Magic The Gathering: What Is The Legend Rule?

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  • What Is A Legendary?
  • What Is The Legend Rule?
  • What About Legendary Instants And Sorceries?
  • Avoiding The Legend Rule

Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of Commander, more and more Magic the Gathering players are running into the Legend rule and not quite understanding how it works. While Legendary permanents can be incredibly powerful and serve as the backbone for many decks, there are some downsides to running them that you need to keep in mind.

But what exactly is the Legend rule, and how do you work around it? Here is everything you need to know about Legendary cards in Magic and the Legend rule.

What Is A Legendary?

On every Magic card, you'll see the 'type line' which defines whether that card is an instant, creature, sorcery, enchantment, land, artifact, or so on. Sometimes you might also find an extra word in front of it, such as a "Basic Land" or a "Snow Creature". These are called 'Supertypes' that modify how the rest of the card works, and it's in this family of supertypes where 'Legendary' can be found.

Legends serve a few different roles in Magic. They tend to represent the movers and shakers of the Magic multiverse, with Legendary Creatures and Planeswalkers usually representing the main characters of each set. Legendary creatures are also extensively used in the Commander format, where each deck must be built around one.

While many Legendary cards are very strong, Legendary doesn't inherently mean the card is better than a non-Legendary one. In fact, thanks to the Legendary rule, there are times where something being Legendary may actually be a disadvantage.

In sets released since 2018's Dominaria, you can quickly identify if a card is Legendary by its frame. All Legendaries printed since Dominaria have an ornate crown-like frame at the top of the card, setting them apart from anything else.

What Is The Legend Rule?

The Legend Rule is how Magic balances the often powerful effects of a Legendary permanent. To put it simply, you can't control more than one Legendary permanent (land, creature, enchantment, artifact, or Planeswalker) with the same name at the same time.

If you gain control of any additional Legendary permanents with the same name as one you already control, you will be forced to choose all but one to put into your graveyard. For example, say you control a Dina, Soul Steeper. If you cast another Dina, when that second one enters the battlefield, you'll have the choice to either sacrifice the first one or this new one.

Alternatively, you own Feather, the Redeemed, and your opponent does as well. Multiple players having control of the same Legendary are allowed, but if you then use a card like Claim the Firstborn to steal their Feather, you'll control two of them, and the Legend Rule will be in effect.

With Legendary creatures, while the Legend Rule doesn't count as the creature being sacrificed, it does count as it dying. That means anything with a death trigger, like Yosei the Morning Star's ability to prevent someone from untapping, will still happen.

Planeswalkers used to have a similar rule, where only one type of Planeswalker could be out on the battlefield at the same time under anybody's control (for instance, one of any kind of Ajani Planeswalker card). However, this rule was dropped with Ixalan, and now Planeswalkers are just bound to the normal Legend Rule. This means an opponent could control an Ajani, the Greathearted and an Ajani Goldmane, but they can't control two Ajani the Greathearteds simultaneously.

What About Legendary Instants And Sorceries?

As of January 2022, there are no Legendary Instants. However, it is assumed that they would fall under the same rules as Legendary Sorceries, which do exist and were introduced in Dominaria.

Legendary Sorceries aren't bound by the same Legend rule as permanents because they don't ever enter the battlefield. Instead, you can only cast a Legendary sorcery if you also control a Legendary Planeswalker or Legendary creature. This means you could control a Legendary artifact, enchantment, or land, but not a creature or Planeswalker and find yourself unable to cast the Legendary sorcery.

Avoiding The Legend Rule

There are ways to work around the Legend Rule.

First, Commander Legends introduced Sakashima of a Thousand Faces, a Legendary creature that simply turns off the rule for permanents you control. Similarly, the artifact Mirror Gallery does the same thing, but for all permanents, every player controls.

Some cards make non-Legendary copies of Legendary creatures. Cards like Spark Double, Double Major, and Helm of the Host all make copies of whatever creature you want, while Aeve, Progenitor Ooze makes non-Legendary copies of itself.

While it's a silver-bordered card and not legal in most formats, Rules Lawyer will also allow you to ignore the Legend Rule, as it is a state-based action.

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