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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Big Mystery of Innistrad: Day/Night Mechanic EXPLAINED!

(All information comes from here: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/157b)

A funny thing happened a few days ago. A promo image came up on MTGSalvation.com, seemingly showing two sides of the same creature.

Image from MTGSalvation.com Forums
It looks like this is a Mayor of Avabruck that can somehow become Howlpack Alpha. Notice the "3/3" and the arrow-like direction signaler pointing to the right side of the card. One part of the card appears to have a sun symbol and the other a moon symbol, seemingly depicting a Day and Night side.

"Wait...what does this mean?" people asked. They examined the card picture. "It's gotta be 2 sides of the same creature. I wonder how they'll pull that off..."

"Are we sure it's the same creature and not 2 different cards?" Answer: "It's 193a for the Mayor side and 193b for the Howlpack side."

"Maybe they'll use tokens for the Night side?" "Maybe they'll put the Night side on the back of the card's Day side." "Fools! They never printed an alternate card back BECAUSE of problems playing with different card backs."

Well...tonight we got our answer.

It's PAX Prime this weekend, and since at least last year Wizards of the Coast throws a party to celebrate the upcoming new set.

They revealed 3 Night/Day cards...but didn't reveal HOW they'd work.

Then we got our answer at Midnight.


1) The Basics
Day/Night cards will be double-sided cards. That's correct! For the first time in a tournament-legal Magic release, some cards will not have a traditional "Deckmasters" card back.

Day and most Night cards will have a "transform" ability. This will be a condition that, when met, forces you to flip the card from one face to the other.


From MTGSalvation.com
So let's say it's your turn. On your upkeep, you check to see if anyone cast any spells in the previous turn. If they did not, you get to transform (flip over) Gatstaf Shepherd into this...

Image from MTGSalvation.com
So if you can somehow keep your opponent from casting spells, you'll get this guy on your next upkeep. Not bad, eh? 2 mana potentially nets a 3/3 Green Werewolf creature with Intimidate.

"Wait...it's got no mana symbols. Do you know it's green because of the border?"

Nope! There's an official way to tell the color. See the green dot right directly to the left of the word "Creature" in the type line (just below the illustration)? That dot denotes the creature's color(s). So Gatstaf Howler is green because the colored dot next to "Creature" is green, not because the frame is green.

But now we see another Transform Trigger: At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform Gatstaf Howler. So on ANY upkeep, if ANY player cast two or more spells during the last turn, guess what you get back?

And on your turn, in order to get your 3/3 back, you'll have to cast nothing so on your opponent's upkeep you can transform into the Howler.

Easy as mud? lol!

Let's try this again. Pay attention to Screeching Bat in this 3-card picture.

Image from MTGSalvation.com

Screeching Bat is normally a 2/2 black Bat creature with Flying and a Transform Trigger. You may pay 2BB on your upkeep to transform the bat. What does it transform into? Just FLIP THE CARD OVER!

Image from MTGSalvation.com
It now becomes a black 5/5 Vampire creature named Stalking Vampire with ANOTHER Transform Trigger. (Quiz question: How do I know it's a black creature? If you said "because of the black dot next to 'Creature'", you've got the hang of it!) If you pay 2BB again during your upkeep, you transform Stalking Vampire. What does it transform into?

If you guessed the Screeching Bat, you're right! You would just flip the card back over.

NOW, then, here's the million dollar question...HOW THE HELL DOES DECK-BUILDING WORK WITH THESE DOUBLE-SIDED CARDS!?!?!?

2) Deck Construction with Double-Sided Cards

Since Double-Sided Cards don't have a normal Magic "Deckmaster" card back, if left unsleeved they'd be marked cards and you'd get penalized.

Wizards of the Coast thought of 2 solutions to this.

A) Play with Opaque Sleeves
The easiest way for a player to solve the problem is to just get opaque sleeves. Then the sleeves' backs will be showing and you'll have no problems. If you need to Transform a card, just take it out of its sleeves, flip the card over, and put it back in the sleeve.

If you do use opaque sleeves, be sure that the DAY side is the one that's showing initially face-up at all times except when in the transformed state, which can only happen on the Battlefield. The day side is the side with the mana cost, making it the default position.

B) Play with Checklist Cards
In most packs of Innistrad, you'll find what's called a "Checklist Card" and looks like this...

Image from MTGSalvation.com

Checklist Cards have a normal Magic back side. If you are not using sleeves or do not wish to use the actual double-faced cards in deck construction, you can replace them with these Checklist Cards and use them to stand in for the double-faced card on a 1-to-1 basis (that is, for every one double-sided card you take out, you use exactly 1 Checklist Card to replace it).

To properly use a Checklist Card, first take a double-faced card from your deck and set it off to the side. Then, take a Checklist Card and fill in the bubble next to the DAY SIDE'S CARD NAME. Then put the Checklist Card into your deck. There, it'll act as the double-faced card you said it'll represent until you're ready to actually use the double-faced card in play.

If you use a Checklist Card to replace at least one double-faced card, all other double-faced cards MUST be replaced by Checklist Cards. Also, a single Checklist Card replaces exactly one double-faced card.

So lets say you have no sleeves but want to use a Gatstaf Shepherd/Gatstaf Howler and a Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire.

First, take out the Gatstaf Shepherd/Gatstaf Howler. Set it off to the side.
Next, take a Checklist Card and fill in the bubble next to Gatstaf Shepherd. Remember, only the DAY names are listed, so don't go looking for Gatstaf Howler anywhere on the Checklist Card.
Finally, put the Checklist Card in your deck face-down like a regular Magic card.

Repeat that process to replace your Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire, but instead fill in the bubble next to Screeching Bat instead of Gatstaf Shepherd.

BE SURE TO USE A WRITING UTENSIL THAT WILL NOT SHOW UP ON THE BACK OF THE CARD. Any issues with that will result in your card being considered marked.

Clear as mud? GOOD! Play Magic Online. It'll be a lot easier, I'm sure. lol!!!

Now here's yet another question...what about drafting!?!?!?!?

3) Drafting with Double-Faced Cards
Drafting can get pretty tricky with double-sided cards. While they're still in their packs (as in, not yet picked), they are OPEN INFORMATION. A player may choose to show either side of a double-faced card and is not required to hide any information on it. However, players may take reasonable steps to conceal the identity of any double-faced cards. Regular-faced cards still follow the same hidden information rules: No player can look at a single-sided card except the person who's currently picking from among cards in that pack.

As for when you do pick a Double-Sided Card, you have a few options. Universally, as of Innistrad, you are not required to keep your drafted cards in the same pick order as how you picked them. While we do things more casually at SMM and already follow this new rule, keep in mind for the next few weeks at DCI-sanctioned events that technically you should not be putting cards out of order from how you picked them.

What this now allows is for you to be able to hide more effectively any double-sided cards you pick (though it's not just double-faced cards that can be put in out of order). For example, if your 5th pick is a double-faced card, you could grab a Checklist Card, put it on the bottom of your draft pile, and start piling up your double-faced cards right above it however you wish ("face up"/Day version showing once you go through your pile, or "face down"/Night version showing as you go through your pile).

Other than that, there's no change in how they're drafted.

And to wrap up, we have a mechanics issue...WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COPY A DOUBLE-FACED CARD?

4) Copying Double-Faced Cards
This one actually gets pretty simple. See, cards that make copies don't have a double face. So if they were to "transform", they'd just turn face-down...if they transformed.

There's a new rule to take care of this, mostly for "copy" cards.

Any non Double-Faced Card that would transform instead does not.

So let's say you have Clone copy a Gatstaf Howler, the Night version of Gatstaf Shepherd. Then a player casts 2 spells after you copy the Howler. On the very next upkeep, you check. A player DID cast 2 or more spells, so Gatstaf Howler transforms back into Gatstaf Shepherd. BUT CLONE, on the other hand, has no back side to transform into. Therefore, Clone just sits there, still as a copy of Gatstaf Howler. :)

I hope that was all clear as mud for you all. lol! I'm sure there will be lots of questions. Feel free to post them here or E-mail me.

I'll be back later today with more reveals from Innistrad...including some enemy-paired dual lands, a new keyword, and a new Aura supbtype. :)


  1. Thx just opened a booster with one of these cards, lol scared the hell out of me

  2. lol. Seriously? Where do you play, out of curiosity?