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DFC Transforming

Double-faced cards have a Magic card on both the front and back.

Double-faced cards (DFCs) in Magic have a regular card frame on each side, and no card back. Each face has a symbol to denote the front from the back. Traditional DFCs can be transformed or converted from their front face to their back face while modal DFCs can be played as either face but cannot transform or convert.

History[ | ]

Double-faced cards were introduced in the Innistrad block. All cards featured the keyword action transform (turn it over so that its other face is up). A common slot was replaced by a "DFC slot" that had the appropriate probability for each rarity appearing (i.e. roughly 2/3 common, 1/5 uncommon, 1/15 rare, 1/120 mythic).

Double-faced cards returned in Magic Origins where one side featured a legendary creature, and the other side featured its planeswalker incarnation. These "flipwalkers"[1] were first exiled and then returned transformed from the exile zone.[2] In Magic Origins, there was only one double-faced card for each color.

Double-faced cards returned in Shadows over Innistrad. These had the transform mechanic again. New rules stipulated that the converted mana cost of the back face of a double-faced is based on the mana cost of the front face.[3] Eldritch Moon introduced a twist with meld, a keyword action that changes the card with meld and another specific card into one oversized card. That single card only exists on the backs of the two other cards. Whenever the melded card leaves the battlefield, both cards go, and they each turn front face up again.[4] For gameplay purposes, these are NOT considered to be DFCs (see rule 713.1b), though they occupy the DFC slot in a Shadows over Innistrad booster pack.[5] There are three pairs of cards that can meld together: a white pair, a black pair, and a pair consisting of a red card and a land. There were also fifteen regular DFCs in Eldritch Moon.

Since June 2017, double-faced cards are considered to be deciduous.[6][7] Ten of them appeared in Ixalan - one of each color, and five artifacts - highlighting the tales and tools of discovery.[8] Another seven double-faced cards appeared in Rivals of Ixalan, one of each enemy color pair and two artifacts. They all transform into important "landmarks", which are hence lands. Double-faced cards were now an infrequent thing. The short time between Shadows over Innistrad and Ixalan was not meant to be a precedent,[9] but R&D came to realize that there was a lot more of design space to be explored in double-faced cards.[10]

A single double-faced card, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager was printed in Core Set 2019.

Zendikar Rising introduced Modal Double-faced cards (MDFCs).[11] Whereas the original Double-faced cards were inspired by the Hasbro Duel Masters game, MDFCs were inspired by split cards.[12] Rather than using a common slot, these had a slot that replaced an uncommon or rare in Zendikar Rising; the next two sets had all-rare MDFCs, distributed as normal through the rare slot.

In Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, the common transformation triggers found on most werewolves were keyworded with Daybound and Nightbound.[13] Although still primarily present on werewolves, these keywords also appear on other permanents. The set also introduced Disturb, which allows cards to be cast from the graveyard transformed.[14] This continued with Innistrad: Crimson Vow. In these sets, DFCs had two slots, split into "common" and "higher rarity" and, unlike previous Innistrad sets, had the commons DFCs color balanced.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty melded together Sagas and DFCs, where the third chapter exiles and returns the Saga transformed and becomes a creature on the other side. These had a single slot at common or uncommon, while the rare and mythic DFCs were distributed through the rare slot.

The Transformers Universes Beyond franchise product, found in The Brothers' War boosters, depicted a series of characters from the Hasbro franchise as Magic cards. They have an unusual combination of modal and transforming DFC mechanisms in More Than Meets the Eye and can convert between faces once on the battlefield. Convert is mechanically identical to Transform but is renamed as to avoid a Transformer copyright concern.

March of the Machine introduces a new card type (Battles), all 36 of which are DFCs. In addition, there are a cycle of Praetor-Sagas and four cycles of creatures that have become compleated. One Battle (uncommon rarity or higher) is guaranteed per booster, and another slot is dedicated to a non-Battle DFC of any rarity.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan's new mechanic Craft is tied to being a DFC artifact. Additionally, like the previous visit to Ixalan, there are series of permanents that transform into lands, and Huatli, Caller of Unity uniquely is a creature that transforms into a Saga. The rarities were distributed as with Neon Dynasty.

Modern Horizons 3 was the first set to mix modal and transforming DFCs. It marked the return of DFC lands from Zendikar Rising alongside the return of "igniting planeswalkers" from Magic Origins.[15] There is no guarantee of a DFC in this set, with uncommon DFCs being as frequent as their non-DFC counterparts.

Description[ | ]

Transforming double-faced cards[ | ]

Transforming double-faced cards (TDFCs[16]) represented a radical change for the card back.[17][18][19][20] Until their release, no legal card could have a different print on the back than the regular Magic card back.

Double-faced is a referable property for a card: Overgrown Pest and Invasion of Pyrulea look for double-faced cards while in the library. Multiple cards in March of the Machine also refer to being transformed, making it a quasi-typal synergy.

Thematically, these double-faced cards represent something that undergoes a major transformation, hence the keyword action. This is expressed in different ways, depending on the setting.

Innistrad[ | ]

Daybreak Ranger

Double-faced cards as they first appeared in Innistrad.

In Innistrad sets, many are werewolves, fledgling vampires, or other creatures undergoing horrifying transformations. The majority of these cards are creatures that transform into other creatures, although there are a significant number of exceptions:

Rares & Mythics
Front Face Card Type(s) Back Face Card Type(s) Set
Arlinn Kord Planeswalker Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon Planeswalker
Arlinn, the Pack's Hope Planeswalker Arlinn, the Moon's Fury Planeswalker
Elbrus, the Binding Blade Artifact Withengar Unbound Creature
Garruk Relentless Planeswalker Garruk, the Veil-Cursed Planeswalker
Hostile Hostel Land Creeping Inn Artifact Creature
Jacob Hauken, Inspector Creature Hauken's Insight Enchantment
Poppet Stitcher Creature Poppet Factory Artifact
Startled Awake Sorcery Persistent Nightmare Creature
Curse of Leeches Enchantment (Aura Curse) Leeching Lurker Creature
Edgar, Charmed Groom Creature Edgar Markov's Coffin Artifact
Wedding Announcement Enchantment Wedding Festivity Enchantment
Westvale Abbey Land Ormendahl, Profane Prince Creature
Uncommons
Front Face Card Type(s) Back Face Card Type(s) Set
Accursed Witch Creature Infectious Curse Enchantment (Aura Curse)
Autumnal Gloom Enchantment Ancient of the Equinox Creature
Chalice of Life Artifact Chalice of Death Artifact
Cryptolith Fragment Artifact Aurora of Emrakul Creature
Dormant Grove Enchantment Gnarled Grovestrider Creature
Foreboding Statue Artifact Creature Forsaken Thresher Artifact Creature
Harvest Hand Artifact Creature Scrounged Scythe Artifact (Equipment)
Heirloom Mirror Artifact Inherited Fiend Creature
Mysterious Tome Artifact Chilling Chronicle Artifact
Mystic Skull Artifact Mystic Monstrosity Artifact Creature
Neglected Heirloom Artifact (Equipment) Ashmouth Blade Artifact (Equipment)
Radiant Grace Enchantment (Aura) Radiant Restraints Enchantment (Aura Curse)
Skin Invasion Enchantment (Aura) Skin Shedder Creature
Soul Seizer Creature Ghastly Haunting Enchantment (Aura)
Soulcipher Board Artifact Cipherbound Spirit Creature
Thraben Gargoyle Artifact Creature Stonewing Antagonizer Artifact Creature
Vengeful Strangler Creature Strangling Grasp Enchantment (Aura)
Disturb Auras
Front Face Card Type(s) Back Face Card Type(s) Set
Faithbound Judge Creature Sinner's Judgment Enchantment (Aura Curse)
Dorothea, Vengeful Victim Creature Dorothea's Retribution Enchantment (Aura)
Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr Creature Katilda's Rising Dawn Enchantment (Aura)
Mirrorhall Mimic Creature Ghastly Mimicry Enchantment (Aura)
Brine Comber Creature Brinebound Gift Enchantment (Aura)
Distracting Geist Creature Clever Distraction Enchantment (Aura)
Gutter Skulker Creature Gutter Shortcut Enchantment (Aura)
Mischievous Catgeist Creature Catlike Curiosity Enchantment (Aura)
Twinblade Geist Creature Twinblade Invocation Enchantment (Aura)
Binding Geist Creature Spectral Binding Enchantment (Aura)
Drogskol Infantry Creature Drogskol Armaments Enchantment (Aura)
Kindly Ancestor Creature Ancestor's Embrace Enchantment (Aura)
Lantern Bearer Creature Lantern's Lift Enchantment (Aura)

Igniting Planeswalkers[ | ]

In Magic Origins, Core Set 2019 and Modern Horizons 3, there are cards representing planeswalkers whose spark is igniting, represented by creatures that transform into planeswalkers. Magic Origins features a cycle of mono-color planeswalkers; Core Set 2019 features a single planeswalker, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, that is tricolored on both faces; Modern Horizons 3 has a cycle of mono-colored creatures on the front and two-colored planeswalkers on the back.

Ixalan[ | ]

In Ixalan sets, they represent the journey into uncharted territory and the discovery of new locales. Enchantments and artifacts represent a tool or event along the journey and transform into a land that represents the destination. Ixalan features a cycle of mono-color enchantments and five artifacts, while Rivals of Ixalan features a cycle of enemy-color enchantments, an artifact, and an artifact creature.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty[ | ]

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty used the storytelling aspect of Sagas and linked them to many Kamis' spiritual embodiments of history and concepts. The enchantment front side tells the tale as recorded on various forms of artwork, while the backside is an enchantment creature, the Kami that is borne from that legend's influence on the world. Each have identical third and final chapter abilities, where they exile and return themselves transformed.[21][22]

March of the Machine[ | ]

March of the Machine introduced a new card type, Battle, to represent a new gameplay dynamic. A Battle gives a player a secondary target to achieve in defeating by dealing sufficient damage, and an opponent has the opportunity to defend them. All the Sieges in March of the Machine are double-faced cards with the front uniquely designed as a horizontal landscape showing the Invasion of a certain plane (all Sieges follow the naming convention of "Invasion of X"). Defeating a siege causes the card to be exiled and the back face is cast as a payoff.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan[ | ]

The new mechanic of Craft transforms artifacts into various other permanents. Each exile themselves and a crafting "ingredient" (another card or cards) and return transformed. Of the "landmark" transformers, there are a cycle of "Deepest" Gods that transforms into a land whose non-mana ability is transforming back.

The Jurassic World cards include a Saga that transforms into a land.

Modal double-faced cards[ | ]

DFC Modal

Modal double-faced card: either face can be played from the hand.

Modal double-faced cards (MDFCs[16]) were introduced in Zendikar Rising.[23][24][25]

Like previously released double-faced cards, modal double-faced cards have two card faces, one on each side of the card. But these cards don't transform.[26] When you play a modal double-faced card, you choose which face you're playing. The front side of the card has a single triangle {dfc-front} in the upper left-hand corner. The backside has two triangles {dfc-back} and a different card frame with white font.

Modal double-faced cards fit in the same design space as split cards, but the latter can only be instants and sorceries. This means MDFCs tend to have at least one side be permanent. Technically, there could be an MDFC with two instants and/or sorceries with text that couldn’t fit on a split card.[27]

Similarly to transform cards, the modal faces of these cards vary depending on the setting.

  • The MDFCs of Zendikar Rising all feature lands on their back face. All generate one color of mana and by and large enter tapped; the mythic cycle of lands enter untapped if their controller pays 3 life.
    • Notably, six of them are Pathway lands, which are lands on both sides that tap for different colors of mana.
  • The primary MDFCs of Kaldheim all feature legendary God creatures on their front face, and a legendary non-land permanent on the back face.
    • While most of the back faces are artifacts, three of the Mythics have other permanent types on the back:
    • Kaldheim additionally features the remaining four lands of the Pathway cycle that weren't printed in Zendikar Rising.
  • The MDFCs of Strixhaven: School of Mages all feature enemy color combinations, except for one that is colorless. These are the first to have non-permanents on the back faces.
    • Notably, only one of these has two colors on the front face ({W}{B}), while its back face is allied colored ({B}{R}).
  • Transformers has a mechanic that merges both transforming and modal DFCs using More Than Meets the Eye.
  • Modern Horizons 3 reprised the MDFC lands, this time as uncommons with the "pay 3 life" clause. There were also now some dual taplands with hybrid spell fronts.[15]

Helper cards[ | ]

Helper card

A substitute card for modal DFCs.

Main article: Helper card

Zendikar Rising introduced "helper cards", a substitute card for an actual double-faced card when playing without opaque sleeves in order to prevent cheating. Double-faced cards must be kept in a card sleeve with an opaque back when not using a substitute card. These cards have a standard Magic card back and a write-in area on the front face that can be used to indicate which card is being represented.

Rules[ | ]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Double-Faced Cards
Cards with two faces, one on each side of the card, and no Magic card back. See rule 712, “Double-Faced Cards.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 712. Double-Faced Cards
    • 712.1. A double-faced card has a Magic card face on one side and either a Magic card face or half of an oversized card face on the other. (It does not have a Magic card back.) There are three kinds of double-faced cards: transforming double-faced cards, modal double-faced cards, and meld cards.
    • 712.2. Transforming double-faced cards have a Magic card face on each side and include abilities on one or both of their faces that allow the card to either “transform” or “convert” (turn over to its other face) and/or allow the card to be cast or enter the battlefield “transformed” or “converted” (with its back face up).
      • 712.2a A transforming double-faced card’s front face is marked by a front-face symbol in its upper left corner. On cards printed starting with The Brothers’ War™ release, that symbol is a single white triangle pointed upward inside a black circle. Transforming double-faced cards printed in older sets have different front-face symbols. On Magic Origins™ and Core Set 2019 double-faced cards, the front-face symbol is a modified Planeswalker icon. On cards in the Innistrad® block, Shadows over Innistrad set, and Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set, as well as on Ulrich of the Krallenhorde in the Eldritch Moon™ set, the front-face symbol is a sun. On other Eldritch Moon double-faced cards, the front-face symbol is a full moon. On Ixalan® and Rivals of Ixalan™ cards, the front-face symbol is a compass rose. On Kamigawa®: Neon Dynasty double-faced cards, the front-face symbol is a closed fan.
      • 712.2b A transforming double-faced card’s back face is marked by a back-face symbol in its upper left or upper right corner. On cards printed starting with The Brothers’ War release, that symbol is a single white triangle pointed downward inside a black circle. Transforming double-faced cards printed in older sets have different front-face symbols. On Magic Origins and Core Set 2019 double-faced cards, the back-face symbol is a full Planeswalker icon. On cards in the Innistrad block, Shadows over Innistrad set, and Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set, as well as on Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha in the Eldritch Moon set, the back-face symbol is a crescent moon. On other Eldritch Moon double-faced cards, the back-face symbol is a stylized image of Emrakul. On Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan cards, the back-face symbol is a land icon. On Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty double-faced cards, the back-face symbol is an open fan.
      • 712.2c The front face of a transforming double-faced card whose back face is a creature has the back face’s power and toughness printed in gray above the power and toughness box. This is reminder text and has no effect on game play.
    • 712.3. Modal double-faced cards have a Magic card face on each side. These faces are independent from one another.
      • 712.3a A modal double-faced card’s front face is marked by a front-face symbol in its upper left corner. The front-face symbol is a single black triangle inside a sideways teardrop.
      • 712.3b A modal double-faced card’s back face is marked by a back-face symbol in its upper left corner. The back-face symbol is two white triangles inside a sideways teardrop.
      • 712.3c Each face of a modal double-faced card includes a hint bar in the lower left corner with information about the opposite face. This is reminder text and has no effect on game play.
    • 712.4. Meld cards have a Magic card face on one side and half of an oversized card face on the other.
      • 712.4a One card in each meld pair has an ability that exiles both that object and its counterpart and melds them. To meld the two cards in a meld pair, put them onto the battlefield with their back faces up and combined (see rule 701.37, “Meld”). The resulting permanent is a single object represented by two cards.
      • 712.4b The back faces of a meld pair are used only to determine the characteristics of the melded permanent that pair becomes on the battlefield. If a rule or effect references the back face of a meld card when not part of a melded permanent on the battlefield, it fails to determine its characteristics, regardless of which parts of the melded permanent is represented on that card’s back face.
    • 712.5. There are six specific meld pairs.
      • 712.5a Midnight Scavengers and Graf Rats meld to form Chittering Host.
      • 712.5b Hanweir Garrison and Hanweir Battlements meld to form Hanweir, the Writhing Township.
      • 712.5c Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade meld to form Brisela, Voice of Nightmares.
      • 712.5d Phyrexian Dragon Engine and Mishra, Claimed by Gix meld to form Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia.
      • 712.5e The Mightstone and Weakstone and Urza, Lord Protector meld to form Urza, Planeswalker.
      • 712.5f Argoth, Sanctum of Nature and Titania, Voice of Gaea meld to form Titania, Gaea Incarnate.
    • 712.6. Players who are allowed to look at a double-faced card may look at both sides of that card.
    • 712.7. Players must ensure that double-faced cards in hidden zones are indistinguishable from other cards in the same zone. To do this, the owner of a double-faced card may use completely opaque card sleeves and/or a substitute card (see rule 713). Sanctioned tournaments have additional rules for playing with double-faced cards. See rule 100.6.
    • 712.8. Each face of a transforming or modal double-faced card has its own set of characteristics. The front face of each meld card and the combined face formed by a meld pair each has its own set of characteristics.
      • 712.8a While a double-faced card is outside the game or in a zone other than the battlefield or stack, it has only the characteristics of its front face.
      • 712.8b A meld card on the stack has only the characteristics of its front face.
      • 712.8c Normally, a transforming double-faced spell has its front face up while on the stack and has only the characteristics of its front face. However, if an effect allows a player to cast a transforming double-faced card “transformed” or “converted,” the resulting spell will have its back face up and have only the characteristics of its back face. Its mana value is calculated using the mana cost of its front face.
      • 712.8d While a double-faced permanent has its front face up, it has only the characteristics of its front face.
      • 712.8e While a transforming double-faced permanent has its back face up, it has only the characteristics of its back face. However, its mana value is calculated using the mana cost of its front face. If a permanent is copying the back face of a transforming double-faced permanent (even if the object representing that copy is itself a double-faced permanent), the mana value of that permanent is 0. See rule 202.3b.
      • 712.8f While a modal double-faced spell is on the stack or a modal double-faced permanent is on the battlefield, it has only the characteristics of the face that’s up.
      • 712.8g While the two cards of a meld pair are on the battlefield as a melded permanent, the object represented by those cards has only the characteristics of the combined back face, and its mana value is the sum of the mana values of its front faces. If a permanent is copying a melded permanent, the mana value of the copy is 0. See rule 202.3c.
    • 712.9. Only transforming tokens and permanents represented by transforming double-faced cards can transform or convert. (See rule 701.28, “Transform,” and rule 701.50, “Convert.”) If a spell or ability instructs a player to transform or convert any permanent that isn’t a transforming token or isn’t represented by a transforming double-faced card, nothing happens.

      Example: A Clone enters the battlefield as a copy of Wildblood Pack (the back face of a transforming double-faced card). The Clone will be a copy of the Wildblood Pack. Because the Clone is itself not a transforming double-faced card, it can’t transform.

      Example: A player casts Cytoshape, causing a Kruin Outlaw (the front face of a transforming double-faced card) to become a copy of Elite Vanguard (a 2/1 Human Soldier creature) until end of turn. The player then casts Moonmist, which reads, in part, “Transform all Humans.” Because the copy of Elite Vanguard is a transforming double-faced card, it will transform. The resulting permanent will have its back face up, but it will still be a copy of Elite Vanguard that turn.

      Example: A player controls Blackbloom Rogue, a Human Rogue that’s the front face of a modal double-faced card. They cast Moonmist. Blackbloom Rogue doesn’t transform.

    • 712.10. If a spell or ability instructs a player to transform or convert a permanent, and the face that permanent would transform or convert into is represented by an instant or sorcery card face, or is a transforming token that was created with an instant or sorcery face, nothing happens.
    • 712.11. A double-faced spell is cast with its front face up by default. See rule 601, “Casting Spells.”
      • 712.11a If a transforming double-faced card or a copy of a transforming double-faced card is cast as a spell “transformed” or “converted,” it’s put on the stack with its back face up.
      • 712.11b A player casting a modal double-faced card or a copy of a modal double-faced card as a spell chooses which face they are casting before putting it onto the stack.
      • 712.11c Only the face that will be face up on the stack is evaluated to determine if it can be cast. Only that face is considered to be put onto the stack.
      • 712.11d If an ability of a transforming double-faced card’s front face allows it to be cast “transformed” or “converted,” that ability is also considered when evaluating that spell to determine if it can be cast. This is an exception to 712.11c.
    • 712.12. A player playing a modal double-faced card or a copy of a modal double-faced card as a land chooses one of its faces that’s a land before putting it onto the battlefield. It enters the battlefield with that face up. See rule 305, “Lands.”
    • 712.13. By default, a resolving double-faced spell that becomes a permanent is put onto the battlefield with the same face up that was face up on the stack.
      • 712.13a Some abilities may cause a transforming double-faced spell with its front face up on the stack to enter the battlefield transformed or converted. If the back face of the card that represents that spell is an instant or sorcery card, or that spell is a copy of a double-faced card created with an instant or sorcery back face, it doesn’t enter the battlefield, and is instead put into its owner’s graveyard.

        Example: A player controls both Mycosynth Lattice and March of the Machines, the combined effects of which make all permanents artifact creatures in addition to their other types. They also control a Clone on the battlefield that is a copy of Bird Admirer, a creature with daybound. It is currently night, but that permanent can’t transform because it isn’t represented by a double-faced card. Its controller casts Mystic Reflection targeting it, then casts Invasion of Kylem, a Siege battle whose back face is a sorcery. Because Invasion of Kylem is entering the battlefield as a creature, Mystic Reflection’s replacement effect applies to it and it tries to enter the battlefield as a copy of Bird Admirer. Since it is night, the daybound ability would normally cause it to enter with its back face up. However, since its back face is a sorcery, it is instead put into its owner’s graveyard.

    • 712.14. A double-faced card put onto the battlefield from a zone other than the stack enters the battlefield with its front face up by default.
      • 712.14a If a spell or ability puts a transforming double-faced card onto the battlefield “transformed” or “converted,” it enters the battlefield with its back face up. If a player is instructed to put a card that isn’t a transforming double-faced card onto the battlefield transformed or converted, that card stays in its current zone.
      • 712.14b If a player is instructed to put a modal double-faced card onto the battlefield and its front face isn’t a permanent card, the card stays in its current zone.
      • 712.14c If a meld card is being melded with its counterpart, those cards enter the battlefield as a single permanent with their back faces up.
    • 712.15. If an effect allows a player to cast a double-faced card as a face-down creature spell, or if a double-faced card enters the battlefield face down, it will have the characteristics given to it by the rule or effect that caused it to be face down. That card remains hidden, using a face-down substitute card (see rule 713) and/or opaque sleeves. See rule 708, “Face-Down Spells and Permanents.”
      • 712.15a While face down, a transforming double-faced permanent can’t transform or convert. If it’s turned face up, it will have its front face up.
    • 712.16. Melded permanents and other double-faced permanents can’t be turned face down. If a spell or ability tries to turn a double-faced permanent face down, nothing happens.
    • 712.17. A double-faced card that is exiled face down remains hidden, using a face-down substitute card and/or opaque sleeves. See rule 713, “Substitute Cards.”
    • 712.18. When a transforming double-faced permanent transforms or converts, it doesn’t become a new object. Any effects that applied to that permanent will continue to apply to it.

      Example: An effect gives Village Ironsmith (the front face of a transforming double-faced card) +2/+2 until end of turn and then Village Ironsmith transforms into Ironfang. Ironfang will continue to get +2/+2 until end of turn.

    • 712.19. If an effect instructs a player to choose a card name, the player may choose the name of either face of a transforming or modal double-faced card but not both. Similarly, they may choose either the name of a front face of a meld card or the combined back face of a meld pair.
    • 712.20. If a transforming double-faced card would have an “As [this permanent] transforms . . .” ability after it transforms or converts, that ability is applied while that permanent is transforming or converting, not afterward.
    • 712.21. If a melded permanent leaves the battlefield, one permanent leaves the battlefield and two cards are put into the appropriate zone.

      Example: Chittering Host, a melded permanent, dies. An ability that triggers “whenever a creature dies” triggers once. An ability that triggers “whenever a card is put into a graveyard from anywhere” triggers twice.

      • 712.21a If a melded permanent is put into its owner’s graveyard or library, that player may arrange the two cards in any order. If it’s put into its owner’s library, that player doesn’t reveal the order.
      • 712.21b If a player exiles a melded permanent, that player determines the relative timestamp order of the two cards at that time. This is an exception to the procedure described in rule 613.7m.

        Example: Duplicant is a card with the abilities “When Duplicant enters the battlefield, you may exile target nontoken creature” and “As long as a card exiled with Duplicant is a creature card, Duplicant has the power, toughness, and creature types of the last creature card exiled with Duplicant. It’s still a Shapeshifter.” As Duplicant’s first ability exiles Chittering Host, a melded permanent, Duplicant’s controller chooses whether the last creature card exiled is Midnight Scavengers or Graf Rats.

      • 712.21c If an effect can find the new object that a melded permanent becomes as it leaves the battlefield, it finds both cards. (See rule 400.7.) If that effect causes actions to be taken upon those cards, the same actions are taken upon each of them.

        Example: Otherworldly Journey is an instant that reads “Exile target creature. At the beginning of the next end step, return that card to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a +1/+1 counter on it.” A player casts Otherworldly Journey targeting Chittering Host, a melded permanent. Chittering Host is exiled. At the beginning of the next end step, Midnight Scavengers and Graf Rats are both returned to the battlefield, each with a +1/+1 counter on it.

        Example: False Demise is an Aura with the ability “When enchanted creature dies, return that card to the battlefield under your control.” A Chittering Host enchanted by False Demise dies. The triggered ability returns both Midnight Scavengers and Graf Rats to the battlefield.

        Example: Mimic Vat is an artifact that reads, in part, “Whenever a nontoken creature dies, you may exile that card.” A Chittering Host dies. As Mimic Vat’s triggered ability resolves, its controller makes a single choice and both cards that represented Chittering Host are either exiled or not.

      • 712.21d If multiple replacement effects could be applied to the event of a melded permanent leaving the battlefield or being put into the new zone, applying one of those replacement effects to one of the two cards affects both cards. If the melded permanent is a commander, it may be exempt from this rule; see rules 903.9b–c.

        Example: Leyline of the Void is an enchantment that reads, in part, “If a card would be put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead.” Wheel of Sun and Moon is an Aura with enchant player and the ability “If a card would be put into enchanted player’s graveyard from anywhere, instead that card is revealed and put on the bottom of its owner’s library.” If the controller of Chittering Host is affected by both cards’ effects, that player chooses one effect to apply to the event and Midnight Scavengers and Graf Rats are both moved to the appropriate zone.

      • 712.21e If an effect needs to know the number of objects that changed zones, a melded permanent among those objects counts as one object that moved. If the effect needs to know the number of cards that changed zones, that melded permanent counts as two cards that moved.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Modal Double-Faced Cards
One of two kinds of double-faced cards. Modal double-faced cards can be played with either of their two faces up and can’t transform. See rule 712, “Double-Faced Cards.”

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Transforming Double-Faced Cards
One of two kinds of double-faced cards. Transforming double-faced cards default to their front faces but can transform to their back faces in some way. See rule 712, “Double-Faced Cards.”

Playing with double-faced cards[ | ]

Icons[ | ]

Jin-Gitaxias

Double-faced card with simplified triangular icons in the upper corners.

Each face of a double-faced card has an icon to aid players in identifying the front from the back. The front face has a single white triangle pointed upward inside a black circle {dfc-obverse} to the left of the card name. The back face has a single white triangle pointed downward inside a black circle {dfc-reverse} on the right side of the card, where the mana cost would normally be printed.

The release of The Brothers' War and Transformers saw R&D standardize the icons for all double-faced cards. Front faces now have an upward-pointing triangle and back faces use a downward-pointing triangle positioned on the right side of the title bar.[28][29] The change brings transforming DFCs in line with modal DFCs, which use similar symbols ({dfc-front} for front faces and {dfc-back} for back faces).[30]

Previous icons[ | ]

Before The Brothers' War, double-faced cards used icons that were themed around their respective sets.

The Innistrad block double-faced cards used an icon next to the card name representing a sun {dfc-sun} or a moon {dfc-moon}. The front of the card is called the "day" side, and a regular card frame, a mana cost, and the sun symbol. The back or "night" side had the moon symbol and a slightly altered frame similar to planeshifted cards with a darker text box and white text for the card type, name, and (for creatures) power and toughness.

With the Magic Origins rules update, the sun and moon symbols lost their meaning; the front of the card was then defined by the appearance of the mana cost. The set also introduced two new symbols for the five double-faced cards in its set: The rising sun {dfc-spark} for the front side and the planeswalker symbol {dfc-ignite} for the backside.

With the release of Shadows over Innistrad, the symbols in the upper-left corner regained their rules meaning, due to a single card — Westvale Abbey. As a land, the front face lacked a mana cost and would be considered a back face under the previous rules.

Creatures from Eldritch Moon that transform into colorless Eldrazi have the aforementioned eldritch moon {dfc-fullmoon} for the front side and Emrakul {dfc-emrakul} for the back side, showing this creature has joined Emrakul's brood.[31] This is symbolizing one transformation step further from that shown in Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Shadows over Innistrad.

Double-faced cards from Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan highlight the tales and tools of discovery. The front face is recognized by the icon of a compass rose {dfc-compass}. Lands on the backface are marked by the land icon {dfc-land} last seen in Future Sight.

For Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, all mechanics involving two-sided cards once again used the {dfc-sun} and {dfc-moon} symbols. Though they were intuitively tied to Daybound/Nightbound, they didn't have a good logical association with Disturb or the other transform cards.[32] In retrospect, Mark Rosewater admitted R&D might have not wanted to use the day and night icons on things that weren’t Daybound/Nightbound even if previously Innistrad sets did.[33]

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty used a closed fan {dfc-closedfan} on the front side and an open fan {dfc-openfan} on the back.

Play[ | ]

Double-sided cards enter the battlefield with their front side up. To switch between the two card faces, the keyword action transform is used. When a permanent transforms, all counters, Auras, and Equipment stay on the card, and the card neither enters nor leaves the battlefield. However, some cards transform by changing zones:

  • The bulk of them exile and return themselves transformed ("blink") due to rules requirements of their types or subtypes.
    • The eleven creatures that transform into planeswalkers need to be blinked as loyalty counters are placed as an enters-the-battlefield replacement effect and would otherwise die as state-based effects.
    • If Conqueror's Galleon had transformed normally, it would retain the ability "This permanent becomes an artifact creature until end of turn." gained from Crew, and thus become a 0/0 artifact creature and die as a state-based action.[34]
    • The Sagas of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty blink to avoid multiple tracking issues. It would avoid having creatures with chapter counters on them - if, for whatever reason, the creature is forcibly transformed, the third chapter counter would kill the Saga immediately. It would also clean up the board, stop them from being mistaken for +1/+1 counters, and would also stop them from being inherently modified. It was also found that immediate transforming was too aggressive and needed to reset summoning sickness. March of the Machine's Praetor cycle does so as well, as standard transforming will not give a lore counter until the next draw step and so fail to trigger the first chapter ability. Huatli, Poet of Unity does the same.
    • Sieges in March of the Machine could have any type of spell on the back side, so they are exiled and cast to let Planeswalkers, Instants, and Sorceries be the victory spoils for defeating the Battle.
    • Craft artifacts from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan exile and return themselves. The reasoning is likely similar to that of the creatures Sagas as to reintroduce summoning sickness.
  • Accursed Witch, Edgar, Charmed Groom, Golden Guardian, Harvest Hand, Loyal Cathar, Vengeful Strangler and the Deepest Gods cycle have triggered abilities which return them to the battlefield transformed when they die.
    • Biolume Egg has a similar triggered ability, specifically only when sacrificed.
  • Journey to Eternity, Radiant Grace, and Skin Invasion have triggered abilities that return them to the battlefield transformed when the creature they enchant dies.
  • Startled Awake has an ability that can be activated from the graveyard, which puts it onto the battlefield transformed.
  • Cards with Disturb can be cast from the graveyard and transformed for their disturb cost.

To be allowed to play with double-sided cards, the player must either have opaque sleeves for all their cards through which no detail of the cards is visible or use a checklist card or helper card to substitute for each double-faced card in the deck.

Earlier sets with double-faced cards had a checklist card in some of its booster packs. Checklist cards have the regular Magic card back and list the name and mana cost of all double-faced cards from the set. The player must mark which double-faced card the checklist card is meant to represent on the checklist card, in a manner not visible from the back of the card. The checklist card is shuffled into the deck while the actual double-faced card is kept outside the game. These were unpopular and clunky, with Shadows over Innistrad needing two lists, separated by rarity, to fit the full amount. While they were slated to be more prevalent as a supplemental card to avoid problems, it was still entirely possible to not have the rare checklist when opening a rare DFC.

Helper cards are more generic, where the player fills in the details necessary such as mana cost and stats, with space for art if desired, which lets them be used as token cards or copies. These were introduced with Zendikar Rising.

One easy way to tell if a double-faced card is transforming as opposed to modal is that each transforming double-faced card will have an ability that either transforms it into its other face or has it enter the battlefield or be cast transformed.[35] The back faces of transforming double-faced cards don't have mana costs because they usually can't be cast transformed.

If you ever need to know the mana value of the back face of a transforming double-faced card, use the mana cost of the front face.

Card rulings[ | ]

  • Double-faced cards can not be turned face down with cards such as Ixidron. When a double-faced card is instructed to be turned face-down, nothing happens. Similarly, if a non-double-faced card is instructed to transform, nothing happens.
  • If a double-faced card is manifested, it will be put onto the battlefield face down. While face down, it can't transform. If the front face of the card is a creature card, you can turn it face up by paying its mana cost. If you do, its front face will be up.
  • When a double-sided card is copied, e.g. with a card like Clone, only the characteristics of the face that is currently visible upon copying are copied. Such copies cannot be transformed, either.
  • If a card is not in play, the only information relevant and viewable for other cards is the front side of the card.
  • The color identity of the card includes both faces.
  • Except for Professional REL events (starting from Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad) that are pre-sleeved, during booster drafts, double-faced cards are revealed to all players at all times until the next pick after that card was picked by any player. They are allowed to reveal the card on either side, however.
    • For Professional REL events after Ixalan, unless WotC decided the set should be pre-sleeved (determined by the number and the opening frequency of double-faced cards of the set), all player must reveal their double-faced card opened in their pack (if any) before the draft begins as well for sets involving double-faced cards.
    • Magic Online's draft events involving double-faced cards are no different from draft events having no double-faced cards regardless of event type and set involved.
  • Transforming a permanent into a land card isn't the same as playing a land. Treasure Cove doesn't enter the battlefield, and it doesn't count as your land play for the turn.

Triple-faced cards[ | ]

The non-legal Heroes of the Realm card Optimus Prime, Inspiring Leader is a three-sided card usable in both Magic the Gathering and Transformers TCG games.[36] The card is hinged in the center and folds in half. Transformers TCG uses this tech for Combiners and Triple-changer characters.[37] The technology has also been used in the Hasbro Duel Masters game.[38][39] The biggest issue with three-sided cards is they’re slightly heavier than normal cards.[40]

See also[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (June 30, 2015). "Can you say if the flipwalkers are the only planeswalkers in ORI?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. Matt Tabak (June 22, 2015). "Magic Origins Mechanics Article". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Matt Tabak (March 7, 2016). "Shadows over Innistrad Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (June 27, 2016). "Over the Moon, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (June 29, 2016). "Do meld cards count as DFCs?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  6. Mark Rosewater (June 30, 2017). "What mechanics and tools are currently considered Deciduous?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (March 28, 2022). "Deciduous". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Matt Tabak (August 28, 2017). "Ixalan Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (August 28, 2017). "Is it reasonable to expect more double-faced cards in at least one set each year moving on?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (December 2, 2019). "More Maro on Maro". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Matt Tabak (September 1, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (September 5, 2020). "Were the Zendikar MDFCs inspired by Duel Masters?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Mark Rosewater (September 2, 2021). "Happy Hunt-ing, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Matt Tabak (September 2, 2021). "Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  15. a b Mark Rosewater (May 21, 2024). "Third Time is the Charm, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  16. a b Mark Rosewater (September 7, 2020). "Zendikar Rising to the Challenge, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Mark Rosewater (August 29, 2011). "Every Two Sides Has a Story". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Monty Ashley (September 21, 2011). "The Two Sides". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater (August 5, 2013). "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Wizards of the Coast (August 28, 2011). "Double-Faced Card Rules". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Matt Tabak (January 27, 2022). "Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Wizards of the Coast (February 9, 2022). "Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Eli Shiffrin (September 10, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Mark Rosewater (September 21, 2020). "More Zendikar Rising Stars". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Mark Rosewater (October 5, 2020). "Odds & Ends: Zendikar Rising". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Matt Tabak (September 1, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater (September 3, 2020). "Going forward, when making cards and deciding split/double-sided cards?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  28. Mark Rosewater (April 20, 2023). "I completely understand the decision to standardize all the symbols on the TDFCs in MOM to the triangle/upside-down triangle.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  29. Mark Rosewater (May 27, 2024). "Do you know why the planeswalkers in MH3 use the generic triangle symbol for DFCs instead of the one used in Magic Origins and M19?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  30. Mark Rosewater (April 2, 2023). "Regarding DFC's, the night/day icons are flavourful and intuitive, but the other DFC icons I feel are not.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  31. Ken Nagle (June 28, 2016). "A Summary of Two Fears". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Mark Rosewater (October 1, 2021). "I do think its confusing that separate mechanics...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  33. Mark Rosewater (October 1, 2021). "You responded to a question with your own...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  34. Ken Nagle (September 5, 2017). "Conquering the Design of Ixalan". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Matt Tabak (September 2, 2021). "Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Drew Nolosco (December 4, 2019). "Heroes of the Realm Promo - Optimus Prime, Inspiring Leader". Reddit.
  37. Transformers TCG (January 11, 2019). "For folks who wanted a close look at the dimensions and folding functionality of the Combiner Character Cards, here's a video of a card in action!". Twitter.
  38. Mark Rosewater (September 6, 2020). "When or When: TDFCs (Triple Double Face Cards)?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  39. Mark Rosewater (January 18, 2022). "If or when: a three+ "sided" MDFC in a digital-only set?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  40. Mark Rosewater (January 18, 2022). "Do you think 3 sided cards could work in Magic, and if so, is it more when or if?". Blogatog. Tumblr.

External links[ | ]

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