Are there any differences in the rules (implicitly or explicitly) between how double faced cards are treated (e.g. cast, targeted, etc) and how split cards are treated?

The only difference that I came across is that double faced cards can be a permanent on either side whereas split cards must always be instant/sourceries.

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    There are various sorts of both split cards (e.g. the Ravnica set split spells, the Amonhket Aftermath cards, the Eldraine Adventure cards (sort of)) and various sorts of dual-faced cards (e.g. the Zendikar Rising spell-lands, the transforming dual faced cards from Shadows over Innistrad and other blocks). Are you interested in the differences between all those cards or just some of them? Oct 5, 2020 at 8:11
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    Ah yes, like everything in MtG it's infinitely more complex that I thought. I'm interested in all, but I imagine in might be a big answer.
    – Jonny
    Oct 5, 2020 at 8:44

2 Answers 2


There are two different kinds of double-faced cards that work differently and are handled differently in the rules: modal double-faced cards, and transforming double-faced cards.

Modal double-faced cards

Modal double-faced cards, introduced in Zendikar Rising (the most recent set as of the time of writing this answer), are very similar to split cards. In both cases, a single physical card effectively represents two different "cards", and a player can play one or the other when they play the card. The only significant rules difference between split cards and modal double-faced cards is what characteristics the cards have in zones other than the battlefield and the stack. Modal double-faced cards' characteristics are determined by rule 711.4:

711.4. Each face of a double-faced card has its own set of characteristics.

  • 711.4a While a double-faced card is outside the game or in a zone other than the battlefield or stack, it has only the characteristics of its front face.
  • 711.4d While a modal double-faced spell is on the stack or a modal double-faced permanent is on the battlefield, it has only the characteristics of the face that’s up.

while split cards' characteristics are determined by rules 708.3 and 708.4:

708.3. A player chooses which half of a split card they are casting before putting it onto the stack.

  • 708.3b While on the stack, only the characteristics of the half being cast exist. The other half’s characteristics are treated as though they didn’t exist.

708.4. In every zone except the stack, the characteristics of a split card are those of its two halves combined.

  • 708.4b The mana cost of a split card is the combined mana costs of its two halves. A split card’s colors and converted mana cost are determined from its combined mana cost. An effect that refers specifically to the symbols in a split card’s mana cost sees the separate symbols rather than the whole mana cost.

(Rule 708.4 only mentions the stack and not the battlefield here because split cards are only instants and sorceries, so a split card is never on the battlefield.)

Transforming double-faced cards

However, there are also transforming double-faced cards, originally introduced in the Innistrad block, that work very differently from how split cards work. Transforming double-faced cards can only be cast as their front face, and they each have their own way to either transform by switching to the back face while on the battlefield, or to enter the battlefield transformed. There are a variety of other rules governing how these cards work and how transforming works in the rules sections about Double-faced cards and the Transform keyword ability.

Split card variants

There are also split card variants that do not exist for modal double-faced cards. Some split cards have the keyword ability Fuse, which gives you an additional option to cast both halves of a split card as a single spell by paying the combined mana cost. And some split cards have one half with the keyword ability Aftermath, which means that that half can be cast from the graveyard, and only from the graveyard, not the hand.

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    I think this could be organized better. When using headings like that, then the first rules quoted under the MDFC heading being about split cards, not DFCs at all, can lead to people skimming the answer for information to go away very misinformed.
    – Andrew
    Oct 5, 2020 at 14:24
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    I moved those rules quotes around. Does that address that issue for you?
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 5, 2020 at 16:57


Perhaps the most significant is that when not on the stack, a split card is both its faces combined (CR 708.4):

In every zone except the stack, the characteristics of a split card are those of its two halves combined.

while a dual-faced card is only its front face (CR 711.4a):

While a double-faced card is outside the game or in a zone other than the battlefield or stack, it has only the characteristics of its front face.

For instance, if the new Zendikar Rising spell-lands (e.g. Shatterskull Smashing) were split cards, they would count as lands while in your deck and the "Ooops, no lands" decks which key off Goblin Charbelcher or Balustrade Spy as a win condition would not be able to use them.

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    This kind of just scratches the surface. There are two kinds of DFCs, the modal DFCs from ZNR that are similar to split cards, which you seem to be mainly talking about here, and classic DFCs, which are very different from split cards. There are also Aftermath split cards, and Adventurer cards, which are in some ways very similar to split cards.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 5, 2020 at 7:43
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    @murgatroid99 Agreed, but given the comment in the question about the only difference being that DFCs can be a permanent (and the timing of the question), I'm guessing the OP is asking about the MDFCs. I admit that's an assumption though. Oct 5, 2020 at 7:55
  • It is likely that someone who would phrase this question in this way is working under the assumption that there is no kind of DFC other than MDFC, and by saying that the most significant difference between split cards and DFCs is that one rule, you are perpetuating that incorrect assumption. The question asks about DFCs, so the different kind of DFCs should be addressed.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 5, 2020 at 8:02
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    The question says "Mechanically is there any difference between split and double faced cards?". That's not a guess. Whether the OP intended "double faced cards" to refer only to modal DFCs or they were not aware that there was a distinction is essentially irrelevant. The question says "double faced cards" and so the answer should address double faced cards.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 5, 2020 at 8:13
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    To clarify/expand my previous comment, the problem I would like to see corrected is that a reader who does not make the same assumptions you make can read "...the most significant [difference between split and double faced cards] is..." and believe that the statement describes all DFCs. This can be easily corrected by writing something to the effect of "...the most significant difference between split and modal double-faced cards (modal double faced cards are not the only kind of double faced card) is...". You could probably find a less awkward wording if you want.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 5, 2020 at 8:43

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