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10 Other Secret Rules That No Longer Exist May 28, 2012

Posted by James in : all, game rules , trackback

I discussed 20 rules that no longer exist. I will now discuss 10 other rules that no longer exist that many people never knew about:

1. Global & local enchantments

There used to be “global” and “local” enchantments. Global enchantments weren’t attached to anything and local enchantments were. Global enchantments are now called “non-Aura enchantments” and “local” enchantments are now called “auras.”

emerald charm

2. There were “fast effects” and inactive players could only play one spell or ability at a time.

First, there were “fast effects” (anything that’s at least as fast as an instant).

Second, there was a period of time before “priority” — the active player could play all the fast effects he or she wanted before letting the inactive player play fast effects. However, the inactive player could only play one fast effect before letting the active player respond.

(The active player is the player who is currently taking his or her turn.)

3. You could activate an ability more than once at the same time.

Before priority was what it is now, there was a time before Fifth Edition when players could activate a fast effect ability several times simultaneously. (For example, a Shivan Dragon could be pumped several times.) This allowed inactive players to do more before giving the active player a chance to respond.

4. Creatures that phase out used to leave play.

Creatures that phased out used to leave play (and went to the “phased out zone”) but creatures that phased in didn’t come into play. There are certain abilities that used to trigger from “leaving play.”

The main reason that this matters is that there used to be a Wormfang Manta/Vanishing combo:

wormfang manta

Wormfang Mantra makes you skip a turn when it enters the battlefield and gain an extra turn when it leaves play. This is usually a horrible card.


Vanishing causes the enchanted creature to phase out. When combined with Wormfang Manta, it used to give you extra turns — and phasing in didn’t cause the Wormfang Manta to enter play.

5. Buried creatures died no matter what.

First, there used to be a word — buried — that meant a creature is destroyed and can’t be regenerated. Second, there was a brief period of time after Fifth Edition when “buried” creatures would be destroyed no matter what. Even permanents that were indestructible (e.g. from Guardian Beast) would be destroyed if they were buried.

6. Some enchantments had Substance.

Some enchantments had a temporary instantaneous effect, such as Armor of Thorns. The problem was that the enchantments were destroyed at end of turn. Back then (in 1996) the end step and the cleanup step both happened as a single step. Then those rules changed in sixth edition (in 1999) and the cleanup step became a new step. However, when Ravnica was released, the clean-up step occurred last, after end-of-turn-triggers.

Let’s say your 2/2 creature is blocked by another 2/2 creature, so you cast Armor of Thorns on it to keep it alive — it gets +2/+2 from Armor of Thorns. That would mean your creature would become a 4/4, but the enchantment would be sacrificed at the end of turn — the creature would shrink back down to a 2/2 before the cleanup step. The creature would die before it’s healed during the cleanup step!

Substance was introduced when Wizards made Mirage for Magic Online to make sure these cards worked properly. It was a special ability that said the enchantment wouldn’t be sacrificed until the cleanup step. The ability was invented after Ravnica and it existed until Magic 2010.

armor of thorns

7. You could enchant a dead creature.

Animate Dead (and similar enchantments) used to enchant dead creatures. They would bring the creature back to life — only as long as the enchantment was on the creature. Animate Dead was changed when Fifth Edition was released and nothing was allowed to enchant dead creatures in that way again.

animate dead

8. Some tokens were put on permanents.

The word “token” was originally used loosely. Cyclopean Tomb and Cyclone were both examples of cards that allowed you to put tokens on permanents.

cyclopean tomb

9. There were counter creatures.

There were originally no token creatures. Instead, there were counter creatures. Rukh Egg is a good example.

rukh egg

10. Permanents could be discarded.

Originally it wasn’t just cards from your hand that were discarded. Permanents could also be discarded. For example, Cyclone.




1. pes - May 31, 2012

The weird identification of tokens and counters (8 & 9) is very interesting.

Makes me remember the card “Ambiguity” from Unhinged that was confusing counter (verb) with counter (noun). :-D

2. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » 20 Rules That No Longer Exist - July 30, 2013

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