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I'm trying to make a custom card. It's a creature with soulbond. I would like it to be able to tap to change what it's paired with. I was thinking:

{T}: Unpair this creature, then you may pair it with another unpaired creature you control.

Is this the correct formatting? Is there a better way to do it? Does this idea even work within the rules?

  • Side note, would the card be more interesting if it just flickered itself? You're paying a hefty price (tapping) for a pretty situational ability. – corsiKa Jan 30 '17 at 16:37
  • @corsiKa I think that I'll end up doing that, because it makes the card flow much better – xornob Jan 30 '17 at 16:58
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Currently the Soulbond rules don't have a specific precedent for ending a pairing of two creatures like this, but we can work one in.

We need to format your ability slightly differently to take care of some things:

  1. Make sure this ability can only be used while it's paired, if that's what you want.
  2. Make it clear to players that the other creature gets unpaired as well.
  3. Use the portion of the Soulbond ability templating that's missing.

First, point 3. I'm going to paraphrase part of rule 702.94a here slightly for the sake of readability:

702.94a Soulbond is a keyword that represents two triggered abilities. “Soulbond” means:

  • When this creature enters the battlefield, if you control both this creature and another creature and both are unpaired, you may pair this creature with another unpaired creature you control for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control
  • Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, if you control both that creature and this one and both are unpaired, you may pair that creature with this creature for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control.

We'll need to take some of that boilerplate; the "as long as" stuff is important.

It seems like you might want this unpair-repair ability to only work if the creature's already paired, but I could see it either way. We could ensure it only works if it's paired by borrowing Deadeye Navigator's ability-gain wording, but all those cards with similar wording grant the same ability to the paired creature. Because that doesn't happen here, using that wording would be confusing and should be avoided.

I think templating from Hanweir Battlements is more appropriate.

A version which works whether it's paired or not:

{T}: If {this card} is paired to another creature, unpair them. Pair {this card} with another unpaired creature you control for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control.

If you want it to work only when it's already paired, add this clause:

Activate this ability only if {this card} is paired.


An option for leveraging existing unpairing mechanics

Currently 702.94e says:

702.94e A paired creature becomes unpaired if any of the following occur: another player gains control of it or the creature it’s paired with; it or the creature it’s paired with stops being a creature; or it or the creature it’s paired with leaves the battlefield.

You have some options here for fiddling around with this card to leverage existing un-bonding rules:

  • Give this creature an ability that has it leave the battlefield temporarily and come back sooner or later. This also lets the Soulbond ETB do the rest of the hard work. For example, flicker it (similar to Deadeye Navigator, but using Acrobatic Maneuver's wording): "{1}{W}: Exile {this card}, then return it to the battlefield under its owner's control."
  • Enable it to turn into a noncreature (a land, enchantment, or artifact).
  • Give away control of the bonded creature to an opponent for some proportionate benefit. This is probably a Red or Black effect based on past cards that give away control. Cards like Humble Defector and Harmless Offering have your back here for templating.

The ability that turns this card into a noncreature, or which gives away control of its paired creature, should reminder text similar to the following: ({this card} and the creature it is paired with both become unpaired.)

In the second and third cases, you'll need to give it a means to re-pair itself again. Options include:

  • {T}: If {this card} is unpaired, pair {this card} with another unpaired creature you control for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control.

  • For either of the second cases, add this to the end of the ability that turns this card into a creature again or gives away control of the bonded creature:

    Then you may pair {this card} with another unpaired creature you control for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control.

  • For the becomes-a-noncreature option, something like the following (suggested by diego):

    When {this card} becomes a creature, you may pair {this card} with another unpaired creature you control for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control.

  • @diego I've expanded the last section a bit and included your suggestion. – doppelgreener Jan 30 '17 at 16:32
  • You don't need the 'for as long as both remain creatures on the battlefield under your control.' part since that is already true of all pairs. – diego Jan 30 '17 at 16:36
  • @diego Since Soulbond explicitly says that, I figured there was not existing rules infrastructure to make that text automatic. But I suppose any homebrew that introduces this card could also introduce rules to cover that, plus the rules are sometimes redundant e.g. in the case of Ashcloud Phoenix's update. – doppelgreener Jan 30 '17 at 16:38
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    It does... I thought that was only the reminder text not part of the actual ability. I still don't think it is necessary, but redundant rules that help improve clarity aren't necessarily a bad thing. – diego Jan 30 '17 at 16:40
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That definitely works within the rules. Generally speaking, cards use the actual card name instead of "this creature" the first time it's referred to, so your ability should probably read as:

{T}: Unpair {CARDNAME}. Then, if this is unpaired, you may pair it with another unpaired creature you control.

That also adds in some protection in case, for whatever reason, attempting to unpair this card fails.

Another way of handling this would be:

{T}, unpair {CARDNAME}: Pair this with another unpaired creature you control.

This forces the card to be paired initially in order to change who you're paired with. Not sure if you want that or not, but if you do there you go.

  • Your first one also requires the creature to be paid to work. If it isn't it can't unpair to get the 'If you do...' part of the effect. If you wanted to protect against the unpair failing (which I don't think is something that can fail, so I don't think it is worth the extra characters) you would want something like '{T}: Unpair ~. Then if ~ is unpaired you may pair it with another unpaired creature you control' – diego Jan 30 '17 at 15:50
  • You are entirely correct. Edited to work as intended. – Ben Jan 30 '17 at 15:52
  • "Unpair {cardname}" as a cost is a great idea. Good thinking. – doppelgreener Jan 30 '17 at 16:36
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    It may be worth noting that the "unpair as a cost" wording also opens up a window for the opponent to interact while {cardname} is unpaired that none of the other wordings in either this or @doppelgreener's answer have. This may or may not be desirable depending on your design goals. – Miles Budnek Jan 30 '17 at 21:11

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