I noticed a few days ago that all creatures with Changeling key word have Shapeshifter as their type (e.g. https://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?text=+%5BChangeling%5D). This seems superfluous as they will already be that type (and every other).

Is there any functional reason for this? Would the rules of the me be any different in any way? Or is it just a convenience thing?


You're right in that even without the Shapeshifter subtype, they would have that subtype in any relevant situation, due to Changeling being a characteristic-defining ability.

That said, there are a number of Shapeshifter creatures that don't have the Changeling ability, and many have existed before the ability was introduced in Lorwyn as a carbon copy of Mistform Ultimus's ability (a card that's curiously not a Shapeshifter).

Changeling is not an evergreen mechanic, meaning it is only used in several sets - as of now, Lorwyn and Modern Horizons. The subtype Shapeshifter however has been used frequently throughout sets and indicates that it is more than a mechanic to the designers - it is a part of the lore of the multiverse, and despite one might more easily interpret function into "Shapeshifter" than "Kor", it is nevertheless a race of beings within the world.

This is hinted at in the phrasing of a DailyMtG artcle by Devin Low:

[...], the designers had given the five-card cycle one more thing to share besides having all creature types. "How would a race of Shapeshifters fight?" the designers asked.

  • Edge case: How does changeling interact with losing all abilities? Also, Mistform Ultimus' explicit creature type as illusion illustrates how it can have all creature types through flavor just as the changelings' shapeshifter type. The changelings actually change their creature type depending on what different effects look for, while the Mistform tricks everyone into believing it has the type that is searched for. – Arthur May 25 at 11:00
  • @Arthur You're right, of course! I even considered interactions with Muraganda Petroglyphs, but didn't think of losing abilities... thanks for the hint! – TheThirdMan May 25 at 11:48
  • Good thoughts. Thank you. I had forgotten about losing abilities. – Jonny May 25 at 12:32
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    The part about being just a Shapeshifter when a creature with changeling loses all abilities is not correct. Type-changing effects are applied at layer 4, before ability loss effects are applied at layer 6. – murgatroid99 May 25 at 17:01
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    @GendoIkari It makes sense for adding and removing abilities to be in the same layer. And it is much more common for abilities to depend on type than the reverse. Example: "Creatures you control have vigilance" affects lands that have been turned into creatures. (There are also a lot of abilities granting effects that depend on creature subtypes.) The same goes for removing abilities. We probably want Humility to affect animated man lands too. – tehtmi May 27 at 9:19

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