Older Cards

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Over the course of the game, the rules and the way cards are written have been modified several times. The following rules apply in Legacy Format to certain older cards.

For the purposes of determining when a card was last printed, ignore inclusion of reprints in non-base-set starter decks except where noted as a specific card's Most Recent Printing in the Older Card Rulings or Rules Archive.


For cards printed prior to GLORY OF THE EMPIRE:

  • All references to "Actions" as a card type refer instead to Strategies.
  • The wording "can not [x]/cannot [x]" means "negate [x] in the specified context." The scope and duration of these negation effects follow current-arc rules.

Example: The ability "Battle: Target a Personality. He cannot move home." means "Battle: Target a Personality. Negate his movement home (until the turn ends)."

For cards printed prior to KHAN'S DEFIANCE:

The Player

  • The word "perform" in any tense, when referring to a player, should be read as "take" in the appropriate tense (i.e., "You may perform this action..." would read "You may take this action..."). Players do not "perform" actions. [ADDED June 20 2008]

Card types

  • All instances of the term "Elemental Ring(s)" should be considered to read "Ring(s)". [ADDED April 28 2008]

Card features

  • References to "traits" also include keywords.
  • Individual keywords may be split from larger ones.
For example, a card with the "Jade Champion" keyword would have the separate keywords Jade and Champion, in addition to being a Jade Champion card. Conversely, Samurai-legal and later cards’ keywords are innately indivisible; Fusami is an “Advisor from the Shogun”, but not considered a Shogun card.
EXCEPTION: The following keywords are indivisible: [X] Clan; Battle Maiden; Clan Champion; Elemental Master; Fu Leng. “[X] Clan Champion” may be split into the following two-word keywords: [X] Clan and Clan Champion. [example DELETED April 08 2008]
EXCEPTION: A card looking for the lone “Champion” keyword will find it even if it is part of an indivisible keyword, including Clan Champion. For example, Bayushi Hisako is a Samurai-legal card with the innately indivisible keyword “Bitter Lies Champion” and Bayushi Yojiro Exp2 is a “Scorpion Clan Champion”; The Emperor Returns WOULD recognize them both as Champion cards. [exception ADDED April 08 2008]
  • Card titles also count toward determining keywords. This is true when determining an older card’s keywords and when an older card is looking for keywords. (For example, a card titled "Cavalry Reserves" is a Cavalry card. Likewise, the Holding Shokansuru will pay for the Samurai-legal card Summon Maseru no Oni). This does NOT apply to the "Tactical" keyword. [CLARIFIED April 08 2008]
  • Reserved game terms that are not defined as a keyword in the rules (such as “battle,” “army,” “Defender”), when they appear as keywords on cards, are not referred to by things that call for the reserved game term. For example, a Toturi’s Army personality is not referred to by things that call for an “army.”
  • Partial words and hypenated words are not detachable as keywords. For example, an Oni-Daikyu is not an Oni and a Monkey card is not a Monk.
  • Plural and possesive forms of keywords are equivalent to the singular (“Berserker” and “Berserkers”; "Fu Leng" and "Fu Leng's"). [possessive ADDED April 08 2008]

Non-card physical game elements

  • Things that say they create tokens with a card type (such as “Follower tokens”) create cards of that type instead of tokens. Likewise, any text that refers to a "token" or "non-token" card type should be read as referring to "created" or "non-created". [inverse rule ADDED April 08 2008]

Costs and restrictions

  • If a cost states that a card “may remain bowed”, this lasts while the card remains bowed (as does an effect). [ADDED April 08 2008]
  • Continuous traits that alter cost using the word "for" only alter the cost while it is being paid (ie "Costs 3 less Gold for a Crane Clan player"). [ADDED April 08 2008]
  • If a cost is altered by an effect without a stated duration, the default duration for that effect is until the end of the turn OR until the cost is paid, whichever comes first. [ADDED April 08 2008]

Effects: includes negation, duration of effects, delayed effects

  • Paired costs and effects phrased in the manner of “sent home bowed” are unitary – if one change (for example, sending home) is negated so is the other (for example, bowing).

Abilities and actions

  • Abilities on a bowed card can be used if their costs or effects say they can straighten that card or Stronghold, regardless of other effects. If this exception is claimed, the player must make choices within the action so that the card itself is included in the straightening.


  • All "Open" actions may be taken at a normal opportunity to take Battle Actions during the Combat Segment. Such actions must follow the rules of Location and Presence like Battle actions, but are not considered Battle actions.
  • A card that takes an action in a battle "even if you have no units in the battle" ignores the rule of Location as well as Presence.
  • Abilities on a Region can only be used during battle if the current battlefield is at the Region's Province.

Challenges and duels

  • Actions that cause a Personality controlled by the player who took the action to issue a challenge are performed by that Personality.
  • A player cannot take an action that would cause one of his bowed Personalities to issue a challenge as one of its known effects. [CLARIFIED April 08 2008]
  • Challenges may always be refused unless the card creating the challenge specifies otherwise.
  • Duels destroy the loser unless another penalty for losing is stated.
  • Cards with traits that activate "When" or "After" the card is revealed as a Focus are considered to be Focus Effects for the purposes of resolving their timing and for other cards or effects that refer to "Focus Effects".

Special wording rules

  • An "additional" action, beyond those explicitly referred to as "additional", is defined as your own non-Reaction action, taken after another of your own non-Reaction actions, which bypasses other players' normal option to act or pass unless they have lost this option due to another effect. [ADDED April 08 2008]
  • Use of the word "card" does not refer to Strongholds unless explicitly stated (ie "actions on cards" does not refer to actions on a Stronghold). [ADDED April 08 2008]
  • "Opposing" generally means "opposing this card," but where that interpretation cannot apply, its meaning is determined from context rather than defaulting to "opposing a card you control at any location". Generally, "opposing" will mean "opposing the card performing this action" (e.g., Rain of Death's abilities are only useable by Tacticians at the current battlefield).
  • References to cards you “own” refer to cards in and out of play unless otherwise stated. [ADDED April 08 2008]
  • The "Unaligned" keyword may appear on a card explicitly. References to "Unaligned" cards made in any set also refer to pre-Khan's Defiance cards with the explicit Unaligned keyword, even if the card also has a faction alignment. [ADDED July 29 2007]

For cards printed prior to LOTUS EDITION:

Costs and restrictions

  • Personalities who bow as the cost of an action are implicitly targeted in the action’s constraints block. [ADDED April 08 2008]

Special wording rules

  • A card that reads "Cancel an action" should be treated as if it read "Negate all effects of the action". Note that other aspects of the old rules about cancelled actions do not apply in Legacy format – most importantly, cancelled actions in Legacy do count as having been taken.

For cards printed prior to DAWN OF THE EMPIRE:

Abilities and actions

  • An action may be taken any number of times per turn unless otherwise stated on the card. (This Rule also applies to the non-bugged cards printed IN Dawn of the Empire.) [Clarified, 16 July 2011]
  • An action's costs are separated from the action's effect by the word "To" or "For" instead of by colons.
  • An action targets whenever it requires a choice to be made of what card it affects, or what card pays the non-gold costs of the action.

For cards printed prior to DIAMOND EDITION:

Card types

  • [All Regions Singular rule REMOVED April 23 2008]

Costs and restrictions

  • An action or trait's costs are separated from its effects by the word "To" or "For" instead of by colons. Also, any action or trait that asks for any of the following things in the first sentence of its text has that thing as a cost:
  1. bow a card that you control, including the card on which the action or trait appears
  2. bow the card’s own Personality (in the case of attachments)
  3. destroy the card
  4. give the card itself or its Personality a stat reduction that is not accompanied by another stat increase to the same card. Example: "Give this Personality +2F/-1C" is not a cost but "Give this Personality -1C" is.
  5. pay Gold
  6. discard a card from your hand
  7. discard the Imperial Favor

[cost rule ADDED July 29 2007, numbers 3 and 6 ADDED April 08 2008]

Special wording rules

  • An action that "counts as a use of the tactician trait" is a TACTICAL action.
  • An effect that "discards a card from play" removes that card from the game.
  • Cards that target a "bowed or unbowed unit" simply target a unit; the cards in it do not have to be all bowed or unbowed.
  • Some cards make the un-tracked distinction between destroyed and discarded cards other than Personalities (Followers, Spells). Read those instances as an "X that has been in play this game" rather than a "destroyed X". [ADDED April 08 2008]

For cards printed prior to GOLD EDITION:

The Player

  • A Stronghold's mon, denoting its player's Faction, was only printed on non-Stronghold parts of the deck box (that were often thrown away) or on the back of promo versions of the Stronghold card. [ADDED July 03 2008]

Card types

  • All terrains that do not explicitly state they resolve or take effect when played should be treated as having the "Delayed Terrain" keyword (see Terrains for further explanation of this keyword).

Card features

  • When referring to a Faction, some cards omit the “Clan” part of the keyword (ie, “…a Lion Personality…”). Consult Older Card Rulings or the Rules Archive as to whether such a card is meant to refer to a Dragon or Dragon Clan Personality. [ADDED April 08 2008]

Special wording rules

  • Actions that modify a gain or loss of family honor in any way, including canceling, preventing or redirecting such a gain or loss are POLITICAL actions.
  • Actions that involve discarding the Imperial Favor as a cost are POLITICAL actions.
  • The phrase “Draw and discard” means simply to discard; you are not considered to be drawing cards. [ADDED April 08 2008]
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