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Errata are official changes to rules text or type line on cards, often to clarify card effects or to preserve the effects of cards as the rules of the game change.

Description[ | ]

The official texts of all Magic cards are stored in a document maintained by Wizards of the Coast called the Oracle. The only official way to get the Oracle wordings is from Gatherer. In the early days of Magic it wasn't unusual for cards to get huge gameplay-changing errata.[1] Nowadays, functional errata (errata that functionally change what the card did from its original printing) are mostly avoided. Sometimes overall rules are changed, and that may impact how particular cards work. The functionality of individual cards is usually not tampered with anymore.[2] Power errata (changing cards with errata so they work differently) are avoided at all cost.[3][4] This is to avoid players having cards not doing what their text state.

With a greater spotlight on designed-for-digital cards in the MTG Arena age, rebalancing digital-only cards can be considered a form of errata. There are no permanent records of such text changes, unlike for errata of paper cards. However, Rebalanced card tries to help remedy this by creating a record of changes.

Errata are addendums in publications noting errors in previous printings, and as such are grammatically nouns; the verbiage is meant to be "issue an errata", and the act itself should merely be considered "corrected". However, the slang term erratad or errata'd has become common parlance in the Magic sphere.

Examples[ | ]

Continuous artifacts[ | ]

Continuous artifacts used to have a special rule that said they turned off when tapped.[5] This caused us all sorts of problems because designers and players kept forgetting that this rule existed and broken decks kept exploiting it. A classic example of this problem in action was the card Sands of Time, from Visions. The first premier event to use Visions cards was the first Magic Invitational, held in Hong Kong. Sands of Time tapped things untapped and untapped things tapped. It was designed as a weird card that you had to make a workaround for. Unfortunately, the "shut it off" rule allowed players to abuse the card by only having it work on the opponent's turn. After some abuse, R&D was forced to issue errata. When R&D was working on the Sixth Edition rule change, it was brought up that the "tapped artifacts shut off" rule was confusing, non-intuitive, and constantly causing problems. In the new rules, all artifacts worked the way they were worded regardless of tapped status. The solution at the time was that the handful of cards that R&D wanted to turn off when tapped received extra rules text.[6] Both Howling Mine and Winter Orb got errata to read "if this is untapped," allowing the same tricks to work on them without having to have the general rule.

Years later, R&D chose to undo functional errata and some of the cards, like Winter Orb, went back to their original wording, no longer shutting off when tapped,[7] although Winter Orb's functionality was restored with the release of Eternal Masters. They left alone cards like Howling Mine and Static Orb, though, that had been reprinted with the new errata, as there were more cards with the errata in print than without.[8][9]

Time Vault[ | ]

In April 1996, Time Vault was issued errata to give it time counters. To take an extra turn, you would have to remove the "time counter", and not simply tap Time Vault. You could only add a "time counter" by skipping a turn. The idea was to provide wording that would prevent the use of cards like Twiddle to take extra turns. Time Vault was later issued multiple errata again.[10][11]

"Free Creatures"[ | ]

Effective March 1, 1999, the following errata was issued for the "free" creatures (Cloud of Faeries, Great Whale, Palinchron, and Peregrine Drake): "When [this creature] comes into play, if you played it from your hand, untap up to [the appropriate number] lands." Also, Priest of Gix received the following errata: "When Priest of Gix comes into play if you played it from your hand, add [three black mana] to your mana pool." (This should be treated as if there were actual mana symbols in the text box.) Later that year, related errata was issued to Karmic Guide, Treachery and Iridescent Drake.

In explaining the implications of the errata, Bill Rose (Magic lead designer) had this to say: "With this template, it's obvious you don't get to untap lands (or in the case of Priest of Gix, add mana to your mana pool) when you put the creature directly into play with an ability such as Recurring Nightmares or Sneak Attacks. Remember that 'played' is not the same as 'put into play.'"

All these errata were undone with the sweeping changes that returned cards to their printed versions.

Lion's Eye Diamond[ | ]

Lion's Eye Diamond was issued the errata text "Play this ability only any time you could play an instant" because R&D didn't want players to be able to use the mana from Lion's Eye Diamond to play a card from their hand. With the errata text, players couldn't pull shenanigans like that.[12][13] This was one errata that was retained despite no further printings, as its power was too high otherwise.

Creature types[ | ]

Main article: Creature type/History

The Grand Creature Type Update (when R&D "added creature types all over older cards") was an attempt to make all the cards do what people believed they did.[14] R&D later considered the Grand Creature Update to have been a mistake because too many cards didn't do what they said.[15][16][17][18]

This was also the reason that R&D didn't want to retroactively make Chromanticore or the Nephilim legendary.[19][20][21] Becoming Legendary would also cause gameplay differences, something that is more than cosmetic.

In 2021 the great Phyrexian update was another massive creature-type update. While many had obvious tells such as being named "Phyrexian ~" or legendary creatures that were Phyrexian in the story, some others had no obvious tell.

Ajani's Pridemate[ | ]

Ajani's Pridemate received functional errata during the Ravnica Allegiance oracle update, in anticipation of its appearance in Challenger Decks 2019.[22] This errata removed the optional part of the card's triggered ability. This was done because tournament policy doesn't get you a penalty anymore when missing beneficial triggers, to make the card look and read better on paper, and to improve digital play.

Lifelink[ | ]

Lifelink, as introduced as a keyword in Future Sight, worked as a triggered ability that gained life after damage was dealt. When keyworded, many older cards with that ability were given errata to have lifelink. However, this meant that lethal damage would be dealt to the target before the lifelink trigger resolved. The result was that the prior errata was removed from all "lifelink" cards released before Future Sight, restoring their original wording.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria[ | ]

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was a contentious card due to its power, but more due to the painfully slow method of winning in which Teferi would -3 on himself, preventing its owner from decking once they had exiled all their opponent's permanents with his emblem. The erratum was ultimately an increase to Teferi's power, as the first ability would untap an opponent's lands if his controller's lands were all untapped; it was given errata to say "up to".

References[ | ]

  1. Sam Stoddard (June 13, 2014). "Developmental Mistakes". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (December 22, 2014). "Doesn't keywording abilities potentially cause some functional changes?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (March 22, 2012). "Why can't you just reprint Doubling Season with the rules text?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater (October 23, 2012). "Pleading again for the nth time: Can you please errata all "Kindle" cards to have their own subtype?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater (May 12, 2014). "In My Day…". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Ben Bleiweiss (April 10, 2002). "Off and On". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Matt Tabak (May 4, 2011). "May 2011 Update Bulletin". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (May 12, 2014). "Howling Mine definitely was, but Winter Orb doesn't say that on Gatherer. What gives?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Mark Rosewater (January 28, 2015). "Gasp! Howling Mine had functional eratta!". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. {{WebRef|url= Ex Errata: Debating the Changes to Time Vault|author=Stephen Menendian|date=April 28, 2006|publisher=Star City Games}
  11. Filobel (Movember 16, 2014). "Evolution of Magic: The Roller Coaster called Time Vault". MTGgoldfish.
  12. Mark Gottlieb (December 9, 2003). "Ask Wizards: question about the errata text on Lion's Eye Diamond.". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (April 22, 2016). "The "Activate only as an instant" clause is functional errata, no?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Mark Rosewater (October 11, 2011). "Except when it comes to creature types getting added all over older cards?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Mark Rosewater (March 16, 2014). "Is the number of cards that would have to be rewritten really more than the Grand Creature Type Update?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  16. Mark Rosewater (March 17, 2014). "The Grand Creature Update was a mistake? Why?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. Mark Rosewater (May 15, 2013). "Is retroactively applying creature types considered "functional errata"?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  18. Mark Rosewater (August 01, 2017). "Why is it that creature types get a pass, given that they do have gameplay repercussions?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  19. Mark Rosewater (December 15, 2016). "Any chance we'll see Chromanticore errata'd to legendary?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  20. Mark Rosewater (April 30, 2016). "Could the Nephilim not just be errated to be legendary?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  21. Mark Rosewater (June 03, 2014). "Why can't you change card types to be legendary such as the case for the Nephilim?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  22. Eli Shiffrin (January 22, 2019). "Ravnica Allegiance Oracle Changes". Wizards of the Coast.