Ixalan, the 76th Magic: The Gathering expansion, was released on Friday. Featuring dinosaurs and pirates, I had thought that what I'd love about this set most would be squishing my opponents while borne upon the backs of giant reptiles, and possibly wearing a jaunty tricorne hat. Yet the thing that excited me most about building my next deck was a simple rule change.
In Magic: The Gathering, there are very powerful cards called "Planeswalkers". Planeswalkers operate differently to most other cards, as they have abilities they can activate without tapping your mana. Instead, they use a loyalty counter system, which also doubles as the Planeswalker's health. Typically a Planeswalker will have one ability that adds a small number of counters; another more powerful ability that removes a larger number; and a third, most powerful ability that removes the greatest number.
Planeswalkers are extremely powerful beings in the lore of Magic: The Gathering, and there are multiple cards that feature each Planeswalker character. For example, in the Ixalan expansion alone there are two Planeswalker cards featuring Planeswalker Jace Beleren: Jace, Cunning Castaway and Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage. "Jace" is a Planeswalker type, while "Jace, Cunning Castway" is the card's name.
Previously, under the "Planeswalker uniqueness rule", players were only allowed to have one Planeswalker of each type on the battlefield at any one time. So even if you had both Jaces in the same deck, you would not be allowed to have both in play on the battlefield at the same time.
Then everything changed when the rule change attacked.
The Planeswalker uniqueness rule is being retired, replaced instead with the "legend rule" that already governs legendary cards. The legend rule dictates that a player cannot control two or more legendary permanents with the same name at the same time. If a player find themselves in a situation where they do, they must put the duplicate legendary cards into their owner's graveyards until only one remains. Matt Tabak from Wizards Of The Coast explains:
Under the new rules, if a player controls more than one legendary planeswalker with the same name, that player chooses one and puts the other into their owner's graveyard. This means that if you control Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and cast Jace, Cunning Castaway, both Jaces can exist under your control.
This means you can have Jace, Cunning Castaway and Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage fighting side by side on the battlefield. Not only that, but, depending upon which format and rules you're playing by, you could also add Jace, Unraveler of Secrets; Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Jace, the Living Guildpact; Jace, Telepath Unbound; Jace, Memory Adept; Jace, Architect of Thought; and straight up original recipe Jace Beleren.
Is this slightly lore-breaking? Maybe. Do I care? Not even a little.
Unfortunately I didn't find any Jaces amongst the four rare or mythic rare cards included in my nine-card Buy-a-Box promo pack -- a special booster included in Ixalan for anyone who purchases a booster box. But I have 36 boosters in which to search, the outcome of which may result in the creation of a Being Jace Beleren deck.
Come at me.