Split cards have been a source of confusion among players and judges for about as long as they’ve existed. The information on how to handle these cards is out there, but the goal of this guide is to consolidate that information into one guide.
Split Cards in General
A split card is fairly identifiable. It looks like they stuck two Magic cards onto one Magic face. For instance, let’s take a look at Assault // Battery.
Assault // Battery has two halves. Anywhere but the stack, Assault // Battery has two sets of characteristics. It’s a red card that costs R, and it’s also a green card that costs 3G. When you choose to cast it, you can only cast one side or the other. You can’t cast both halves at once (we’ll talk about fuse in a bit). Even if you have access to 3GR, you can still only cast Assault or Battery, not both at once.
A lot of the confusion with split card comes with the card having two sets of characteristics. For instance, if something asks what the converted mana cost of Assault // Battery is, it’s going to get two answers: 1 and 4. Its converted mana cost is never 5 (although some cards may look at the information given and make it look like 5, but more on that later).
Since it’s a red and green card in every zone besides the stack, something that could search for a red card or a green card could search for it. In addition, since it’s a red and green card, it counts as a multicolored card, so you could use something like Glittering Wish to get Assault // Battery from your sideboard.
Once you’ve decided which side you’re going to cast, we ignore the other side and just focus on the side you’re casting. If you decide to cast Assault, then we ignore the Battery side, so Assault will just be a red spell with a converted mana cost of one on the stack. It won’t be a green spell, so Dragon’s Claw would trigger when you cast Assault, but Wurm’s Tooth would not. This also means that we’re free to cast Assault on a creature with protection from green, since it’s a red spell. Until Assault leaves the stack, we’ll continue to ignore the side that we didn’t cast. This also makes the converted mana cost of the Assault 1, so it would get countered by something like Chalice of the Void with 1 counter on it (but not 4 or 5 counters).
Split cards and Inquisition of Kozilek
Let’s start with a basic example. Let’s say I have Assault // Battery in my hand, and you cast Inquisition of Kozilek targeting me. Can you choose the split card? The answer is yes. When Inquisition is checking the converted mana cost of the card, it gets two answers: 1 and 4. Since one side answered with ‘1’, that means Assault // Battery is a legal option for the Inquisition. It also has a converted mana cost of 4, but Inquisition doesn’t care. What it cares about is that at least one side has a converted mana cost of 3 or less.
Split Cards and Persecute
Let’s say you know I have a Fire // Ice in my hand, and you want to ensure that I discard it. What color do you want to name? Naming either “red” or “blue” will work. While Fire // Ice is in my hand, we use both sides to determine its characteristics. Fire is red, and Ice is blue, so it’s a red and blue card in my hand, and naming red or blue will ensure that I discard it.
Split Cards and Dark Confidant
Here’s the big one that seems to confuse a lot of people. I have a Dark Confidant on the battlefield, and I reveal Boom // Bust to my Confidant trigger. How much life do I lose? The answer is that I will lose a total of 8 life. The Confidant asks what the converted mana cost of Boom // Bust is. It replies back with “2 and 6”. It’s not trying to make a comparison to anything; it’s just asking what the converted mana cost of it is, so it will use both answers that it gets. In the end, I’m going to lose 2 and 6 life for a total of 8 life.
Split Cards and Cascade
Now we’re getting to the fun part. Let’s say I cast a Violent Outburst and, with the cascade trigger, I reveal a Boom // Bust. Since the converted mana cost of Boom // Bust is 2 and 6, that qualifies as “having a converted mana cost of 2 or less”, so that’s the card you’re allowed to cast. Which half are you allowed to cast? You can actually cast either side, Boom or Bust. Cascade is just telling you that you may cast that card. There’s nothing that says you have to cast the side that has a converted mana cost or two or less, so you’re allowed to cast the other side. So if you cascade into Boom // Bust, you can cast either half of the card.
Split Cards and Counterbalance
Let’s say your opponent casts a spell with a converted mana cost of 3, and you’re resolving a Sensei’s Divining Top activation and you’re looking at a Wear // Tear and an Illusion // Reality. Which card do you need to reveal with the Counterbalance to counter your opponent’s spell? You want to reveal Illusion // Reality. Remember: a split card has two sets of characteristics. With the Counterbalance, we’re looking at the converted mana cost of the card, so we use all answers that we get, we don’t add them together. If you reveal Wear // Tear, you’re revealing a card with a converted mana cost of 2 and 1. Neither one of those has a converted mana cost of 3, so your opponent’s spell will not be countered. If you reveal Illusion // Reality, you’re revealing a spell with a converted mana cost of 1 and 3. One side has a converted mana cost of 3, so that will counter your opponent’s spell.
Split Cards and Disciple of Deceit
Let’s say you untap your Disciple of Deceit, and with the inspired trigger, discard an Assault // Battery. What are you searching for? The converted mana cost of Assault // Battery is 1 and 4, so you’re able to search for a card with a converted mana cost of 1 or 4. You’re not allowed to search for something with a converted mana cost of 5, since you did not discard a card with a converted mana cost of 5.
Split Cards and Flashback
You decided to use your Snapcaster Mage to give your Fire // Ice flashback. What are you options when casting it? When you cast it, you’re only casting one half of the card or the other. You ignore the side that you’re not casting. And you can only pay the flashback cost associated with that side of the card. If you want to flashback Fire, you need to pay 1R. You cannot choose to pay 1U, since that flashback cost is associated with the Ice side of the card, not Fire.
Split Cards and Isochron Scepter
As we’ve figured out from earlier, a split card like Illusion // Reality has two converted mana costs, 1 and 3. Since it’s an instant with a converted mana cost of 1, you can choose to imprint it onto your Isochron Scepter. But each time you activate the Scepter, you can choose to cast either half of the card. The Scepter is making a copy of the exiled card and letting you cast a copy of it. Since you’re casting it, you can choose to cast either half. You could cast Illusion the first time you activate the Scepter, and then Reality the next time, even though Reality has a higher converted mana cost. The Scepter’s activated ability doesn’t care what the converted mana cost of the spell is, so you can cast either side, even if that side has a higher converted mana cost.
Split Cards and Meddling Mage
This interaction actually changed with the release of Dragon’s Maze. It used to be that if you were naming a card, you had to name the entire split card. For instance, if you wanted to block Fire // Ice, you would name “Fire // Ice” with the Meddling Mage and that would stop you from casting either side of it. But a split card actually has two names, not one. So now with Meddling Mage, you’re only allowed to name one half of the split card, not the entire card. If I know you’re running Far // Away, I can choose to name either “Far” or “Away” with my Meddling Mage. I can’t name both. If I name “Far”, you can’t cast “Far”, and you cannot cast “Far // Away” fused. But you could cast “Away”, since it has a different name.
Split Cards and Gifts Ungiven
Let’s say you really want to try to get a Fire // Ice with Gift Ungiven (or at least get two into the graveyard). Can you search for two copies of Fire // Ice with the Gifts and claim “this one is named Fire, this one is named Ice”? The answer is no. Anywhere but the stack, you’re taking both sides of the split card into account, you can’t just ignore one side of it for naming purposes. So you cannot search for two copies of “Fire // Ice” since they both have the same names.
Split Cards with Fuse
Fuse is a new option that appeared with split cards that were printed in Dragon’s Maze. For the most part, they behave like normal split cards. It’s only when you cast them that things can change. If you’re casting the fuse card from your hand, you can cast both sides by paying the cost for both sides. For instance, if you wanted to cast Far // Away fused, you would pay a total of 3UB. This puts a single spell on the stack that consists of both Far and Away, so you’ll get both halves when it resolves. It’s a single spell on the stack, so one counterspell is enough to deal with both halves. When the spell resolves, you follow the instructions on the left side of the card first, followed by the instructions on the right. For instance, with Far // Away, you’ll bounce the targeted creature before the targeted player sacrifices a creature.
Casting it fused is only an option if you’re casting it from your hand. That means if you’re casting it from somewhere else (like your graveyard via flashback, your library via cascade, or exile via isochron scepter), you cannot cast it fused. You can only cast one side or the other. If you cast it fused, then it has both sets of characteristics combined. For instance, Far // Away cast fused is a blue and black spell, so you couldn’t target a creature with protection from black or protection from multicolored with the Far half. Even though the Far half is blue, since you’re casing it fused, it’s a blue and black spell, so if you really want to remove a Soldier of the Pantheon, you have to cast just Far. And you take the combined mana costs of both sides to determine its converted mana cost while it’s on the stack. That means in the case of casting Far // Away fused, its converted mana cost is actually 5, not 2 and 3.
That’s all I have this time. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment in the forum or contact me via e-mail.
DCI Level 2 Judge