Legend (Magic: The Gathering)
In the Magic: The Gathering trading card game, a Legendary card or Legend is a card that represents a unique individual or thing with a specific name, rather than the generic, unnamed things that most cards represent. For example, while the card Raging Goblin could be any goblin, the card Squee, Goblin Nabob is a specific goblin with a personality and a history.
Recently printed legendary cards are indicated by the word "Legendary" before their card type (e.g. "Legendary Artifact"). Older cards used "Creature — Legend" or "Summon Legend" instead of "Legendary Creature".
The associated Magic: The Gathering novels often deal with the characters represented by legendary cards in the game.
Only one copy of a given legendary card may be in control by a same player at the same time. If multiple copies of a legend are under control by a same player, the player choose one of them, and all of the rest are put into the graveyard (discard pile). (This has not always been the case; see History below.)
The cards must have exactly the same name in order to trigger the legend rule. Some characters are represented on multiple cards: for example, the character Kamahl appears as both Kamahl, Pit Fighter and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, and the character Akroma appears as both Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Akroma, Angel of Fury. Because the cards are different, one of each card can be in play without counting as the same legend, even though they represent the same character.
Planeswalker cards' uniqueness rule was heavily influenced by Legend Rule. The only difference is they refer to the type of the card. This basically eliminated any possibility of having two same Planeswalker under a player's control as each different Planeswalker is assigned with a one unique Type for all cards refer to the same person. The only exception, however, is if a Planeswalker is also represented by a legendary creature as two rules are operated independent to each other. For example, Karn, Silver Golem and Karn Liberated can be controlled by a player at the same time even though they represent the same person.
Legendary creatures and lands were introduced in 1994 with Legends, the game's third expansion set. Although some cards printed prior to Legends represent unique individuals and would logically have been legendary, they were and are still treated as non-legendary. The first legendary artifact, Sword of the Chosen, was printed in the Stronghold set in 1998, and the first legendary enchantments were printed in Champions of Kamigawa in 2004.
The way the legend rule functioned when it was first introduced differed from its present form: if a legendary card came into play when another copy of the same card was already in play, the recently played legend would be put in the graveyard, but not the one that was already in play. This could be a significant advantage to the player who played the legend first, and was particularly an issue with legends that could be played cheaply and quickly, such as Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero.
Initially, legendary creatures were printed with "Legend" as their creature type. At the time, most creatures other than artifact creatures (which had no creature type at all) could only have one creature type, so "Legend" replaced any other creature type they might have had. Later, some legends were printed with additional text giving them extra creature types: for example, while Barrin, Master Wizard has "Legend" as his creature type, the card's text reads "Barrin, Master Wizard counts as a Wizard", effectively giving him the Wizard creature type as well. Beginning with the Urza's Destiny set in 1999, legendary creatures were simply given multiple creature types: for example, Rayne, Academy Chancellor is simply printed as a "Wizard Legend", making the "counts as a Wizard" text unnecessary. The status of "Legend" as a creature type could be exploited using the card Unnatural Selection: a player could eliminate an opponent's creatures by changing them into Legends, triggering the legend rule.
In 2004, Legend was removed as a creature type, rendering it inaccessible by Unnatural Selection, and the legend rule was changed, only to be activated if two (or more) legendary permanents are with the same name. As a result, new, cheap legendary cards have been printed in subsequent sets. Early legendary creatures which had only "Legend" as their creature type have been retroactively given other creature types.
In 2013, the Legend rule is changed to the current form, which the range of influence was changed from the whole battlefield to player oneself. Preventing any possibility using "Legend Rule" as a mean to remove opponents' legendary cards, by playing a same legendary card, or by making a copy of it.
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