Split cards have longed caused confusion in Magic: The Gathering for both judges and players alike. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at these pesky cards.
Split cards were first introduced in the Invasion block. It was picked back up in Dissension and again in Planar Chaos. When we got to the Return to Ravnica block, split cards now had the ability of Fuse – we will get to that later.
The CR describes split cards as Split cards have two card faces on a single card. The back of a split is the normal Magic card back – CR. 708.1
In every zone except the stack, split cards have two sets of characteristics and two converted mana costs. As long as a split card is a spell on the stack and wasn’t cast using fuse, only the characteristics of the half being cast exist. The other half’s characteristics are treated as though they didn’t exist. A split card that’s a spell on the stack and was cast using fuse has two sets of characteristics and one converted mana cost. Its converted mana cost is equal to the total amount of mana in its mana costs, regardless of color – 708.2.
Ok, so we know how the CR defines split cards. Seems easy enough, right? So let’s take a look at some rules interactions.
To start off, let’s address what the converted mana cost of a split card is. This can get a bit tricky. The split card, as stated in CR 708.2, has two cmc’s in every zone except the stack. That’s right, two. Why is that? Well, technically, it’s two different cards. So how does it work?
If you have a Dark Confidant in play and reveal a split card (Ready/Willing) how much life are you going to lose? Is it 3 or six? Can you pick just one? Do you have to take both?
Well, you are getting hit for six life loss. This is because there is two cmc’s and good ole’ Bob sees them both (3 and 3) and hit’s you for both of them. Ouch!
Can you imprint a split card on an Isochron Scepter? You bet!
Let’s take a look at Far/Away. The Far side of the card has a cmc of 2 (1U). The Away side has a cmc of 3 (2B). Since the Far side of the card meets the requirements set by the Scepter, you can exile it.
But can you only cast Far? Actually, no, you can cast both. All the Scepter asks is that you imprint an Instant with the cmc 2 or less. It doesn’t check again when you resolve the ability and go to cast the spell. You can’t, however, cast them Fused. That’s because when paying alternate costs, you can only choose to pay one.
So what happens when you give a split card Flashback?
When you cast it, you choose to cast one side or the other, but not Fused. Why can’t you cast it Fused? Again, that’s because you can only use one alternate casting cost.
What about Cascade?
Pretty simple, as long as one side meets the requirement for your Cascade, you can cast either card when the Cascade trigger resolves.
Can you find a split card when searching for a card with a specific mana cost? Absolutely! Again, as long as one side of the card meets the requirement, you’re good to go.
Let’s talk about Fuse. I know, we have already mentioned it, but I would be remiss if I didn’t spend just a little more time on it.
Fuse came about in Dragon Maze. Fuse gave us the ability to cast both halves of a split card by paying the total CMC of the card. In the case of Ready/Willing, I can cast it, Fused, for 2WWGB. This, then, gives me the effects of both sides of the card.
As mentioned, Fuse is an alternate casting cost. This is important to remember in the case of things like Cascade, Flashback, or anything else that allows you to cast the card other than using the actual cmc.
When you cast it Fused, it takes on the cmc of the entire card. So, if you’re trying to get around a Trinisphere, this could be an option for you depending on the card. If the split card is two different colors, then the Fused spell will take on both characteristics.
The other thing you need to remember is a Fused card will count as a single spell on the stack. When the spell resolves, you follow the instructions from left to right.
Split cards add an interesting vibe to the game. Although they can be difficult to understand how they work, remember to take a moment, think of this post, and you should be able to figure it out. When all else fails, call, “Judge!”
© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.