Flippin' Stars

Ah, dexterity cards. The mechanic to represent the primordial era of Magic unlike any other. These days, most oldschool players are in consensus on how to use Chaos Orb, and its 2012 format errata (with a small 2013 update to follow new oracle errata) have been adopted by a majority of the format variants (que exception for the Wizards' Tournament).

Chaos Orb is a staple in 93/94 if there ever was one. It joins a tiny handful cards - alongside alumni like Black Lotus, Sol Ring, Strip Mine and Library of Alexandria - where one of the only feasible reasons not to play it is that one doesn't have access to it. Pretty much any deck is stronger with a Chaos Orb in it, and many players also consider it a properly fun card to play.

Today is not about Chaos Orb though. Today we give the spotlight to its oft neglected little brother; Falling Star.
In the footsteps of giants.
Falling Star is the only dexterity card other than Chaos Orb outside the land of silver borders. For those not knee-deep in rarely played Legends rares, this is the rule text:

Flip Star onto the playing area from a height of at least one foot. Star must turn at least 360 degrees or it has no effect. When Falling Star lands, Falling Star does 3 damage to each creature that it touches. Any creatures damaged by Falling Star that are not destroyed become tapped.
"Why do you keep moving your Rukh Egg so close to my territory?"
The Oracle errata of Falling Star is fairly straightforward, mainly removing the "360 degrees" wording, specifying "lands on" rather than "touches", and updating the language to more modern terms (e.g. "does 3 damage" is replaced by "deals 3 damage"):

Flip Falling Star onto the playing area from a height of at least one foot. Falling Star deals 3 damage to each creature it lands on. Tap all creatures dealt damage by Falling Star. If Falling Star doesn't turn completely over at least once during the flip, it has no effect.

Now, my first though here was if anyone considered the different unit of height measure in the Italian market, but I can't seem to find any indication that Italian oracle errata force players onto "freedom units" rather than the metric system. So it appears that this is the only black bordered card that in fact have different functionality depending on language.
One foot is 30.48 cm, but it is translated to a more grokable 30 cm here. Which means that the Italian version is in fact slightly better than the English one. Small difference, sure, but still amusing on so many levels.
Another interesting thing with the oracle errata is that it refers to the flip taking place at "the playing area" which is not a space defined in the Magic comp rules. Playing area is not a zone (such as battlefield, hand, graveyard, stack, etc), but rather a physical space where the cards are. So could we flip the Star to deal damage to a Jackal Pup in the opponent's graveyard? Probably not, but a man can dream.

The "Swedish rules" - as well as a majority of the other oldschool rule sets - simply use the oracle wording for Falling Star. It may seem a little weird - in particular as we have special errata for Chaos Orb - but as Falling Star is fairly weak even in the hands of a skilled flipper and almost no one plays it, it hasn't created any problems yet. "If it ain't broke", and all that.
Oh you foolish, foolish man...
A couple of local rule variants have taken a stab at Falling Star errata however. Among the first people out were the Bazaar of Moxen rules a couple of years ago. Their errata is very similar to the Chaos Orb errata, but instead of getting a fair flip on one card, BoM gives you a fair flip on two separate cards with the Star:

Choose up to two different creatures.
For each chosen creature, flip Falling Star onto the battlefield from a height of at least one foot. If Falling Star turns over completely at least once during the flip, and touches the chosen creature, Falling Star deals 3 damages to this creature.
Tap each creature that has been dealt damage this way.
Something akin to this.
I can't speak for how well this errata has been recived by potential players using Falling Star during BoM events, but as far as I know no players outside the BoM group have adopted this wording. Some have expressed it as unintutive power level errata, considering that Chaos Orb has the exact same written wording but only flips on one card. But the most notable thing with the errata is of course that it goes away from oracle wording, having the flip taking place on the battlefield zone rather than the playing area space ;)

More recently, the Beasts of the Bay took a stab at Falling Star errata as well. Personally, I find this one pretty sweet:

Choose any number of non-token creatures on the battlefield, then arrange them in the playing area in any way except that none of them may overlap. Flip Falling Star onto the playing area from a height of at least one foot. Falling Star deals 3 damage to each chosen creature it lands on. Tap all creatures dealt damage by Falling Star. If Falling Star doesn't turn completely over at least once during the flip, it has no effect.
I have no idea why I have six Dragon Engines, but it made for a nice picture. So no regrets.
This avoids potentially messy board states while giving a solid edge to those with deep flipping skills. If we would adopt errata for Falling Star here, I suspect this would be very close to what I would vote for. The only nitpick I have here is that it has power level errata to be unable to deal damage to tokens. I get why we don't let Chaos Orb destroy tokens, as its text clearly refers to "cards" (rather than permanents), but as Falling Star only reference creatures (not "creature cards") on both written text and current oracle errata, I don't really see an argument to make it unable to kill a bunch of Sand Warriors or similar. I guess it could relate to that tokens don't have fixed sizes, but that should be easy enough to fix by letting card sized objects represent the tokens during the flip?
"To play around Falling Star, I will let this fire represent my Wasp token."
The background for this post was a message I got from Ryan Gresco last week btw. He was wondering about errata for playing Falling Star over Skype, and looked for a general solution. I've talked a little with DFB about this subject some time ago, and back then there were no clear consensus. But to answer the question, I would personally recommend the Beasts of the Bay errata for Skype (and I would also recommend the Beasts of the Bay to update their errata so Falling Star can hit tokens :P). Thanks for the post suggestion Ryan, it's always appreciated to get some inspiration on topics!


This week I also had the pleasure of being a guest on the All Tings Considered podcast. It was very enjoyable to get to chat with Bryan for his 30th episode. We covered a lot of topics in a marathon episode spanning over two hours with - at most - a small hint of structure, so a casual listener might get more than they would bargain for. But if you are interested in the budding days of the 93/94 format in the late 00's, The Deck tech from n00bcon 5, whether Coal Golem is in fact better than Celestial Prism, some truly strange deck ideas ("Tunnel for the win"), and way to much talk about cards with modern frames, you should check it out :) Oh, and also check out the Player's Ball Tournament report over at Music City Oldschool, sweet report from what seems like an awesome event.


  1. I feel famous, thanks Magnus! Just purchased a couple more falling stars :). Hoping this errata catches on. I think it is awesome.

    Really, thank you for pushing through my falling star issue. You can reach more people than I and itd be great to have this card addressed and usable.

  2. I Enjoyed Reading this, thumbs up! See ya in a couple of weeks and looking forward to laugh at your "skruttJuzams" ;) // Jhovalking

  3. Thanks! I realized I should find an Italian Fallen Star for my collection as well, clearly a superior card to the English one I have.

    ...and my Juzams will end your face Jhoval! :P

    1. The consensus here in Italy is that one foot IS 30cm when Magic is involved. If only Stratelibri pulled off the original strategy of printing beta in Italian...

  4. So is this errata something for the Swedes to discuss? If everyone liked it, would it be something put into effect at the next ban/restriction update? Just curious. I realize it could just never catch on as well.

    1. Yeah, could certainly be something we could adopt. If we "officially" update, it will probably be after n00bcon though (around the time of the yearly B&R update), but I'm not opposed to it.

    2. This would be awesome. Crossing fingers.

  5. Thumbs up!!!
    Lovely subject and Do agree on the eratta with rearranging the creatures before flip. That way the format would have some sort of Firespout effect. Love it and need to get some Stars for sure!

  6. I do like that Beasts of the Bay errata.

    At the very least an errata the applies the rulings for Chaos Orb to Falling Star would be a huge step.

  7. I have one falling Star and one Chaos Orb in an Old Cards Cube and there I set the Ruling for a Playmat is the playing area. And when The Spell is on the stack it is possible to spread the cards on the Playmat. If someone has a lot of Permanents he can get a problem.
    The Problem with this Rule is: Everybody has to use the same size of Playmat.

  8. Interesting post! I have a question: you guys in Sweden play Falling Star as is, with no errata. If I understand correctly, you then just cast the card and flip it on the board as is, as you're not allowed to touch nor rearrange your opponent's card. Am I correct?


    1. Yeah, that's right. Did some research into dexterity cards using modern rules and no errata here btw: http://oldschool-mtg.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-flip-side.html, might be some good details in that post.

    2. Excellent, I'll check it out.
      Thanks a lot!



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