Brothers Yamazaki has the ability

If there are exactly two permanents named Brothers Yamazaki on the battlefield, the "legend rule" doesn't apply to them.

So, say I control two Brothers Yamazaki (and there are no others on the battlefield), a Grizzly Bears, and a Leyline of Singularity, and I have a Spy Kit attached to one of the Brothers.

Spy Kit has the ruling

The set of names the equipped creature has includes the names of all nonlegendary creature cards in the Oracle card reference, including the back faces of double-faced cards. Notably, the equipped creature won’t gain the names of tokens, such as Zombie, Goblin, and similar. It also won’t gain the names of noncreature cards that have become creatures, such as a Wandering Fumarole that has become a creature.

So, the overall result here is that I have 3 legendary creatures:

  1. One named "Brothers Yamazaki"
  2. One named "Grizzly Bears"
  3. One with many names, including both "Brothers Yamazaki" and "Grizzly Bears"

Then because of the ability on Brothers Yamazaki, the "legend rule" applies to creature number 2, but not to creature number 3. What exactly does that mean? What happens to creature number 2?

  • I think you may have found a rules hole! :D – Samthere Jan 16 '17 at 10:40
  • #mtgrules favored choosing one, though can't provide much credence. Looking for other avenues. – Drunk Cynic Mar 1 '17 at 1:16
  • I also asked them, and their answer is what I refer to in my comment on the currently accepted answer. – murgatroid99 Mar 1 '17 at 1:23
  • Yeah, going to see what comes of just Tweeting this at Wizards_Magic, Gavin Verhey, and Matt Tabak. – Drunk Cynic Mar 1 '17 at 19:05

The Magic rules do not uniquely determine what happens here.

The text of Brothers Yamazaki is vague and none of it, its rulings, nor the rules explain the wording "does not apply". Both of the other answers are consistent with the Magic rules, but they do not follow from them. Using common sense, I think either interpretation is reasonable.

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  • Are you saying that you think the "this" in "this is called the 'legend rule'" does not necessarily mean the entire rule 704.5k? That's a kind of surprising interpretation to me, given that 704.5k is literally a rule. – Cascabel Jan 14 '17 at 2:01
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    @Jefromi I mean that the word "apply" is vague and not defined in the context of the game. – KSFT Jan 14 '17 at 2:03
  • I don't think there's really any possible meaning of "apply" besides "take the rule, and do what it says to the things it says to do them to", or any possible meaning of "this rule" besides, well, the rule that it's within (704.5k). The rules aren't required to define every English word that appears in them or on cards; we're expected to read and understand at some point. – Cascabel Jan 15 '17 at 16:48
  • I think this is probably the most accurate answer. We might lean towards assuming everything survives, because the Legend Rule can't "see" the real Brothers, but that's not clearly specified. It's possible that the rule still applies to the Bear, and that the rule can "see" the Brothers but not remove them, which could mean that the Bear has to die. – Samthere Jan 16 '17 at 10:33
  • I asked actual judges, and this seems to be the current most accurate answer. Acceptance of this answer is hopefully temporary, and will change if and when there is an official ruling and/or the relevant rules change to make this situation unambiguous. – murgatroid99 Jan 25 '17 at 0:59

You get to keep all 3 creatures.

The legend rule reads:

704.5k If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.”

The Brothers' ability makes the legend rule not apply to them as long as there are exactly 2 of them on the battlefield. What "not applying" means can be derived from the ruling for Mirror Gallery:

Mirror Gallery removes the “Legend rule” while it’s on the battlefield.[..]

While Mirror Gallery is on the battlefield, the game is played as though the legend rule did not exist, or, put differently, the legend rule check is disabled for all permanents. Accordingly, while exactly two Brothers Yamazaki are on the battlefield, the legend rule is not checked for either of them.

That means the Brothers are not taken into account when checking for the legend rule's condition ("controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name"), nor can they be chosen as a permanent to keep, nor can they be put into their owners' graveyard due to the legend rule.

Therefore, it does not matter whether or not either of the Brothers shares a name with Grizzly Bears or yet other permanents. As far as the legend rule is concerned, the two brothers are completely ignored.

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  • There is a discreet difference between two creatures in the battlefield being able to break the rules of Magic the Gathering and another card that removes a rule. – Drunk Cynic Jan 14 '17 at 23:01
  • Not sure what you mean by that. Mirror Gallery removes the legend rule, Brothers remove the legend rule as far as Brothers are concerned. – Hackworth Jan 15 '17 at 8:15
  • Brothers does not remove the Legend Rule, it just shifts the number of which are required to trigger the rule. – Drunk Cynic Jan 15 '17 at 11:26
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    @DrunkCynic The card literally says that the legend rule does not apply - that is, for the purposes of those two objects, the legend rule does not exist. – Cascabel Jan 16 '17 at 17:35

My reading would be that nothing happens. The legend rule is:

704.5k If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.”

It seems like there's no way to apply this without having two or more creatures to apply it to.

That is, this whole rule is the legend rule, not just the consequences. If the legend rule doesn't apply to a creature, then the "if...two or more" doesn't involve that creature.

So to apply the legend rule in this case, we look at all the creatures it's allowed to apply to, and discover just one. So there aren't two or more legendary creatures with the same name (as far as the legend rule is concerned) and nothing happens.

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  • One could alternatively read "the legend rule doesn't apply to them" as the legend rule doesn't do anything to them - in other words, the "apply" part is the ("choose this creature to keep" or "put this creature in its owner's graveyard"). Though on second thought that seems a bit less likely. – David Z Jan 14 '17 at 0:01
  • Yeah, I think there's really no choice but to think of the decision about whether to apply the rule in terms of the whole rule. The whole thing is the legend rule, including the "if...", not just the consequences. – Cascabel Jan 14 '17 at 0:10

Independent of how you arrived at this position, you now get to choose between the Brothers Yamazaki that has the Spy Kit attached and the Grizzly Bears. The premise of the question is wrong; the legendary rule still applies to each Brothers Yamazaki in play. However, it does not apply to a grouping of exactly two Brothers Yamazaki.

The specific exception created by the rules texts of the Brothers Yamazaki allows a pair of legendary creatures named Brothers Yamazaki to exist on the battlefield, directly contradicting rule 704.5K. Refer to the Magic the Gathering Golden Rules:

101.1. Whenever a card’s text directly contradicts these rules, the card takes precedence. The card overrides only the rule that applies to that specific situation. The only exception is that a player can concede the game at any time (see rule 104.3a).

704.5k If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.”

The card text of Brothers Yamazaki only prevents the legend rule from triggering when the game sees two of them existing. Look back at the rules text:

If there are exactly two permanents named Brothers Yamazaki on the battlefield, the "legend rule" doesn't apply to them.

The special condition created by the rules text applies specifically to the pair of them. It does not stop the Legendary rule from seeing the two Legendary "Grizzly Bears." Since two creatures named "Grizzly Bears" that are legendary exist under your control, you must choose one of them and sacrifice the other. Further, the interaction of two Brothers Yamazaki, Leyline of Singularity, and Spy Kit will affect every other creature you control.


The persistence of this rules hole drove me to Twitter for answers, with a direct Tweet to Wizards_Magic, Gavin Verhey, and Matt Tabak.

Rule Hole challenge: @GavinVerhey @tabakrules @wizards_magic - Brothers Yamazaki+Spy Kit+Leyline of Singularity - drunkcynic

This prompted a response from Matt Tabuk:

@drunkcynic @GavinVerhey @wizards_magic Nothing happens. You continue to control all three permanents. - tabakrules

Which confused me, so I sought to get some clarity:

@TabakRules @GavinVerhey @wizards_magic Clarity: W/ LeylineOfSingularity, will Spy Kit'ed 1/2 Brothers Yamazaki 704.5k non-legend creatures? - drunkcynic

Initially, I thought my hopes were dashed:

@drunkcynic @GavinVerhey @wizards_magic Two Yam Bros. means ignore those perms and look at everything else to see if legend rule applies. - tabakrules

Yet, all was not lost:

@drunkcynic @GavinVerhey @wizards_magic Spy Kit has u lose creatures until the legend rule doesn't apply, likely by offing the eq. creature. - tabakrules

That, and I think Gavin Verhey was hungry:

Mmmmm, Yam Bros. Delicious! #wotcstaff - gavinverhey

Disclaimer: Resorted to pinging these two only because there was a shortage of other avenues. Ask Wizards has been defunct for a while, and there wasn't a clear answer from the existing rules or sources.

Deeper Analysis

Doesn't Apply - There are two instances in Gatherer for the rules text, "doesn't apply:" Mirror Gallery, released in Betrayers of Kamigawa, and Brothers Yamazaki, released in Champions of Kamigawa. Each affect the application of the Legend Rule. Mirror Gallery sweeps broadly in its contradiction of the rule, removing it from the game entirely. The Borthers Yamizaki narrow that restriction down considerably, only stopping it from applying to two of them.

Them/They/Those - Their are 793 occurrences in Gatherer of cards that include "They," "Those," or "Them" in their rule text. Each apply to a grouping of objects, be it creatures targets, cards being considered, or other effects, where something is affecting them jointly or you are choosing a portion of them. The rules texts of cards are, for the most part, rather exact; the "They," "Those," or "Them" is intentional, just as the times where further rules text is used to narrow the application of effects to a portion of the group. As an example, consider Tamyo, Field Researcher. Her first ability states:

+1: Choose up to two target creatures. Until your next turn, whenever either of those creatures deals combat damage, you draw a card.
Here, the ability establishes a grouping of two creatures, with a result if either member of the group satisfies the condition.

Narrowing the scope of the search further, consider just cards with the rule text "each of them." Here, the cards create a group, and then apply an effect to each member of that group. In contrast, Brothers Yamazaki ability establishes a group, consisting of exactly 2 Brothers Yamazaki, applies an effect to the group. The legendary rule applies to each Brothers Yamazaki individually, and to a group of three or more Brothers Yamazaki. Refer back to the earlier citation of Rule 101.1; the ability of Brothers Yamazaki only contradicts the legendary rule 704.5k for the group consisting of exactly two Brothers Yamazaki. it does not conradict the rule for each of them, just them.

Yes, Magic the Gathering uses Them, Those, and They to address a group objects affected by an event. The event will then either work with the entire group, or affect portions of the group, using modifiers like: Each, the Rest, from Among, etc. There is a certain refined legalese in how the rules texts of Magic the Gathering cards is constructed, based on the grammar and structure of the English language. "to them" occurs three times in the entire card pool; Brothers Yamazaki, Silence the Believers, and Gauntlets of Chaos. In each, the effect creates a group, and then the group is affected. In every card where an effect creates a group, and affects a member of the group, the rules text explicitly does so. Since the rules text for Brothers Yamazaki doesn't say "each of them" or "either of them," it doesn't affect the two individually, just the group.

A notable factoid.

Champions of Kamigawa brought the first change to the legendary rule. Prior to Champions of Kamigawa, the first player to get a legendary object in play "won", turning each other copy of that card in the game into a dead draw. With Champions of Kamigawa, follow on copies of the card would reset the condition instead, causing all copies in play to be sacrificed. This mattered in part because of the numerous "Legendary" cards in Kamigawa.

It was with Magic 2014 that we got the rule as it stands today, where 705.4K looks at each players battlefield independently. While each player can control copies of the same legendary object, one player can't control two copies without effects that specifically allow him to do so. However, there is also a unique interaction between Brothers Yamazaki and the Legendary Rule as it stands, looking at the Oracle ruling (specifically noting the date, coinciding with Magic 2014 release):

7/1/2013 If a third Brothers Yamazaki enters the battlefield, the legend rule will apply. If one player controls more than one Brothers Yamazaki at that time, that player will have choose one and put the rest into his or her graveyard.

While the current Legendary rule only cares about your battlefield, Brothers Yamazaki still looks at the entire battlefield. Baring any additional effects, there can only be two Brothers Yamazaki in play at once. When a third comes into play, the player with more than one follows the actions of 704.5K.

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    Your argument ignores that the Brothers ability extends to the whole permanent, which is also named grizzly bears. – Hackworth Jan 15 '17 at 9:41
  • @Hackworth No. The ability merely changes how the legend rule is applied. Instead of it requiring X >=2, where X is the number of legendary objects sharing the same name, applying the legend rule to the Brothers Yamazaki needs X>=3. This is only for the pair of Legendary Brothers Yamazaki; neither is individually protected. – Drunk Cynic Jan 15 '17 at 11:23
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    That is a very free interpretation of the brothers' ability and not consistent with the Mirror Gallery ruling. – Hackworth Jan 15 '17 at 19:02
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    @DrunkCynic I understand your logic in terms of parsing the English, but it's not how Magic uses it. Look at Guardian Beast. It uses the word "them" to apply to a group of objects. By the logic you use here, the protection would only stop someone gaining control of all of them as a group, not of any one of them. I'm aware we've put a lot of discussion into comments at this point so I'll back off, but I don't think this will be resolved without official input. – Samthere Jan 16 '17 at 16:34
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    You say in your answer "Magic the Gathering uses Them, Those, and They to address a group [of] objects affected by an event", and much of your argument is based on the precise interpretation of the wording. Can you provide a single example of a card or interaction in which interpreting those words the way your answer does leads to the correct conclusion and interpreting them as other answers do leads to the incorrect conclusion? Without such an example, your premise that those words have the specific meanings that you ascribe in a way that is relevant to card functionality is merely conjecture – murgatroid99 Mar 3 '17 at 8:06

The Grizzly Bear dies.

The Legend Rule states:

704.5k If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.”

The Grizzly Bear is Legendary thanks to Leyline of Singularity. But why do I believe it gets snuffed? Let's look at the Spykit:

Equipped creature gets +1/+1 and has all names of nonlegendary creature cards in addition to its name.

I've placed emphasis on the part that I feel is relevant. The name of the Brother isn't changed to "Abattoir Ghoul Abbey Gargoyles ... Brothers .. Grizzly Bear ... Zebra Zombie", it gets ALL the names individually. Compare this with Angelic Armaments; The equipped creature, if it's a Grizzly Bear, now has the colors Green and White. Not Green-white, but Green and White separately. Anything affecting Green affects this equipped Grizzly, as would anything affecting White.

Now, applying the Legend Rule:

  • There is only one "Abattoir Ghoul" on the battlefield, so no problem
  • "Abbey Gargoyles" is also alone
  • ...
  • There are two Brothers Yamazaki, but there is an effect in play that supersedes the Legends Rule in this case. No effect.
  • There are two Grizzly Bears in the field. The Legend Rule applies to the Vanilla Grizzly because it does not have an ability that lifts it and it is placed in the graveyard.
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  • What you appear to be missing about the last two points is that you're talking about the same permanent. Brothers Yamazaki's ability excludes the entire permanent from the Legend rule, not just the creature type. Therefore, no matter what happens, the pair of Yamaziki Brothers will be safe from that rule, independent of it's other creature types. – TheThirdMan Jan 14 '17 at 15:05
  • @TheThirdMan You're right, but I'm not convinced that protection applies tothe Grizzly. Will rephrase soon. – steenbergh Jan 14 '17 at 16:09
  • The rules text doesn't protect a Brothers Tamales from the Legendary rule, it protects "them" from the rule. – Drunk Cynic Jan 14 '17 at 23:48
  • @DrunkCynic That's exactly what my answer describes, and that's why the Grizzly gets snuffed. – steenbergh Jan 18 '17 at 13:06

Perhaps there's another interpretation: Since the Leyline of Singularity has made all permanents legendary, the Spy Kit does nothing (except add +1/+1). There are no non-legendary creatures to gain names from.

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    This is incorrect. Spy Kit adds the names of all nonlegendary creatures based on the Oracle reference. – KSFT Jan 14 '17 at 18:48
  • Re-read Spy Kit. It adds the names of every non-legendary creature card to the equipped creature; every creature card ever printed. – Drunk Cynic Jan 14 '17 at 23:00
  • @KSFT Yes, but Leyline of Singularity makes all permanents (not all permanents in play, but all permanents) legendary. – Xerxes Jan 15 '17 at 18:35
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    @Xerxes Cards not in play aren't permanents. Rule 110.1 – Drunk Cynic Jan 15 '17 at 21:51

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