Revised Edition/Rules changes
At the start of the game
- Each player should have at least forty cards in his or her deck.
- If they just had started playing, the players randomly selected who went first. Otherwise, the loser of the previous game went first.
- Each player started with a stack of undrawn cards, the library; a space for their discards, the graveyard; and an area to place their cards in, called their territory.
Sequence of play
- Main (in any order)
- Discard down to seven cards, if necessary
- End. Inform opponent you are finished
- Heal creatures
Tap symbol and artifacts
Revised Edition used a new symbol, the tap symbol, when tapping a card was included in the cost of an effect. This eliminated the distinction between "mono" and "poly" artifacts. A First Edition "mono artifact" gained the tap as part of its activation cost, while a "poly artifact" became an artifact without a tap symbol in the cost, and a First Edition "continuous" artifact became an artifact whose ability had no activation cost.
Although this term was used in Limited Edition it wasn't actually defined until Revised. The user of a spell or effect chooses which card(s) are affected by it, then that effect targets those cards, and it won't affect a protected creature. If a player doesn't get to choose - for example a spell that effects "all flying creatures" or "all blue creatures" - then the effect is not targeted and protection won't stop it. (If the non-targeted effect does damage, protection can still reduce the damage to zero.)
In Limited Edition, the term "defending creatures" was not precisely defined, but it was used in a way that implied "any creature on the defending side during an attack, whether blocking or not". Under the Revised rules, "defending creature" is synonymous with "blocking creature". This changed the valid targets for a few spells, like Righteousness.
- Any damage dealt to the creature by a color source is reduced to 0. This includes trample damage.
- The creature cannot be blocked by color creatures.
- The creature cannot be the target of a color spell or effect. This includes creature special effects, like the Nettling Imp. It also means that color Enchant Creatures cannot be cast on that creature.
- Any color enchantments already on the creature are dispelled.
- The creature can be affected by color spells or effects that do not do damage or target it, such as Wrath of God.
- Damage done by this creature can be prevented by color spells and effects, since they target the damage, not the creature.
The attack sequence
The Revised Edition cleaned up the attack sequence a bit, setting restrictions on when fast effects could be used. The attack sequence was now broken down in 9 steps (compared to 4 in First Edition and 5 under modern rules).
- Announce attack; last chance for either player to use pre-attack fast effects.
- Declare and tap attacking creatures.
- Either player may use fast effects.
- Declare blocking.
- Either player may use fast effects. Note that if a blocking creature is removed or a blocked attacking creature rendered unblockable during this segment, the attacking creature is still blocked.
- Assign damage.
- Either player may use damage-prevention, damage-redirection, and/or regeneration fast effects. The only other fast effects that may be used at this time are interrupts and effects feeding off the other spells cast at this time.
- Creature that have lethal damage go to the graveyard.
- Any effects triggered by deaths take place (Vampires gaining counters, Creature Bond deals damage, Soul Net may be used, and so on). Only fast effects triggered by the deaths may be used.
Note that steps 2, 4, 6 and 8 are considered instantaneous. The player may not any fast effects during them.
Steps 6-9 happen twice if the combat includes any creatures with first strike. Steps 6-9 also happen any time that any spell or fast effect causes damage.
Instants no longer take place simultaneously. Instead, after one player announces (and pays for) a spell or fast effect, the other player can respond by announcing fast effects of their own, then the first player again, then the second, and so on, until neither player has any more fast effects they wish to use at that time. Once they've all been announced, they then take effect in reverse order (starting with the last effect announced). Creatures damaged by these fast effects do not go to the graveyard immediately; instead, after all the fast effects have been resolved, there is a damage-resolution step exactly like that at the end of an attack, where damage prevention/redirection and regeneration may be used, after which any creature that still has lethal damage goes to the graveyard.
If one of the effects in the sequence moves a creature of the playing area (either to the graveyard, back to a player's hand, or out of the game entirely) or in any other way makes it an illegal target for an effect, later effects (i.e. cast earlier) will not move it from that location or affect. For example, player A casts Terror on a creature and player B responds with Unsummon; Unsummon moves the creature to his hand and so Terror can't move it to the Graveyard. If player B casts Unsummon first and player A responds with Terror, the Terror moves the creature to the graveyard and the Unsummon can't move it to player B's hand. Note that such removal does not prevent other effects from happening; for example, if a Player A taps a Prodigal Sorcerer to do a point of damage to player B, and that play casts Terror on him, the Prodigal Sorcerer goes to the graveyard and then player B takes a point of damage.
If a creature is no longer in play when the damage-resolution comes around, then the damage is ignored. Under these these rules, fast effects no longer caused "paradox" situations.
Use of fast effects
In Limited Edition, the rules said that fast effects could be used "at any time". This turned out to cause a number of problems and paradoxes, so the Revised rules have removed that definition and instead specify when fast effects may be used. In addition to the times specified above under "The attack sequence", fast effects may be used during the upkeep phase and the main phase, including at the end of the main phase in response to an opponent announcing "done". They may not be used during the untap phase.
Any damage done during the untap phase may be prevented or redirected at the beginning of the upkeep phase. Cards that required payment of mana to untap during the untap phase now untap during the upkeep phase instead.
Under the Revised rules, a sacrifice is a cost that cannot be prevented, and the card goes to the graveyard immediately, at the speed of an interrupt. If a fast effect involves sacrificing a creature, put the creature in the graveyard as soon as the fast effect is announced, rather than waiting until all other fast effects are announced (any benefit or result from the sacrifice still waits until its proper place in the effect-resolution sequence). Even if the spell or effect is countered in some way, the card being sacrificed still gets buried, just as the mana spent on a countered spell is still spent.
Enchantments that become invalid
Under Limited Edition rules, an enchantment stayed around until dispelled, even if the thing it was enchanting changed to something no longer valid for that enchantment. Under the Revised rules, the enchantment is placed in the graveyard when this happens. For example, an artifact has an Animate Artifact cast on it, making it an artifact creature. Now you can cast Enchant Creature spells on it. If the Animate Artifact is removed, all of the Enchant Creatures must be removed as well.
Winning the game
In the Revised Edition, a player loses only if his or her life points are below 1 at the end of a phase or at the start or end of an attack. A player can go below zero and then cast a spell to save him- or herself - even a sorcery or enchantment, if it's the player's own main phase and not during an attack. As in Limited Edition, a player also loses at any time he or she is required to draw a card and has none left in the library.
A few cards had their wording changed:
- Cards that had said "discard (a permanent)" changed to destroy (for example Black Lotus)
- All cards that referred to "loss of life" changed to "damage to player"