Magic's Funniest Oracle Rulings: Part Two

Nick Wolf • February 28, 2024

Lovestruck Beast by Kev Walker

It's Time Once Again to Consult The Oracle

The Oracle, a collective nickname for the database of every card's official rulings found on Gatherer, is the be-all and end-all of rules interpretations. The idea is that in order to play a game of Magic: The Gathering the way Richard Garfield intended, you need to know the rules, but there's a difference between knowing the rules and knowing that there are more rules than you know; it's a Rumsfeldian paradox that is made more palatable with The Oracle always in your corner. 

No one expects you to know everything. But The Oracle occasionally slips in a few jokes to make sure you're paying attention. Today, let's take a look at another handful of the funniest Oracle rulings to be found; if you missed Part One of this series (or sequence, if you're pedantic), you can find it here.

Apex Devastator

Fitting squarely into the "green creatures are just more fun" category of card design, Apex Devastator from 2020's Commander Legends and its many, many words of reminder text has a lot going on for such a seemingly simple concept. It turns out that while one instance of a triggered ability is easy to understand, repeating it thrice compounds its level of difficulty. At a glance, the card looks more like something from Portal than a "modern" Magic card. 

And if all that reminder text goes over your head and you need more nuanced explanation of casquade, there are 11 instances of Oracle rulings attached to the Hydra. However, there's one in particular that will make you wonder why you're bothering to play the card at all:

Each of Apex Devastator's four cascade abilities will look for a nonland card with mana value less than 10 (Apex Devastator's mana value). This doesn't change even if one or more of the spells you cast because of those cascade abilities has cascade itself. Each of those additional cascade abilities, if any, will refer to the mana value of the spell that caused it to trigger. In other words, each cascade ability cares only about the spell that caused it to trigger, the stack can get messy, and we wish you luck.

This is why I stick to simpler cards.

Belbe, Corrupted Observer

Belbe is a fun one, as the character was extremely overdue for a card until her appearance in Commander Legends. That set released in 2020, but Belbe (or Avila, if you're a hipster) was first introduced as one of the protagonists of the novelization of Nemesis, from 2000. 

Back when Nemesis was first being designed (the set, not the novel), there was a card created for the character, but traditionalists that they were, WotC lore police struck it from the final product. Apparently a "black elf" was a step too far, as was a theft mechanic in colors other than blue or red. How times have changed. Instead, we were given things that just belonged to Belbe, like her shortcut, outfit, or weird bird

As for Oracle text, there are three entries for Belbe, which is understandable since giving opponents things against their will is always a bit touchy. But one is particularly on-brand with Belbe's new life as a webcam for Yawgmoth: 

If an opponent loses life before their own postcombat main phase, Belbe will reward their suffering with mana.

It might as well tell you how to solve the Lemarchand Configuration.

Copy Catchers

Now we'll shift over to some cards hot off the presses. Of course, the presses are probably downright nuclear from being overworked with all these releases, but we're not here to talk about product fatigue. Unless The Oracle talks about it first, which it never will. 

Appearing a few months ago in Murders at Karlov Manor Commander, Copy Catchers is a two-mana Faerie that hasn't seen much play yet, as per EDHREC stats. Perhaps it's been buried underneath all the other new cards, or perhaps it's just not that good. I have no idea, and I leave those determinations to my colleagues. 

In the case of Copy Catchers, I'm more appreciative of Oracle text since I barely remember what surveil is half the time. The Oracle does not have an explanation of surveil. It assumes I just know that keyword by now. The Oracle underestimates how determined I am to maintain my willful ignorance of new things. There is one ruling, though, that caught my eye:

In the unusual case where Copy Catchers becomes a copy of something else while its triggered ability is on the stack but before it resolves, the token will enter the battlefield as a copy of whatever Copy Catchers is copying. (Do you copy? Over.)

The fact that the word "copy" is in a piece of Oracle text five times in one sentence is evidence enough that Magic is just too damn complicated anymore. Here's a video of me to really sell my irascible ways.

Incinerator of the Guilty

Speaking of a blatant refusal to learn new things, here's a card that says "evidence X" on it, which you undoubtedly understand. I, however, must consult the reminder text, and after that, The Oracle.

One thing I do understand is a big-ass red mythic Dragon, so I'll put a bit more effort into learning, just for the Incinerator's sake, and that allows me to feel like I'm in on The Oracle's little joke in one of the three rulings attached to the Dragon:

You may collect evidence 0, but you would be a lazy detective with no crispy culprits. Nevertheless, if you choose to do so, abilities that trigger "whenever you collect evidence", such as those of Surveillance Monitor and Evidence Examiner, will still trigger.

"The Lazy Detective" would be a pretty solid concept for a novel series, I think. 

King Darien XLVIII

These days, you only really need to understand Roman numerals to know which Super Bowl your uncle is talking about, and The Oracle is ready to help out. Kind King Darien from Dominaria United has three Oracle rulings, and one of them is straight to the point:

XLVIII is forty-eight.

But that's not all. The Oracle has another joke for us with King Darien, but before we get to that, I'd like to share a bit of the bloodline's lore. So, we all know about this Darien as well as Darien, King of Kjeldor, but did you know that there are many more Dariens? Of course, you say, there are at least 48 of them, right? Well, yeah, that's how names work. 

Not all 48 have any significance, though. The two we've mentioned have cards, but there's also Darien the First (mentioned in a short story contained within the anthology The Secrets of Magic), Darien the Bald, Darien the Foolish, Darien the Bold, and Darien the General. What the other 42 Dariens did during their reigns, we'll have to wait and see. 

As for that other piece of Oracle text, it's not so much of a joke as it is a way to prevent a joke from being repeated ad nauseum: 

In most cases where the value of X isn't defined in the text of a card, its controller chooses the value of X. However, the X in King Darien's name is always 10.

So don't try to get clever, The Oracle sees those gears grinding in your head a mile away.

Lovestruck Beast

A nod so fierce to Beauty and the Beast it needed a chiropractor, Lovestruck Beast from Throne of Eldraine sees more play in Pioneer than Commander. The Oracle does not care about formats, though, only the sweet and savory marrow contained within the bones of Magic. (Magic's bones are the rules, if that's not clear.)

As a card with the Adventure mechanic, The Oracle has plenty of marrow to slurp. It's a notoriously complicated concept, and it required a lot of finagling by the designers to fit within the existing ruleset without breaking everything. Because of this, Lovestruck Beast has 13 instances of Oracle rulings.

Most of it is about Adventure this and Adventure that, yadda yadda, but there are a few rulings about Lovestruck Beast's infatuation with 1/1s, particularly this gem: 

If Lovestruck Beast's power and toughness are reduced to 1/1, it learns that loving oneself is the first step on the true path to happiness, and it can attack even if you control no other 1/1 creatures.

Sometimes, The Oracle just wants you, like Lovestruck Beast, to realize your own potential. 

Nameless Race

Appearing one and only time in The Dark, Nameless Race is on the Reserved List. Just let that sink in for a bit. 

Nameless Race functions as a sort of one-time Phyrexian Processor, or more directly, its descendent, Minion of the Wastes. And face it, if it weren't for that iconic Quinton Hoover art, it would be not only nameless, but forgotten entirely. 

As a card, it's pretty straightforward, and as a result only has three instances of Oracle text attached to it. One, however, harkens back to a decision made during The Grand Creature Type Update. While the card itself declares its creature type as "Nameless Race," the update tweaked that a bit, as the Oracle text reminds us:

This currently has no creature type. It's Nameless.

And that's it. It's exactly what it says on the tin. I don't know why you were expecting something different.


As we saw with Lovestruck Beast, The Oracle only wants what's best for you. The Oracle loves you and expects nothing in return other than for you to take care of yourself. 

It conveys this through its missives, addendums attached to game pieces needed for your favorite hobby of Magic: The Gathering. It knows you'll hear it that way. 

Oh, and also did you know that Plaguecrafter first appeared in Guilds of Ravnica in 2018 and since then has been reprinted six times? That's too many times. What is it, Evolving Wilds?

Maybe that frequency is why The Oracle chose to use it as a means to make sure you're doing okay: 

Plaguecrafter can be the creature its controller sacrifices for its own ability. Don't be like Plaguecrafter; always wear personal protective equipment when performing dangerous work.

Never take advice from a one-armed machine operator, and always listen to The Oracle.


Debuting in 2008's Shadowmoor, Scuttlemutt is a weird little guy who both serves as a mana rock as well as a vessel through which annoying Magic players can prove how annoying they are. 

Like other cards with a similar ability, Scuttlemutt asks the player activating the ability to choose a color. Most normal, rational people understand that to mean one of white, blue, black, red or green. You know, the Roy G. Biv of the Blind Eternities. But there's always some smartass who activates a Scuttlemutt so they can say "clear!" or "purple!" or "saffron with a pinch of olive!"

The Oracle isn't going to take any of your crap with that business, believe you me:

You must choose one or more of the five colors of Magic while resolving Scuttlemutt's last ability. You can't choose "artifact," "colorless," or "chartreuse."

Listen, if you won't do it for me, do it for The Oracle. It ain't never did you no wrong.


For our last card of the day, I'd thought I'd end on a sour note to make you sad. The Oracle is still mad at that time in 2005 when you named "aquamarine" with a Quickchange during a Ravnica prerelease.

Good ol' Tetravus, from way back in 1994's Antiquities, has inspired so much since then. There's Pentavus, there's Hexavus, there's a Triskelavus, and there's even a Clamavus. That last one might not belong here, actually. 

They all (except for Clamavus) follow the same general concept: a big thing breaks off into a bunch of little things that can also reconstitute itself by reabsorbing the little things back into the big thing. Simple. 

But unlike its cousins, Tetravus comes with a very depressing bit of Oracle text: 

If the Tetravus is destroyed when the Tetravites are off the card, they are not destroyed, they are just orphaned.

Deckbuilding in Commander takes on a new wrinkle when you have to consider that every time you include targeted removal, you might be forever destroying a family. And as a bonus, here's another bit of Oracle text, just to salt that fresh emotional wound:

Only Tetravites from this specific Tetravus may be used for the ability. Ones from a different Tetravus can't.

Forever orphaned, and can't even be adopted. Woof.

There's Always Room for Improvement

With that, we'll put a pin in today's Oracle deep dive. There are still plenty of instances of humorous Oracle text out there, so be sure to check back often for a Part Three. 

Until next time, may The Oracle bless you with its wisdom.