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List of Magic: The Gathering keywords


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Evergreen Keywords:
These are keywords which may appear in any Magic set, particularly the Core Sets where they are usually the only keywords (though some expert-level keywords may appear occasionally in Core Sets). They are also used in many expert-level expansions, but in those sets they are printed without reminder text.

Deathtouch
Deathtouch is a static ability that causes a creature to be destroyed as a result of having been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch. Similar abilities have appeared mostly on green and black cards, but in most cases those abilities were functionally different (typically triggering on combat damage and/or at end of combat). This ability was first printed on a single timeshifted creature from Future Sight, Thornweald Archer. Older cards with this ability, such as Cruel Deceiver, were not changed to gain deathtouch.

Defender
Creatures with defender can't attack. This ability was formerly associated with Walls, as the creature type Wall had implicit "rules baggage" that prevented such creatures from attacking. Before the release of Champions of Kamigawa, where the keyword was introduced, Walls had the reminder text (Walls can't attack.) printed on them. All Walls were retrofitted with the defender keyword; however, while all Walls have defender, there are other creatures that have this ability.

Double strike
A creature with double strike deals both first strike and normal combat damage. For instance, a 1/2 creature with double strike such as Boros Swiftblade would defeat a 2/1 creature in combat and survive, due to destroying it with first strike damage. It would also destroy a 2/2 creature, though be destroyed itself because the opposing creature survived the first strike to deal its own damage.

Enchant
This ability is written Enchant (quality) and appears on Auras, a subtype of enchantments. An Aura enters the battlefield attached to a permanent with the quality of its Enchant ability, and can only be attached to a permanent with that quality. If an Aura is not attached to a permanent that with the required quality (such as if the object it enchants leaves the battlefield), it is put into its owner's graveyard. Like protection, the quality can be almost anything, but it normally has a permanent type associated with it, such as "Enchant creature." This ability was formerly seen in the type line instead of "Enchantment — Aura." The wording changed in the Ninth Edition core set, which introduced the Aura subtype.

Equip
This ability is written Equip (cost). It is found only on Equipment, a subtype of artifacts that first appeared in Mirrodin. A player may pay the Equip cost as a sorcery (only during his or her own main phase when the stack is empty) and attaches it to a creature he or she controls. That creature becomes "equipped" and can then be referenced by the Equipment as the "equipped creature." If the Equipment is already attached to a creature, its controller may pay the Equip cost again to move it to another creature. However, the Equipment cannot simply be "dropped" by the equipped creature by paying the Equip cost. When a creature leaves the battlefield or stops being a creature by some effect, any Equipment attached to it "falls off," becoming unattached but remaining in play. Similarly, an Equipment that becomes a creature will "fall off" a creature it is attached to. On the other hand, Equipment does not "fall off" if another player gains control of either the creature or the Equipment. In the first case, the original controller still controls the Equipment, and so can pay the Equip cost to move it to a creature he or she still controls. In the second case, the original controller still controls the creature, but the other player can pay the Equip cost to move the Equipment to a creature he or she controls.

First strike
Creatures with first strike deal damage before creatures without first strike in combat. Because this damage happens before other creatures deal their damage, a creature with first strike can potentially enter combat and kill an opposing creature before the opposing creature can deal damage.

Flash
Flash is the keyword of an ability that has existed as far back as Mirage. Cards with flash may be played any time their controller could play an instant. Older cards with that ability have been updated via rules errata to have flash; this allows them to work with cards such as Mystical Teachings.

Flying
Creatures with flying can't be blocked except by other creatures with flying and/or reach. This ability is generally found on blue creatures, though white has many creatures with flying as well. Black and red have relatively few flying creatures; very few green creatures have flying, but often have the reach ability, which permits them to block flying creatures without actually having flying. Creatures with flying can block non-flying creatures. Flying is the most common of all abilities.

Haste
Creatures with the haste ability are able to attack and tap to activate abilities on the turn a player gains control of them, instead of waiting until their controller's next turn (an effect dubbed "summoning sickness" prevents a creature from attacking or using abilities with the tap symbol unless its controller controlled it since the start of the turn). Haste is an example of a retroactive keywording, as cards from almost every earlier set have possessed "may attack the turn [they] come into play" or "unaffected by summoning sickness," which was replaced by the word "haste." It was later changed to include untapping to activate abilities as well. Creatures with haste are most often red, though it is not uncommon to see some green or black examples.

Hexproof
Hexproof is a static ability of permanents and players. A player or permanent with hexproof cannot be the target of spells or abilities controlled by that player's opponents (or that permanent's controller's opponents). This is similar to shroud, but it does not deny the player (nor his or her allies) the ability to target his or her own hexproof permanents. Cards that previously had or granted this ability, such as Troll Ascetic and Imperial Mask, were errata'd to have hexproof with the release of the Commander decks.

Indestructible

Permanents with indestructible are not destroyed (but can still be targeted) by lethal damage, or spells and abilities that read "destroy". Only by reducing its toughness to 0 or less (if a creature) or forcing its controller to sacrifice permanents can you get rid of an indestructible permanent. Originally an attribute to a permanent, indestructible was later rewritten into a keyword in Magic 2014. Every other card that was indestructible was errata'd to reflect indestructible as a keyword. This means that permanents that have been stripped of all abilities by certain spells or abilities, like Turn to Frog, now also lose indestructible.

 

Lifelink
Permanents with lifelink cause their controller to gain life whenever they deal damage. Lifelink as a keyword was introduced in Future Sight, though the ability itself already existed on numerous cards, which were all issued rules errata to have or grant lifelink. Cards with similar abilities, such as Spirit Link, were not changed in this way. Lifelink was a triggered ability when it was issued but is now a static ability due to the Magic 2010 rules changes. Cards that previously had a lifelink-like ability have been issued further errata to return them to their original functionality. Lifelink is found mostly on white or black cards.

 

Menace

Creatures with menace cannot be blocked except by 2 or more creatures at once. While the ability has been seen on earlier cards like Madcap Skills, it only gained its keyword name in Magic Origins, replacing intimidate and landwalk in a less colour-exclusive alternative to evasion. Menace tends to be found on red and black cards.

 

Prowess

First debuting in Khans of Tarkir and being associated with the Jeskai clan, creatures with Prowess will get +1/+1 until end of turn whenever their controller casts a noncreature spell, turning nearly anything into a combat trick and enhancing existing combat tricks. It has been upgraded to evergreen come Magic Origins.

 

Reach
Reach is a creature ability which allows a creature to block creatures with flying. The keyword was introduced in Future Sight, and the flying rules themselves were changed to clarify this interaction. Older cards with the ability to "block as though [they] had flying" were issued rules errata to have reach instead. Most cards with this ability are green and are either spider or archer-type creatures.

Trample
Creatures with trample may deal "excess" damage to the defending player if they are blocked. For example, under normal circumstances, if a 6/3 attacker is blocked by a 1/1 creature, the attacker's 6 damage is all directed at the defending creature, despite it being only able to take 1 damage before being killed. If, however, the attacker has trample, the attacking player may choose to have the difference (in this case, 5) between the attacker's power and the defenders' total toughness "trample over" and be assigned to the defending player; this choice is to be made by the attacking player, and circumstances can arise in which "overkilling" the blocking creature is a more advantageous move. Even if the blocker does not take the damage (if it is prevented, for instance) the trample damage is still assigned to the defending player. Trample only applies when a creature with trample is attacking; if a 6/3 creature with trample blocks a 1/1 attacker, the blocker's extra 5 damage cannot be assigned to the attacking player. Creatures with trample are most often green or red.

Vigilance
Vigilance is a keyword of an ability that existed as far back as Limited Edition Alpha with Serra Angel. Creatures with vigilance do not tap to attack, leaving them available to block or use their tap abilities. Creatures with vigilance are mostly white, though green examples exist.

Keyword actions
Keyword actions are not keyword abilities, but rather specialized game terms used to indicate a special action a player should take. This category of keywords was created with the release of Future Sight. All keyword actions are used as verbs.

This section contains the most common keyword actions, namely those that occur in the Core Sets. Other keyword actions are listed with the other keywords from expert-level expansions.

Attach
The term attach is used primarily on cards which can provide effects to certain other cards for an indeterminate amount of time, particularly Auras (see Enchant), Equipment (see Equip), and Fortifications (see Fortify). These types of cards are used by attaching them to other cards.

 

Bolster

Presenting itself in Fate Reforged and associating with the Dromoka Brood, bolster is always accompanied by a number, and instructs the player to put that many +1/+1 counters on a creature they control with the lowest toughness or tied for lowest toughness.

 

Counter
To counter a spell or ability is to remove it from the stack, usually placing it in its owner's graveyard. This prevents the spell or ability from resolving. A spell can be countered in one of two ways. First, another spell can resolve that explicitly counters it. A spell that can "counter" another spell in this way is often referred to as a "counterspell," after the original Counterspell. Or, if all the targets of a spell or ability have become illegal (for example, a creature targeted by a black spell gained protection from black), the game rules counter the spell. A spell that is countered this way is said to have "fizzled." Some cards specify that they "cannot be countered by spells or abilities." This only prevents the explicit method of countering spells; such a spell can still be countered by the game rules. Exiling or returning the spell to the hand while it's still on the stack can also cause a spell to fail to resolve.

 

Create

Putting tokens into the battlefield originally read "Put a (details) token (with abilities) onto the battlefield under (player's) control." Create shortens the phrasing into "(player) creates a (details) token (with abilities)". This new phrasing debuted in Kaladesh.

Detain

Certain abilities associated with the Azorius Senate in Return to Ravnica block allows them to detain permanents - usually creatures, but variants can detain other noncreature permanents. Anything that has been detained cannot attack, block, or activate their activated abilities until the detaining player's next turn.

 

Exile
To exile a card is to put it into the exile zone, usually as part of a card's effect. With few exceptions, exiled cards can no longer have an effect on the game. Starting from the Magic 2010 rules changes, cards that "remove [something] from the game" were issued errata to say "exile [something]" instead.

 

Goad
Goad is a keyword action that exclusively targets creatures. Until the goading player's next turn, the targeted creature must attack each combat if able and cannot attack that player if able. Goad appears only in Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown, and was designed to encourage attacking in a multiplayer format where board stalls are common.

 

Investigate

Exclusive to Shadows Over Innistrad. To investigate, you create an artifact Clue token with "2, sacrifice this token: Draw a card".

 

Manifest

Similar to a Morph, cards are manifested as colourless, nameless, typeless 2/2 creatures on the battlefield. Unlike Morph, if a manifest's other face is a creature, the player can pay its mana cost to turn it face-up. If it is a creature with morph, the player can pay either cost to turn it face-up. Spells, lands, and noncreature permanents cannot be turned face-up if manifested. Manifest only appears in Fate Reforged.

 

Meld

Certain double-faced cards can only transform along with another card. Examining the reverse sides of both specified double-faced cards reveal that they combine to form a physically larger card. Once conditions are satisfied, both cards are exiled, then enter the battlefield reverse-side up as a single card. If a melded card leaves the battlefield, both its component cards do so. The converted mana cost of a melded card is the combined converted mana costs of its components.

 

Just like with regular double-faced cards, meld cards are public knowledge when drafting, and checklist cards are provided to allow a player to run them legally if they don't have opaque card sleeves. Only three pairs of melding cards exist, all of them exclusive to Eldritch Moon.

Populate

To populate, the player creates a token that's a copy of a token they already control. The decision of which token to copy is chosen during the ability's resolution and has no targets. Populate appears in the Return to Ravnica block and is associated with the Selesnya Conclave.

 

Proliferate

To proliferate, the player chooses any number of players and/or permanent that already have counters on them, and then adds 1 more counter of that kind. If a permanent or player has two or more types of counters on them, you can only place 1 type of additional counter. Proliferate appears across the Scars of Mirrodin block.

 

Regenerate
Regenerate describes a replacement effect for destruction, is generally written as "Cost: Regenerate (this permanent)", and is an ability only held by permanents. When the ability is activated, a "regeneration shield" is set up on the permanent. The next time that permanent would be destroyed, instead (if applicable) all damage is removed from it, it is removed from combat, and it is tapped. The regeneration shield remains until the end of the turn. This ability is generally found on creatures, though any permanent can be regenerated. The only way to bypass regeneration is to reduce a creature's toughness to 0 or less, force its controller to sacrifice permanents, or with effects that also specify "can't be regenerated". Regeneration has become increasingly rare in recent sets, with indestructible and hexproof generally replacing it.

Sacrifice
To sacrifice a permanent is to put it into its owner's graveyard. A player can only sacrifice a permanent he or she controls. Note that this term is separate from other ways permanents can be put into their owners' graveyards, such as destruction (meaning regeneration has no effect on sacrifice) and state-based actions (a creature having 0 toughness, for example). Players are not allowed to sacrifice unless prompted to by a game effect.

 

Scry
To scry X, a player looks at the top X cards of his library, then puts any number of them on the bottom of his library and the rest on top of his library in any order. Scry originally appeared in Fifth Dawn as a keyword ability, primarily on instants and sorceries as "Scry 2," though it was designed to allow other values. Future Sight added values "Scry 1" through "Scry 4" and redefined scry to be a keyword action, allowing it to be placed in the middle of an ability rather than as a "tack-on" to other abilities. Scry also appeared in the Core Set Magic 2011 as the game's first ever "keyword cameo," and re-appeared in Theros block before finally becoming evergreen in Magic Origins.

Tap/Untap
To tap a permanent is to rotate the card 90 degrees. This indicates it is being used, often as a cost, or to indicate that a creature is attacking (except for creatures with vigilance). Creatures a player controls that have not been under his or her control since the beginning of his or her turn are said to have "summoning sickness" and cannot be tapped for their abilities that include the "tap symbol," nor can they attack, but they can be tapped for costs that use the word "tap" (for example, "Tap two untapped creatures you control").

To untap a permanent is to return it to a vertical orientation, allowing it to be tapped again. A tapped permanent must be untapped before it can be tapped again. However, in the Shadowmoor block, untapping can also be a cost for creature abilities. It has its own special untap symbol (often called "Q"), and is separate from normal untapping. To pay a cost including the untap symbol (Q), the creature has to be already tapped.

 

Transform

Transform is exclusive to double-faced cards, initially appearing in Innistrad. Whenever the player satisfies the written condition to transform a double-faced card, the card is flipped to its reverse side, and its new properties apply. Transformed creatures are still the same creature as before and the act does not constitute leaving the battlefield, so transformed cards retain any counters, Auras, Equipment, and other effects applied to them, unless the creature transforms into a noncreature in certain situations. If a creature is not a double-faced card, it cannot transform. If a token is made as a copy of either side of a double-faced card, it cannot transform.

 

Unless written otherwise, double-faced cards must always be cast right-side-up, and usually enter the battlefield the same way. If a transformed double-faced card leaves the battlefield, it reverts to its original form. The transformed side of the creature retains its face-up side's converted mana cost, but will not give any devotion.

 

In draft, the nature of double-faced cards makes them constant public knowledge to the rest of the draft. Checklist cards are also provided to allow players without any opaque sleeves to be able to use their double-faced cards legally.

Keywords from Expert-Level expansions
The following are keywords currently in use in the card sets other than the Core Sets and the Un-sets (parody card sets; See Unglued).

Absorb
This ability is written absorb X. If a creature with absorb would be dealt damage, X of that damage is prevented. This ability appears on a single timeshifted creature from Future Sight, Lymph Sliver. Older cards with this ability were not changed to grant absorb.

Affinity
This ability is written Affinity for (quality). A card with affinity costs 1 colorless mana less to cast for each permanent with that quality under its controller's control. For instance, a Frogmite would be free if its controller controls four or more artifacts. Affinity appeared throughout the Mirrodin block, usually for artifacts. A cycle of five cards in Darksteel had affinity for each of the basic land types.

Amplify
This ability is written Amplify X. As a creature with amplify enters the battlefield, its controller may reveal any number of creature cards in his or her hand that share a creature type with the creature. That creature enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it for each card so revealed. Amplify only appears in Legions.

Annihilator
This ability is written Annihilator X. Whenever a creature with annihilator attacks, the defending player sacrifices X permanents. This is a triggered ability that appears exclusively on colorless Eldrazi cards from Rise of the Eldrazi.

Aura swap
This ability is written Aura swap (cost). By paying the aura swap cost, the player may exchange the Aura with this ability with an Aura card in his or her hand, if he or she controls and owns the Aura with aura swap. This ability appears on a single timeshifted Aura from Future Sight, Arcanum Wings.

Awaken

This ability is written Awaken X (cost). By casting the spell for its awaken cost and targeting a land the player controls, that land gets X +1/+1 counters and becomes a 0/0 Elemental creature with haste that's still a land. Be aware that choosing to cast for the awaken cost will also cause the spell to gain a target, allowing it to be countered by game rules if the target land is lost before resolution. Awaken only appears in Battle for Zendikar.

 

Battle cry
When a creature with battle cry attacks, all other attacking creatures get +1/+0 until the end of the turn. Battle cry was introduced in Mirrodin Besieged and appears on Mirran cards.

 

Bestow

This ability is written as Bestow (cost), and appears only on enchantment creatures. Debuting in Theros block, certain enchantment creatures can be cast for their Bestow cost, and if done so they become noncreature Aura enchantments while on the stack and until the enchanted creature leaves the battlefield, after which they remain on the battlefield as normal creatures. Should the enchanted creature become an illegal target, the Bestowing creature simply enters as a normal creature. Most bestow creatures grant the enchanted creature the same boost in power and toughness and additional abilities as the base creature.

Bloodthirst
This ability is written Bloodthirst X. A creature with bloodthirst X enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it if an opponent had been damaged during that turn. Bloodthirst appears in Guildpact and is the ability associated with the Gruul Clans.

Bushido
This ability is written Bushido X. When a creature with bushido blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn. Bushido appears on all Samurai in the Kamigawa block, and only on Samurai. Earlier cards with this ability were not given errata to have bushido.

Buyback
This ability is written Buyback (cost). It appears on instants and sorceries and is an additional, optional cost when casting the card. If the buyback cost was paid, the card returns to its owner's hand upon resolving, instead of going to the graveyard. Buyback appears in the Tempest and Time Spiral blocks.

Cascade
When a spell with cascade is cast, its controller reveals cards from the top of his or her library until a nonland card that has a lower converted mana cost is revealed. In addition to the original spell, that player may then cast the revealed spell without paying its mana cost; all other revealed cards are put on the bottom of the library in a random order. Cascade was introduced in Alara Reborn.

Champion
This ability is written Champion a (type). It is an evolution-style mechanic that mimics a creature changing into a "new improved version." When a creature with champion enters the battlefield, its controller must exile a card he or she controls of the appropriate type, or sacrifice the champion. When the creature with champion leaves the battlefield, the creature it "championed" (the exiled card) is returned to the battlefield. Most creatures with champion replace a creature that shares their own creature type, but those with the changeling ability have the generic "Champion a creature." Champion was introduced in Lorwyn.

Changeling
Changeling is a keyword that gives a card all possible creature types, similar to the ability of Mistform Ultimus. It appears on creatures and tribal spells in Lorwyn.

Cipher

Cipher appears only on sorceries associated with House Dimir in the Return to Ravnica block. Functioning similarly to imprint, after successfully casting a spell with cipher, the player can then exile them, "ciphered" onto a creature. Should that creature proceed to inflict combat damage to another player, the controller can then cast any number of spells ciphered onto that creature without paying its mana cost.

 

Clash
Clash is a keyword action that determines the results of a spell. When a card says to clash, its controller chooses an opponent to clash with, and each player involved in the clash reveals the top card of his or her library, and then puts it on the top or bottom of that library. The winner of the clash is the player who revealed the card with the highest converted mana cost. If there is a tie, there is no winner. All cards with clash grant a bonus effect if their controller wins the clash. Clash was introduced in Lorwyn.

Conspire
As a player casts a spell with conspire, he or she may pay the optional, additional cost of tapping two creatures that share a color with the spell. He or she then copies the spell and may choose new targets for the copy. Conspire appears on instants and sorceries in Shadowmoor.

Convoke
As a spell with convoke is cast, its controller may tap any number of creatures. Each creature tapped reduces the card's mana cost by 1 colorless mana or 1 mana of the tapped creature's color. For example, a player may pay for a spell with convoke that costs 3 colorless and 1 white mana by tapping four creatures, at least one of which must be white. Convoke appears in Ravnica: City of Guilds and is the ability associated with the Selesnya Conclave, and reappears in Magic 2015.

Crew

This ability is written Crew X, and appears only on Vehicle artifacts. Vehicles normally enter the battlefield as noncreature artifacts, and by tapping any number of other creatures with total power X or more, the Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn. Vehicle creatures can be used to crew other Vehicles. Certain creatures have additional effects if they are used to crew a vehicle. Crew appears in Kaladesh and Aether Revolt.

 

Cumulative upkeep
This ability is written Cumulative upkeep (cost). At the beginning of each of its controller's upkeeps, an "age counter" is put on the card. Then the player may pay the cumulative upkeep cost for each age counter on the permanent or sacrifice it. The ability was originally designed to represent an ever-climbing cost, eventually forcing the player to sacrifice the card and lose its benefits, although later incarnations provide a benefit for the number of age counters on the card. The ability first appeared on the card Cyclone from Arabian Nights, but was first keyworded in Ice Age. The mechanic also appeared in Mirage block, with Weatherlight offering a number of twists on the upkeep cost, and in Coldsnap.

Cycling
This ability is written Cycling (cost). A player with a card with cycling in hand may pay the cycling cost, discard the card, and draw a new card. Cycling cards appeared in the Urza block, the Onslaught block, Future Sight, and the Alara block. A variant of this keyword is typecycling, worded (card type)cycling (cost).

 

When the typecycling ability is used, the player discards the card, then may search his or her library for any card containing the indicated subtype and put it in his or her hand. It first appeared in Scourge as "Landcycling," indicating cards which could search for basic lands. Typecycling was redefined with the release of Future Sight to allow searching for other types of cards, and also appears in Alara block. Typecycling is considered a form of cycling, and thus triggers anything that would trigger on cycling.

 

The Commander 2016 set introduces another variant of typecycling - basic landcycling - allowing a card to fetch any basic land from your library.

 

Dash

Written as Dash (cost), creatures with Dash can be cast for the Dash cost and gain haste until end of turn. However, the creature also returns to their owner's hand at the beginning of the next end step. Dash is present in the Khans of Tarkir block, starting from Fate Reforged, and is associated with the Kolaghan Brood.

Delve
When playing a card with delve, its controller may exile any number of cards in his or her graveyard. For each card exiled, the spell costs 1 colorless mana less to play. This ability exclusively appears on timeshifted cards from Future Sight, but was later reprinted in Khans of Tarkir, associated with the Sultai clan.

 

Dethrone

Creatures with dethrone get a +1/+1 counter when they attack a player at or tied for the highest life total. Dethrone only appears in Conspiracy.

 

Devoid

Spells with devoid are always colorless, despite having colored mana in their casting costs. They are also denoted with a unique border at the top of the card that fades into the image. Devoid only appears in the Battle for Zendikar block.

 

Devour
This ability is written Devour X. As a creature with devour enters the battlefield, its controller may sacrifice any number of creatures in order to put X +1/+1 counters on the devouring creature for each creature sacrificed. Devour appears on Jund cards in the Alara block.

Dredge
This ability is written Dredge X. Any time a player would draw a card, if he has a card with dredge in his graveyard, he may instead put the top X cards of his library into his graveyard and return the card with dredge to his hand. A player can't do this if he doesn't have at least X cards in his library. Dredge appears in Ravnica: City of Guilds and is the ability associated with the Golgari Swarm.

Echo
This ability is written Echo (cost). Cards with echo require their echo cost to be paid at the beginning of their controller's upkeep, the turn after the card was played or gained control of. If the echo cost is not paid, then the card is sacrificed.

In the Urza block, this ability was written only as "Echo" with the echo cost always equal to the card's mana cost. The rules were altered for echo's return in Time Spiral to be written as echo (cost) instead, and all previous echo cards were issued rules errata to have their echo cost be equal to their mana cost. Additionally, although all echo cards in Time Spiral had echo costs equal to their mana costs, Planar Chaos introduced permanents with echo costs different from their mana costs, and Future Sight introduced echo costs that are not simply mana payments.

Emerge

This ability is written as Emerge (cost). Similar to Offering from Kamigawa, Emerge allows a player to sacrifice a single creature while casting the creature with Emerge. Doing so will simultaneously reduce the Emerge cost by the converted mana cost of the sacrificed creature. For example, casting Wretched Hippogriff (emerge cost 5U) by sacrificing Grizzly Bears (cost 1G) requires you to only pay 3U. There are no restrictions as to which creature can be sacrificed for Emerge. Emerge appears in Eldritch Moon.

 

Entwine
This ability is written Entwine (cost). All cards with entwine are modal spells with two choices. Normally, a player chooses one mode or the other. If the card's entwine cost is paid in addition to its regular cost, both effects happen. Entwine appears in the Mirrodin block.

Epic
Epic has two effects: first, after a player casts a spell with epic, he or she can no longer cast spells for the remainder of the game. However, at the beginning of each of his or her upkeeps for the rest of the game, the player puts a new copy of the epic spell on the stack. This doesn't count as "casting" it (so it doesn't become a useless ability) and no mana payment is required. Epic appears only on a cycle of five rare sorceries in Saviors of Kamigawa.

 

Escalate

Escalate appears on cards with multiple modes, and is expressed as "Escalate (cost)". Spells with escalate only allow the player to choose one mode, but by paying the escalate cost, an additional mode can be chosen. This cost can be paid multiple times to choose more modes, but the same mode cannot be chosen more than once. Escalate appears in Eldritch Moon.

Evoke
Evoke is an alternate cost for a creature, generally a far lower cost, with the condition that the creature must be sacrificed upon entering the battlefield. All cards with evoke have additional effects upon entering, or leaving, the battlefield. The creature's controller may choose whether the sacrifice occurs before or after the additional effect(s). Evoke appears in Lorwyn.

Evolve

Evolve appears only on creatures. If another creature with greater power OR toughness enters the battlefield under the player's control, the creature with evolve gets a +1/+1 counter. Evolve appears in the Return to Ravnica block and is associated with the Simic Combine.

 

Exalted
Exalted appears on Bant cards in the Alara block. When a creature attacks alone, it receives +1/+1 until end of turn for each permanent with the exalted keyword that player controls. This ability has also returned briefly in Magic 2013.

 

Exploit

Whenever a creature with exploit enters the battlefield, their controller may sacrifice a creature, including the creature itself. Sacrificing creatures this way causes additional effects to happen. Exploit only appears in Dragons of Tarkir, associated with the Silumgar Brood.

 

Extort

Extort appears on permanents associated with the Orzhov Syndicate in the Return to Ravnica block. Whenever a player casts a spell, for each instance of extort in permanents they control, they can pay W/B. Doing so causes all opponents to lose 1 life and that player gains the total amount of life lost this way. Multiple instances of extort can stack. For Commander legality purposes, the W/B symbol appears only in the reminder text and does not affect the colour identity of a card.

Fabricate

This ability is written as Fabricate X. Whenever a creature with fabricate enters the battlefield, the player can choose between putting that many +1/+1 counters on the creature, or creating that many 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature tokens. This choice is made during resolution of the ability, and is not modal.

 

Fading
This ability is written as fading X. A permanent with fading enters the battlefield with X fade counters on it. At the beginning of its controller's upkeep, a fade counter is removed; if a counter cannot be removed, the card is sacrificed. Fading is exclusive to Nemesis. It is extremely similar to the Planar Chaos keyword vanishing.

 

Fateseal
This keyword action is written Fateseal X. To fateseal, a player looks at the top X cards of an opponent's library, and may put any number of those cards on the bottom of that player's library. Thus, this ability is functionally a scry on the opponent's library; fateseal was dubbed "evil scry" while in design. Fateseal exclusively appears on timeshifted cards from Future Sight.

Flanking
When a creature with flanking is blocked by a creature without this ability, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn. The effect is cumulative; multiple instances of flanking will effect a greater penalty, though a blocking creature only needs one instance to avoid the effect. Flanking appears throughout the Mirage block and in the Time Spiral block.

Flashback
This ability is written Flashback (cost) and appears on instants and sorceries. When a card with this ability is in a player's graveyard, that player may pay its flashback cost and cast the card from the graveyard. Then, instead of the card going to the graveyard, it is exiled. This allows a player to get a second use from a card. Flashback appears in the Odyssey block, where cards with an ability that acted from the graveyard have small headstone markers in front of their names. They reappeared in Time Spiral (though without the headstone marker), and again in Innistrad block.

Forecast
This ability is written Forecast — Cost: Effect. During a player's upkeep, if he or she has a card with forecast in his or her hand, he or she may pay the forecast cost to activate its forecast ability. The cost always includes revealing the card until the end of the upkeep. A player can only do this once per turn per forecast card. Forecast appears in Dissension and is the ability associated with the Azorius Senate.

Fortify
This ability is written Fortify (cost). It is found only on Fortifications, a subtype of artifacts. A player pays the Fortify cost as a sorcery (only during their own main phase when the stack is empty) and attaches it to a land he or she controls. That land becomes "fortified" and can then be referenced by the Fortification as the "fortified land." Other than attaching to lands instead of creatures, the rules for Fortifications are similar to those for Equipment. Fortify appears on a single timeshifted artifact from Future Sight, Darksteel Garrison.

Frenzy
This ability is written Frenzy X. When a creature with frenzy attacks and is not blocked, it gets +X/+0 until end of turn. This ability appears on a single timeshifted creature from Future Sight, Frenzy Sliver.

 

Fuse

Fuse appears only on double cards in Dragon's Maze. With double cards, the player normally can only cast one half. Fuse allows the player to cast both halves of the card by paying their combined mana costs.

Graft
This ability is written Graft X. All creatures with graft are 0/0 creatures that enter the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on them. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, a player may move one +1/+1 counter from any number of creatures with graft he or she controls onto that creature. Graft appears in Dissension and is the ability associated with the Simic Combine.

Gravestorm
When a player casts a spell with gravestorm, he or she puts a copy of that spell on the stack for each permanent that was previously put into a graveyard this turn. This ability is similar to storm. This ability appears on a single timeshifted card from Future Sight, Bitter Ordeal.

Haunt
Haunt appears on creatures, instants, and sorceries. When a creature or spell with haunt would be put into a graveyard, instead it is exiled "haunting" a creature. Haunt allows a player to use an effect twice: once when the spell is played (or the creature enters the battlefield), and once when the creature it haunts is put into a graveyard. Haunt appears in Guildpact and is the ability associated with the Orzhov Syndicate.

Hideaway
When a card with hideaway enters the battlefield, its controller chooses one card from the top four of his or her library and exiles that card face-down. Each card with hideaway also has another ability that allows its controller to play the "hidden" card, without paying its mana cost, under certain conditions. Hideaway appears only on a cycle of lands from Lorwyn.

Horsemanship
Horsemanship parallels flying in that creatures with horsemanship can only be blocked by other creatures with horsemanship. However, no analogue to reach exists that allows creatures without horsemanship to block creatures with the ability. Horsemanship is unique to the Portal Three Kingdoms set, so very few cards make use of the keyword.

Improvise

Akin to Convoke from earlier sets, Improvise lets you tap artifacts to reduce the cost of a spell you're casting with this keyword. Unlike Convoke, Improvise does not help reduce colored mana costs. Improvise appears in Aether Revolt.

 

Infect
Creatures with infect deal damage to other creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters, similar to wither, and to players in the form of poison counters. Infect appears on Phyrexian cards in the Scars of Mirrodin block.

Kicker
This ability is written Kicker (cost). The kicker cost is an additional and optional cost that can be paid when the card is cast. If the card is "kicked," an ability of the card takes effect. Some cards have multiple kicker abilities, of which any or none can paid for. Kicker appears in the Invasion block, the Time Spiral block, and the Zendikar block.

Level up
This ability is written Level up (cost). Any time he or she could cast a sorcery, a player may activate the level up ability of a "leveler" creature to put a level counter on it. Leveler creatures increase in power and gain new abilities as they accumulate level counters, as indicated by the three striped bands in the text box. Level up appears in Rise of the Eldrazi.

Living weapon
When an Equipment with living weapon enters the battlefield, its controller puts a 0/0 black Germ creature token onto the battlefield then attaches that Equipment to the token. All cards with living weapon give the equipped creature a toughness increase to compensate for the Germ's 0 toughness; the player may attach the Equipment to a different creature, but the Germ will be instantly sent to the graveyard. Living weapon was introduced in Mirrodin Besieged and appears on Phyrexian cards.

Madness
This ability is written Madness (cost). At the time a player discards a card with madness, he or she may pay its madness cost and cast the card. Madness first appeared in Torment, and the rules for madness were subtly shifted for the reappearance of madness in Time Spiral block (see Too Cool for Rules), where the vast majority of madness cards were black. A madness cost is usually cheaper than the normal mana cost of a card, but the Future Sight set introduced a card whose madness cost is more expensive than its normal cost (Ichor Slick).

 

The reprinting of Madness in Shadows Over Innistrad changed the rules slightly to make them more intuitive. When discarding a card with madness, the card is discarded into exile instead, and at the next opportunity when spells can be played on the stack, the player has to either cast the spell for its madness cost, or it gets placed in the graveyard.

Melee

Creatures with melee get +1/+1 until end of turn for each opponent being attacked at the same time. This ability only appears in Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown.

 

Miracle

This ability is written Miracle (cost). When the player draws such a card as their first drawn card for the turn, they can immediately cast it for its miracle cost, regardless of timing. They cannot cast it for the miracle cost at any other point in the turn. Miracle only appears in Avacyn Restored.

 

Modular
This ability is written Modular X and only appears on artifact creatures. A creature with modular enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it, and when that creature is put into a graveyard, its controller may put all the +1/+1 counters on that creature onto a target artifact creature. Modular appeared in Darksteel and on one card in Fifth Dawn (Arcbound Wanderer).

Monstrosity

This ability is written Monstrosity X (cost). By paying the monstrosity cost, the creature gets X +1/+1 counters on it, and becomes monstrous. Monstrous is an attribute applied to the creature, signifying that it has already used its monstrosity ability and cannot use it again, and it cannot be removed except by having the creature leave the battlefield. Monstrosity appears throughout the Theros block and has returned in Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown.

 

Morph
This ability is written Morph (cost). A card with morph may be cast face-down by paying 3 colorless mana. While face-down, the creature is a colorless, nameless and typeless 2/2 creature. At any time, a player may pay the creature's morph cost and turn the creature face-up. Many cards with morph have additional abilities when they are turned face-up. Morph appears in the Onslaught block and Time Spiral block.

Only creatures with morph may be played face-down. If a card without morph is turned face down by an effect, it can't be turned face up, because it has no morph ability with which to do so. At the end of the game, or whenever a face down creature would leave the battlefield, it is revealed to all players. In addition to providing information to players, this ensures that players don't cheat by playing cards without morph face-down. Morphs have no name, colour, types, or mana cost until turned face-up. Turning a creature face-up is a special action that does not use the stack, and so can be used to respond even to spells with split second.

 

Dragons of Tarkir introduced a variant of Morph called Megamorph. It follows the same rules as Morph, but the creature also gains a +1/+1 counter when turned face-up for its megamorph cost.

 

Multikicker
Multikicker is a variant of the kicker keyword, written Multikicker (cost), where the cost can be paid any number of times when the card is played, as opposed to the limit of one as defined in the original kicker ability. Cards with multikicker have an ability that references the number of times the card was "kicked." Multikicker appears in the Worldwake set.

 

Myriad

Whenever a creature with myriad attacks, it creates tokens that are copies of itself such that every opponent is being attacked by this creature simultaneously. These copies are exiled at the end of combat. Multiple instances of myriad can stack. This ability is only exclusive to cards in the Commander 2015 decks.

 

Ninjutsu
This ability is written Ninjutsu (cost). If a player has a Ninja in hand and controls an attacking creature the opponent has declined to block, he or she may pay its ninjutsu cost, return the unblocked creature to his or her hand, and put the Ninja onto the battlefield tapped and attacking. Ninjutsu appears only in Betrayers of Kamigawa and only on Ninja creatures.

 

Offering
This ability is written (Creature type) offering. A player may cast a creature with the offering ability as if it were an instant (see flash) if he or she sacrifices a creature with the appropriate creature type, then pays the difference in mana costs between the sacrificed creature and the creature with offering. Offering only appears on a cycle of five legendary Spirits in Betrayers of Kamigawa.

 

Overload

This ability is written Overload (cost). The player can cast the spell for its overload cost from their hand, and if they do, the spell changes all instances of "target" in its text with "each", affecting every possible legal target. Overload appears in the Return to Ravnica block and is associated with the Izzet League.

 

Outlast

This ability is written Outlast (cost). A variant of a Tap ability, attributed to the Abzan clan in Khans of Tarkir. All instances of outlast put a +1/+1 counter on the source creature. Several creatures supplement this by granting abilities to creatures with +1/+1 counters. Outlast can only be activated as a sorcery.

 

Partner

Introduced in Commander 2016, two legendary creatures each with Partner can both be your commander at the same time (and your library is 98 cards instead of the usual 99). Both partner creatures are each considered your commander. Commander tax and commander damage is exclusive to each partner. Your commander's color identity is all colors of both partners combined.
 

Persist
When a creature with persist is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, it is returned to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it. Persist appears in Shadowmoor and Eventide.

Phasing
Phasing introduced a new rule to the game. Cards with the status "phased out" are treated as though they have been removed from the game, with some exceptions. At the beginning of each player's turn, all permanents the player controls which have phasing become "phased out," along with anything attached to the phasing cards. Any cards the player controls which were phased out become "phased in" and return to the battlefield at the same time. Phasing appears in the Mirage block. The earlier cards Oubliette and Tawnos's Coffin were reworded to use phasing as well for a time; however, this errata was removed in 2007.[12]

Poisonous
This creature ability, written Poisonous X, is an old ability originating from the Legends set. Whenever a creature with poisonous deals combat damage to a player, that player gets X poison counters. A player with ten poison counters loses the game. Cards with the ability appeared in small quantities up to the release of Fifth Edition, after which the ability was retired until Time Spiral block. Poisonous was keyworded in Future Sight, though older cards with the ability have not been changed to have poisonous due to minor text variations between cards.

Proliferate
Proliferate is a keyword action introduced in Scars of Mirrodin. To proliferate, a player chooses any number of permanents and/or players, then gives each exactly one additional counter of a kind that permanent or player already has.

 

Protection
This ability is written as Protection from (quality). A creature with protection from a quality cannot be enchanted, equipped, blocked, or targeted by anything with that quality, and all damage that would be dealt by a source of that quality is prevented, barring exceptions which explicitly state otherwise. For example, a creature with protection from red cannot be enchanted by red Auras, blocked by red creatures, targeted by red spells and abilities, or take damage from red sources. Initially the ability was limited to "Protection from (color)," but was later expanded to allow "Protection from artifacts" in Urza's Legacy, and officially expanded to allow "Protection from (quality)" in Invasion with the printing of Shoreline Raider. In Conflux, a card called Progenitus has "Protection from everything" -- meaning it cannot be blocked, cannot be equipped, cannot be targeted by spells or abilities, and cannot be dealt damage. Protection abilities are most commonly found on white cards. Formerly an evergreen keyword, protection has become increasingly rare in later expansions.

Provoke
When a creature with provoke attacks, its controller may have target creature the defending player controls untap (if it is tapped) and block the attacking creature if the chosen creature is able to do so. The ability can choose a creature that can't block the creature with provoke. Provoke is cumulative, though no creature has more than one instance of it. Provoke only appears in Legions.

Prowl
This ability is written Prowl (cost) and is an alternate cost. A player can cast a card for its prowl cost if a creature controlled by that player shares a creature type with the prowl card, and dealt combat damage to a player that turn. Most cards with prowl have an additional effect if cast for their prowl cost. Prowl appears in Morningtide exclusively on cards that contain the Rogue subtype.

 

Rampage
This ability is written Rampage X. When a creature with rampage becomes blocked, the creature gains +X/+X until end of turn for each creature beyond the first assigned to block. Mirage was the last set to print new cards with rampage (although Time Spiral reprinted Craw Giant), and 5th Edition was the only Core Set to ever include cards with rampage.

Rebound
The rebound ability allows a player to cast an instant or sorcery spell more than once. When a spell with rebound is cast from a player's hand, that player exiles it, and during his or her next upkeep may cast the spell again without paying its mana cost (similar to suspend). Rebound was introduced in Rise of the Eldrazi, and returned in Dragons of Tarkir, associating with the Ojutai Brood.

Recover
This ability is written Recover (cost). Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, all cards with recover in that player's graveyard trigger. That player may then pay each card’s recover cost; if the cost is paid, the card is put into the player's hand, but if it is not paid, the card is exiled. Recover appears in Coldsnap.

Reinforce
This ability is written Reinforce X — (cost). A player may discard a card with reinforce from his or her hand, pay its reinforce cost, and put X +1/+1 counters on a target creature. Reinforce appears in Morningtide.

Renown

This ability is written Renown X. When the creature inflicts combat damage to a player, it gets X +1/+1 counters on it and also becomes renowned. Being renowned is an attribute that indicates the ability will not trigger again on subsequent successful attacks, though certain creatures also gain additional effects by being renowned. Renowned only appears in Magic Origins.

 

Replicate
This ability is written Replicate (cost). When a player casts a spell with replicate, he or she may pay the replicate cost any number of times, then put a copy of the spell on the stack for each time the replicate cost was paid. Replicate appears in Guildpact and is the ability associated with the Izzet League.

Retrace
Retrace allows players to replay a spell from the graveyard by paying its mana cost and all associated costs with the additional cost of discarding a land card. Unlike flashback, a card cast from the graveyard with retrace is not exiled, and returns to the graveyard after it resolves. Retrace appears in Eventide.

 

Ripple
This ability is written Ripple X. When a spell with ripple is cast, its controller may reveal the top X cards of his or her library. If any of them have the same name as the spell with ripple that was cast, then he or she can cast those cards without paying their mana costs (this triggers their ripple abilities, so a player can ripple again). Any cards not thus cast are then put on the bottom of that player's library. Ripple appears in Coldsnap, where all cards with the mechanic have ripple 4.

Scavenge

This ability is written Scavenge (cost). By paying the scavenge cost and exiling the creature with scavenge from the graveyard, the player then gets to put a number of +1/+1 counters on target creature equal to the scavenged creature's power. This ability appears in the Return to Ravnica block and is associated with the Golgari Swarm.

 

Shadow
Creatures with shadow can only block or be blocked by other creatures with the shadow ability. Shadow appears in the Tempest block and in Time Spiral block.

Skulk

Creatures with skulk can only be blocked by other creatures with equal or less power. Skulk appears in the Shadows Over Innistrad block.

 

Soulbond

Creatures with soulbond have the option to pair with another creature when they or that creature enters the battlefield. While paired, both creatures gain additional effects. Once decided, the pairing cannot be changed until it is ceased, usually due to one of the bonded creatures leaving the battlefield. Soulbond only appears in Avacyn Restored.

 

Soulshift
This ability is written Soulshift X. When a creature with soulshift is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, its controller may return a Spirit card with converted mana cost X or less from his graveyard to his hand. Almost all cards with Soulshift are Spirits with a soulshift number one less than their converted mana cost (to prevent them from returning themselves); a notable exception is Promised Kannushi. Soulshift appears in the Kamigawa block.

Splice
This ability is written Splice onto (quality) (cost). As a player casts a spell with a given quality, he or she may reveal any number of cards in his or her hand with splice onto that quality, and pay their splice costs; each splicing card's effects are added to those of the spell cast, while the cards spliced onto the spell are kept in the player's hand. These effects are placed after the played spell's effects. One card, Evermind, has no mana cost (meaning it can't be cast normally), but it does have a splice cost. Splice appears in the Kamigawa block, where the quality was limited to Arcane.

Split second
As long as a spell with split second is on the stack, players can't cast spells or activate non-mana abilities. Triggered abilities, as well as certain special actions that don't use the stack (such as un-morphing a face down permanent), can be played as normal while the spell is on the stack. Split second is similar to the defunct interrupt card type, except that one card with split second cannot be cast while another card with split second is on the stack, whereas one interrupt card could be played in response to another. Split second appears in the Time Spiral block.

Storm
When a player played a spell with storm, he or she puts a copy of that spell on the stack for each spell successfully cast before the storm spell this turn. For example, if the storm spell was the fifth spell played in the turn, four copies of the spell are put on the stack, so the player gets five instances of the spell. Storm appears in Scourge and the Time Spiral block.

Sunburst
A permanent with sunburst enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter (if it's a creature) or a charge counter (if it's not a creature) for each different color of mana spent to pay its mana cost. Sunburst appears in Fifth Dawn and only on artifacts.

Support

This ability is written Support X. The player places a +1/+1 counter on X target creatures. If the ability is written on a creature, the creature itself is often not able to be a target for its own ability. Support only appears in Oath of the Gatewatch.

 

Surge

This ability is written Surge (cost). Should the player or their teammate have cast a spell earlier that turn, spells can then be cast for their surge cost, usually cheaper than their usual casting cost. Certain cards may apply additional effects if cast for their surge cost. Surge only appears in Oath of the Gatewatch.

 

Suspend
This ability is written Suspend X — (cost). Any time a player could cast a spell with suspend, he or she may instead pay its suspend cost to exile it with X time counters on it. The player removes a time counter every time his or her upkeep step begins. (Note that other spells or effects can add or remove time counters from suspended cards.) When the last counter is removed, the spell is cast without paying its mana cost and, if it's a creature, it gains haste. Cards may be given suspend and have time counters put on them when they are exiled by an effect. In particular, a cycle of cards from the Future Sight set can "re-suspend" themselves after they resolve. Suspend appears in the Time Spiral block.

Totem armor
Totem armor is an ability which appears on Auras. When the enchanted creature would be destroyed, an attached Aura with totem armor is destroyed instead, also erasing any damage from the creature and functioning like a single-use regeneration. Totem armor appears in Rise of the Eldrazi.

Transfigure
This ability is written Transfigure (cost). A player who controls a creature with transfigure, any time a sorcery could be cast, may pay its transfigure cost and sacrifice it to search his or her library for a creature with the same converted mana cost as the sacrificed creature and put it directly onto the battlefield. It is a variant on the transmute ability. This ability appears on a single timeshifted creature in Future Sight, Fleshwrither.

Transmute
This ability is written Transmute (cost). A player who has a card with transmute in his hand may, as a sorcery, pay its transmute cost and discard it to search his library for a card with the same converted mana cost as that card and put it in his hand. Note that it is the converted mana cost of the card, not the transmute cost, that is used when finding another card. Transmute appears in Ravnica: City of Guilds and is the ability associated with House Dimir.

Undaunted

A keyword introduced in Commander 2016. Spells with undaunted cost 1 less to cast for each opponent still in the game. This cannot reduce the coloured costs of spells.

 

Undying

A parallel to persist. If a creature with undying and without +1/+1 counters dies, they return to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. Undying only appears in Dark Ascension.

 

Unearth
This ability is written Unearth (cost). If a creature with unearth is in a player's graveyard, any time a sorcery could be played, that player may pay its unearth cost to return that creature to the battlefield. The creature gains haste and is exiled at the beginning of the next end step, or if it would otherwise leave the battlefield. Unearth appears on Grixis cards in the Alara block.

 

Unleash

Creatures with Unleash can enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on them, but they are unable to block as long as they have a +1/+1 counter on them. This includes situations if a creature with unleashed gets +1/+1 counters placed on them by other sources. Unleash appears in the Return to Ravnica block and is associated with the Rakdos Cult.

Vanishing
This ability is written Vanishing X. A permanent with vanishing enters the battlefield with X time counters on it. At the beginning of its controller's upkeep, a time counter is removed. When the last counter is removed, the card is sacrificed. Vanishing was introduced in Time Spiral and is an updated version of an older mechanic, fading. Vanishing uses time counters to interact with other Time Spiral cards.

Wither
Wither is a replacement ability that modifies damage. Whenever a source with wither would deal damage to a creature, instead of receiving damage, that creature receives a number of -1/-1 counters equal to the amount of damage that would have been dealt to it. Wither was introduced in Shadowmoor.

Ability words
Some special keywords are not keywords in the sense used by the keywords listed above. These words are used simply to tie cards with similar abilities together. The first tournament-legal cards with ability words were printed in Saviors of Kamigawa, but the concept was first introduced in Unhinged with the Gotcha cards.

Ability words always appear in italics and are followed by an em dash (—) before the ability they describe.

 

Battalion

Creatures with Battalion gain additional effects whenever they attack alongside two or more other creatures. Battalion appears in the Return to Ravnica block, associated with the Boros Legion.

 

Bloodrush

Creatures with Bloodrush written on them can be discarded during combat while also paying the bloodrush ability cost, and are used to empower an attacking creature with their stats and some of their abilities for the turn. Bloodrush appears in the Return to Ravnica block, associated with the Gruul Clan.

 

Channel
All cards with channel have the ability to be discarded for a cost to yield a specified effect. Channel appears in Saviors of Kamigawa, where it only appears on creatures with the "Spirit" type. Wizards has stated that the mechanical reason to only use Spirits was to interact better with soulshift.

Chroma
Chroma is an ability of a permanent or spell that checks for specific mana symbols of cards in specific zones. When a card with chroma is played, it will indicate a specified effect or characteristic defining ability and repeat it for every color symbol in the checked zone. Chroma was first introduced in Eventide, though a card from Future Sight, Phosphorescent Feast, was issued errata to have the ability word.

 

Cohort

Cohort is a tap ability that also requires the player to tap another Ally they control to apply an effect. The other Ally can be used for cohort even if it has summoning sickness. Cohort only appears in Oath of the Gatewatch.

 

Constellation

Printed in Journey to Nyx, cards with constellation perform a specific function if the player has an enchantment enter the battlefield under their control.

Converge

Similar to sunburst, casting a spell with converge will strengthen it according to the number of colors of mana spent to cast it. Converge is not necessarily restricted to artifacts unlike sunburst. This ability only appears in Battle for Zendikar.

 

Council's dilemma

Whenever resolving an ability or spell with council's dilemma, players vote for one of two options, starting with you and proceeding in turn order. Each vote will determine how many times that option is repeated. Council's dilemma only appears in Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown.

 

Delirium

Delirium takes effect whenever the player has 4 or more card types in their graveyard. This mechanic appears in the Shadows Over Innistrad block.

 

Domain
Domain refers to an effect that may be stronger or weaker depending on the number of basic land types (Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and/or Forest) among lands a player controls. The mechanic first appeared in Invasion without the keyword printed on the cards. Domain officially became a keyword ability in the Conflux set.

Fateful hour

Abilities with this name only apply if the player is at 5 or less life. If it is an activated ability, the player needs to be at 5 or less life to activate it. Fateful hour only appears in Dark Ascension.

 

Grandeur
Grandeur is an ability written as Discard another card named (name of card): (effect). Grandeur is an ability word which has only appeared on legendary creatures, and was designed as a means of reducing the drawback of drawing multiple copies of the same legendary permanent. This ability appears exclusively on timeshifted legendary cards from Future Sight.

Hellbent
Cards with the hellbent ability word have greater effects if their controller has no cards in his or her hand. Hellbent appears in Dissension and is associated with the Cult of Rakdos; many other cards pertaining to the Cult function better while their controller has fewer cards in hand.

 

Heroic

Printed in the Theros block, Heroic abilities trigger whenever their source creature is targeted by a spell. This includes instants, sorceries, and aura enchantments, and worked hand-in-hand with the Bestow ability of enchantment creatures in the same set. Being targeted by an ability - even an equip ability - will not trigger this.

Imprint
Imprint is an ability word which only appears on artifacts. All cards with imprint have either an activated (Cost: Effect) or triggered (When/ever/at trigger condition, effect) ability which allows the player to exile a card to grant abilities to the artifact with imprint. Imprint was introduced as a keyword in the Mirrodin block and became an ability word in the Scars of Mirrodin block.

Kinship
Kinship is an ability word that appears in Morningtide. All cards with kinship are creatures that check, at the beginning of their controller's upkeep, whether the card on top of that player's library shares a creature type with the creature that has the kinship ability; if it does, the player may reveal it for a bonus effect.

Landfall
Landfall is an ability written as "Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, (effect)." This ability word is associated with triggered abilities that occur whenever a player plays a land. Landfall was introduced in Zendikar, and the follow-up set, Worldwake, introduces a modified form on of landfall on instant cards written as If a land entered the battlefield under your control this turn, (effect).

 

Lieutenant

Creatures with lieutenant apply an additional effect if the player also has their commander on the battlefield. Lieutenant is introduced in the Commander 2014 decks and is currently exclusive to cards from them.

Metalcraft
Cards with the metalcraft ability word gain an additional effect as long as their controller controls three or more artifacts. Metalcraft appears in the Scars of Mirrodin block and is associated with the Mirran faction.

 

Morbid

Morbid abilities check at certain points in time (on cast, beginning of certain steps, enter the battlefield) if a creature has died earlier this turn. If so, the morbid ability triggers. Morbid appears throughout the Innistrad block.

Parley

When resolving a spell or ability with parley, each player reveals the top card of their deck. Depending on whether a land or nonland is revealed, various effects apply. Regardless, all players then add the revealed card to their hand. Parley is exclusive to cards in Conspiracy.

 

Radiance
The radiance ability word denotes abilities that target one permanent, but affect all permanents of the same type that share a color with the target. Radiance appears in Ravnica: City of Guilds and is associated with the Boros Legion.

 

Raid

Present in Khans of Tarkir and attributed to the Mardu clan, cards with Raid have an ability that triggers when they enter the battlefield and if the player attacked with at least one creature that turn.

 

Rally

Creatures with rally apply an effect whenever they, or another Ally, enters the battlefield. Rally only appears in Battle for Zendikar.

 

Revolt

Cards with Revolt do additional things if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield in any way prior to the revolt-related ability resolving. This ability appears in Aether Revolt.

 

Spell mastery

Instants and sorceries with spell mastery gain additional effects if there are 2 or more instants and/or sorceries in the player's graveyard during resolution. Spell mastery only appears in Magic Origins.

 

Sweep
Sweep is an ability word used on spells with effects which can be strengthened by returning any number of lands of a single basic land type to their owners' hands. Sweep only appears on four cards in Saviors of Kamigawa. Mark Rosewater has opined that labeling this mechanic with an ability word was "a mistake."

Threshold
This ability was originally written Threshold — ability. Whenever a player has seven or more cards in the graveyard, his or her cards gain any threshold abilities they might have. A player can't activate an ability tied to threshold unless he or she has seven or more cards in the graveyard. Threshold appears in Odyssey block and on some timeshifted cards in Time Spiral.

With the release of Time Spiral, Threshold ceased to be a keyworded mechanic. It was instead redefined to be an ability word with no rules meaning attached to it. For instance, Nomad Decoy was originally written:

W, Tap: Tap target creature.
Threshold — WW, Tap: Tap two target creatures. (You have Threshold as long as you have seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)

And was changed to:

W, Tap: Tap target creature.
Threshold — WW, Tap: Tap two target creatures. Activate this ability only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.

Not all shifts were as simple as changing the reminder text to rules text; for example, Centaur Chieftain required more tinkering to preserve the original way the card worked.

 

Tribute

Written as "Tribute (number)", creatures with tribute entering the battlefield pose an opponent with a decision: give said creature that many +1/+1 counters as written in the ability, thereby being forced to deal with a larger creature than normal, or suffer a different consequence in exchange for facing a smaller body.

 

Will of the council

Whenever resolving an ability or spell with will of the council, you begin by voting for one of multiple options, and subsequent players, in turn order, continue to vote. The outcome of the ability will be decided by which option had the most votes, or whether there was a tie. Will of the council appears only in Conspiracy.

Discontinued keywords
As Magic: The Gathering has progressed some keywords have been deemed unsuitable for continued use within the game and have been discontinued. While the abilities these keywords represent are still functional (with one visible exception and one exception that never physically appeared on a card) within the rules of the game, it has been strongly indicated that they will never appear on any cards printed in future sets.

Banding
Banding is an ability that has two parts. First, a defending player determines how combat damage is dealt by an opposing creature if at least one of the creatures blocking the opposing creature has banding; normally the controller of the creature dealing the damage determines this. Second, an attacking player may form "bands" of creatures with banding, though one non-banding creature can be included in a band. If one creature in the band becomes blocked, the whole band becomes blocked as well, whether or not the defender could block other creatures in the band. This can allow many small creatures to "gang up" on a single bigger creature that would survive blocking any one of these smaller creatures.

Banding appears primarily in white. Weatherlight was the last set to print cards with banding; Mark Rosewater has since indicated that the ability was retired because "even [the top players in the world] were confused by banding."

Bands with other
This ability is a limited version of banding, written as Bands with other (quality). A creature with this ability has banding, but can only band with creatures that have the specified quality, e.g. are of the creature type or sub-type (quality), are of the color (quality), and so on. Unlike normal banding, in an attacking band only one creature is required to have the bands with other (quality) ability, so long as all creatures in the band have the specified quality. All other banding rules apply.

Prior to the rules revisions made with the release of Magic 2010, "bands with other" worked in a significantly different manner. Rather than limiting a creature with this ability to banding with other creatures with the specified quality, the ability instead required all creatures in the band to have the same "bands with other (quality)" ability. The limitations (and counter-intuitiveness) of the ability under these rules led to "bands with other" being called "possibly the worst keyworded ability of all time" by Magic rules manager Mark Gottlieb in the article Absurd or Ridiculous? You Decide.

"Bands with other" appears only in Legends. The only tokens that natively have the ability are Wolves of the Hunt tokens created by the card Master of the Hunt.

Bury
The term bury or buried was used in some early sets, where it served as shorthand for a two-part effect: destroying a permanent, and preventing that permanent from regenerating. Functionally it is still present in the game, with newer cards using a complete explanation for each part of the effect. (e.g. "Destroy target creature. It cannot be regenerated.") Bury is found only in sets prior to Sixth Edition; all cards which contained the term have been issued new wording to use either a "destroy" or "sacrifice" effect. (e.g. Wrath of God or Abyssal Gatekeeper, respectively)

Fear
Fear is an example of "retroactive keywording," meaning it was an ability that had existed long before it was given a keyword; its eponymous card, Fear, was in the original set Limited Edition Alpha. Creatures with fear can't be blocked except by black creatures and by artifact creatures. Fear has, with few exceptions, always appeared on black creatures. Rules Manager Mark Gottlieb has announced in his Rules Update Bulletin that fear will not appear on any new card and will essentially be replaced by intimidate.

Landhome
This ability is written as (land type)home. A creature with landhome may only attack a player who controls a land of the specified land type, and must be sacrificed if its controller does not control at least one land of that same type. The ability has been present since the Limited Editions of the game, but was first keyworded in Mirage with Kukemssa Serpent. The keyworded ability was only printed on blue cards, and in the "islandhome" variety. The last card to be printed with a keyworded landhome ability was Manta Ray from Weatherlight.

Landhome is unique in that it is the only printed keyworded ability to later be retroactively removed from the rules. While cards which previously had landhome still feature the associated restrictions, they have been issued errata replacing the keyword "landhome" with rules text describing the abilities.

 

Landwalk
This ability is written as (Land type)walk. A creature with this ability is unblockable if the defending player controls a land with the printed land type (e.g. a creature with swampwalk is unblockable if the opponent has a swamp in play). This ability is somewhat rare, with swampwalk and plainswalk being the most common and least common, respectively. Landwalk is not limited to the five basic lands; for example, cards with legendary landwalk and snow landwalk have been printed.

 

Intimidate
A creature with intimidate can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it. It first appeared in Zendikar. Although it has not yet appeared in a Core Set, Rules Manager Mark Gottlieb announced in the July 2009 Rules Update Bulletin that intimidate will essentially replace fear as a Core Set keyword. Since Magic Origins, intimidate has been retired in favour of menace.

 

Shroud
Shroud is a static ability of players or permanents. A player or permanent with shroud cannot be the target of spells or abilities (even his or her own). While the keyword "shroud" was introduced in Future Sight, the ability itself existed long before, first appearing on Spectral Cloak; cards which featured this ability were all issued rules errata to have or grant "shroud." Creatures with shroud are most often blue or green. Now obsoleted due to the presence and greater simplicity of hexproof.

Substance
Substance was a static ability with no effect which was never printed on a Magic card. It was originally created for the Magic: The Gathering Online release of Mirage, as a cycle of cards such as Armor of Thorns did not work as originally intended under the rules established with the release of 6th Edition. These cards were all enchantments that could be played as instants, but only lasted for a turn if played as an instant. Under the newer rules, the original wording would cause the enchantment to leave the battlefield before damage was removed from creatures. The creation of substance restored the cards' intended functionality. With the rule changes announced in July 2009, all cards edited to use this keyword were re-edited to no longer use it. The official text of such cards now reads: "If you cast [this card] any time a sorcery couldn't have been cast, the controller of the permanent it becomes sacrifices it at the beginning of the next cleanup step." This maintained the same functionality as the substance keyword, but without some unintended rules quirks.

 

Not a keyword or ability

 

Devotion

Present within the Theros block, and often phrased as "devotion to (color)", devotion is akin to chroma in that it checks for the number of mana symbols of a certain color present in the casting costs of all permanents the player controls. For example, a creature costing 2GG will give 2 devotion to green. Hybrid mana symbols each contribute 1 devotion to their component colors.

 

Monarch

The monarch is an attribute assigned to a player. At the beginning of the end step, if the turn player is the monarch, they draw a card. The status of monarch can be easily transferred by abilities that make you the monarch, or by dealing combat damage to the current monarch, upon which you become the monarch. No player begins the game as the monarch, and the mechanic must be introduced with cards that say so. This mechanic is exclusive to Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown.

 

Unblockable

Unblockable is an attribute associated with creatures who cannot be blocked under any circumstance. Originally phrased as "~ is unblockable", it was later rephrased to "~ can't be blocked", to better clear up the confusion.

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[quote name='The blazing MARS' timestamp='1309116506' post='5312377']
Interesting.
Whens the next MTG Booster Pack coming out? :s
I might as well get a structure deck, though. I don't understand the game. At all.
[/quote]

well telling from a friend's experience...he just started to play the game by buying a Event Deck and since the event deck comes with a guide for new players...and a solid deck meant to get it and play it...with a sideboard included...well he already know pretty much everything he needs for his level in quite few time...I might get more info into game mechanics...probably copy paste a little of MTG rulebook...or at least link it so it may help newer players

also next things to come in MTG:
Commander Deck
M12 (aka Core Set...aka New Player's Best Friend)around July

EDIT: and thanks for the Sticky
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[quote name='The suppression PLUTO' timestamp='1309117064' post='5312389']
well telling from a friend's experience...he just started to play the game by buying a Event Deck and since the event deck comes with a guide for new players...and a solid deck meant to get it and play it...with a sideboard included...well he already know pretty much everything he needs for his level in quite few time...I might get more info into game mechanics...probably copy paste a little of MTG rulebook...or at least link it so it may help newer players

also next things to come in MTG:
Commander Deck
M12 (aka Core Set...aka New Player's Best Friend)around July

EDIT: and thanks for the Sticky
[/quote]

Excellent. I should get a structure deck. It seems the creators actually care about the game's balance(Unlike Konami) but I guess I'll still play YGO(Because it was the first TCG I played)
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[quote name='The blazing MARS' timestamp='1309116506' post='5312377']
Interesting.
Whens the next MTG Booster Pack coming out? :s
I might as well get a structure deck, though. I don't understand the game. At all.
[/quote]
Next set comes out on the 15th. It's also a core set, the one made for beginners, so your in luck there.

A good way to learn would be to find a friend that plays the game and have them teach you. Also, going to event to have experienced players teach you is also a big help. The prerelease for M12 is on the 9th and 10th, so that could be a good place to start. You can also ask questions in the Q&A thread and I'm sure people here will help you with whatever your having problems with.


[quote name='The blazing MARS' timestamp='1309117403' post='5312400']
Excellent. I should get a structure deck. It seems the creators actually care about the game's balance(Unlike Konami) but I guess I'll still play YGO(Because it was the first TCG I played)
[/quote]
Yea, they actively try to keep in touch with the community and do so in several ways (twitter, tumbler, their forum, email). They also have 10 articles a week to talk about the game, how things got made, balance, the flavor behind the sets, and varies aspects of competitive play and deck building. For example, they recently banned 2 cards in standard and coming with the announcement was a long article about why they are getting banned and how the cards got made.

Also, I tried the same thing and while I still follow yugioh it's hard to actively play two different TCG because of how much of a money suck they are. Plus for me the more I got into MTG the more I was like, why isn't yugioh like this and I moved further out of the game. The fact that I hate how all Konami does is move from archetype to archetype forcing people to keep playing with the news one only helped me stop that much faster.
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[quote name='Flame Dragon' timestamp='1309117510' post='5312409']The fact that I hate how all Konami does is move from archetype to archetype forcing people to keep playing with the news one only helped me stop that much faster.
[/quote]

Don't act like the mere existence of Rotation doesn't force something similar in MtG as well.
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[quote name='burnpsy' timestamp='1309122675' post='5312683']
Don't act like the mere existence of Rotation doesn't force something similar in MtG as well.
[/quote]
As Pluto said that only applies for people that play competitively, and standard at that. Over all I've found each set to have some cards for all of my decks (about 10 now), while in yugioh I was luck if I had 1 or 2 cards I would even think to play even 1 of my 5 or so decks. But yes, I'm perfectly aware of that fact and in the Card Quality thread in TCG I brought that up.
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Saying "only if you play Standard, and only competitively" is rather pointless, as that's just about the only thing that would force you to do the same in Yu-Gi-Oh! as well.

Seeing as Standard is, well... [url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ShapedLikeItself"]the standard format[/url], of course one would compare that to YGO's Advanced format, and not the many variants that exist in MtG.

If someone wants to play a non-competetive game, they have just about an equal chance as their opponent is both of them run whatever they want as well.

From actively playing all 3 main TCGs for a time (I'll pick them back up when I have more money to throw around, [url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Understatement"]which I will have a ridiculous amount of within a year or so[/url]), I can safely say that they all have flaws in how they do things (No, I will not expand on this point. Let's not open [url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlameBait"]that can of worms[/url].). Determining that one is objectively better than the other in their handling of most things is absolutely impossible. Not even the level of communication -- that's just [url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ValuesDissonance"]a difference between standard business practice in Japan and the US[/url].
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[quote name='The suppression PLUTO' timestamp='1309130221' post='5313076']
But it would be fun to know what do you think...D:
[/quote]

As I said, I won't expand.

What I will say, however, is that I think they all have their charms, and are about equal in my mind.

I only focused on YGO right now because I (currently) lack the money needed to keep up with a rotation format.
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[quote name='burnpsy' timestamp='1309130427' post='5313090']
As I said, I won't expand.

What I will say, however, is that I think they all have their charms, and are about equal in my mind.

I only focused on YGO right now because I (currently) lack the money needed to keep up with a rotation format.
[/quote]

K...T_T

also lemme know if there is anythng else I can add to the OP?
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[quote name='burnpsy' timestamp='1309128822' post='5313007']
Saying "only if you play Standard, and only competitively" is rather pointless, as that's just about the only thing that would force you to do the same in Yu-Gi-Oh! as well.

If someone wants to play a non-competetive game, they have just about an equal chance as their opponent is both of them run whatever they want as well.
[/quote]
Over all that is true, but even for me who played casually watching all my decks get cut off of new cards is what caused me to stop playing. I mean, why should I keep buying if the decks I play aren't getting cards and building a new deck is going to cost a decent amount of money (this is also why I love the WC game so much since I have free range). I haven't really had this problem with MTG since I've normally get a few cards for most of my decks per set. But again, I do understand the point, and this more of a personal bias then anything else.
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  • 3 years later...
  • 2 years later...

Goad

Goad is a keyword action that exclusively targets creatures. Until the goading player's next turn, the targeted creature must attack each combat if able and cannot attack that player if able. Goad appears only in Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown, and was designed to encourage attacking in a multiplayer format where board stalls are common.

 

^ Missed one.

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