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What happens if I equip my Juggernaut

Juggernaut can't be blocked by Walls.

with a Prowler's Helm

Equipped creature can't be blocked except by Walls.

or if I enchant my Charging Rhino

Charging Rhino can't be blocked by more than one creature.

with a Purphoros's Emissary?

Enchanted creature gets +3/+3 and can't be blocked except by two or more creatures.

From this very detailed answer, I'd say they're both unblockable, but I'm wondering if the word "except" allows the blocker to block if he or she satisfies the "except" condition.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In both cases, the end result is that they cannot be blocked. When Juggernaut says "can't be blocked by Walls", it means "can't be blocked by creatures that are Walls" and when Prowler's Helm says "can't be blocked except by Walls", it means "If a blocker is declared for this creature, that blocker has to be a Wall". So the end result is that the opponent can't legally declare anything to block that Juggernaut.

The second instance has the same conclusion. Charging Rhino's ability means "no more than one blocker can be declared for this creature" and Purphoros's Emissary's ability means "if blockers are declared for this creature, there have to be 2". The result is that the only legal number of blockers for that creature is 0.

The relevant rule is 509.1b, which is part of the procedure for declaring blockers (emphasis added):

The defending player checks each creature he or she controls to see whether it's affected by any restrictions (effects that say a creature can't block, or that it can't block unless some condition is met). If any restrictions are being disobeyed, the declaration of blockers is illegal.

A restriction may be created by an evasion ability (a static ability an attacking creature has that restricts what can block it). If an attacking creature gains or loses an evasion ability after a legal block has been declared, it doesn't affect that block. Different evasion abilities are cumulative.

Basically, since a block is illegal if any restriction is disobeyed, if two restrictions put together restrict all creatures from blocking, then no creature can block.

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"Unblockable" actually doesn't have all that much rules meaning - it just means "can't be blocked". It isn't supposed to be treated as an ability or something. It's just a statement that it can't be blocked, and that's literally what 700.5 says it means. They actually charged fairly recent cards to just say "can't be blocked" - e.g. see Phantom Warrior and compare the 2014 and 2010 versions - because people were confusing it for an ability keyword like 'hexproof', rather than just a statement about the creature. –  doppelgreener Jul 27 at 5:29
    
I removed that note. –  murgatroid99 Jul 27 at 5:32
    
Aha, found the article. The change was in Core 2014. Magic 2014 Core Set Rules Preview, CTRL+F "Unblockable Demoted to Definitely Not a Keyword". –  doppelgreener Jul 27 at 5:33

"Juggernaut can't be blocked by Walls" and "Equipped creature can't be blocked except by Walls" are not mutually exclusive. It's possible to obey both restrictions by not blocking the Juggernaut.

"Charging Rhino can't be blocked by more than one creature" and "Enchanted creature gets +3/+3 and can't be blocked except by two or more creatures" are not mutually exclusive. It's possible to obey both restrictions by not blocking the Rhino.

If you had mutually exclusive conditions, those limiting what you can do would win over those that permit you do something. This is colloquially known as "can't trumps can", and it's the second Golden Rule of MTG.

101.2. When a rule or effect allows or directs something to happen, and another effect states that it can’t happen, the “can’t” effect takes precedence.

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I think he meant "mutually exclusive" in the sense that the conditions that would allow the player to declare a blocker are mutually exclusive in each case. –  murgatroid99 Jul 28 at 3:26
    
@murgatroid99, Neither of those abilities allow things to block. Both limit what can block. As I explained, this means there's no conflict at all. At best, they are mutually exclusive with a rule, in which case the first Golden Rule applies: Card trumps rules. –  ikegami Jul 28 at 4:34
    
I know that. I meant that they were mutually exclusive in the sense that a creature must not be a wall to block Juggernaut and must be a wall to block a creature equipped by Prowler's Helm. These are mutually exclusive conditions, which is why the set of creatures that can block Juggernaut equipped with Prowler's Helm is empty. Obviously "allow" was a poor word choice on my part. –  murgatroid99 Jul 28 at 6:17
    
Actually, the essence of my doubt was "does 'except by' allow things", and it turns out it doesn't. Thanks for the golden rule precision though, have my upvote. –  Trajan Jul 28 at 9:58
1  
@Trajan, Re <<the essence of my doubt was "does 'except by' allow things>>, The rules allow you to block; the abilities restrict what can block. –  ikegami Jul 28 at 13:18

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