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Odds and Ends

Split card: Odds and Ends

Split cards are Magic cards with two card faces on the front side. A split card is literally "split" into two separate cards each with its card name, art, mana cost, text, etc. Split cards can only be instants and sorceries, not permanents.[1]

Description[ | ]

In any zone except the stack, a split card has the combination of both characteristics; while it's on the stack, it only has the characteristics of the half being played. This provides many interesting interactions with cards that create effects based on mana value. For example, if Dark Confidant reveals a split card, you would lose life equal to the total mana value of both sides.

Split cards are considered to be deciduous.[2][3]

History[ | ]

Hit & Run playtest

Original playtest card for Assault // Battery.

Split cards started out as a single design for Unglued 2: The Obligatory Sequel that capitalized on, and played off, the popularity of B.F.M. in the original Unglued.[4] When Unglued 2 was cancelled, split cards were proposed as a mechanic for Invasion block. At the time, only Mark Rosewater, Bill Rose and Richard Garfield thought split cards were a good design idea. Over the course of development, the rest of R&D came around and the cards ended up debuting in Invasion. To build on Invasion's multicolored theme, each half card was from a different color.[5] There was one cycle in allied colors in Invasion and a cycle in enemy colors in Apocalypse.

DGM Promo Breaking and Entering

The Fuse mechanic allows to cast both halves at the same time.

In Dissension each half was a multicolored card from a different guild.[6][7] There were two cycles of split cards, one of allied colors and one of enemy colors, for two spells per guild in total. This led to a legacy of printing split cards during each return to Ravnica. Dragon's Maze introduced split cards with Fuse, an ability that lets you cast both halves as one spell.[8] There was one split card for each guild with a monocolored spell on each side, plus a cycle of double-gold split cards featuring one guild from Return to Ravnica paired with a guild from Gatecrash. Split cards from Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance focus on a single guild, with a smallish hybrid mana effect as one half and a bigger, multicolor mana effect as the other.[9][10][11] There is a set of uncommons and a set of rares, with the art of the rares focuses on the two major characters (the Mythic guildmaster and the Rare guild "champion") in that guild, one personality per side. Due to not being focused on the full complement of color pairs, Murders at Karlov Manor had only one cycle, each being a split card with two hybrid-colored spells that share a color, which let them be played in one color.

Planar Chaos introduced split cards where both halves were the same color (all split cards in Planar Chaos are in a vertical cycle in red). After the introduction of split cards, Unhinged featured Who/What/When/Where/Why which resembled a split card with five different effects, one for each color.

Amonkhet block added split cards with Aftermath, an ability that lets you cast the 'bottom' part only from the graveyard.[12][13] Split cards with aftermath have a new frame treatment — the half you can cast from your hand is oriented the same as other cards you'd cast from your hand, while the half you can cast from your graveyard is a traditional split card half. This frame treatment is for your convenience and has no significance in the rules. There is a cycle of monocolored Aftermath split cards, with two enemy and allied color cycles, going in both directions around the color wheel.

Modern Horizons 2 had three new split cards: one multicolor Aftermath split card in {R}{G}, and two regular monocolored split cards in blue and red.

Modal double-faced cards fit in the same design space as split cards. Because split cards can only be instants and sorceries, MDFCs tend to have at least one side as a permanent. Technically, there could be an MDFC with two instants and/or sorceries with text that couldn’t fit on a split card.[14]

Rules change[ | ]

  • Originally a split card could have three costs when an effect asked for the mana value (formerly converted mana cost (CMC)) - the cost of each side individually, and the cost of both combined. This would allow for interactions such as Isochron Scepter or 3-mana cascade cards casting Bound from Bound // Determined, cheating on mana much more than intended.
  • The Expertise cycle in Aether Revolt was another series of cards that could exploit split cards. During the next set, Amonkhet, the process of determining the mana value of split cards was simplified.[15] The mana value of a split card is always the combination of both halves except on the stack. On the stack, only the half which is cast is considered for color and mana value. This change is mentioned in Rule 709.4.

Naming convention[ | ]

Regular split cards are named with a ”__________ and __________“ convention while Aftermath cards use a ”__________ to __________“ convention.[16][17] Most of them are full phrases, though some are only connected in theme and are not usually used as such (Order // Chaos, Illusion // Reality); Spite // Malice is in fact another card game.

In Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance, the card halves have alliterative names, starting with the same three letters.

Coward // Killer is an "or" question to the Ninth Doctor, while Gallifrey Falls // No More is the name of an artwork, whose name changed when a legion of Doctors save the city of Gallifrey through timeline manipulation. Both are phrases from episodes of Doctor Who.

Rules[ | ]

Destined to Lead

The bottom half of Amonkhet split cards is turned sideways for easy use out of the graveyard

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

Split Cards
Cards with two card faces on a single card. See rule 709, “Split Cards.”

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

  • 709. Split Cards
    • 709.1. Split cards have two card faces on a single card. The back of a split card is the normal Magic card back.
    • 709.2. Although split cards have two castable halves, each split card is only one card. For example, a player who has drawn or discarded a split card has drawn or discarded one card, not two.
    • 709.3. A player chooses which half of a split card they are casting before putting it onto the stack.
      • 709.3a Only the chosen half is evaluated to see if it can be cast. Only that half is considered to be put onto the stack.
      • 709.3b While on the stack, only the characteristics of the half being cast exist. The other half’s characteristics are treated as though they didn’t exist.
      • 709.3c An effect may create a copy of a split card and allow a player to cast the copy. That copy retains the characteristics of the two halves separated into the same two halves as the original card. (See rule 707.12.)
    • 709.4. In every zone except the stack, the characteristics of a split card are those of its two halves combined. This is a change from previous rules.
      • 709.4a Each split card has two names. If an effect instructs a player to choose a card name and the player wants to choose a split card’s name, the player must choose one of those names and not both. An object has the chosen name if one of its names is the chosen name.
      • 709.4b The mana cost of a split card is the combined mana costs of its two halves. A split card’s colors and mana value are determined from its combined mana cost. An effect that refers specifically to the symbols in a split card’s mana cost sees the separate symbols rather than the whole mana cost.

        Example: Assault//Battery’s mana cost is {3}{R}{G}. It’s a red and green card with a mana value of 5. If you cast Assault, the resulting spell is a red spell with a mana value of 1.

        Example: Fire//Ice’s mana cost is {2}{U}{R}. It has the same mana cost as Steam Augury, but an effect such as that of Jegantha, the Wellspring sees that it contains the mana symbol {1} twice.

      • 709.4c A split card has each card type specified on either of its halves and each ability in the text box of each half.
      • 709.4d The characteristics of a fused split spell on the stack are also those of its two halves combined (see rule 702.102, “Fuse”).

Rulings[ | ]

  • Split cards have two card faces on a single card. The characteristics of the half you didn't cast are ignored while the spell is on the stack.[18]
  • Each split card is a single card. For example, if you discard a split card, you've discarded one card, not two. If an effect counts the number of sorcery cards in your graveyard, Assault // Battery counts once, not twice.
  • Each split card has two names. If an effect instructs you to choose a card name, you may choose one of those names, but not both.
  • A split card's characteristics are a combination of its two halves while it is not on the stack. For example, Assault // Battery has a mana value of 5 while it is in your library. If an effect allows you to search your library for a card with a mana value of 4 or less, you can't find Assault // Battery.
  • If an effect allows you to cast a spell with certain characteristics, consider only the characteristics of the half you're casting. For example, if an effect allows you to cast a sorcery spell with a mana value of 2 or less from among cards in your graveyard, you could cast Assault this way, but not Battery.

Notable split cards[ | ]

See also[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (October 10, 2018). "Could a split card feature a creature/creatures?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. Mark Rosewater (June 30, 2017). "What mechanics and tools are currently considered Deciduous?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (March 28, 2022). "Deciduous". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (August 4, 2023). "How Trivial with Mark Rosewater (Video)". Magic: The Gathering. YouTube.
  5. Mark Rosewater (February 11, 2002). "Split Decisions". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (April 17, 2006). "Split (Odds &) Ends". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Aaron Forsythe (April 28, 2006). "The Truth about Split Cards". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (April 15, 2013). "A Maze-ing Grace, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Doug Beyer on Twitter
  10. Corbin Hosler (September 10, 2018). "Guilds of Ravnica Split Cards". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Matt Tabak (September 4, 2018). "Guilds of Ravnica Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Matt Tabak (April 3, 2017). "Amonkhet Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Ethan Fleischer (April 4, 2017). "Five Trials". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (September 3, 2020). "Going forward, when making cards and deciding split/double-sided cards?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Eli Shiffrin (April 4, 2017). "Amonkhet Split Card Rules Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (April 03, 2017). "Is the naming convention for the new aftermath cards still and (Fire and Ice) or has it changed?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. Mark Rosewater (September 11, 2018). "How do you say the new Split cards names?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  18. Jess Dunks and Matt Tabak (January 6, 2023). "Dominaria Remastered Release Notes". Wizards of the Coast.