Spreading Seas vs. the Urza’s lands.

So by now, most people are familiar with the “Urzatron” decks that are popular in Modern. They revolve around getting the three different Urza’s lands (Power Plant, Mine, and Tower) to cast large spells rather quickly, getting 7 colorless mana from just 3 lands.

In an attempt to combat the deck, one trick people have been using is to include Spreading Seas in their decks or sideboards. They slap one on Urza’s Tower, and suddenly it’s an island! Now Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Power Plant don’t see that you control Urza’s Tower, so they don’t tap for 2 each any more.

“Wait a minute,” I hear you say, “Spreading Seas only changes the land type, not the card’s name!” True! Nice eye you have there! However, something you may not have noticed if you’re using the Antiquities version of these lands is that there has been an Oracle update to add land types to each of the Urza’s lands. Urza’s Power Plant, for example, now has the type line “Land – Urza’s Power-Plant” (The hyphen is there because Power-Plant is a single subtype, rather than two. “Power” isn’t a valid subtype, and “Plant” is a creature type).

“Sure, but what does that mean?” you ask. Let’s also look at the Oracle rules text for Urza’s Tower.

T: Add {1} to your mana pool. If you control an Urza’s Mine and an Urza’s Power-Plant, add {3} to your mana pool instead.

Notice that it doesn’t say “If you control cards named Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Power-Plant…” Urza’s Power-Plant isn’t the card’s name anyway, as the hyphen is only in the type line. When a card refers to objects on the battlefield this way, it means permanents with that type.

The other important thing to know for this interaction is that when a land has its type set to a basic land type (without saying “in addition to its other types), it loses any other land types it may have had, and also loses any printed abilities it has while gaining the appropriate mana ability granted by the basic land type it just got. This means your Urza’s Tower enchanted by Spreading Seas is named “Urza’s Tower,” but its type line becomes simply “Land – Island” (it doesn’t gain the Basic supertype), and its only ability is “T: Add {U} to your mana pool.”

Since the other Urza’s lands don’t see you controlling an “Urza’s Tower” land type, they only tap for {1}.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Josh Stansfield

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