Trait Doctoring reads:

Change the text of target permanent by replacing all instances of one color word with another or one basic land type with another until end of turn.

Doom Blade, for instance, reads:

Destroy target nonblack creature.

Assuming I have Quicken or something to time it correctly, can I use Trait Doctoring to change "nonblack" to "nonred"?

2 Answers 2


Yes, but not in your example.

A ruling on gatherer for Trait Doctoring clearly supports changing 'nonblack' to 'nonred'

4/15/2013 The type-changing effect can change part of a word such as “nonblack” or “swampwalk” if the part of the word is being used to refer to a color or basic land type.

However, Trait Doctoring specifically says:

Change the text of target permanent by...

Doom blade is a not a permanent.

In order to change the color referenced on Doom Blade, you would need to use a card such as Sleight of Mind, that specifically says it can target spells. (See Steven Stadnicki's answer for more information about this combo)

  • 2
    Oh good catch, I missed that since I've cast Trait Doctoring zero times (which I think is the correct number).
    – user5270
    Sep 11, 2013 at 20:26
  • Can we use it to change flavor text? ;)
    – user5270
    Sep 11, 2013 at 20:29
  • @WesleyMurch but of course! "Text on card" is a loose enough phrase that you can certainly change the flavor text. Perhaps there's some complex scenario where you need to cast the card to get it out of your hand, but don't want to alter anything substantive... or perhaps you're trying to annoy your Magic-Is-Serious-Business-type opponent. Sep 12, 2013 at 18:01
  • 1
    More importantly (and perhaps relevantly), the only targeting restriction on Trait Doctoring is that it target a permanent (and the restriction on Sleight of mind is that it target a spell, thus a spell on the stack); you can cheerfully Trait Doctor a Nessian Courser ( gatherer.wizards.com/pages/Card/… ) and change all instances of 'red' to 'blue' even though there are no such instances! Sep 12, 2013 at 22:43

An important catch: color-changing cards can change the 'black' in 'nonblack', but that still won't let you target a black creature with Doom Blade. The key is that cards like Sleight of Mind can't target Doom Blade until it has gone on the stack, and to put Doom Blade on the stack in the first place you need a legal target for it, and part of the targeting restriction on Doom Blade is that the creature be non-black. If Doom Blade had read "destroy target creature unless it's black" (see Pyroblast for an example of this sort of wording) then you could target a black creature with it, change the 'unless it's black' to 'unless it's red' and have it succeed; but the only way to kill a black creature with Doom Blade is to target a different creature, change Doom Blade to read e.g. 'non-red', and then change the targets of the Doom Blade with a spell like Redirect.

  • You could however use a card like Sleight of Mind to counter a Doom Blade, correct?
    – user5270
    Sep 12, 2013 at 2:27
  • Wesley: yes, you could; if the target is illegal when the spell tries to resolve (and this includes e.g. being red when the spell says 'non-red'), then it will be countered on resolution. Sep 12, 2013 at 3:32

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