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Section III: Exploring the Rules


Ante is an optional rule. If you and your opponent agree to play for ante before a game, the duel is played for ownership of a card, not just to see who wins. After you've cut each others' decks, set aside the top card of each deck; whoever wins the game will win both cards. You should decide before setting aside the cards whether the ante will be face up or face down for that duel.

Any card that refers to a player's ante refers to all of the cards that player has in his ante at the moment.

Expansion Symbols

Expansion sets are add-on products that introduce cards to be combined with those in the basic set. Some expansions are stand-alone sets, meaning that they can be played by themselves as well as in combination with the basic set.

Every expansion set has its own symbol, printed to the right of the card type on the cards. Effects that look for cards from a particular expansion use that set's symbol as an identifier; otherwise, these symbols have no effect on play.

Legendary Cards

Certain cards are considered legends. This includes mostly creatures whose card type is "Summon Legend," but it can also include token creatures and such. Only one legend with a given name can be in play at a time. If a copy appears while the first is still in play, the second is buried immediately, leaving the original unaffected. Artifacts, enchantments, and lands can also be legends, although they're referred to as "Legendary Lands" and so forth.


Bob has a legend in play called General Jarkeld. Sue has two legends in her hand, General Jarkeld and Skeleton Ship. If she plays her General Jarkeld, it's put into the graveyard because there's already one in play. She can play the Skeleton Ship without any problems, though, as there isn't already one in play.

If a legend in play is changed into something else and is later returned to its previous state, it's treated as if it's just entered play. This means that it's considered the "new" legend if there's a conflict.

More on Enchantments

Certain effects move a specific enchantment from one permanent to another. In these cases, the enchantment is considered to have been played "from scratch." Previous changes made to it are wiped out, previous choices made when playing it are made again, and so on. Other permanents and effects, however, interact with the enchantment as if it were just moved, not as if it were cast again. Effects that trigger on the casting of a spell, for example, won't trigger on the enchantment being moved. In particular, because the enchantment is just a permanent, it can be moved onto permanents that can't be the targets of spells or effects (unless, of course, they specifically prohibit enchantments from targeting them).


Bob's Prismatic Ward (all damage to enchanted creature by sources of the color of your choice is reduced to 0) is moved from one creature to another. Any permanent changes to the enchantment (such as a color change) are erased, and Bob chooses which color of damage will now be reduced to 0. (Of course, he can keep his choice the same as before if he wants to.) However, his Ivory Cup ("1: Gain 1 life for a successfully cast white spell.") can't be used, any enchantments on his Prismatic Ward remain in place, and so on. Also he can move the Ward onto a Deadly Insect, even though the insect can't be the target of spells or effects.

Enchant worlds are global enchantments, and only one can be in play at any given time. If an enchant world enters play, any other enchant world already in play is buried, regardless of whether the two share the same name. If more than one enchant world enters play at the same time, all of them are buried.

More on Banding

If enough creatures in an attacking band lose their banding ability and the band becomes illegal, the attacker is forced to split up the band and regroup the creatures into legal bands and/or individual attackers. (Legal attacking bands may include only one creature without banding.) If the band is broken up after it's been blocked, blocking relations aren't changed. Some effects give creatures the ability to block more than one attacker at a time. If this is the case and a creature blocks a band as well as single attackers, the defending player divides the total damage dealt among the band and the other attackers. If any of the damage is assigned to the band, the attacking player decides how the damage is distributed among the creatures in the band.

Changing Land Types

If a land is changed from one type to another, it adopts the name, card type, and text box of the new land. Other characteristics of the land remain intact; for example, if it had been given a color, that wouldn't be changed by the fact that the land type changed.

Skipping Phases and Turns

Whenever you're about to begin a phase or a turn, check to see if any effects require you to skip that phase or turn. If so, go on to the next phase or the next scheduled turn, as appropriate.

Certain effects require you to skip a phase to use them; in this case, skipping a phase is considered a cost. You can skip a phase to pay a cost only during your turn and only before you start that phase. Each of your phases can be skipped only once each turn. You can skip a phase ahead of time, even if there's a card in play that would make you skip that phase automatically when you got to it.

Repeat Targeting

If a spell or ability has you choose targets at different times, (such as once when you play it and once when it resolves), you can target something repeatedly. The rule for repeat targeting is that you can target something more than once over time, but not at any given time.

Zones of Play

In Magic, each person has a playing area composed of several zones: the graveyard, the library, and so on. There can be cards in any or all of these zones at any given time. If a card leaves one zone for another, it loses all memory of what happened to it in its old zone, and any effects expecting it to be in its old zone lose track of it. A typical example of a move to a new zone is when a card leaves play for its owner's graveyard or hand. Any changes made to that card while in play are erased, and any continuous effects that had targeted or otherwise applied to the card would "snap," or not be in effect if the card reentered play.


Bob has a War Mammoth and a Tawnos's Weaponry in play. The Weaponry can be tapped (with a payment of 2) to give a target creature +1/+1 as long as the Weaponry remains tapped and in play. Bob decides to use his Weaponry on his Mammoth, making it 4/4 and then attacks with it. Sue plays Unsummon on the Mammoth, returning it to Bob's hand. The effect of the Weaponry ends, and the War Mammoth forgets that it was ever 4/4. Even if Bob casts the Mammoth again later in the turn, it's a "different" Mammoth, and the Weaponry won't give it +1/+1.

The zones of play are as follows.

Hand: The cards that you hold. Your opponent knows how many cards you have, but not what they are.

Territory: The area containing all of your permanents that are "in play." Information about your territory is public. Tokens can exist only in someone's territory (see Tokens).

Graveyard: Your discard pile. Information about your graveyard is public. Your graveyard has a top-to-bottom order, and cards entering it are always put on top. If more than one card enters your graveyard at the same time, you decide the order they go in.

Library: Your draw pile. All information about your library, other than the number and order of the cards within it, is hidden. Players can't look at the cards left in any library. If a spell or effect does something to or with more cards than are in a library, it affects only the cards that are left.

Out of Game: The destination of cards removed from the game. When the game is over, these cards are put back into the deck they came from. Players can examine cards that have been removed from the game.

Out of Play: The destination of cards that have been temporarily removed from play but that are expected to be brought back by whatever effect or permanent removed them (rather than being removed from the game entirely). Players can examine a card that's out of play only if they could've examined it while it was in play.

Limbo: The zone entered by spells when they're played and leave your hand. The spells are no longer in your hand, but they aren't anywhere else, either. If the spell is countered, it's put into the graveyard. If the spell resolves, it either goes into play or into the graveyard, depending on whether it becomes a permanent. If a targeted spell that becomes a permanent fizzles when it resolves, it's put into the graveyard rather than into play.

Set Aside: The destination of cards whose effects instruct you to set aside one or more cards, with additional instructions on what to do with those cards. The cards may be put on or under the source of the effect, set face up in front of you, and so on, depending on what the effect says. Setting a card aside doesn't change who gets to see what it is; setting aside a card from your library, for example, doesn't let either player look at the card. Although such cards are often placed on or under a card in play, the cards themselves are not considered to be in play.

Ante: The zone holding the card(s) you have up for ante, if you and your opponent are playing for ante. Normally, either player can examine the cards in either ante, although ante games are occasionally played with the ante hidden.

Each player has his or her own version of each zone. When a card is sent to a zone other than someone's territory, it goes to its owner's zone. For example, your opponent's creatures can never be in your hand.

If an effect triggers on a permanent leaving play, the effect resolves once the permanent has reached its destination. This principle extends to any card leaving any zone of play.

Modifying Mana Production

The type of mana produced by a mana source is determined after applying all effects that might modify either what the source is or what type of mana is produced by such a source. Effects that cause the mana source to produce additional mana cause it to produce mana of that type.


Sue plays some snow-covered mountains and then plays Winter's Night, which causes each snow-covered land to produce "one additional mana of the same type" when tapped for mana. Bob then plays Conversion, changing Sue's mountains into plains. Thereafter, when Sue taps one of her "plains" for mana, it produces WW, not WR.

Cumulative Upkeep

Cumulative upkeep is an upkeep cost that grows over time. This type of upkeep is always written as "Cumulative upkeep (cost)." Rather than requiring the same payment each turn, as a normal upkeep cost does, this cost increases by its base value each time it's paid. If you decline to pay the cumulative upkeep cost, the permanent is buried.


Glacial Chasm is a land with "Cumulative upkeep - 2 life". The first time you pay the Chasm's upkeep cost, you pay 2 life. On the next turn, you pay 4 life instead. On the third turn, you have topay a total of 6 life, and so on. If you don't pay the upkeep cost, you must bury the land.

Cumulative upkeep continues to increase as long as its cost is paid during the permanent's controller's upkeep phase. Thus, if you gain control of a permanent with cumulative upkeep, the cost continues to grow, rather than being "reset" to its base value. However, if the permanent is changed into a form without the cumulative upkeep cost, thus preventing the cost from being paid during its upkeep phase, the upkeep cost is reset as soon as the card reverts to its original state.


Bob plays a Glacial Chasm and leaves it in play for a few turns, until he must pay 8 life during his next upkeep phase or bury the Chasm. Sue enchants the land with Evil Presence, which turns it into a swamp, thereby suppressing its cumulative upkeep. If the land remains a swamp for at least on full upkeep pahse, its upkeep cost won't be paid during that phase and its cumulative upkeep will be reset to 2 life if the land becomes a Glacial Chasm again.

Snow-Covered Lands

Snow-covered is a characteristic of some lands, just like land type, color, and so on. Changing a land from one type to another doesn't change whether or not it's snow-covered. Also, being snow-covered doesn't change whether a land is a basic land.