Double-faced card

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Double-faced card: Daybreak Ranger can transform into Nightfall Predator on its backside

Double-faced cards (DFCs) in Magic have a regular card frame on each side, and no card back. The similar meld cards have only half a regular card on the card back.

History[edit | edit source]

Double-faced cards were introduced in the Innistrad block. All these cards featured the keyword action transform (turn it over so that its other face is up).

Double-faced cards returned in Magic Origins where one side featured a legendary creature, and the other side features 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 again 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 a specific other 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 711.1d below), though they occupy the DFC slot in a Shadows over Innistrad booster pack.[5] There are 3 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 15 regular DFCs in Eldritch Moon.

Since June 2017, double-faced cards are considered to be deciduous.[6] Ten of them appeared in Ixalan - one of each color, and five artifacts - highlighting the tales and tools of discovery.[7] Another seven double-faced cards appeared in Rivals of Ixalan, one of each enemy color pair and 2 artifacts. Double-faced cards were now an infrequent thing. The short time between Shadows over Innistrad and Ixalan was not meant to be a precedent.[8]

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

R&D came to realize that there was a lot more of design space to be explored in double-faced cards.[9]

Zendikar Rising introduced Modal Double-faced cards (MDFCs).[10] While the original Double-faced cards were inspired by the Hasbro Duel Masters game, MDFCs were inspired by split cards.[11]

Description[edit | edit source]

Transforming double-faced cards[edit | edit source]

Transforming double-faced cards (TDFCs[12]) represented a radical change for the card back.[13][14][15][16] Until their release, no legal card could have a different print on the back than the regular Magic card back.

Thematically, double-faced cards represent something that undergoes a major transformation, hence the keyword action. In the Innistrad sets, many are werewolves or fledgling vampires. In Magic Origins and Core Set 2019 they are planeswalkers whose spark is igniting. In Ixalan sets, they represent the journey into uncharted territory and the discovery of new locales.

Most double-faced cards (68 out of 103, not counting meld cards) are creatures that transform into other creatures, although there are exceptions:

Double-faced is a referable property for a card: Moonmist's reminder text refers to double-faced cards.

Modal double-faced cards[edit | edit source]

Modal double-faced cards (MDFCs[12]) were introduced in Zendikar Rising.[17][18][19]

Like previous 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.[20] 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 back side has two triangles {dfc-back} and a different card frame with a 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 a permanent. Technically, there could be a MDFC with two instants and/or sorceries with text that couldn’t fit on a split card.[21]

Zendikar Rising also introduced "helper card"s, a substitute card for the actual double-faced card when playing without opaque sleeves. When playing with opaque sleeves, the helper cards are optional.

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (November 20, 2020—Commander Legends)

Double-Faced Cards
Cards with two faces, one on each side of the card, and no Magic card back. See rule 711, “Double-Faced Cards.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (November 20, 2020—Commander Legends)

  • 711. Double-Faced Cards
    • 711.1. A double-faced card has a Magic card face on each side rather than a Magic card face on one side and a Magic card back on the other. There are two kinds of double-faced cards. Transforming double-faced cards include abilities on one or both of their faces that allow the card to “transform” (turn over to its other face) or allow the card to enter the battlefield “transformed” (with its back face up). Modal double-faced cards have two faces that are independent from one another and can’t transform.
      • 711.1a A transforming double-faced card’s front face is marked by a front-face symbol in its upper left corner. 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 and Shadows over Innistrad 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.
      • 711.1b A transforming double-faced card’s back face is marked by a back-face symbol in its upper left corner. 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 and Shadows over Innistrad 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.
      • 711.1c 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.
      • 711.1d 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.
      • 711.1e 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.
      • 711.1f 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.
      • 711.1g Meld cards have a Magic card face on one side and half of an oversized Magic card face on the other. These aren’t double-faced cards and are subject to their own set of rules. See rule 712, “Meld Cards.”
    • 711.2. Players who are allowed to look at a double-faced card may look at both faces.
    • 711.3. 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.
    • 711.4. Each face of a double-faced card has its own set of characteristics.
      • 711.4a 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.
      • 711.4b While a transforming double-faced spell is on the stack or a transforming double-faced permanent has its front face up, it has only the characteristics of its front face.
      • 711.4c While a transforming double-faced permanent has its back face up, it has only the characteristics of its back face. However, its converted mana cost is calculated using the mana cost of its front face. If a permanent is copying the back face of a transforming double-faced card (even if the card representing that copy is itself a double-faced card), the converted mana cost of that permanent is 0.
      • 711.4d 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.
    • 711.5. Only permanents represented by transforming double-faced cards can transform. (See rule 701.28, “Transform.”) If a spell or ability instructs a player to transform any permanent that 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.

    • 711.6. If a spell or ability instructs a player to transform a permanent, and the face that permanent would transform into is represented by an instant or sorcery card face, nothing happens.
    • 711.7. If a transforming double-faced card is cast as a spell, it’s put on the stack with its front face up. A player casting a modal double-faced card as a spell chooses which face they are casting before putting it onto the stack. See rule 601, “Casting Spells.”
      • 711.7a 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.
    • 711.8. A player playing 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.”
    • 711.9. A resolving transforming double-faced spell is put onto the battlefield front face up. A resolving modal double-faced spell that becomes a permanent is put onto the battlefield with the same face up that was face up on the stack.
    • 711.10. 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.
      • 711.10a If a spell or ability puts a transforming double-faced card onto the battlefield “transformed,” 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, that card stays in its current zone.
      • 711.10b 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.
    • 711.11. 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 707, “Face-Down Spells and Permanents.”
      • 711.11a While face down, a transforming double-faced permanent can’t transform. If it’s turned face up, it will have its front face up.
    • 711.12. 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.
    • 711.13. 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.”
    • 711.14. When a transforming double-faced permanent transforms, it doesn’t become a new object. Any effects that applied to that permanent will continue to apply to it after it transforms.

      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.

    • 711.15. If an effect instructs a player to choose a card name, the player may name either face of a double-faced card but not both.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (November 20, 2020—Commander Legends)

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 711, “Double-Faced Cards.”

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (November 20, 2020—Commander Legends)

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 711, “Double-Faced Cards.”

Playing with double-faced cards[edit | edit source]

The Innistrad block double-faced cards have an icon next to the name representing a sun {dfc-sun} or a moon {dfc-moon}. The front of the card is called the "day" side and has a regular card frame, a mana cost, and the sun symbol. The back or "night" side has 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 back-side.

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), which was the front face but still lacked a mana cost.

Creatures from Eldritch Moon that transform into colorless Eldrazi have a 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.[22] 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.

Double-sided cards enter the battlefield with their front ("day") 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. The Magic Origins double-faced cards and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager from Core Set 2019 are creatures on one face and planeswalkers on the other; rather than simply transform, they are instead exiled and then returned to the battlefield transformed so that they enter the battlefield as planeswalkers and receive the appropriate number of loyalty counters.

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. Each set with double-faced cards has 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.

Card rulings[edit | edit source]

  • 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 transform, 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.
  • With the exception of 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 all times until the next pick 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 card 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 to draft events having no double-faced card 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[edit | edit source]

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.[23] The card is hinged in the center and folds in half. Transformers TCG uses this tech for Combiners and Triple-changer characters.[24] The technology has also been used in the Hasbro Duel Masters game.[25]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  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. Matt Tabak (August 28, 2017). "Ixalan Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. 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.
  9. Mark Rosewater (December 2, 2019). "More Maro on Maro". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Matt Tabak (September 1, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater (September 5, 2020). "Were the Zendikar MDFCs inspired by Duel Masters?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. a b Mark Rosewater (September 7, 2020). "Zendikar Rising to the Challenge, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (August 29, 2011). "Every Two Sides Has a Story". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Monty Ashley (September 21, 2011). "The Two Sides". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (August 5, 2013). "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Wizards of the Coast (August 28, 2011). "Double-Faced Card Rules". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Eli Shiffrin (September 10, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Mark Rosewater (September 21, 2020). "More Zendikar Rising Stars". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater (October 5, 2020). "Odds & Ends: Zendikar Rising". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Matt Tabak (September 1, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Mark Rosewater (September 3, 2020). "Going forward, when making cards and deciding split/double sided cards?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  22. Ken Nagle (June 28, 2016). "A Summary of Two Fears". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Drew Nolosco (December 4, 2019). "Heroes of the Realm Promo - Optimus Prime, Inspiring Leader". Reddit.
  24. 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.
  25. Mark Rosewater (September 6, 2020). "When or When: TDFCs (Triple Double Face Cards)?". Blogatog. Tumblr.

External links[edit | edit source]