The card Bellowing Tanglewurm has the following two clauses...

Intimidate
Other green creatures you control have intimidate

...and Felhide Petrifier has these two clauses...

Deathtouch
Other Minotaur creatures you control have deathtouch

It seems to me that the two above cards are needlessly wordy. Instead of Bellowing Tanglewurm's two clauses, I'm thinking it could just be shortened to

Green creatures you control have intimidate

since Bellowing Tanglewurm is also a green creature.

Same would apply for Fellhide Petrifier,

Minotaur creatures you control have deathtouch

since Fellhide Petrifier is also a Minotaur creature.

Is there a reason that the former two wordings are used instead of the latter two? Is there some rule I'm missing that requires the former two be used instead?

  • After thinking about it, I can understand the wording on Bellowing Tanglewurm, as the first clause includes the reminder text for the keyword ability Intimidate. – Delfino Oct 9 at 18:17
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    Although the answer points out that there is a slight functional difference; I think the answer and discussion here about redundant text is relevant. – GendoIkari Oct 9 at 18:55
  • There is basically only one case I can think of where those things are put together into a single line of text, and that's slivers – Arthur Oct 10 at 11:51
  • @Arthur Also the Theros archetypes. – doppelgreener Oct 10 at 12:53
up vote 30 down vote accepted

The current template is easier for players to understand

From the horse's mouth:

What the point of making creature with "Trample. Other creatures you control have trample" when you can just put it as "Сreatures you control have trample"?

The former has proven to be less confusing to a larger number of players. Remember, the number one goal of templating is comprehension, not brevity.

  • 7
    I think this is the more important point. Yes, there is a slight functional difference, but the current templating is driven by player understanding, not by edge cases where a creature's color or type is changed. – BJ Myers Oct 9 at 20:31
  • I definitely think it's far more likely that they went with what they thought was clearest; not with trying to preserve certain interactions in certain rare cases. With the proposed shorter wording, newer players would ask if the ability applies to itself; and also players would be more likely to forget that a creature has an ability. – GendoIkari Oct 9 at 21:52
  • While I do agree that it likely was done to provide a clearer understanding it should also be pointed out that there are some edge cases where the wording does make a difference. – Joe W Oct 9 at 23:01
  • It's very common for cards that say things like "All ... have / gain / get ..." to not include themselves. Either by being a different type (see Glorious Anthem) or by explicitly stating "other" (see Shalai, Voice of Plenty). Thus, when a player (especially an experienced one) reads such an ability, they expect it to not affect that card itself (without characteristic changing shenanigans). Except on slivers. – Arthur Oct 10 at 11:49
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    @BJMyers in case anyone is unclear, something like Search your library for a creature with Trample couldn't fine a creature with Creatures you control have trample. – Captain Man Oct 10 at 15:47

The proposed wordings are not functionally equivalent. If Tanglewurm's color is changed by some effect, the original wording means it would continue to have Intimidate, while the proposed "shortened" wording would not. Same deal with Petrifier and creature type.

There are other cards that care about abilities on creatures that don't require them to be on the battlefield. For example Soulflayer has the ability (in addition to Delve):

If a creature card with flying was exiled with Soulflayer's delve ability, Soulflayer has flying. The same is true for first strike, double strike, deathtouch, haste, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, reach, trample, and vigilance.

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    In addition you can change a creatures colour through the use cards like [mtg:Purelace] and others. So the change in the OP would be a functional one. – Malco Oct 9 at 18:46
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    Mwonvuli Beast Tracker (searching libraries for cards with specific abilities) is another great example. – Alex P Oct 9 at 20:52

There are actually a few cards in MtG that care about the abilities on a card while it is in zones other than the battlefield. Writing the ability as "Minotaur creatures have deathtouch" would only give Fellhide Petrifier itself, along with all other minotaurs, deathtouch while it was on the battlefield, not in the grave or in the deck as it does now. Archetype of Aggression is written the way you suggest, which means you cannot search for it using Mwonvuli Beast Tracker but you CAN use Mwonvuli Beast Tracker to find Fellhide Petrifier.

A short list of other cards that would care about the ability existing in other zones: (there may be more)

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