Take the two cards Fiery Cannonade and Golden Demise.

Fiery Cannonade reads:

Fiery Cannonade deals 2 damage to each non-Pirate creature.

Golden Demise reads (among other text):

All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn.


I noticed that both could easily be rewritten to be consistent:

Fiery Cannonade deals 2 damage to all non-Pirate creatures.

or

Each creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

Is there a reason for the difference in wording, or any edge cases where the difference in wording would matter? MTG is usually high consistent for clarity, is this difference simply artistic choice of the writers?

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is no functional difference between "each creature" and "all creatures" in MtG rules.

The difference here is grammatical :
- "All" considers creatures as an ensemble
- "Each" considers all creatures in a group individually

So an effect that is usually considered "global" will use "all" :
- Destroying a bunch of things -> Wrath of God
- Giving a group of creatures -X/-X -> Engineered Plague

While effects that are relative to each permanent will use "each" :
- Dealing damage -> Deafening Clarion
- Giving some creatures +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters -> Song of Freyalise or Harbinger of Night

  • 1
    Sounds very arbitrary to me. Wouldn't it be nice if "each" was used for one-shot effects and continuous effects that affect a fixed set of creatures, and "all" was used for continuous effects that affect a mutable set of creatures (e.g. those that are created by a statics abilities and modify the characteristics of objects). – ikegami Nov 15 at 20:45
  • How about the case when one creature can prevent the damage from (for instance) Fiery Cannonade? The phrase "each" helps to imply that the damage is dealt to each creature independently and that preventing damage to one creature does not affect all the rest. – BJ Myers Nov 16 at 20:15
  • Beyond the whole grammar thing, it is completely arbitrary. Why is this the norm is very likely due to results of testing and reception from the playerbase. I imagine that if it was "deals 2 damage to all creatures", at some point someone would wonder "is it 2 damage TOTAL ?" – Ydrasaal Nov 17 at 2:24

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