Monday, 4 August 2014

Oracle Review - Glyph of Delusion and Takklemaggot

That is a lot of card text, and the oracle just makes things worse. One of these cards is just a soap box for me, the other is a wording nightmare.


Glyph of Delusion
When I reviewed Life Matrix I suggested a modification of the rules that would allow counters to easily add text to cards. Glyph of Delusion is an ideal candidate, but let's look at the actual Oracle text:
Put X glyph counters on target creature that target Wall blocked this turn, where X is the power of that blocked creature. The creature gains "This creature doesn't untap during your untap step if it has a glyph counter on it" and "At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a glyph counter from this creature."
This card actually highlights a problem with the rule I proposed. I said that counters with text should add that text to the card, but looking at this card and at other cards that would be affected by this rule, I realize that part of the rule should be that multiple counters of the same name with the same text do not cumulatively apply the text. I had proposed the following:
121.1.d A counter with rules text adds that rules text to the permanent or card that it is on.
But instead it should say:
121.1.d A permanent with one or more counters with a particular piece of rules text has that piece of rules text.
That way we could make Glyph of Delusion say:
Put X glyph counters with "This creature does not untap during your untap step." and "At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a glyph counter from this creature." on target creature that target Wall blocked this turn, where X is the power of that blocked creature.
With my improved 121.1.d this wording would work great. The creature would only have one copy of each ability, so you wouldn't be removing all the counters in the first upkeep as you could with that text and my original iteration of 121.1.d.

But my proposed rule and wording functionally changes the card. As the card is now, if you cast a second Glyph of Delusion targeting the same creature, two counters would come off every turn because it would have the ability that removed the counter twice. I'm not sure if this is more true to the original wording or not. It feels like my wording is probably better.

I think once again the question is what you think should happen if you Fate Transfer the counters to another creature. I know what the rules say, but think back to when this card was printed. If Fate Transfer were in the same set, how would those early Magic players have thought they were supposed to interpret those cards? I think the answer is clear, that moving the counters should, if possible, move the effect. My proposed rule makes that work easily.

As it is, I'm going to go ahead and give Glyph of Delusion...

But they should definitely adopt my change to the rules


Takklemaggot
So close but not quite. This card has quite a mouthful of an Oracle wording.
Enchant creature 
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, put a -0/-1 counter on that creature.
When enchanted creature dies, that creature's controller chooses a creature that Takklemaggot could enchant. If he or she does, return Takklemaggot to the battlefield under your control attached to that creature. If he or she doesn't, return Takklemaggot to the battlefield under your control as a non-Aura enchantment. It loses "enchant creature" and gains "At the beginning of that player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her."
This wording basically captures the original card but I think it has a real flaw in it. Let's go through the process that happens when that last ability triggers. The creature dies and the ability triggers. Immediately thereafter Takklemaggot is probably put into its owner's graveyard by state-based effects. When the ability resolves Takklemaggot uses last known information to determine the controller of the now dead creature it was enchanting.

That player chooses a creature that Takklemaggot can legally enchant. But if there aren't any then the controller of Takklemaggot at the time the ability triggered puts it onto the battlefield under his or her control and makes some modifications to it.

They then control Takklemaggot, a non-aura enchantment with the following text:
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, put a -0/-1 counter on that creature.
When enchanted creature dies, that creature's controller chooses a creature that Takklemaggot could enchant. If he or she does, return Takklemaggot to the battlefield under your control attached to that creature. If he or she doesn't, return Takklemaggot to the battlefield under your control as a non-Aura enchantment. It loses "enchant creature" and gains "At the beginning of that player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her."
At the beginning of that player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her.

Can you tell me what that permanent does? Obviously the first two abilities refer to the "enchanted creature" and there is none, so neither of them will do anything. So let's look at that last ability. Who is "that player"?

This appears to want to be a linked ability. The ability printed on Takklemaggot is supposed to be linked, but linked to what? The ability that created it was on a Takklemaggot that time has forgotten - the Takklemaggot that the Takklemaggot card was the last time it was in play. Linked abilities have to be printed on the same card. There is an exception to this, Rule 607.1a states that:
An ability printed on an object within another ability that grants that ability to that object is still considered to be “printed on” that object for these purposes.
Uh... what? I think this is just telling you abilities can still be linked if they are granted by some other source, but I'll honestly admit that sentence doesn't parse for me.

At any rate, I don't see how an ability can be linked to an ability that is on another permanent that existed at a different time. It certainly doesn't match any of the kinds of linked abilities listed in 607.2a through 607.2j. There is nothing on this enchantment that tells you who to do the damage to. I think Takklemaggot remembers the ability that put it into play, but I don't see how the phrase, "At the beginning of that player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her." can possibly call it to mind.

Instead, I believe Takklemaggot should add the text:
At the beginning of the upkeep of the player who failed to choose a creature for Takklemaggot to enchant when Takklemaggot was put into play, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her.
If Takklemaggot cannot remember that player. Instead the last sentence of Takklemaggot's text might be replaced by:
As Takklemaggot enters the battlefield choose that player. Takklemaggot gains "At the beginning of the chosen player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her."
I'm not really sure this would work. It looks to me like because the "choosing" ability is not printed on Takklemaggot it wouldn't be linked to the damage ability. So if we wanted it to be really air tight, we'd replace Takklemaggot's third ability with the following:
When enchanted creature dies, that creature's controller chooses a creature that Takklemaggot could enchant. If he or she does, return Takklemaggot to the battlefield under your control attached to that creature. If he or she doesn't, Takklemaggot gains "As Takklemaggot enters the battlefield, choose a player" and "At the beginning of the chosen player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her." Then return Takklemaggot to the battlefield as a non-Aura enchantment except it keeps "As Takklemaggot enters the battlefield, choose a plyer" and "At the beginning of the chosen player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to him or her." If you would choose a player as Takklemaggot enters the battlefield in this way, you must choose the enchanted creature's controller. If you cannot choose enchanted creature's controller, instead do not choose a player.
I don't see any way around that wording working perfectly. I hope everything I am doing there is clear. I'm creating a linked ability so that Takklemaggot will remember which player it is damaging. The choose-a-player part has to be on Takklemaggot before it enters the battlefield since it is an "as it enters" trigger, as does the other ability so that they will be linked. I need to state that Takklemaggot doesn't forget it has those abilities when it enters the battlefield. Then I restrict the choice to choosing the one correct player. That last line is there so that if the player in question has left the game by the time the ability resolves, you don't get to ignore the part where you only get to choose them as a result of not being able to choose them.

As it stands, I can't promise you that Takklemaggot doesn't work. I can't find the rule that say it does, though. I feel like I'm forced to give it...


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