The Rulebook: 2021 in the Rules-View Mirror

Hello everyone and welcome to the introductory installment of The Rulebook! This column will be for discussing current rules issues, tackling popular problems, and correcting common misconceptions when it comes to the Magic Comprehensive Rules.

Today, our job is to do a bit of catch-up. 2021 was a big year for Magic releases, and new sets come with new rules! This article will recap all of the rules changes from each of the set releases in 2021, paraphrased and streamlined from the official rules changes as announced by Wizards of the Coast.

Let’s dive in!


  •       Snow mana can come from non-permanent “snow sources.”
  •       New tokens Walker (from The Walking Dead Secret Lair) and Shard (created by Niko Aris).
  •       Archetypes from Born of the Gods now correctly remove abilities from keyword counters.
  •       Foretell added as a special action.
  •       Added a dedicated rule to clarify that you can always pay 0 life, even if an effect says, “you can’t pay life.”
  •       Clarified the concept of “excess damage” and gave tools for Toralf and Aegar to see when excess damage was dealt.
  •       The Ozolith, it turns out, conjures duplicate counters when the originals no longer exist.
  •       Cleaned up the rules for comparing the names of two objects (thanks, Spy Kit!).
  •       Cosima needed some help to make sure she referred to herself properly while in exile. She got it.
  •       Added subtypes: Rune and Shard for enchantments, Niko and Tyvar for planeswalkers, and Phyrexian (!!) for creatures.
  •       No, being able to potentially cast a face-down card from exile doesn’t allow you to look at it (unless you were already allowed to look at it).
  •       Rules can now remove objects from the stack (like we expect them to when targets are illegal).
  •       Tibalt, trickster that he is, creates an emblem that links to his other planeswalker abilities. Rules were added to make that work.
  •       Copies of permanent spells now become tokens when they resolve.
  •       Creatures without an opponent don’t fight.
  •       No, being an MDFC with a permanent side doesn’t let you abuse Flashback or Jump-start.
  •       Added rules for Boast and Foretell.
  •       One of my favorite rules is 406.7 – “If an object in the exile zone becomes exiled, it doesn’t change zones, but it becomes a new object that has just been exiled.” Now, this event will give you an opportunity to send an affected Commander to the command zone.
  •       Copy effects that modify creature types are intended to pick up things like Changeling, so that interaction was clarified.
  •       However, Moritte, you’ll only get Changeling if you’re copying a creature.
  •       Want to copy a mutating creature spell? Turns out you can!

Toralf, God of Fury


  •       “Converted Mana Cost” is now “Mana Value.”
  •       Updated wording on abilities with timing restrictions. “Activate only as a sorcery” is the new wording.
  •       Magecraft added as an ability word.
  •       Cards that began outside of a multiplayer game now appropriately leave when the relevant player leaves the game.
  •       Of course a sufficiently Strict Proctor would require their own rule. This makes sure that the Proctor’s tax is always applied before the ability it’s affecting.
  •       Tibalt’s tricky linked-ability rule from Kaldheim was expanded to help Hofri Ghostforge with his token.
  •       Reference to “milled cards” expanded to make sure cards like Anowon, the Ruin Thief function properly.
  •       Added rules for Learn, Demonstrate, and Ward.
  •       It would be rather confusing if a player no longer in the game is required to make a choice about paying a cost. Clarified that the cost isn’t paid.
  •       Added subtypes: Fractal and Inkling for creatures and Lesson for spells.

Strict Proctor

Modern Horizons 2

  •       Added the planeswalker loyalty symbol as an additional cost, thanks to Carth the Lion.
  •       A triggered ability waiting to go on the stack does indeed have a controller.
  •       Clue is now a predefined token in its own right, without needing someone to Investigate.
  •       Yes, Kaheera can see your Changelings.
  •       Yes, Grist can be your commander, but Kaheera will also see it as an Insect and refuse to be your companion.
  •       Added a rule for triggers that only trigger once each turn.
  •       Carth the Lion’s additional loyalty cost needed some help to function as expected. Help was added.
  •       Delve can indeed have a linked ability. Legacy Murktide Regent players rejoice!
  •       Cleaned up the wording for abilities like “Equip legendary creature.”
  •       Spelled out what “protection from everything” means. Spolier alert: it’s everything (including players).
  •       Rules added for Trample over planeswalkers and Devour artifact.
  •       Living Weapon now makes Phyrexian Germs! How oily.
  •       Garth One-Eye makes some rather unique copies. So unique that they required a rule to govern them!
  •       Added subtypes: Ranger for creatures and Dakkon, Dihala, and Grist for planeswalkers.

Carth the Lion

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

  •       Added rules for Class cards.
  •       Added rules for dungeon cards and the dungeon card type.
  •       Clarified that dungeons leave the game when completed (as a state-based action).
  •       Rules added for Venture into the dungeon.
  •       There are a LOT of ability words to be adde- wait, nope, those are flavor words! Similar to ability words, though, they have no rules implications.
  •       Equipment don’t enter the battlefield attached to anything. Except through Mantle of the Ancients. So, the rules were clarified to carve this out.
  •       Clarified that Leveler cards and Class cards function differently.
  •       Allowed multiples of the same dungeon to enter a Commander game.
  •       Added rules for rolling dice! We’re really on a roll now.
  •       Clarified that dice rolled for a cost are rolled after the other costs are paid.
  •       Added subtypes: Class for enchantments, Bard, Beholder, Gnoll, Halfling, Hamster, and Tiefling for creatures, Bahamut, Ellywick, Lolth, Mordenkainen, and Zariel for planeswalkers.
  •       Yes, rolling the planar die (in Planechase) counts as rolling a die, but doesn’t have numerical results.
  •       When cards like Harmonic Prodigy refer to abilities, they do not refer to reflexive or delayed triggered abilities that are within other abilities.
  •       Goaded is now a designation of an object that has been goaded (makes sense). It works a lot like monstrous from a rules perspective.
  •       Last-known information can also apply to spells that have already resolved, so Sorcerer Class can track, say, if a spell had Lifelink.

Sorcerer Class

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

  •       Transforming double-faced cards determine the mana value of their back faces by the mana value of their front face, even if one of those sides is not a permanent.
  •       New turn-based action: Day and Night!
  •       The rule from AFR that said dice rolling was done last in costs needed some trimming. Dice are still last when paying costs.
  •       Adversaries allowed for a reflexive trigger’s cost to be paid multiple times, the rule was clarified to say that the reflexive only triggers once total.
  •       Sigarda’s Splendor does contain linked abilities. The rules now say so.
  •       Altar of the Pantheon needed some additional rules help, so it got it.
  •       Now that we can copy permanent spells, Bestow is even more awkward than it already was. The rules were updated to make it work (copying a bestowed Aura spell results in a bestowed Aura spell).
  •       Rules added for Disturb, Daybound/Nightbound, and Decayed.
  •       Added rules to govern how back-face-up spells behave when copied. It’s the same as how you copy back-face-up permanents.
  •       Tweaked the rules of casting transforming double-faced spells so that Disturb works.
  •       Same for rules about resolving transforming double-faced spells (also allowing Nightbound to work).
  •       Added rules for “As this transforms…” replacement effects.

Curse of Leeches

Innistrad: Crimson Vow

  •       If a token is created without a specified name, its name is the same as its subtypes plus the word “Token.”
  •       On that note, Blood Token is a predefined token.
  •       Blood is also a new artifact subtype.
  •       We’re done with Blood stuff, I promise.
  •       Secondary title bars were formalized and made generic so they can refer to more than just Godzilla. Dracula joins the party!
  •       Day/Night is now properly referred to as a turn-based action by all the necessary rules.
  •       Rules added for Cleave and Training.

Blood Token

And that’s it! Thank you for hanging in there on this journey with me. We’ve seen a lot of new mechanics both simple and complicated come across our tables and Arena screens this year. Join me in getting hyped for the new challenges that 2022 will bring!

If you’d like to contact me, you can find me on the Judge Academy Discord server or by email to