http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/A ... eature/42a
3B) Mana Burn Eliminated
The Reality: Many players aren't aware of the existence of mana burn as a game concept. Discovering it exists, especially via an opponent manipulating his own life total for gain, can be jarring. Its existence impacts game play in a negligible way, whereas its existence impacts card design space somewhat significantly.
The Fix: Mana burn is eliminated as a game concept. Mana left unspent at the end of steps or phases will simply vanish, with no accompanying loss of life.
The Details: It turns out that eliminating mana burn from the game is surprisingly easy. I delete three sentences from rule 300.3, strike the glossary entry, and modify a few other rules that mention mana burn, and it's gone. Six cards will get errata to delete their references to mana burn, since "This mana doesn't cause mana burn" text will be pretty redundant all of a sudden.
What happens during a game? Let's say Heartbeat of Spring is in play, and you add four mana to your mana pool, but you spend only three of it. At the end of the current step or phase, the extra mana vanishes. That's it. No penalty; it's just gone.
By my reckoning, the elimination of mana burn will functionally impact about 40 cards, some for the better and some for the worse, some directly and some indirectly, because no cards are getting errata as a result of this rules change. That's right: We're not maintaining current functionality for these cards; the whole point of getting rid of the mana burn rule is to get rid of the mana burn rule.
Some examples of cards that will work differently:
* Cathodion, Tolarian Academy, and Mana Drain are better, since there's now no drawback to adding unspendable mana to your mana pool.
* Spectral Searchlight and Valleymaker are worse, since you can't use them to cause your opponent to mana burn.
* Spur Grappler and Well of Discovery are better, since you can basically tap all of your lands for free now.
* Citadel of Pain is worse, since your opponent can basically tap all of his or her lands for free now.
* Hidetsugu's Second Rite is better, since your opponent can't dodge a life total of 10 by mana burning down to 9.
* Magus of the Mirror, Convalescent Care, and Pulse of the Forge are worse, since you can't intentionally (and easily) mana burn yourself down to a low life total.
In 99.9% of Magic games, of course, you'll never even notice mana burn is gone.
5) Combat Damage No Longer Uses the Stack
The Reality: The intricate system via which combat is currently handled creates many unintuitive gameplay moments. For starters, "the stack" is a difficult concept, even after all these years, so it is no wonder that many players go about combat without invoking it at all. Second, creatures disappearing after damage has been put on the stack leads to a ton of confusion and disbelief: How is that Mogg Fanatic killing two creatures? How did that creature kill mine but make your Nantuko Husk big enough to survive? How can you Unsummon your creature and have it still deal damage? While many of us may be used to the way things are now, it makes no sense in terms of a game metaphor and only a bit more sense as a rule.
The Fix: As soon as damage is assigned in the combat damage step, it is dealt. There is no time to cast spells and activate abilities in between; the last time to do so prior to damage being dealt is during the declare blockers step.
The Reality: The fact that lifelink is a triggered ability leads to situations where the controller of a blocker with lifelink dies from combat damage before lifelink can grant that player enough life to stay alive. Many players get this interaction wrong; the subtle difference in timing is unfortunate.
The Fix: Lifelink, like deathtouch, is turning into a static ability. If a source with lifelink deals damage, its controller gains that much life as that damage is being dealt. This brings the timing much closer to spells like Consume Spirit and Lightning Helix. As a side effect, multiple instances of lifelink are no longer cumulative.
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