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When using cards like Demonic Consultation or Spoils of the Vault can I name cards that exist but are not legal in the current format I am playing? For example, could I name a uncard like Booster Tutor or one of the conspiracy cards like Backup Plan which even if they were legal could never be in my deck?

Also Demonic Consultation has a ruling saying you must name a card that exists in Magic, I assume this is also true for Spoils of the Vault, which is why I am specifically asking about if I can name cards that exist but are not in the current format I am playing.

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    While this is largely theoretical in the case of Demonic Consultation and Spoils of the Vault, it matters in the case of Runed Halo, if you want to protect yourself from Goblin Wizard tokens. Jul 27 '20 at 21:43
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    I think the intention is to use these with a card like Laboratory Maniac, where you win instead of lose when you run out of cards.
    – TheHans255
    Jul 28 '20 at 3:49
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    @TheHansinator But neither Demonic Consultation nor Spoils of the Vault say that the card you name must actually be in your deck. So if that's your strategy, you could just as well pull this off with any legal card you know you are not going to find.
    – Philipp
    Jul 28 '20 at 14:03
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    @Philipp True, though perhaps OP has a flair for the dramatic and wants to announce that that's exactly their strategy before they start milling, by naming a card everyone already knows won't be there. Or in a more moderate situation, perhaps they're playing Standard and don't want to have to remember whether their "I know this won't be there" card is still in rotation.
    – TheHans255
    Jul 28 '20 at 20:41
  • @TheHansinator I just enjoy learning about obscure situations and edge cases in MTG and when I saw the ruling for demonic consultation it got me wondering where the line was for what could and could not be named even if it is not very useful.
    – Max Young
    Jul 29 '20 at 2:44
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Yes.

You must state the name of a card in the Oracle, but the card doesn't need to be legal in the format of the game being played.

201.3. If an effect instructs a player to choose a card name, the player must choose the name of a card in the Oracle card reference. (See rule 108.1.) A player may not choose the name of a token unless it’s also the name of a card.

201.3a If a player is instructed to choose a card name with certain characteristics, the player must choose the name of a card whose Oracle text matches those characteristics. (See rule 108.1.)
Example: Dispossess reads, in part, “Choose an artifact card name.” The player can choose the name of any artifact card, even one that’s not legal in the format of the current game. The player can’t choose Island, even if an Island on the battlefield has been turned into artifact by some effect.

Emphasis mine.

This wasn't always the case. There used to be a requirement for the card to be legal in the format of the game the player is playing. The rules were changed to remove this requirement when Guilds of Ravnica was released.

We've removed the forgettable requirement that names chosen when choosing a card name must come from the format being played. This was originally added to protect players from accidental misnamings in tournament settings (for example, "Shackles" in Modern—you meant Vedalken Shackles, not the white Aura Shackles) but tournament policy has evolved to protect players in other ways (you may recall some arguments around naming "Borborygmos" in Modern that led to this evolution) so the game rules don't need to do this anymore. The game rules are generally agnostic to the format being played, so this is a nice change.

Thanks to @murgatroid99 for pointing out the change.

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  • Does that include uncards and test cards? Jul 28 '20 at 6:08
  • Would the recent removal of some cards from Gatherer like Crusade preclude them from being valid names?
    – Max Young
    Jul 28 '20 at 10:02
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    Any idea what the arguments around naming Borborygmos are?
    – Allure
    Jul 28 '20 at 10:51
  • @Acccumulation Silver-bordered cards are technically cards, and they are in Oracle. I think test cards qualify as cards, and they are in Oracle.
    – ikegami
    Jul 28 '20 at 12:29
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    @Allure Precisely what ikegami says - see "The Prickly Case of Pithing Needle"; the opponent clearly meant to name "Borborygmos Enraged" as that was what was in Bob's deck, but got "done" because Borborygmos also exists as a card. Jul 28 '20 at 13:38
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201.3. If an effect instructs a player to choose a card name, the player must choose the name of a card in the Oracle card reference. (See rule 108.1.) A player may not choose the name of a token unless it’s also the name of a card.

108.1. Use the Oracle card reference when determining a card’s wording. A card’s Oracle text can be found using the Gatherer card database at Gatherer.Wizards.com.

Booster Tutor and Backup Plan are both in Gatherer, so you can choose them. (Whether naming them is useful is another matter, but I'm sure somebody can come up with a reason.)

As @murgatroid99 notes, the official Tournament Rules don't mention any of those restrictions you ask about:

3.6 Card Identification and Interpretation

A card is considered named in game when a player has provided a description (which may include the name or partial name) that could only apply to one card. Any player or judge realizing a description is still ambiguous must seek further clarification.

Players have the right to request access to the official wording of a card they can describe. That request will be honored if logistically possible. The official text of any card is the Oracle text corresponding to the name of the card. Players may not use errors or omissions in Oracle to abuse the rules. The Head Judge is the final authority for card interpretations, and they may overrule Oracle if an error is discovered.

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    A lot of rules about formats and format legality are in the Magic Tournament Rules, so you may want to mention or quote section 3.6 of that document, which addresses naming cards in a tournament setting.
    – murgatroid99
    Jul 27 '20 at 17:52
  • @murgatroid99, Except 3.6 doesn't mention anything relevant to the question
    – ikegami
    Jul 27 '20 at 17:55
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    I thought it would be useful to show that the tournament rules, which normally have rules about formats, do not restrict what cards you can name based on format in the relevant section. However, further research turned up something much more directly relevant: the GRN comprehensive rules update change to rule 201.3 says this: "We've removed the forgettable requirement that names chosen when choosing a card name must come from the format being played."
    – murgatroid99
    Jul 27 '20 at 17:59
  • @murgatroid99, Indeed. From 2015: 201.3. If an effect instructs a player to name a card, the player must choose the name of a card that exists in the Oracle card reference (see rule 108.1) and is legal in the format of the game the player is playing. (See rule 100.6.) [...]. I've added a mention of the change to my answer.
    – ikegami
    Jul 27 '20 at 18:55
  • "Whether naming then is useful is another matter" I believe the current optimal stack for Flash Hulk involves casting Demonic Consultation and naming a card not in your deck while you have a pending Thassa's Oracle trigger on the stack.
    – DenisS
    Jul 28 '20 at 14:02

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