Suppose that my opponent activates Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God's third loyalty ability, which reads:

Each opponent who doesn't control a legendary creature or planeswalker loses the game.

As the ability resolves, I control no legendary creatures, and the only planeswalker I control is either Personal Decoy or a copy of any other planeswalker created by Spark Double. What happens? In other words, should the text be interpreted as

who doesn't control (a legendary creature) or ([a] planeswalker)

in which case I don't lose, or

who doesn't control a legendary (creature or planeswalker)

in which case I do lose?

  • I agree with how you wrote the first interpretation--a second indefinite article "a" would be necessary before "planeswalker". Without that second article, it seems hard to argue for the first interpretation. Would be an interesting question for the English stack exchange! Sep 9, 2021 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


It needs to be a legendary planeswalker.

See this ruling from Ask an MTG Judge

mjwhitfield86 asked: Is Bolas, Dragon God’s ultimate stopped by non-legendary planeswalkers, such as Spark Double?

No. Bolas will only spare you if you have a legendary planeswalker or legendary creature.

Yes, the templating on this ability sucks, but legendary modifies both card types here.

  • 17
    There's good precedent for this ruling. On Fire Servant, "red" modifies "instant or sorcery". On Kithkin Mourncaller, "attacking" modifies "Kithkin or Elf". On Lucky Clover, "Adventure" modifies "instant or sorcery". On Quandrix Cultivator, "basic" modifies "Forest or Island". I can't find any examples that clearly work the other way.
    – murgatroid99
    Sep 9, 2021 at 2:15

Whilst I could be wrong I believe it's:

who doesn't control a legendary (creature or planeswalker)

In the case of the former, the text should explicitly specify

[a] planeswalker

as you've noted.

Unfortunately finding a ruling is proving difficult so perhaps someone else can help with that.

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