Arcana

What Animate Dead Says

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The letter I!n 1993, Limited Edition Alpha introduced Magic to the world. And here's one of the cards:



Enchant Dead Creature

Any creature in either player's graveyard comes into play on your side with -1 to its original power. If this enchantment is removed, or at end of game, target creature is returned to its owner's graveyard. Target creature may be killed as normal.

That's Animate Dead. And that wording doesn't really work. It's an "Enchant Dead Creature," but as soon as it starts working, the creature isn't really "dead." But there are lots of early cards with weird wordings. When Revised came around, Animate Dead got, well, revised:


Enchant Dead Creature

Any creature in any graveyard comes into play on your side with -1 to its original power. At end of game, or if this enchantment is discarded without removing target creature from play, target creature is returned to its owner's graveyard. Target creature may be killed as normal.

That's really not that helpful. It just rewords the section in the middle. Did you notice that there's an explicit clause about returning the creature to its owner when the game's over? That's to distinguish it from weirdness like Tempest Efreet, yesterday's Card of the Day. Fifth Edition brought another version into being.


Enchantment

When you play Animate Dead, choose target creature card in any graveyard. When Animate Dead comes into play, put that creature into play and Animate Dead becomes a creature enchantment that targets the creature. Enchanted creature gets -1/-0. If Animate Dead leaves play, bury the creature.

In this version, Animate Dead is no longer an Aura. Well, it's no longer a "creature enchantment," because Aura's don't exist yet. This wasn't entirely satisfactory either.

And this is where things start to get abstract. Because Animate Dead stopped appearing in printed cardsets, the rules team was free to try different wordings. Here's what the official wording of Animate Dead was in 2005:

Enchantment

When Animate Dead comes into play, if it’s in play, it becomes an Aura with enchant creature. Put target creature card from a graveyard into play under your control and attach Animate Dead to it.

Enchanted creature gets -1/-0.

When Animate Dead leaves play, destroy enchanted creature. It can’t be regenerated.

And here's what it was changed to in 2007, when the invention of "Aura" let the text box hold the complicated description of what exactly an aura was supposed to be enchanting:

Enchantment — Aura

Enchant creature card in a graveyard

When Animate Dead comes into play, if it's in play, it loses "enchant creature card in a graveyard" and gains "enchant creature put into play with Animate Dead." Return enchanted creature card to play under your control and attach Animate Dead to it. When Animate Dead leaves play, that creature's controller sacrifices it.

Enchanted creature gets -1/-0.

It got changed again in 2009 with the introduction of the term "battlefield," which replaced "in play":

Enchantment — Aura

Enchant creature card in a graveyard

When Animate Dead enters the battlefield, if it’s on the battlefield, it loses “enchant creature card in a graveyard” and gains “enchant creature put onto the battlefield with Animate Dead.” Return enchanted creature card to the battlefield under your control and attach Animate Dead to it. When Animate Dead leaves the battlefield, that creature’s controller sacrifices it.

Enchanted creature gets -1/-0.

There! That's complicated, but the rules team assures us that it works properly. And if it looks weird, so what? It's not like we're printing Animate Dead again any time soon, right?

...right?

Well, if you look closely at the packaging for Graveborn, you'll see that we are printing Animate Dead soon. On November 18, in fact. So here's what it's going to look like!

Animate Dead

Lovely!

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