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Oracle rules texts have several suspicious variations which do not appear to correspond to any differences in rules meaning.

For example, they may have any of the following forms...

[Do Action A] and [Do Action B].
[Do Action A], then [Do Action B].
[Do Action A]. Then [Do Action B].
[Do Action A]. [Do Action B].

Additionally, the word "also" is sometimes, but not always, embedded into an Action B.

Does any of this affect card functionality?

I know that for an instruction to draw or manifest multiple cards, each card draw or manifestation constitutes its own action, i.e., if you manifest two cards from the top of your library you do not get to choose which has an earlier timestamp, whereas if you Collected Company them onto the battlefield you do. This distinction can also affect how triggered abilities or replacement effects apply. However, this is determined by the nature of instructions in question; I'm not sure whether their wording in the context of the rules text also matters.

Secondly, there are differences in information revelation determined by the nature of instructions, i.e., players later in APNAP order applying an instruction for all players to make choices simultaneously learn earlier players' choices if cards are being chosen in public zones, but not if cards are being chosen in hidden zones (Rankle, Master of Pranks exemplifies both), but again, I'm not sure whether wording can also matter, such as when players are making choices across multiple actions within a single instruction, or across multiple instructions.

Do these wording differences in rules text matter at all?

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    Do you have a concrete example of a card where the answer to this question would make a difference in resolving that card's effects?
    – murgatroid99
    Sep 27, 2023 at 20:46
  • @murgatroid99 I think you're just asking OP their own question back. If OP knew of cards where these variations in wording would make a mechanical difference, we wouldn't have this question to begin with.
    – Hackworth
    Sep 28, 2023 at 9:21
  • No, I think you have that backwards. If we knew of a card for which we are unsure how to resolve it because we don't know the answer to this question, that provides motivation for resolving this question. On the other hand, if there is no such card (as I suspect), then the answer to this question is essentially independent of the Magic rules: the answer could just as easily be yes or no, and it would have no bearing on any possible game of Magic.
    – murgatroid99
    Sep 28, 2023 at 15:16
  • I think Hackworth did get the gist of the question, essentially, "is there ANY rule which treats the given rules text templates differently?" It must be the case that there either is or isn't such a rule. The danger I faced in asking less abstractly was failing to instantiate the appropriate rule, i.e., if it turned out that "discard 1 card and your opponent discards 1 card" did not allow the NAP to see the AP's choice before choosing, but "discard 1 card, then your opponent discards 1 card" did, I would run a substantial risk of listing "and" VS "then" examples without the relevant effect.
    – user10478
    Sep 28, 2023 at 18:09
  • Consider this: rule 608.2e effectively answers this question for instructions that call for multiple players to make choices. If the only actual cards for which this question makes a difference are cards with instructions like that, then that rule answers the question. Otherwise, it doesn't. So, it does matter what existing cards this question makes a difference for.
    – murgatroid99
    Sep 30, 2023 at 3:30

1 Answer 1

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No, you simply apply the rules of the English language unless the wording matches a specific pattern in the rules that would signify some property, such as an ability being triggered, or it creating a replacement effect. The differences in wording you list are for better readability/clarity, to create a more compact and comprehensible card text.

Grammatically, the things you listed are conjunctions. The are used to join together separate sentences that have a relation to each other, such as when they happen in a certain logical order, or they refer to the same thing in the same or a previous sentence.

Lobotomy has all 4 of these conjunctions you listed combined into one card. It serves as a convenient example of why the different wordings are applied even in the same card.

Let's break the card text down into clauses first:

  1. Target player reveals their hand, then you choose a card other than a basic land card from it.

  2. Search that player's graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with the same name as the chosen card and exile them.

  3. Then that player shuffles.

In clause 1, we could get rid of ", then" by rephrasing it as the equivalent:

1a Target player reveals their hand.

1b Choose a card other than a basic land card from that player's hand.

In clause 2 we could get rid of the first instance of " and " by rephrasing it as the equivalent:

2a Search that player's graveyard for all cards with the same name as the chosen card and exile them.

2b Search that player's hand for all cards with the same name as the chosen card and exile them.

2c Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as the chosen card and exile them.

We could further rephrase clauses 2a-c to get rid of the remaining instance of " and " by separating the "exile them" instruction into its own clause, but you can already see where this would be going.

Clause 3 could simply be rephrased as:

3 That player shuffles.

You can imagine the huge chunk of text that would result from the omission of these conjunctions. It would still be perfectly functional card text, but, apart from the fact that you can't fit so much text on a physical card in standard font size, it would be much more difficult to comprehend what the card is even saying mechanically.

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