When a player is using cards printed with less than the latest Oracle text, to what extent are they obligated to inform opponents about this? To provide a contrived example:

P1 casts Ceta Disciple, with a printing that does not include the Merfolk type
P2 allows the spell to resolve
P2 casts Thoughtseize, sees six cards including a Lord of Atlantis, chooses to discard something else
P1 plays the lord and attacks with Ceta Disciple. P2 blocks with a 1/2.

If P2 never asks a question and takes Ceta Disciple's text at face value, is there a point in this exchange at which P1 is obligated to point out that the creature is a Merfolk?

1 Answer 1


No, players are not obliged to provide strategic information or the latest Oracle wording their opponents, at least not without being asked.

The rules to consult in this case are the Tournament Rules. There are several things to consider with this question.

Does the merfolk player have to assist with the power/toughness calculation of a card in their hand?

Let's start with section 4.1, Player Communication, about the nature of the information in question:

Free information is information to which all players are entitled access without contamination or omissions made by their opponents. If a player is ever unable or unwilling to provide free information to an opponent that has requested it, they should call a judge and explain the situation. Free information consists of:

• The name of any visible object. [..]

The name of the card is not under dispute, it's Ceta Disciple.

Derived information is information to which all players are entitled access, but opponents are not obliged to assist in determining and may require some skill or calculation to determine. Derived information consists of:

• All characteristics of objects in public zones that are not defined as free or status information. [..]

A Ceta Disciple on the battlefield is an object in a public zone. Its power/toughness are not free or status information (such as life points). Therefore, it's derived information. The opponent is not required to assist in the calculation of those values, and especially not when the Ceta Disciple is not even on the battlefield and therefore yet unaffected by the Lord.

From whom can you request the current Oracle wording of a card?

Section 3.6, "Card Identification and Interpretation", says:

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

This imposes a duty on the tournament judges, not on one's opponent, so the opponent is in the clear. In any case a player has to actively request that information. Nobody is obliged to provide it unprompted.

Does using an outdated print of a card constitute obfuscation?

The fact alone that many printed cards are outdated and do not have a up-to-date print, such as Ceta Disciple itself, already suggests that using such cards in a tournament setting is unproblematic. Players may even draw over their cards to a large extent while still remaining tournament legal. Section 3.3 Authorized Cards says:

Artistic modifications are acceptable in sanctioned tournaments, provided that the modifications do not make the card art unrecognizable, contain substantial strategic advice, or contain offensive images. Artistic modifications also may not cover or change the mana cost or name of the card.

The Merfolk player could paint over the type line of their cards and it would be a legal modification. Using a printed card that is out of sync with its current Gatherer wording is not obfuscation in any way. In fact, Wizards themselves have printed numerous, tournament-legal cards that contain no gameplay information at all except the card name and mana cost, the minimum required information as described above.

May the opponent lie about the Oracle wording of Ceta Disciple when asked?

This might be a tricky one. The characteristics of a card in hand other than its name are at most derived information (the hand is not a public zone, but it's a publicly known information in your scenario) as discussed above, so the opponent does not have to provide information about it. However, if they do give information and it's wrong (e.g. because they lied about it, which would seem most likely in this case), it might well be unsporting conduct, or even cheating, with various penalties attached.

Again section 4.1 Player Communication:

A player should have an advantage due to better understanding of the options provided by the rules of the game, greater awareness of the interactions in the current game state, and superior tactical planning. Players are under no obligation to assist their opponents in playing the game. Regardless of anything else, players are expected to treat opponents politely and with respect. Failure to do so may lead to Unsporting Conduct penalties.

I suspect this situation is not treated specifically in the rules because the MTR rightly assume that, because players have a right to request the full Oracle wording of that card from judges, it should not be possible to misrepresent the Oracle wording of a card.

So when a player lies about information they are not required to provide, is that (legal) bluffing, does it cross into unsporting conduct (not legal), or even cheating to gain an advantage (very illegal)? I would suspect that the Rules Enforcement Level (REL) would also factor in here. At the lowest level, such as for Friday Night Magic, bluffing in this manner against a less experienced player should be punished as Unsporting Conduct. At the highest levels, even though the stakes are greater, the expectations towards player experience are even greater, and it might pass as a legal bluff.

However, luckily for me, this last part is a hypothetical anyway. As for the core question: if the opponent doesn't ask, nobody is required by the rules to provide this piece of information on their own. If a player doesn't ask and makes a strategic error, it's on that player.

  • I've seen this question discussed previously about foreign language cards as well as no-text cards. Those cases are imo more straightforward, because it's clear that you need to look up the Oracle text. Whereas if a plain vanilla cards says "do X", you might just believe the text. Thanks for answering.
    – Fadeway
    Aug 25, 2022 at 15:25
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    You would have to inform them when they attempt to take an illegal action, in this case blocking the Ceta's Disciple when it has islandwalk if that is applicable, since lord of atlantis gives it +1/+1 and islandwalk. It will also matter during damage calculations, and may need to be brought up then (unless the opponent is blocking with something that will still kill the disciple, and will die to the disciple either way, where the extra power and toughness is irrelevant)1
    – Andrew
    Aug 25, 2022 at 16:01
  • Man this sort of stuff makes it seem like playing in an MTG tournament would just be an absolute pain unless you are intimately familiar with the Oracle wordings of all cards in the format. I could see myself playing against someone who has a Lord of Atlantis and feeling like I have to look up "is this creature a Merfolk" for every single creature my opponent plays.
    – GendoIkari
    Aug 25, 2022 at 18:51
  • The last question, can an opponent lie about the oracle wording, is treated specifically in the MTR. Oracle text is considered derived information and later parts of the quoted section 4.1 states that "Players may not represent derived, free, or status information incorrectly.". Aug 26, 2022 at 14:43
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    @GendoIkari Unless you're playing at a REALLY high level (and thus in the longer lived eternal formats), you're not likely to be in any tournaments that issues like this would apply to in any significant way. Sure there has been more recent errata, like the phyrexian typing additions, and the planeswalker rules changes, but it's rare and not much of anything modern actually cares about the changes at the moment. There's also the common sense of it if looks like it should have a species type, it probably does now on creatures old enough to have just had single types.
    – Andrew
    Aug 26, 2022 at 20:48

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