jump to navigation

Strange Rules Part 3 December 2, 2008

Posted by James in : all, random, fake cards, game rules, theory, complecated rules, design , trackback

In an attempt to make fun of Wizards for having Artifact Lands, someone thought that it would be a good idea to have Conglomerous: An everything land. The most shocking part of it was that it was a creature. This idea was posted here on the Unglued 2 forums.

I personally think this card is too weak. I would want him to be a 2/2, not require you to take damage, not be legendary, or have haste. (Lands with summoning sickness are weak.)

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that Conglomerous has a subtype, “Legend.” Note that “legend” was meant to be the creature type. Land types were known to be “legendary” but never “legends.” I had an argument with one of my friends about this issue. Could a creature type also be considered to be a land type? Could a “legend” be considered to be a kind of land? (Although “legend” is no longer a creature type, we are talking about any possible creature type. e.g. Could an Elf be a land?)

Also, what about the opposite? Could a land type (like forest) be considered to be a creature type?

Wizards of the Coast wanted to steal the idea of having a creature/land hybrid, but they made it in a more serious spirit. Instead of being a conglomerate of all card types, Dryad Arbor was only a creature land. Wizards of the Coast also decided to make Dryad Arbor a Dryad Land. It looks like Wizards wanted to solve the debate I had with my friend. Is Forest now a creature type? Is Dryad now a land type?

The answer is simple: Forest is a land type. Dryad is a creature type. (Go here for proof.)

Two questions remain. One, how could a casual player know just by looking at the card what is considered to be a creature or land type? Two, how can Wizards justify this rule?

Question 1

The answer to the first question is: A casual player would have no way of knowing what is considered to be a creature type or a land type. It is unclear why this would even matter.

In fact, creature types have been shown on instants and sorceries. Consider Eyeblight’s Ending, for example. How can we know that creature types cannot also be instants or lands?

Tribal spells are just as confusing as Dryad Arbor. Elf is not a subtype of Sorcery. It is a subtype of Tribal. How are casual players supposed to know that “Elf” can’t be a kind of instant?
Here is the rule for tribal creature types:

212.8b Tribal subtypes are always a single word and are listed after a long dash: “Tribal Enchantment — Merfolk.” The set of tribal subtypes is the same as the set of creature subtypes; these subtypes are called creature types. Tribals may have multiple subtypes. (You can find the complete list of tribal subtypes under “Creature Types” in the glossary at the end of this document.)

Instead of over-complicating Magic with such strange rules, why not just say that a subtype of a card counts as a subtype for everything it is? An Elf can be a Sorcery and a Forest can be a creature. I don’t see how this could cause a big problem.

It should be worth noting that some subtypes are specifically about certain card types. “Forests” are always lands that produce green mana. Equipment are always artifacts that can attach to creatures. Auras are always attached to objects.

What would happen if a Forest could be both a creature and a land? For starters a card that says that Forest creatures get +1/+1 could give all your Forest creatures +1/+1. Apperantly this isn’t possible at the moment since “Forests” don’t count as creature types. Any Forest that is also a creature is conceptually divided: Insofar as it is a land it is a forest. Insofar as it is a creature, it is a nothing (or a dryad.)

More importantly, Coat of Arms can’t help your Forests that become creatures, since “Forest” isn’t a creature type.

Question 2

How does Wizards justify this rule? It looks like there is a new rule specifically for Dryad Arbor (and Tribal cards):

205.3e If a card with multiple card types has one or more subtypes, each subtype is correlated to its appropriate card type.
Example: Dryad Arbor’s type line says “Land Creature — Forest Dryad.” Forest is a land type, and Dryad is a creature type.

This rule isn’t very helpful. How do we know what card type is appropriate to each subtype? When we program Magic Online, we can’t ask the computer program to use common sense. We have to tell the computer program exactly which subtype goes with which card type.

Right now I only see one answer. The glossary at the bottom of the Comprehensive rules has a list of all subtypes for each card type. Just read the entire list of creature types and see if “Forest” is listed there!

I find this answer to be unsatisfying. Do we expect players to read all that in order to figure out whether or not “Forest” can be considered to be a creature type? Of course not.

Unfortunately I don’t have a much better solution. I suppose Dryad Arbor could say something like, “Land — Forest/Creature — Dryad” in order to be more clear.

However, it is also possible to get rid of the idea that each card type must have its own specific group of subtypes. Although some subtypes are important for the rules, that doesn’t have to mean that they can’t exist on different card types. Even if forests are lands that produce green mana, that doesn’t mean that forests can’t also be creature types.

 My next article will be posted on Tuesday December 9, 2008.


1. michael - December 4, 2008

On the subject of land types vs creature types, you could also add http://magiccards.info/card.php?card=Traveler’s%20Cloak

This is the only card that lets you choose a non-basic land type. so you can get Desert Walk, Lair Walk, Urza’s Power-Plant walk, etc.

2. James - December 4, 2008

Is Desert a land type? The question is whether or not creatures and lands need exclusive subtypes. If a land can be a Dryad, then you could get Dryadwalk. Changelings are important for the same reason. Of course all changelings have all creature types, so if “forest” could be a creature type, then a changeling would count as a forest. This might sound silly and be a basis for keeping creature types a sacred exclusive list.

3. michael - December 4, 2008

Desert is a land type as of Time Spiral when it was reprinted.

And you are right, it is very important to keep land and creature types separate. And the lists are growing. Artifacts and Enchantments have subtypes as well.

Never ever make a Legendary Enchantment Arfitact Creature Land - Shrine Equipment Forest Badger.

And don’t even think about making it a Planeswalker too…those also have subtypes.

Each type has its own list of subtypes which have to be maintained and kept mutually exlusive or the game will explode.

4. James - December 4, 2008

I haven’t actually decided if I want there to be a separate exclusive list or not. Why would the game explode? I agree that some silly things might happen, but nothing that would allow brokenness.

I can also imagine each list staying exclusive but still allowing “forest” to be a subtype of creature and so on. It won’t be a creature type, but it could still be a subtype of a creature. Right now “subtype” of a creature and “creature type” are synonymous in the rules, but that is not a necessary part of the rules.

5. michael - December 5, 2008

Maybe explode was a bit overdramtic. It would probably cause some rules problems somewhere and also cause really weird interactions.

This could be a good Ask Wizards question.

6. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » More Rules Updates that We Need - June 25, 2009

[…] Sound confusing? Go here for more infomration about subtype and supertype weirdness. […]

7. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » My Top 10 Articles of 2008 - November 16, 2009

[…] 8. Strange Rules Part 3 […]

8. Psyklone - January 20, 2010

I’ve always been overruled that “every creature type” doesn’t mean every possible thing, it means every type that wizards have ever bothered to give a creature.
Alas my Mistform Ultimus acting as a Locus to make Cloudpost better didn’t work.
When judges tell me this I usually ask “Please list all creature types so I may fully understand this creature”.
Take that you fookers.

9. James - January 21, 2010


Good point. I want Locus to be a creature type now. They don’t count as Forests or anything either.