, we're heartless bastards who have robbed the players of yet another tournament card. What do you want? As for Wrath of God, who said it was in Sixth? While the card was in Portal, it was pulled from Portal: Second Age. I will say one thing the decision on whether or not to include Wrath in Sixth had nothing to do with Portal. "Orangutan is nice but we could have used something a little different." Again, what do you want? Orangutan is tournament-level. Something different? Do you realize that Sixth Edition is nothing but reprints? The only things different about Sixth are how it plays in sealed and what cards it contributes to the Standard tournament environment. I'm not trying to be belligerent. Please realize that Sixth Edition can't include everything. There were over 1,500 cards that we could have put into Sixth. Sixth Edition includes only 330 of them (since Fifth had 429 cards, some Fifth Edition cards must leave). Plus we want Sixth Edition to receive cards from the Mirage cycle (which means more cards from Fifth Edition must leave). Of the new and old cards, we need to balance the set for the casual player, balance the set for interesting sealed deck play, and include tournament-level and questionable tournament-level cards. A player writes: How do automatic damage prevention/redirection interact with, say a healing salved creature? Are these all abilities that can be played in any order, choice of the creature's controller? If I play one ability, are the others ignored, or do they all trigger when damage is assigned to the creature? Say 2 points of red damage come after my soltari priest, which has a healing salve shield, can I play either ability by itself, use one point of the shield and then prevent the remaining point with the protection, etc. Response If there is more than one "shield" on a permanent, the permanent's controller will choose. For example, your Soltari Priest is being hit with 2 red damage. There's a 3-point damage prevention shield on it (from Healing Salve). You could use 2 points of the damage prevention shield or you could use the "protection from red" shield and save all 3 Healing Salve shield points. A player writes: How do replacement abilities like island sanctuary or pursuit of knowledge work now? It's not like I can play the ability beforehand and get a shield (like with regeneration). I don't see the problem with the way these work now, but they don't fit in with the grand unified one for all spell timing and argument prevention system. Response Some cards will need to be fixed. The Oracle version of Pursuit of Knowledge will be "0: The next time you would draw a card this turn, put a study counter on Pursuit of Knowledge instead. // Remove three study counters from Pursuit of Knowledge, Sacrifice Pursuit of Knowledge: Draw seven cards." Basically when you're about to draw a card, in response you'll activate this ability. Of course, you can activate it without knowing that you are going to draw a card. A player writes: Do rules triggers (lethal damage, toughness<=0, legends) behave the same way normal triggers do? If so, I believe this means that when my savannah lion gets bolted, it will take 3 damage, and a "destroy the kitty" effect will go on top of the stack, where it could remain for awhile, allowing the kitty to be saved by a bounce spell even though it has been successfully drilled by a bolt. It will also allow 0/0 spikes to stick around, and several other bizarre things. Response No. State-based effects remain. Being put into the graveyard due to lethal damage, toughness <=0, or legends, is still a stated-based effect. In simply terms (rules lawyers, if you can't handle an imprecise explanation, skip to the next paragraph): The Bolt resolves and deals 3 damage to the kitty. The kitty now has lethal damage. After the Bolt resolves the active player receives priority to play spells and abilities. But before any player receives priority the game first checks for state-based effects and triggered effects. First stated-based effects are carried out (players cannot respond to these). Then anything that has triggered since the last time the game checked for triggered abilities (which would be right before the Bolt resolved through the processing of any state-base effects resulting from the Bolt) is put on the stack. Essentially, kitty is destroyed immediately. The Spike will remain unchanged. "Comes into play with" is not a triggered event, rather it's an instruction followed as the creature spell resolves. A player writes: It's not 100% clear, but it seems that the first parts of combat are equivalent to old combat rules (declare attackers, fast eff after attack, declare b, fast eff after declare b). Is the difference that the combat damage is assigned at the beginning of the "combat damage" step, and there is then a chance for more effects before the damage resolves. Does this mean that I can activate an ophidian during this step and still have it deal damage (because the damage was already assigned) Also, are there two separate combat damage steps, one for first strike and the other for normal creatures? It also seems that flanking a creature to death will not occur instantly, but will be the top thing on the stack when the active player gets a chance to play effects after blockers are declared. Response Ophidian should be read as "Whenever Ophidian attacks and is not blocked, you may have it deal no combat damage this turn. If you do, draw a card." As for the flanker, you're correct. A creature with one toughness would not die immediately upon blocking a flanker. Rather the -1/-1 effect is put on top of the stack. So, in response, you could increase your creatures toughness. The flanking effect will resolve before creature damage dealing is put on the stack. If there's a first strike creature, only first strikers deal damage in the damage dealing step, then we have a second deal damage step for all creatures that didn't deal damage during the first damage dealing step.) A player writes: 1) Pestilence in play, I cast monk realist. Realist resolves, I target pestilence. Now, before the pestilence goes boom its controller can pestilence for one, actually killing the realist. This is different, but not necessarily better or worse. 2) I am attacking with 2 goblin spelunkers, my opponent blocks each with a wizard mentor. After damage is assigned, we have the following stack: 2pts to spelunker #2 2pts to spelunker #1 2pts to wizard mentor #1 2pts to wizard mentor #2 My opponent lets the first two damages resolve, then activates a wizard mentor to return it and its friend to owner's hand. Attackers die, blockers safely in hand. Imagine a lot more creatures in play and an evacuation. It's disgusting. 3) There are a bunch of weenies in play on both sides, and I earthquake for 10. All the creatures are dealt lethal damage, and a bunch of rules-triggered destroy effects are added to the stack. Since I'm active player, mine are added first. I can wait until my opponent's creatures all expire, then cast evacuation to save all of mine. Some good. 4) Identical legends are in my graveyard and my opponent's. We're both at 2 life with a dingus staff in play. I cast living death. Both come into play. Two rules-triggered destroy effects occur, my opponent's ending up on top of the stack. His legend goes to the graveyard, dingus staff triggers. Dingus staff resolves, he takes 2, death triggers. He dies, game over. 5) I'm at 1; my opponent is at 5. I earthquake for 5. Tie game, right? Well, not any more. Two rules-triggered deaths occur, but since I am active player, mine is added to the stack first, so my opponent's resolves first, and under the new rule, he dies right then and there, before my death effect resolves. Try explaining that to a newbie. Response 1. The rules interpretation is correct. And you're right it's just different. 2. The rules interpretation is not quite correct. All 8 points of damage go on the stack as a single entry, not as 4 separate entries. (Spells and ability can't be played between one creature dealing its combat damage and another dealing its combat damage.) You can play the Wizard Mentor ability in response without affecting the damage assignment, however. Unsummoning becomes tournament level under the new rules. 3. The rules interpretation is not correct. Earthquake resolves. Then state-based effects occur. All the creatures are put into the graveyard. Next the game recognizes triggered abilities. First the active player's are added to the stack then the other player's. Now the active player receives priority. If he or she passes, the nonactive player receives priority. (Assume they both pass. It doesn't matter in this example.) Now we resolve the top spell/ability on the stack, which will be the triggered ability controller by the nonactive player that he or she choose to add to the stack last (last in, first out). In short, creatures with lethal damage die immediately and all creature that are destroyed due to the effects of a spell go to the graveyard at the same time. 4. The rules interpretation is not correct. Both legends come into play, then both go to the graveyard together as a state-based effect. Dingus Staff triggers twice. The controller of the Dingus Staff chooses what order to put these triggers on the stack. Whichever is put on the stack last will resolve first, and that player will lose.] 5. The rules interpretation is not correct. The game is a tie. The earthquake resolves. Now you are at -4 and your opponent is at 0. Time to check for player death. You both die. (Resolution of all state-based effects is simultaneous.) A player writes: First thing you do is identify what it is you are working on. So far WoTC has never done this. There is no RULEBOOK. - Sure, once you print it you might have rulings changes that require errata...I think the publishing industry calls this a...NEW EDITION. Since you can print and SELL these, it looks to be a more financially rewarding activity than the current strategy appears to be. Response We are printing a technical rulebook. Rules that can be referenced by number. The rulebook will be distributed for free. Anyone can write to Wizards Customer Service for a copy. You can order a copy for free off our website. Also, the rules will be available on the Wizards website (in an easily downloadable form). (The rules found on the website will be the official rules and many rules updates will be posted to the website first.) We will undoubtedly sell a premium version of the rulebook. Premium in the sense of print quality, not in the sense of rule contents. We will publish no rules that aren't available to everyone (for free) on our website. A player writes: Giant Growth sucks now! Doesn't it? Like say Howl from Beyond, it has to be played on a creature before blocking, or the damage will not be on the stack, right? Healing and Regeneration Shields add complexity, don't they? Btw. Does this mean White has now an instant control magic in Extended for WW1 i.e. Debt of Loyalty? Regenerate Target creature. Gain control of it. Response You've misinterpreted the rules. You can play Giant Growth just as you do now. It'll have the same effect. Of course now you can play it after damage dealing to save your creature. (Playing it this way will not have your creature deal +3 damage.) Treat cards like Debt of Loyalty as: "Regenerate target creature. If that creature regenerates, you gain control of it." A player writes: I for one will miss removed from game if it should leave as a concept. Response Remove from the game is NOT leaving the game. It may not be in future basic editions, though it is in Sixth. A player writes: Bill's first example (creating a Hive wasp and then sacrificing it to the Fallen Angel, both in response to a Hammer of Bogardan targeting the Angel) gives me a problem. The Wasp token was not in existence when the announcement of its sacrifice was made. Would outcome of the example be the same if Fallen Angel read "Sacrifice TARGET creature ..."? I see this as very potentially confusing for a lot of players. Response (Again, the new rules reduce confusion, but don't eliminate it from all places.) Here's how it works. First you play the Hammer on my Angel. The Hammer goes on the stack (in the old days the Hammer would start a batch). Now you still have priority. You pass. Now it's my turn to play spells and abilities. I activate the Hive. Then I pass and you pass. Now the top spell/ability on the stack resolves. I have a Wasp token. Before we resolve the next spell on the stack (the Hammer), we both get an opportunity to play spells and abilities. You pass. (Active player gets priority first). Then I activate my Angel's ability. (I sacrifice the Wasp token immediately because sacrifice is part of the cost.) Then I pass and you pass. Now the top spell/ability resolves, which is the Angel's ability. It gets +2/+1. Another opportunity for spells and abilities. We both pass. The Hammer resolves. My Angel is now a 5/4 creature with 3 damage on it. A player writes: Also, although Dark Ritual will apparently be out of Sixth Edition, it will remain in Type 2 until Urza's Saga is cycled out. With no mana pool, can you still cast Dark Ritual, Carnophage, Carnophage, Sarcomancy? If so, how would this work? Each sorcery starts a new stack, and there is no mana pool in which the mana can hide past the resolution of the first sorcery. Response There is still a mana pool. You can play spells like you always have. The new rules give you an addition way to pay with mana, you can now announce a spell then play its mana cost by tapping lands while you're choosing the target and other things. A player writes: Also, a Healing Salve cast in response to a Lightning Bolt seems to work the same under both editions. However, if Player A casts Healing Salve on him/herself at 3 life and Player B casts Lightning Bolt in response, does Player A lose under 6th Edition? (Rose wrote: "You now lose the game as soon as you reach 0 life, not at the end of the phase.") Response If a player at 3 life plays a Healing Salve on himself/herself and in response the opponent Lightning Bolts the player. The player will die game over before the Healing Salve resolves. This is just like the way Giant Growth/Lightning Bolt works on a 3/3 creature under 5E rules. (and also under 6E rules). A player writes: Does flanking work like an ability, i.e. as an instant in a stack? If so, a Rainbow Efreet can be declared to block a flanker and then phase out in response to the flanking ability. As I understand Rose's letter, the Efreet would also deal its damage! Response My flanker attacks. You block with your Rainbow Efreet. Triggered abilities are put on the stack, which is your Efreet getting 1/-1. Now in response you can phase it out. If you don't, it dies. The Efreet would not deal combat damage. A player writes: How about this? Player A attacks with a Jackal Pup. Player B, the defender, announces a Shock on the Pup. Player A sacrifices the Pup to a Goblin Bombardment. Since "Nothing that happens to the attacking and blocking creatures can affect damage that's on the stack waiting to be dealt", it looks like Player B does take the 2 damage and Player A has another 1 point of damage to assign. But does Player A also take 2 damage? Response First, if I interpret your example correctly, Player B is playing like an idiot. Player B can always Shock the Pup before the Pup deals its damage. But let's say that Player B lets the Pup deal its combat damage (which means the damage is put on the stack). Now there's a time a spells and abilities. Player B now decides to Shock the Pup. Shock is added to the stack. In response, Player A activates the Goblin Bombardment (sacrificing the Pup as a cost). Bombardment resolves Player B takes 1 damage. The Shock fizzles because its target (the Pup) no longer exists. Now the combat damage on the stack is dealt. Player B takes another 2 damage. Basically, Player A lost no life and Player B lost 3 life (and played stupidly).