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This page is intended to be a guide for players who stopped playing MagicTheGathering before Sixth Edition, and want to understand how the current rules work for purposes of playing with people under new rules (eg at Prerelease tournaments - see /PendingEvents).


Sixth Edition Rules Changes

Wizards did a major revamp of the MtG rules with the release of 6th Edition.  (Since then there have been very few changes, mainly minor.)
The major changed areas are:

So, in usual use, you can declare an attack or block - then use abilities that cause you to tap.  To prevent attack or block, do it in reply to declaring an attack - before they say what with.  And to stop a critter dealing damage - kill it ASAP.  --Vitenka

Legend and Wall Rules

With CHK (so during the lifetime of 8th Edition) Wizards eliminated the Legend creature type in favour of a Legendary supertype for creatures, and changed the Legend rule. It now reads:

420.5e If two or more permanents with the same name have the supertype legendary, all are put into their owners' graveyards. This is called the "legend rule." If only one of those permanents is legendary, this rule doesn't apply.

They also eliminated the Wall rule, instead giving most existing walls a new ability: Defender (This creature can't attack).

Card wordings

As has been alluded to above, large amounts of older cards have been given errata now.  Mostly the errata doesn't affect functionality, but in some cases it does.  You can get hold of the updated wording ("Oracle" wording) at any of these places:


You can quickly look up any ability you're new to, or the moderns rules for an old one, at [CrystalKeep's rulings summaries on Keyword Abilities].  There will often be more detail in the [specific set's FAQ document].  Very few abilities have significantly changed since they were created. Note that:

Discussion about Phasing and Banding snipped to Revision 38 and prior (at the bottom).  Basically, Wizards have stated that those abilities aren't coming back, not because they were weak but because they were confusing.  They don't object to things with similar flavour: MTG: Catapult Squad and MTG: Deftblade Elite can feel rather like banding, and MTG: Astral Slide or MTG: Anurid Brushhopper feel like phasing.  If you need the detailed rules for Phasing or Banding (or anything else), see [CrystalKeep's rulings summaries].

We can provide more details on any specific abilities on request. Note in particular that there are now abilities for several common concepts that previously took lots of words to spell out on each card, such as "haste" (unaffected by summoning sickness), "reach" (can block flyers), and so on. There's a handy 1-page cheat sheet of these keyword abilities [available here] (PDF).

Card Types

In recent years there have been two new card types (like "Instant" and "Creature") and two important new subtypes. These are:

Style of play

All I can give here is subjective comments from people...

Can you tell me how tight tourneys are on the 'do you respond' rule?  Because I just know I'll forget at least once.  And how considerate are players of slower players?  Because I'll want to read every card... Obviously asking generalisations - but how 'nice' is the magic tourney community in general.  --Vitenka (We need to know!)
Magic tourney community in general?  Hard to say.  But prerelease and sneak preview tournaments are pretty much the most relaxed tournaments there are, with regards to rules issues.  I've often been allowed to take moves back by my opponent (although you shouldn't expect to be able to).  There are occasional gits who're pedantic to the point of frustration, but mostly people at prereleases and sneak previews are very friendly and informal about precise timing rules.  --AlexChurchill, who was slightly surprised himself when he first found this out
And for similar reasons, prereleases/sneak-previews are pretty tolerant of people having to read each card.  The whole point of P/SP tournaments is that they're a chance to play with cards which nobody has ever played with before.  Thankfully, they don't expect everyone to have read the spoilers which get leaked about 3 days beforehand on sites like mtgnews.com .

Oh - tourney play probably involves being very very anal about [the stack and responses], and giving a chance for the opponent to respond at each step (which is only courteous) and making damn sure that you do respond when you need to.  --Vitenka (just guessing, and hoping that's changed)

The major change that affects my playstyle has been the continual shortening of matches - you have to have an early game strategy, you can't just weather it and then hit them.
Combined with that, the massive number of combos and people setting up vital combos to win really frustrates me.  Used to be there were very very few instant win combos conceivable - and all but one were impractical.  (And the one used two limited cards and was banned quicksharp.  So you had to use a second mana store artifact...) --Vitenka
In Limited play (i.e. prerelease) this won't be a problem - I believe it is not really a feature of T2 at the moment - but it certainly is in T1 and Extended. There's a distinction to be made between cards with great synergy (MTG: Astral Slide, MTG: Lightning Rift) and 'instant win' combos (MTG: Pandemonium, MTG: Saproling Burst) - mostly in that the former is interesting to play against, and the latter is not. IMO, anyway. -- TheInquisitor
Yes, much less of a problem in sealed.  I was thinking of combos of the "This card plus this card causes infinite recursion" type.  Infinite turns being best, followed by infinite draw then infinite mana - but all being basically 'and I win'. --Vitenka
There are pretty much no two-card infinite combos around at the moment.  There's a few three-card ones, all involving rares and most involving three cards from different blocks.  You're pretty unlikely to face anything actually infinite in Limited.  However, there are a number of one-card game-winners ("bombs"), particularly in Onslaught.  MTG: Kamahl, Fist of Krosa; MTG: Visara the Dreadful; MTG: Akroma, Angel of Wrath; MTG: Centaur Glade; MTG: Silvos, Rogue Elemental; and a few other less-immediately-terrifying ones.  There's not much to do about them except be sure to play as many "Destroy target creature" cards as you can... *sigh* --AlexChurchill
Those do look fairly sick.  Shouldn't things as big as that have disadvantages?  Anyway, message got - play creature removal.  Especially since sealed is liable to take longer to finish, and so that much mana is more likely to come up.  Mmm.. corollary - play mid-sized creatures because the opponent won't want to waste removal on them, just in case I have a truly big one in hand.  --Vitenka

Belated report from a tourney... Most magic players are tolerable.  Some are intolerable enough to make me discard the game again.  --Vitenka

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