Why does it still count as searching your library when an Aven Mindcensor is in play?

Asked by Yesterday 1 month ago

The most common parallel is for cards like Anger of the Gods that exile things if they would die, and therefore don't trigger things like Ajani's Last Stand or cause effects like Morbid on Caravan Vigil to apply.

From the Gatherer page for Aven Mindcensor

  • For effects that check whether a player searched a library, searching the top four cards of that library counts as searching that library.

I appreciate this is an awkward question, but... why? Considering this is a replacement effect which replaces searching a library with a different action, why does looking at the top four cards still cause Ob Nixilis, Unshackled to trigger, or cause you to shuffle if you search with Grasping Current (which specifically only says to shuffle if you searched your library)?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that cards that give you the option to search a library as one of multiple searchable zones, and then shuffle the library only if you searched that library, didn't exist when Aven Mindcensor was first printed (they were popularised with the tutor/recur effects in recent Planeswalker decks). So when the Aven got reprinted I was expecting the wording to be changed, maybe to "when a player searches their library, they can only find cards from the top four cards of that library".

As it stands, this is the only card I can think of that just outright disobeys the rules in the wording in this way. I don't know.

What does it mean to search a library?

What does it mean to be happy?

What is life?

Boza says... #1

Basically, Mindcensor says "Instead of searching your library, search only the top 4 cards instead". It replaces how much you look at while you search, but it does not replace the fact that you search. The new and old text of Mindcensor are in agreement on that, as they both mention searching the top four.

July 10, 2019 9:53 a.m.

PepsiAddicted says... #2

no rules being ignored or broken here. it doesnt replace "searching". just the amount of cards being searched. dont see whats confusing about that.

and "when a player ..." would be a trigger so thats not an option here

July 10, 2019 10:10 a.m. Edited.

Yesterday says... #3

The 'when' was a holdover that I forgot to change. It's the rest of the example that matters. So,

  • "If a player searches their library, they can only find cards from the top four cards of that library."

The confusion is because Aven Mindcensor uses standard replacement effect wording that state you replace the regular search with searching a different selection of cards. It outright says that you're replacing searching your library with a different action.

Some replacement effects do replace an action with something else that includes that action ( Alhammarret's Archive , Mox Diamond ), but it's clear on those cards because they say exactly that on the card.

You are still searching, yes, but searching isn't unique to libraries, which is why this is so unclear to me. We've been able to search hands and graveyards with spells like Cranial Extraction which have existed since before Aven Mindcensor was first printed.

July 10, 2019 11:21 a.m.

Boza says... #4

But even the Future Sight version's text says "that player searches the top four cards of their library instead". The reason why that is that there is no other way in MTG (currently) to do that effect. For example, other options would include looking at the top 4 and revealing the top 4, neither of which are the same as searching.

Searching is a specific term that requires you to specify what you are looking for in a hidden zone. If it is a specific card type, e.g. Flooded Strand , you also have to reveal the card to prove you found an eligible one, compared to Demonic Tutor , where you do not. Additionally, searching is optional - you always have the choice to fail to find, even intentionally.

By keeping the "searching" part of the rules on Mindcensor, the card does not clash with other existing rules and does not interact in a confusing way with the cards for which its replacement ability is meant.

July 10, 2019 11:31 a.m.

Yesterday says... #5

Searching isn't unique to hidden zones. Even if 'search' is the term used in cards like Cranial Extraction and Grasping Current only for the sake of simplicity because those cards also involve looking through a hidden zone, the result is that you're searching in places other than a library. With cards similar to those, you can search through a revealed zone, and more relevantly you can search through a hidden zone that isn't a library.

The top for cards of your library are a hidden zone just like the rest of your library. That still doesn't mean that searching your library is the same thing as searching the top four cards of your library, which is what other cards like Ob Nixilis, Unshackled believe it is.

July 10, 2019 11:47 a.m.

Yesterday says... #6

(For clarity, I meant that Cranial Extraction and Grasping Current only say 'search' because they involve looking through a library, not just any hidden zone. I know that Thoughtseize doesn't say 'search'.)

July 10, 2019 11:53 a.m.

Rhadamanthus says... Accepted answer #7

It's because the rules define it that way. The following rule and example are from the CR section about the keyword action "Search":

701.18f If searching a zone is replaced with searching a portion of that zone, any other instructions that refer to searching the zone still apply. Any abilities that trigger on a library being searched will trigger.

Example: Aven Mindcensor says, in part, "If an opponent would search a library, that player searches the top four cards of that library instead." Veteran Explorer says "When Veteran Explorer dies, each player may search their library for up to two basic land cards and put them onto the battlefield. Then each player who searched their library this way shuffles it." An opponent who searched the top four cards of their library because of Veteran Explorer's ability would shuffle the entire library.

July 10, 2019 1:50 p.m.

Yesterday says... #8

Is there any other card in the game to which that applies? It's kinda weird that they'd add in a rule exclusively for one card rather than just wording the card in a way that conventionally fit into the rules of the game that already existed.

...Then again, it was Future Sight.

July 10, 2019 2:28 p.m.

Kogarashi says... #9

As far as I can find, there isn't another card to which that applies...yet.

Future Sight was about playing around with the system, and especially the "future-shifted" cards like the original Aven Mindcensor were bringing in new and unique things to play with. Finally reprinting it in Amonkhet just means it found a home where it worked, but it doesn't necessarily mean we're going to see other cards like it any time soon.

A creature forced to enter the battlefield tapped because of Urabrask the Hidden is still entering the battlefield, so searching a smaller portion of your library is still searching your library. After all, it's part of your library, and you just searched it. Aven Mindcensor isn't making you search a different zone, just a smaller portion of the same zone.

The comparison to Anger of the Gods doesn't work because that's changing things so that a creature "dying" doesn't happen at all, while the search with Mindcensor on the board still happens, just restricted. If it said to search your graveyard instead, then it'd be comparable.

July 10, 2019 4:26 p.m.

Yesterday says... #10

  • A creature forced to enter the battlefield tapped because of Urabrask the Hidden is still entering the battlefield, so searching a smaller portion of your library is still searching your library. ... If it said to search your graveyard instead, then it'd be comparable. Mrm. I don't believe that's really a fair comparison, but I digress.

My main issue was that the rules text on Gatherer is basically extra reminder text that isn't printed on the card, and I didn't believe that the existing rules properly defined what it assumed to be the case.

But I didn't realise there's an official part of the rules section created specifically for this (otherwise unused) type of replacement action.

Cool.

July 10, 2019 5:04 p.m.

Yesterday says... #11

cough

  • A creature forced to enter the battlefield tapped because of Urabrask the Hidden is still entering the battlefield, so searching a smaller portion of your library is still searching your library. ... If it said to search your graveyard instead, then it'd be comparable.

Mrm. I don't believe that's really a fair comparison, but I digress.

July 10, 2019 5:05 p.m.

Gidgetimer says... #12

There are increasingly more rules being made/changed for a single card. They changed what "ending the turn" meant back in Origins because Day's Undoing hasd interactions with draw triggers that they apparently didn't like. There are 15 instances of the CR mentioning that "one card" does a thing and only one card (lol) is referenced more than once. So there are 14 instances of rules being written for a single card as well as the odd ones like Aven Mindcensor and Day's Undoing that have had rules written about them but are not specifically called out as the reason for the rule.

July 11, 2019 11:24 p.m.

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