Fans of Magic: The Gathering’s surveil and landfall can rejoice, as Wizards of the Coast has released a surprise update to its official card database to formally add the mechanics to lots of older cards.
Widespread errata to existing cards like this is incredibly rare, with the last one on this scale being the great Phyrexian update of early 2021’s Kaldheim. That being said, it’s difficult to see the impact this will have on the game in the long term.
As tweeted by card search site Scryfall, a number of cards have suddenly been given the surveil keyword. Surveil is a mechanic very similar to the already-evergreen scry in that it lets you look at the top cards of your deck, but surveil lets you dump them straight into your graveyard instead of on the bottom of the library. Despite its popularity, it’s mostly been found on cards tied to the setting of Ravnica’s Dimir guild, which meant it being rolled out in other sets was often a point of contention between Wizards and players.
Noteworth examples of this change are last year’s Consider and Otherworldly Gaze. Both cards used to surveil in all but name, and Wizards even argued against giving them the keyword as a way to keep knowledge of a long list of mechanics at a minimum. However, both cards have now had their official text changed to simply be “Surveil 1, draw a card” for Consider, and “Surveil 3, Flashback: one generic, one blue” for Otherworldly Gaze. Other cards that have been given surveil include Contingency Plan, Curate, Grim Flayer, Larder Zombie, Naga Oracle, Search For Azcanta, Sultai Ascendancy, and the recently released Dominaria United’s Uurg, Spawn of Turg.
While these cards always basically did the same thing as surveiling, the change to formally give them the keyword does have an impact on the game – something Wizards describes as a “functional errata” that it tries to avoid. There are a number of cards that trigger whenever you surveil, such as Blood Operative returning to your hand from the graveyard, Dimir Spybug getting +1/+1 counters, or Disinformation Campaign bouncing back to your hand to let you draw a card and your opponents discard one.
The second change is much less impactful, as a number of cards that had triggers whenever a land enters the battlefield were given the landfall ability word. As ability words have looser definitions in the rules, landfall doesn’t have any ‘payoff’ cards like keywords such as surveil do. This won’t have any impact on how those cards interact with existing landfall pieces, but there are some big names that have been errata’d, like Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait; Evolution Sage, Trench Behemoth, and Vinelasher Kudzu.
These changes have come at a really odd time, as usually Gatherer and Oracle updates come with the launch of a new set. This has come over a week since the launch of Unfinity, and over a month since Dominaria United. This could suggest that we’ll be seeing surveil and landfall in the upcoming Brothers’ War and this is setting the foundation for new payoff cards for both mechanics, or it could simply be a way to make the game’s database more easily searchable for deck builders.
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