Ghostfire is a card that has a colored mana cost, and then is changed by its rules text to become colorless. This is largely what Devoid has been used for in editions printed after Ghostfire has first seen the light of day.

702.113a Devoid is a characteristic-defining ability. “Devoid” means “This object is colorless.” This ability functions everywhere, even outside the game. (...)

Ghostfire is very similar to Reality Hemorrhage, with the only difference being that you pay one more colorless mana for one more damage, and the difference inquired about here.

The only apparent difference is that Devoid is a keyword ability, but since it only creates a CDA (characteristic-defining ability) with exactly the same text that can be found on Ghostfire, it doesn't seem to make a difference.

Is there any ever-so-slight functional difference at all between these phrasings?

Of course, reasons other than functional ones could be, for example, that only Eldrazi-related cards would actually receive the Devoid keyword, or that Wizards maybe wants to errata as little as possible, but that's not what this question is primarily about. However if you do find citation for that, please post it as a comment, or addendum to an answer.

2 Answers 2


Yes, there is a practical difference between Ghostfire and Reality Hemorrhage as far as the color-setting ability goes.

The colored mana produced by Corrupted Crossroads could not be used to cast Ghostfire.

Other examples of cards affecting other cards with specific keyword abilities include at least the cards found by this search, except Humility. Note that this was a very basic search, and there are many more such cards that affect specific keyword abilities, such as Adarkar Windform.

It seems unlikely that Ghostfire, a card released in 2007 as part of the out-of-order Future Sight edition and the only card made colorless by a CDA before the Battle for Zendikar block, was intentionally left un-errata'd to nerf its interaction with Corrupted Crossroads. Avoiding unnecessary erratas seems to be the most likely explanation why it was not updated.

  • Corrupted Crossroads is a good find. As for the paragraph about taking abilities away, apart from the fact that they all seem to apply exclusively to permanents (creatures, actually), none of them applies specifically to Devoid, so they would take "This card is colorless." away just as well. Jul 17, 2017 at 10:02
  • I added a note to exclude Humility. Other than that, none of the cards in my quick search would take away devoid or its Ghostfire near-equivalent. If there was a card that said "all objects lose devoid", then Ghostfire would continue to be colorless
    – Hackworth
    Jul 17, 2017 at 10:12
  • That's correct, but nevertheless, no cards (from that search or otherwise) are able to take away Devoid of a non-permanent card, which is why I was arguing it's not really applicable to the question. That said, I noticed I phrased it a little weird in my question, which is what likely caused the confusion, and edited that respectively. Jul 17, 2017 at 13:12
  • You stated in your original question: "I don't believe there's a card that takes keyword abilites away, yet leaves other abilities untouched.", which I refuted.
    – Hackworth
    Jul 17, 2017 at 13:18
  • 1
    One could also point to lifelink as a historic example where aggressive retroactive key-wording errata bit them in the behind and had to be undone and left things in a confusing state for poor old loxodon warhammer.
    – Affe
    Jul 17, 2017 at 18:24

In addition to @Hackworth answer, there was also a flavour reason:

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/battle-zendikards-part-2-2015-09-28 (scroll to section "Touch of the Void")

I had numerous conversations with the creative team about whether there was any way to involve Ugin's colorless magic in the story, but in the end, it was clear that doing so would just cause confusion. I talk a lot about how an important part of design is consistency, so the audience understands how things work. Throwing one non-Eldrazi devoid spell in the mix just led to awkward design.

As it points out, it was a flavour decision not to include it in Battle for Zendikar because devoid is a Eldrazi mechanic and WotC are starting to make more effort on aligning the cards to the story/world. Functionally changing Ghostfire to have devoid would have come under the category of "flavour fail"

  • I can't find a quote, but devoid didn't do well in market research so WotC are more likely to just write it out like Ghostfire in future rather than just use a keyword in the future Jul 17, 2017 at 13:18
  • 3
    It wasn't terribly unpopular either, but "My best guess is we will find ourselves in the future needing devoid, but we'll probably do it written out without a keyword (as the existence of a keyword creates expectations devoid can't meet)." -- magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/… Jul 17, 2017 at 18:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .