Magic's Funniest Oracle Rulings

Nick Wolf • January 24, 2024

For many Magic players, it's almost a rite of passage to be told for the first time that "reading the card explains the card."

Listen, this game is complicated. There are around 26,000 unique cards that exist in Magic: The Gathering, and of those 26,000 cards, sometimes reading the card absolutely does not explain the card. 

That's where Oracle text comes in. The Oracle is a nickname for the database of every card's official rulings. Most of those 26,000 cards don't feature Oracle rulings that differentiate from the text printed directly on the card, but there are still plenty that needed further interpretation, and if the card is +2 Mace, then Mark Rosewater himself has to get involved

Whether it's an older card that contains a bunch of extraneous words, or a newer card that snuck through playtesting, the Oracle sorts everything out for Magic players. But sometimes, those creating that Oracle ruling drop in little nuggets of humor to check if people are still paying attention. 

There are nearly 200 instances where Oracle rulings contain a hidden joke or pun, which, considering there are 30 years of cards in the database, that's remarkable restraint. Let's check out some of these humorous Oracle rulings:


The famously difficult-to-pronounce Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar features five instances of Oracle rulings... that is, if you count Gavin Verhey's YouTube pronunciation guide as an "Oracle ruling."

But that's not all. After Oracle text detailing the nitty-gritty of Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar's ability and unusual casting requirements, there's also one last ruling:

"Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is pronounced just like it's spelled."

Very helpful, thanks. And further, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar's own Underworld Cookbook comes with its own Oracle joke, rolled up into an actual helpful rules tidbit: "The Underworld Cookbook's last ability can target any creature card in your graveyard, not just one discarded with its first ability. For example, if a Granite Gargoyle you control dies after being dealt damage by Lightning Axe, you could use The Underworld Cookbook to make a delicious Gargoyle entrée."

Bake into a Pie

With a card like Bake into a Pie, seriousness isn't exactly paramount. From the name to the art and flavor text, the card was developed with a level of self-awareness that stands out among all the talk of murder lately. 

Bake into a Pie's Oracle rulings include further information on how exactly to fulfill the requirements to create a Food token, what a Food token is, and how to sacrifice said Food tokens properly. 

There's also an added footnote pleading with players not to get too carried away with all that talk of food: "Whatever you do, don't eat the delicious cards."

It's a reasonable request, and one that we actually see repeated several times on other Food-related spells, like Bartered Cow or Oko, Thief of Crowns.

They even put an added lore-specific spin on the staple plea in the Oracle rulings for Motivated Pony, Second Breakfast, and Shelob, Child of Ungoliant: "Do not eat the delicious cards. No, not even for second breakfast."

Blex, Vexing Pest

This gross little guy from Strixhaven has two added Oracle rulings, and both contain a little extra flavor than the standard rules legalese.

Here's the first: "If a creature is more than one of the creature types Blex cares about, it may haunt your dreams, but it will get the +1/+1 bonus only once." It's really just pointing out that a creature that qualifies as both a "snake" and a "spider" simultaneously would be scary in real life, which is probably true. 

It's the second Oracle ruling that actually elicits a chuckle: "While resolving Search for Blex, you may put any number of the cards into your hand, even if you don't have enough life to cover it. We'll assume you have a plan that's better than 'and then I'll lose the game.'"

It's funny, and it's also bold to make that assumption.

Demonic Pact

We know that "reading the card explains the card," but with the helpful reminder from the Oracle text of Demonic Pact, we also know that "reading the contract explains the contract."

There are six Oracle rulings that come along with Magic Origins' Demonic Pact that include answers to what would be pretty common questions for a card that says "you lose the game" on it, including the tidbit that makes it such a popular card in Blim, Comedic Genius decks: "It doesn't matter who has chosen any particular mode. For example, say you control Demonic Pact and have chosen the first two modes. If an opponent gains control of Demonic Pact, that player can choose only the third or fourth mode."

It's the last ruling, though, that encourages players to be fully versed in any document that requires a signature and a commitment: "Yes, if the fourth mode is the only one remaining, you must choose it. You read the whole contract, right?"

Falling Star

Here's one that isn't exactly a common sight at Commander tables. Maybe that's because it's technically on the Reserved List and thus $100, or maybe because it's ridiculous. Probably a combination of both.

Cards like Falling Star and Chaos Orb are considered "dexterity cards" in the parlance of the game and are no longer printed in black border. They do still pop up from time to time in silver border, but accommodations for players unable to perform the physical action required must be made. Most notably, that comes into play as "agreeing with the opponent on an alternative action that feels fair," or "inviting an outside-the-game person to perform the action." 

As far as Falling Star goes, the entire text box from what's printed in Legends has been rewritten for clarity, and because of that overhaul there's only two added Oracle rulings. One involves reminding players that only cards still in contact with Falling Star after it stops moving are affected.

The other involves the recommended style of toss: "It must flip like a coin and not like a Frisbee."

So if you were hoping to be able to bifurcate your opponents cards like you were Gambit from The X-Men, I've got bad news for you.

Harmless Offering

Harmless Offering from Eldritch Moon is the cardboard equivalent of the adage "Only a fool pays for a cat."

If you ask around enough, you're bound to find someone willing to just give you one, especially if it's secretly a monster.

True to fashion of cat donation, Harmless Offering is a pretty straightforward card, insomuch as the card's effect is summed up in only nine words. 

Because of that simplicity, there's only one Oracle ruling attached to it: "Your opponent can't refuse your generous donation."

No means no, but in terms of donating a cat, no means nothing.

And speaking of cats, with the impending release of the Secret Lair Commander Deck: Raining Cats and Dogs, there's one feline-focused card noticeably absent from the list in Nine Lives. That one features its own bit of tongue-in-cheekery: "If more than one source deals damage to you at once, prevent the damage from each of them and put that many incarnation counters on Nine Lives, even if this causes more than nine incarnation counters to be on Nine Lives. Leave it to cats to abuse loopholes."

Illusionary Presence

Being from Ice Age, it's somewhat surprising that the words printed on Illusionary Presence are more-or-less still what the card actually does. 

It's been reworded a bit via Oracle, but the gist is largely the same: "At the beginning of your upkeep, choose a land type. Illusionary Presence gains landwalk of the chosen type until end of turn. (It can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a land of that type.)"

As far as added Oracle rulings, there are three, including one paragraph-long addendum concerned with how exactly "cumulative upkeep" works. There's a second ruling reminding players that despite the card's art, you can't give Illusionary Presence "Snow landwalk" since Snow is a supertype and not a subype. 

And thirdly, there's one last reminder: "Can only give landwalk of land sub-types that exist (so you can no longer give 'Island of Wak-Wak walk')."

And speaking of Island of Wak-Wak, that particular ruling is reinforced in its own Oracle footnote, simply stating that "This is not an Island."

Indestructible Aura

Known more for its sweet art than anything, Indestructible Aura from Legends only has one Oracle footnote, which funnily undoes pretty much everything this card says: "Despite the name, this card only prevents damage and not destroy effects. It's also not an Aura."

Think about that next time you're tempted to type "RTFC" at someone in the Magic: The Gathering subreddit.

Kami of Terrible Secrets

With Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, we saw the return of the Kami, a variety of Spirit endemic to the plane that often featured a variety of floating eyeballs and other facial accoutrements.

This particular Kami is no different, and further it served as a bit of a signpost for the set's subtheme of controlling both artifacts and enchantments, essentially becoming a worse Phyrexian Rager if you're able to satisfy those caveats.

In terms of Oracle rulings, there are three. Two of them include helpful bits of information, reminding players that the artifact and enchantment needed could be the same card, and exactly when and how the Kami's ability will trigger. 

There's also some added lore (?) in the Oracle rulings: "Its terrible secret is that it always forgets to call home on Mother's Day."

Mairsil, the Pretender

Whenever a card is concerned with multiple game zones, you know there's going to be a ton of extra rulings that aren't featured on the card itself. 

Such is the case with Commander 2017's Mairsil, the Pretender. The card includes 11 different Oracle rulings to go along with the words that are actually on the card, covering myriad potential questions about exile, cage counters, and what happens if multiple cards with the same ability are exiled with the aforementioned cage counters ("Mairsil will have multiple instances of that ability. Each may be activated once each turn." In case you were curious.)

There are also two footnotes that concern a few corner cases that no doubt have come up somewhere since Mairsil debuted in August of 2017. Here's one: "If Mairsil has a crew ability, creatures can crew Mairsil. It'll become an artifact creature, but its power and toughness remain unchanged."

That's not really a joke in and of itself, but it's still funny to imagine Mairsil turning into a sailboat. Then there's the case of giving Mairsil the ability of another notoriously rules-bending variety of artifact: "If Mairsil has an equip ability, activating it won't cause anything to happen. Mairsil doesn't become attached to a creature. They may remain friends."

I hope that clears up any potential romantic subplots that might develop during your next Commander game.

Persistent Petitioners

Sure, the world of Magic is currently abuzz with the new Slime Against Humanity's "any number of cards with this name" clause, but Persistent Petitioners did it way before Slime did. Of course there was also Relentless Rats, Rat Colony, Shadowborn Apostle, and Dragon's Approach, but we're not talking about those right now.

The Petitioners have three Oracle rulings to go along with the words on the card, including a reminder that since the "tap" symbol isn't included in the ability, summoning sickness does not play a part in its activation. It also reminds us that you can't tap the same Petitioners for multiple abilities, so don't try. 

Then there's this: "The last ability of Persistent Petitioners lets you ignore the 'four-of' rule. It doesn't let you ignore format legality. For example, during a Ravnica Allegiance Limited event, you can't add Persistent Petitioners from your personal collection, no matter how much they ask."

Remember that when you head to Murders at Karlov Manor prerelease.

Revel in Riches

Back in my day, we played Black Market and we liked it.

Ever since Revel in Riches came along in Ixalan, it can't really be argued that it's a strictly better version of Black Market. Treasures are obviously much more versatile than a one-time bump of a black mana, and then there's that whole "you win the game" clause tacked onto the end. 

Speaking of, there are four Oracle rulings concerning Revel in Riches, with all four including the word "Treasures" in some way or another. There is a reminder of when exactly that "win the game" caveat triggers, how exactly Treasures are totted up to determine if you've won said game, and what happens if Revel in Riches and opponent's creatures are simultaneously destroyed (you still get the Treasure.)

There's also an added footnote concerning decorum when activating an alternate win condition: "If the second ability of Revel in Riches causes you to win the game, please refrain from throwing your Treasure tokens into the air as this may distract or injure other players."

Frankly, I think the Oracle is overstepping here. If I want to throw my Treasure tokens into the air, I'm gonna.

Sleeper Agent

Originally from Urza's Saga, Sleeper Agent is a bit weird. In fact, that's an official ruling. 

There's only one instance of Oracle text accompanying Sleeper Agent, but it's pretty telling: "This card is a bit weird. When it enters the battlefield under your control, you give control of it to an opponent. After that it damages them each turn because the "you" on the card means its controller."

Listen, there are tens of thousands of cards created over the course of three decades. Sometimes the Oracle gets to just say things are "weird" and we all accept that and move on.

Warchanter Skald

If you're strictly a Commander player, you're forgiven for not knowing this card even existed. Likely more familiar to those who played Kaldheim Limited, Warchanter Skald pretty much does what it says on the tin.

Even still, there are three added Oracle rulings to go along with it, related to what it truly means to "tap," as well as when the card actually checks to see if it's enchanted or equipped. 

The last bit of Oracle text provides a helpful clue, in case you needed it: "Warchanter Skald's triggered ability doesn't allow you to tap it. You have to find some other way to tap it. You could attack with it, I suppose?"

Yes, Your Opponent Can't Even. We Know.

We talked about plenty of cards with secret Oracle humor, but that's barely scratching the surface. Maybe next time we'll look at some more. 

And with the release of Murders at Karlov Manor, we'll surely get a few additional cracks at Oracle jokes to go along with the grisly killings and Clue tokens that abound.