Changes in Terminology

General forum

Posted on July 8, 2018, 4:40 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

The terminology of this game has changed over time, and it usually is for the better, as it provides clarity for confusing issues, such as the introduction of the terms "battlefield" and "exile."

However, there have been some changes in the game's terminology that make no sense to me, so I wish to ask about them.

Why was "if you do" changed to "when you do?" That implies that an action will always happen, instead of being optional.

Why was "name a card" changed to "choose a card name?" That uses more words and make no sense, to me.

Why was "you control target player's next turn" changed to "you control target player during that player's next turn?" Not only does that use more words, it also is inaccurate, as you are controlling what the player can do, but not the player themselves.

Why was "sacrifice [cardname]; [cardname] deals X damage to any target" changed to "sacrifice [cardname]; it deals X damage to any target?" Since there is a colon separating two distinct individual clauses, it is not clear what "it" is. For example, "whenever a creature dies, it deals X damage to any target" makes sense, because that is one complete clause, but "sacrifice Smoldering Tar: it deals 4 damage to target creature" is completely ambiguous compared to "sacrifice smoldering tar: smoldering tar deals 4 damage to target creature."

What does everyone else say about this? Why were those instances of terminology changed?

Epochalyptik says... #2

You're taking things too literally. Consider the way these effects parallel others.

"Choose a card name" matches other choice-based effects like "choose a color," "choose an opponent," etc. Making "name a card" effects consistent with these others helps clarify how "choosing a card name" works and how the rules apply to it (it's possible to characterize how "choosing" something works and allow that mechanic to be applied in myriad ways).

"You control target player during that player's next turn" is more accurate, as you are actually controlling the player. You're not literally controlling another human mind, but you're making all decisions for the player in the context of the game. This wording also helps clarify that effects that apply based on which player does something will apply to the controlled player, not the controlling player. For example, if in a 3-person game player A controls Lethal Vapors and player B activates their Mindslaver to control player C, player B can force C to skip their turn to destroy Lethal Vapors and it will be C who suffers, not B.

I don't see what the confusion is about Smoldering Tar. Sure, taken separately, the pronoun "it" in the second clause is referencing an undefined noun, but the clauses aren't separate. They're written on the same line. "It" means "the object referenced at the end of the cost." Although in some sense this wording is not as complete as its precursor, it does cut the repetition of the card name and save a few words.

I'm not aware of "if you do" being changed to "when you do." Can you provide a source for that one?

July 8, 2018 10:23 p.m.

cdkime says... #3

I have one addition to Epochalyptik’s comments.

Using “it deals damage” has the added benefit of making Gatherer searches easier. After all, let us say you want Smoldering Tar-like effects, but do not know the names of the cards. “: It does damage” covers all the cards you might want, while a search with multiple terms trying to find the same effect could be overly broad.

July 9, 2018 2:12 a.m. Edited.

shadow63 says... #4

The one that bothers me is how they took away "mana pool" on cards like Llanowar Elves

July 9, 2018 2:21 p.m.

cdkime says... #5


I see lots of people who take issue with the removal of "to your mana pool", but have to ask, what exactly is the issue?

The words "to your mana pool" are entirely redundant - adding mana, by definition, places mana in your mana pool. (Rule 106.4 - When an effect produces mana, that mana goes into a player’s mana pool.)

There is nothing lost by removing those four words. On the other hand, four words are gained on the card, helping clean up unnecessary clutter and possibly freeing space for more interesting abilities.

July 9, 2018 2:47 p.m.

shadow63 says... #6

The cards dont look right and it makes things a little more complicated for new players

July 9, 2018 9:36 p.m.

cdkime says... #7


The absence only looks odd because it is new. That should fade with time.

As for it being more complicated for new players, I am not sure that is the case. I have found new players intrinsically understand the concept of the mana pool, but when you start adding the technical words “mana pool,” they get confused. Perhaps you have had different experiences, but I think this new formatting will be more intuitive for new players.

July 9, 2018 10:13 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #8

Epochalyptik, any cards with the exert mechanic say "when you do," when "if you do," would be more appropriate, and there is also Skyrider Patrol from Magic 2019; "when you do" implies that the action will always occur and is mandatory, but "if you do" would show that it is optional and does not always occur.

July 11, 2018 8:43 p.m.

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