This is a list of keywords in the trading card game Magic: The Gathering. A keyword in Magic: the Gathering is a word or phrase (usually one or two words) appearing on a card, used to indicate that the card possesses a certain attribute or ability. These keywords are used in place of the full explanation of the attribute or ability, and are instead explained in detail in sections 501 and 502 of the Comprehensive Rules. However, in certain sets some keywords are immediately followed by italicized, parenthesized text (known as "reminder text") fully explaining the meaning behind the keyword. Every keyword in a Core Set has reminder text.[1] With the release of Tenth Edition, however, premium (foil) cards in core sets will no longer contain reminder text.[2][3]

Keywords are typically created to summarize abilities or other attributes which are reasonably common in an individual expansion, expansion block, or in the game as a whole. Many keywords summarize abilities or attributes which are sufficiently complex such that the full explanation would fill the "rules text" area of the card; the smaller, one- or two-word keywords allow cards to be printed with a number of complex abilities, yet still be easily readable by players.

Keywords may also be used to summarize "block mechanics", certain card abilities or types of cards which are only designed and intended for use within a specific three-set "block" of expansions. While these keywords are almost always exclusive to their specific expansion block, they nonetheless become part of the official Magic: the Gathering game rules. Examples of keyworded block mechanics include Bushido, Ninjitsu, and Suspend.


By section:

Core Keywords · Keyword Actions · Keywords from Expert-Level Expansions · Ability Words · Discontinued Keywords · References

By keyword:

Absorb · Affinity · Amplify · Attach · Aura Swap · Banding · Bands with Other · Bloodthirst · Bushido · Buyback · Champion · Changeling · Channel · Clash · Convoke · Counter · Cumulative Upkeep · Cycling · Deathtouch · Defender · Delve · Double Strike · Dredge · Echo · Enchant · Entwine · Epic · Equip · Evoke · Fading · Fateseal · Fear · First Strike · Flanking · Flash · Flashback · Flying · Forecast · Fortify · Frenzy · Graft · Grandeur · Gravestorm · Haste · Haunt · Hellbent · Hideaway · Horsemanship · Imprint · Indestructible · Kicker · Kinship · Landhome · Landwalk · Lifelink · Madness · Modular · Morph · Ninjutsu · Offering · Persist · Phasing · Poisonous · Protection · Provoke · Prowl · Radiance · Rampage · Reach · Recover · Reinforce · Regenerate · Replicate · Ripple · Sacrifice · Scry · Shadow · Shroud · Soulshift · Splice · Split Second · Storm · Substance · Sunburst · Suspend · Sweep · Tap · Threshold · Trample · Transfigure · Transmute · Typecycling · Untap · Vanishing · Vigilance


Core Keywords[]

These are keywords which are currently used in the latest Core Set. They are also used in many expert-level expansions, but in those sets they are printed without reminder text.


Creatures with Defender can't attack. This is a keyword of an ability that was formerly associated with Walls, as the creature type Wall had implicit "rules baggage" that prevented such creatures from attacking. Some Walls had the reminder text (Walls can't attack.) to make this clear. After the release of Champions of Kamigawa, where the keyword was introduced, all Walls were retrofitted with the Defender keyword; however, the keyword isn't restricted to Walls.

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 3/1 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 to deal its own damage.


This ability is written "Enchant (quality)". All Auras (Aura is a subtype of Enchantments) have this ability, and only Auras have this ability. An Aura comes into play attached to a permanent with the quality of its Enchant ability. An Aura can only be attached to a permanent with that quality. If an Aura is attached to a permanent that has lost the required quality or if the Aura is in play but not attached to anything (this most often occurs when the object it enchants leaves play), 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 (most commonly creatures), with exception of Spellweaver Volute, which targets instant cards in a graveyard. This ability was formerly seen in the type line instead of "Enchantment — Aura".


This ability is written "Equip (cost)". It is found only on Equipment, a subtype of Artifacts that first appeared in Mirrodin. A player pays the Equip cost as a sorcery (only during their 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 creature it is attached to by paying the Equip cost. Only if the creature leaves play or stops being a creature (some noncreature cards can temporarily become creatures), or if the Equipment itself becomes a creature, will the Equipment "fall off" whatever it is attached to, but remain in play.


Fear is an example of "retroactive keywording," meaning it was an ability that had existed long before it 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/or artifact creatures. Fear has almost always appeared on black creatures (and a few artifact creatures), with the only exceptions being Dust Elemental and Squealing Devil, the latter of which requires black mana to stay in play as a creature.

First Strike[]

Creatures with first strike deal damage before creatures without first strike in combat. Because this damage "resolves" before other creatures deal their damage, a creature with first strike can potentially enter combat and kill an opposing creature before it can deal its damage.


Flash is the keyword of an ability that has existed as far back as Mirage.[4] Cards with Flash may be played any time its controller could play an instant. Cards with that ability have been updated via rules errata to have Flash; this allows them to work with cards such as Mystical Teachings.


Creatures with flying can't be blocked except by other creatures with Flying and/or Reach. This ability is generally blue, 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 this 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"). 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."


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; cards with Legendary landwalk, nonbasic landwalk, Snow landwalk, and landwalk for specific land cards have been printed.


Lifelink is a creature ability. Whenever a creature with lifelink deals damage, its controller gains that much life. 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, including cards like Spirit Loop (due to the limit of its enchant ability). Cards with similar abilities, such as Spirit Link, were not changed in this way.


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 will be prevented unless the damage can't be prevented (e.g. a creature with protection from red cannot be enchanted by red enchantments, blocked by red creatures, targeted by red spells and abilities, or take damage from red sources, barring exceptions which explicitly state otherwise). Protection will not stop "destruction" spells such as Wrath of God; creatures with protection from white will still be destroyed by spells such as this.

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 Odyssey with the printing of Beloved Chaplain.

Protection abilities are most commonly found on white cards.


Reach is a creature ability which allows a creature that has it to block creatures with flying. The flying rules themselves were changed to clarify that interaction. Older cards with the ability to block as though they had flying were issued rules errata to have Reach instead.


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 the Svyelunite Priest from 1994's Fallen Empires; cards which featured this ability were all issued rules errata to have or grant "shroud."


Creatures with trample may deal "excess" damage to the defending player if they are blocked. Under normal circumstances, if a 6/3 attacker is blocked by a 1/1 defender, the attacker's damage is all directed at the defender, despite it being only able to take 1 damage before being killed. If, however, the attacker should have trample, the attacking player may choose to have any excess damage (in this case, 5) "trample" over and be assigned to the defending player; this choice is allotted to the attacking player, and circumstances can arise in which "overkilling" the blocking creature is a more advantageous propositon. Furthermore, trample does not work when blocking; if a 6/3 trampling defender blocks a 1/1 attacker, the defender's extra 5 damage cannot be assigned to the attacking player.

Trample and cards which give creatures trample are most often green.


Vigilance is a keyword of an ability that already existed before it was keyworded, as far back as Limited Edition Alpha with Serra Angel. Creatures with Vigilance do not tap to attack.

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.[5] All keyword actions are used as verbs.


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.


"Clashing" is an action that determines the results of a spell. When a card says to clash, each player involved in the clash reveals the top card of his or her library, and then puts them on the top or bottom of their respective libraries. 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 you win the clash.

Clash was introduced in Lorwyn.


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.


This ability is written as "Fateseal X" and is used as a verb. To fateseal, the controller 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. In fact, fateseal was dubbed "evil scry" while in design.[6].

This term exclusively appears on timeshifted cards from Future Sight.


This term describes a replacement effect for destruction, and is generally written as "Cost: Regenerate", and is an ability only held by permanents. When the ability is played, a "regeneration shield" is set up on the permanent. The next time that permanent would be destroyed, instead all damage is removed from it, it is tapped (if it is untapped), and it is removed from combat (if it is in combat). This ability is generally for creatures, though any permanent can be regenerated.


To "sacrifice" a permanent is to put it into its owner's graveyard, usually as a cost. This can only be done by the player that controls the permanent to be sacrificed. Note that this term is separate from other ways permanents can be put into their owners' graveyards, such as destruction or state-based effects (a creature having 0 toughness). You are not allowed to sacrifice without an ability or spell telling you to do so.


Scry originally appeared in Fifth Dawn as a keyword ability, primarily on instants and sorceries as "Scry X," where X is a number. The player looks at the top X cards of his library, puts any number of them on the bottom of his library and the rest on top of his library in any order. In Future Sight, Scry was redefined 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. In Fifth Dawn, the only version of scry was "Scry 2," though it was designed to allow other values. Future Sight included variations "Scry 1" through "Scry 4."


To "tap" a permanent is to rotate it 90 degrees to indicate it is being used, often as a cost, or to indicate a creature that is attacking (except for creatures with Vigilance). Most players tap their cards 90 degrees clockwise, though it is a matter of personal preference, and not specified by the game rules. Creatures a player controls that have not been under his or her control since the beginning of his or her turn cannot be tapped for their abilities that include the tap symbol, nor can they attack (regardless of whether they have Vigilance), 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 as a cost. As of the Shadowmoor block, untapping can also be a cost for creature abilities.

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).


This ability is written as "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. The older cards with this ability (Daunting Defender and Urza's Armor) were not changed to grant absorb.


This ability is written "Affinity for (quality)." A card with affinity costs 1 colorless mana less to play for each permanent with that quality under its controller's control. For instance, a Frogmite would be free if its controller controls 4 or more artifacts.

Affinity appeared throughout the Mirrodin block, usually for artifacts. A cycle of 5 cards in Darksteel had affinity for each of the basic land types.


This ability is written "Amplify X", where X is a number. As a creature with Amplify comes into play, its controller may reveal any number of creature cards in his or her hand that share a creature type with the creature. That creature comes into play with X +1/+1 counters on it for each card so revealed.

Amplify only appears in Legions.

Aura Swap[]

This ability is written as "Aura swap (Cost)". By paying the 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.


Bloodthirst is the ability associated with the Gruul Clans. It is written "Bloodthirst N", where N is any number. A creature with Bloodthirst N comes into play with N +1/+1 counters on it if, at the time it came into play, an opponent had been damaged during that turn. One creature, Petrified Wood-Kin, has "Bloodthirst X". It comes into play with X +1/+1 counters on it, where X is the total amount of damage all opponents have been dealt this turn.


This ability is written "Bushido X," where X is a number. When a creature with Bushido blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn. Unlike Rampage, this happens only once, no matter how many creatures block it. The ability is on all Samurai in the Kamigawa block, and only on Samurai. An earlier card, Chub Toad, has the same ability, though it was not given errata to have Bushido.

Bushido appears in the Kamigawa block.


This ability, limited to instants and sorceries, is written as "Buyback (cost)", representing an additional and optional cost when playing the card. If the buyback cost was paid, the card would return to the player's hand upon resolving, instead of going to the graveyard.

Buyback appears in the Tempest and Time Spiral blocks.


Champion, written "Champion a (Type)", is an evolution-style mechanic that mimics a creature changing into a "new improved version."[7] When a creature with champion enters play, its controller must remove a card in play of the appropriate type from the game or sacrifice the champion. When the creature with champion leaves play, the creature it "championed" (the card removed from the game) is returned to play. Most creatures with champion name a specific type of creature that they can replace, but those with the changeling ability have the generic "Champion a creature".

Champion was introduced in Lorwyn.


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.


Convoke is the ability associated with the Selesnya Conclave. As a player plays a card with Convoke, he 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 and a mana cost of 3 colorless and 1 white mana by tapping four creatures, at least one of which must be white.

Cumulative Upkeep[]

This ability is written as "Cumulative Upkeep Cost". At the beginning of each of its controller's upkeep, an "age counter" is put on the card. Then the player must 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 when it is put into a graveyard.

The ability first appeared on the card Cyclone from Arabian Nights, but was first keyworded in Ice Age. The mechanic was used in both the Ice Age and Mirage blocks (with Weatherlight offering a number of twists on the upkeep cost). Cumulative upkeep was used in Coldsnap as well.


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 (Urza's Saga, Urza's Legacy, and Urza's Destiny), the Onslaught block (Onslaught, Legions, and Scourge), and Future Sight.

A variant of this keyword is Typecycling, introduced in Scourge (as Landcycling) and reappearing in Future Sight.


Deathtouch is a creature ability. Whenever a creature with deathtouch deals damage to a creature, the damaged creature is destroyed. 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, but has reappeared on several cards in Lorwyn. The only two older cards with this ability, Cruel Deceiver and Venomous Fangs, were issued rules errata to gain deathtouch.


Delve is a static ability that can appear on any card with a cost. When playing a card with delve, its controller may remove any number of cards in his or her graveyard from the game. For each card removed, the spell costs 1 colorless mana less to play.

This ability exclusively appears on timeshifted cards from Future Sight.


Dredge is the ability associated with the Golgari Swarm. It is written "Dredge X," where X is any number. 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 Dredge card to his hand. A player can't do this if he doesn't have at least X cards in his library.


Cards with echo require an additional cost, their echo cost, to be paid in their controller's following upkeep phase after being played. 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 mana cost always being the second payment. 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, 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.


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

Entwine appears in the Mirrodin block.


Epic is an ability that only appears on non-permanent spells. It has two effects: first, when a player plays a card with Epic, he or she can no longer play spells. However, at the beginning of each upkeep phase for the rest of the game, the player puts a (new) copy of the epic spell on the stack. This doesn't count as "playing" it (so it doesn't become a useless ability) and no mana cost is required.

A cycle of five rare sorceries in Saviors of Kamigawa have the Epic keyword.


Evoke is an alternate cost for a creature, generally a far lower cost, with the condition that the creature must be sacrificed upon entering play. All cards with evoke have additional effects upon coming into, or leaving, play. The creature's controller may choose whether the sacrifice triggers before or after the other comes-into-play effect(s).[8]

Evoke appears on cards in Lorwyn block.


When a creature with this ability is blocked by a creature without this ability, the blocking creature gains "-1/-1 until end of turn". The effect is cumulative; multiple instances of flanking will provide a multiplied penalty, though a blocking creature only needs one instance to avoid the effect.

Flanking appears throughout the Mirage block (Mirage, Visions, and Weatherlight) and in the Time Spiral block.


This ability is written "Flashback — Cost". When a card with this ability is in a player's graveyard, that player may pay its flashback cost and play the card from the graveyard. Then, instead of the card going to the graveyard, it's removed from the game. This allows a player to get a second use from a card. Cards with Flashback, as well as any card with an ability that acted from the graveyard in the Odyssey block, have small headstone markers in front of their names.

Flashback appears in the Odyssey block and in Time Spiral (though without the headstone marker).


Forecast is the ability associated with the Azorius Senate. It is written "Forecast — Cost: Ability" where the cost always includes revealing the card from the player's hand. A player with a card with Forecast in his hand during his upkeep may pay the Forecast cost (revealing the card from his hand until the end of the upkeep) to play its Forecast ability. He can only do this once per turn per Forecast card in his hand.


This ability is written as "Fortify (cost)". It is found only on Fortifications, a subtype of Artifacts new to Future Sight. It works exactly like Equip and Equipment, but the card is attached to a land the player controls, rather than a creature.

This ability appears on a single timeshifted artifact from Future Sight, Darksteel Garrison.


This creature ability is written as "Frenzy X". When a creature with Frenzy attacks and is not blocked, it gets +X/+0 until end of turn. This ability is similar to that of Murk Dwellers, which lasts until end of combat.

This ability appears on a single timeshifted creature from Future Sight, Frenzy Sliver.


Graft is the ability associated with the Simic Combine. It is written "Graft X", where X is any number. All creatures with Graft are 0/0 creatures that come into play with X +1/+1 counters on them. Whenever another creature comes into play, a player may choose to put one +1/+1 counter from any number of creatures with Graft he controls onto that creature. These creatures have abilities pertaining to +1/+1 counters. One such creature, Cytoplast Manipulator, can gain control of any creature that has a +1/+1 counter on it.


When a player plays a spell with Gravestorm, they put a copy of that spell on the stack for each permanent that was put into a graveyard before the Gravestorm spell this turn. This ability is similar to Storm.

This ability appears on a single timeshifted card from Future Sight, Bitter Ordeal.


Haunt is the ability associated with the Orzhov Syndicate. It is placed on creatures and instant and sorcery spells with an ability that happens twice: Once when the spell is played (or the creature comes into play), and once when the creature it "haunts" is put into a graveyard. When a haunt creature or spell would be put into a graveyard, instead it's removed from the game "haunting" a creature.


Hideaway is an ability that appears only on a cycle of lands from Lorwyn. A land with hideaway is brought into play tapped, and its controller chooses one card from the top four of their library and removes that card from the game face-down. Each card with hideaway also has another ability that allows its controller to play the "hidden" card under certain conditions.


Horsemanship is similar to flying in that creatures with horsemanship can only be blocked by other creatures with horsemanship. However, there is no analogue for reach.

Horsemanship is unique to the Portal Three Kingdoms set.


This ability is written "Imprint — (text)". The text can be either an activated (Cost: Ability) or triggered (When something happens, ability) ability. Imprinting allows the player to remove a card from the game to grant abilities to the permanent with the Imprint ability.

Imprint is only found on artifacts in the Mirrodin block.


This ability is written "This permanent is indestructible". A permanent which is indestructible can't be destroyed, either by spell effects or lethal damage. Such a permanent can still be removed from the game, returned to a player's hand, sacrificed, put into the graveyard due to having 0 toughness, or be put into a graveyard because it's one of two legendary permanents with the same name. A creature that is indestructible still receives damage, and so a 3/3 indestructible that has taken 7 damage will remain in play as a 3/3 with 7 damage on it.

Indestructibility appears most prominently in Darksteel and Champions of Kamigawa (where it was used to represent divine beings). It has seen occasional usage since in other sets such as Betrayers of Kamigawa, Coldsnap, and Time Spiral, as well as in the rules errata of a few older cards such as Guardian Beast and Consecrate Land.


This ability is written "Kicker (cost)". The kicker cost represented an additional and optional cost that could be paid when the card was put into play. If the cost is paid, an ability printed on the card is activated. Some cards have multiple kicker abilities, of which any or none can be activated.

Kicker cards are found in the Invasion block (Invasion, Planeshift, and Apocalypse). Several cards with Kicker were reprinted as "timeshifted" cards in Time Spiral and as regular cards in Planar Chaos and Future Sight.


This ability is written "Madness (cost)". At the time a player discards a card, he or she may pay its madness cost and play the card. When madness first appeared on cards, the madness cost was often cheaper than, or, in many cards with converted mana cost 1, the same as the normal casting cost of the card. The rules for how Madness works were subtly shifted for Time Spiral (see Too Cool for Rules).

Madness appears in Torment, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight. In Torment, Madness appeared in two cycles that spanned each color, one of 5 commons and one of 5 uncommons. In the Time Spiral block, the vast majority of Madness cards have been Black, with the only exceptions being two timeshifted Red cards. The Future Sight set introduced a card whose Madness cost is more expensive than its normal cost (Ichor Slick).


This ability is written "Modular X," where X is a number. A creature with Modular comes into play with X +1/+1 counters on it. When a Modular creature is put into a graveyard, its controller may put all the +1/+1 counters on that creature onto another artifact creature. The second ability is targeted, so the counters can't be put on an artifact creature that can't be targeted. Note that this applies to all counters, not merely the counters granted by the Modular ability; thus, +1/+1 counters from previous dead Modular creatures or the abilities of cards like Arcbound Ravager or Arcbound Crusher would also be transferred.

Modular appeared in Darksteel and on one card in Fifth Dawn (Arcbound Wanderer). It has only appeared on Artifact creatures so far and is extremely unlikely to ever appear on a normal creature due to its flavor.


This ability is written "Morph (cost)". A creature with morph may be played 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. Only creatures with Morph may be played face-down. At the end of the game, or whenever a face down creature would leave play, 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.

Morph appears in the Onslaught block and Time Spiral block.


This ability is written "Ninjutsu (Cost)." The ability is on all Ninja in Betrayers of Kamigawa, and only on Ninja. If a player has a Ninja in hand, he or she may pay its ninjutsu cost and return an unblocked attacking creature they control to their hand to put the Ninja into play tapped and attacking. (A creature is only unblocked if no creatures are blocking it after the declare blockers step has been completed.)

Ninjutsu appears only in Betrayers of Kamigawa and only in the colors blue and black.


This ability is written "(creature type) offering." A cycle of five Patron Spirits in Betrayers of Kamigawa has the Offering ability. A player may play a creature with the offering ability as if it were an instant (see Flash) if they sacrifice a creature with the type of the offering, then pays the difference in mana costs between the sacrificed creature and the creature to be played. For example, Patron of the Orochi has Snake offering and a mana cost 6 colorless and 2 green mana. If the player with this in his hand were to sacrifice a snake with a mana cost of 2 colorless and 1 green mana, they could play the Patron as an instant by paying the additional 4 colorless and 1 green mana. Only one creature may be sacrificed during this offering.

Offering appears only in Betrayers of Kamigawa.


When a creature with persist is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return to play under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.

Persist appears in Shadowmoor.


This ability introduced a new zone to the game, the phased-out zone. Cards in the phased-out zone 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 are in play and have phasing move to the phased-out zone, along with any Auras attached to the phasing cards. Any cards the player controls which were previously in the phased-out zone return to play 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.[9]


This creature ability, written as "Poisonous X", is an old ability originating from the Legends set. It was keyworded with the release of Future Sight, though older cards with the ability have not been changed to have poisonous. 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. Previous sets, as far back as 4th Edition (example: Pit Scorpion) simply stated the effect of adding poison counters.

This ability appears on timeshifted cards from Future Sight.


When a creature with Provoke attacks, its controller may have a creature the defending player controls untap and block that creature if it is able to do so. This is a targeted ability, so it can't choose a creature that can't be targeted by the ability. The ability can choose a creature that can't block the creature that has it; this is useful against creatures with "pinning" abilities (that may remain tapped to give an effect as long as they are tapped). However, there is a period of time after the Provoke trigger resolves and the Declare Blockers step. This means that if the provoked creature has a "tap" ability and is not summoning sick, it can tap for its ability afterwards, and therefore not be required to block. Provoke is cumulative, though no creature has more than one instance of it.

Provoke only appears in Legions.


Prowl, written "Prowl (cost)", is an alternate cost. A player can play a card for its Prowl cost if a creature controlled by that player dealt combat damage to a player that turn and shares a creature type with the Prowl card. Most cards with Prowl have an additional effect if played for their Prowl cost.

Prowl appears in Morningtide.


This ability is written as "Rampage X", with "X" being a number. 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, and 5th Edition was the only Core Set to ever include cards with Rampage. One card with Rampage was reprinted as a "timeshifted" card in Time Spiral.


Recover is a triggered ability that triggers when a card is in its owner's graveyard. It is written "Recover (cost)". Whenever a creature card is put into a graveyard from play, 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 in put back into their hand. If it is not paid, the card is removed from the game.

Recover appears in Coldsnap.


This ability is written "Reinforce N — (cost)". A player with a card with Reinforce in their hand may discard that card, pay its Reinforce cost, and put N +1/+1 counters on a target creature.

Reinforce appears in Morningtide.


Replicate is the ability associated with the Izzet League. It is written "Replicate — Cost". When a player plays a spell with Replicate, he may pay the Replicate cost any number of times. He puts a copy of the spell on the stack for each time he paid the Replicate cost.


Ripple is a triggered ability that triggers when a card is played. It is written "Ripple X" where X is a number. When a spell with Ripple is played, its controller may reveal the top X cards of his or her library. If any of them are copies of the Ripple spell that was played, then he or she can play those copies without paying their mana costs (this triggers their ripple abilities, so a player can ripple again.) Any cards not played are then put on the bottom of that player's library. One card, Thrumming Stone, grants Ripple 4 to all spells a player plays.

Ripple appears in Coldsnap, where all cards printed with it have Ripple 4.


Creatures with this ability can only block or be blocked by other creatures with the shadow ability.

Shadow appears in the Tempest block (Tempest, Stronghold, and Exodus) and in Time Spiral block.


This ability is written "Soulshift X," where X is a number. When a creature with Soulshift is put into a graveyard from play, its controller may return a Spirit card with a converted mana cost X or less from his graveyard to his hand. Most creatures with Soulshift had a Soulshift number one less than their converted mana cost, to prevent them from returning themselves. Almost all cards with Soulshift are Spirits (the only non-spirit is Promised Kannushi). One card, Forked-Branch Garami, was printed with two different instances of Soulshift 4; these triggered separately (thus, two spirits of casting cost 4 or less could be retrieved, but a spirit with casting cost 8 could not be). Another card, Kodama of the Center Tree, had a variable Soulshift number, and could conceivably retrieve itself if enough Spirits were in play.

Soulshift appears in the Kamigawa block.


This ability is written "Splice onto (quality) (cost)." During the Kamigawa block, the quality was limited to Arcane. As a player plays a spell with the given quality, he may reveal a card in his hand with Splice onto that quality and pay its Splice cost. If he does, the splicing card's effects are added to those of the played spell, 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 played normally, as opposed to a card with a mana cost of 0, which can be played for free), but it does have a splice cost.

Splice appears in the Kamigawa block.

Split Second[]

Split Second is a static ability for spells. As long as a spell with Split Second is on the stack, players can't play spells or non-mana activated abilities. Triggered abilities, as well as effects that don't use the stack that can be played at instant speed (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 spell type, except that one card with Split Second cannot be played on the stack on top of another card with Split Second, whereas one Interrupt card could be played in response to another.

Split Second appears in the Time Spiral block.


When a player plays a spell with Storm, they put a copy of that spell on the stack for each spell played 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. Generally, these spells have expensive casting costs. One Storm spell, Mind's Desire, has been restricted in Vintage formats.

Storm appears in Scourge and Time Spiral.


Substance is a static ability with no effect. 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 new rules, the original wording would cause the enchantment to leave play before damage was removed from creatures. The creation of substance returned the functionality of these cards to what they were originally intended to do.[10]

Substance has never been printed on a Magic card, though cards from Mirage, Visions, Alliances, and Urza's Saga have been edited to use it.


A permanent with Sunburst comes into play with a +1/+1 counter (if it's a creature) or a charge counter (if it's not a creature) for each color of mana spent to pay its mana cost.

Sunburst appears in Fifth Dawn and only on artifacts.


Suspend is a combination ability for spells. It is written "Suspend N — (cost)". Any time a player could play a spell with suspend, he may pay its suspend cost to remove it from the game and place N time counters on it. One time counter is removed from a suspended card during its controller's upkeep, and when the last counter is removed the spell is played with no need to pay its mana cost. (Timing restrictions don't apply, but effects that forbid a player from playing spells can.)

Cards may be given suspend when they are removed from the game by an effect. This effect always puts time counters on the card as well. In particular, a cycle of cards from the Future Sight set can "re-suspend" themselves after they're played.

Suspend appears in the Time Spiral block.


This ability is written as "Transfigure (cost)". A player who has a creature with transfigure in play may, any time a sorcery could be played, pay its transfigure cost and sacrifice it to search his library for a creature with the same converted mana cost as the sacrificed creature and put it in directly into play. Note that it is the converted mana cost of the card, not the Transfigure cost, that is used when finding another card. It is a variant on the Transmute ability from Ravnica.

This ability appears on a single timeshifted creature in Future Sight, Fleshwrither.


Transmute is the ability associated with House Dimir. It 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.


Typecycling is a variant of Cycling that is worded "(card type)cycling (cost)". When the ability is used the player discards the card, then may search their deck for any card containing the indicated subtype and put it in their hand. It first appeared in Scourge as "Landcycling," as its only appearances were on five cards which could search for only basic lands. Typecycling was redefined with the release of Future Sight to allow searching for other types of cards. Typecycling is considered a form of cycling, and thus triggers anything that would trigger on cycling.


This ability is written as "Vanishing X", where X is a number. A permanent with vanishing comes into play with X time counters on it. Every upkeep, a time counter is removed. When the last counter is removed, the card is sacrificed .

Vanishing is an updated version of an older mechanic, Fading. Vanishing uses time counters to interact with Time Spiral cards and induces sacrifice at the removal of the final counter.

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.[11] 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.


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.[12]


This ability is written as "Grandeur — 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 is the ability word associated with the Cult of Rakdos. Cards with the Hellbent ability have greater effects if their controller has no cards in his or her hand. Many other cards pertaining to the Cult function better while their controller has fewer cards in hand.


Kinship is an ability word for effects that check whether a card (often the top card of a player's library) shares a creature type with the creature that has the Kinship ability. If that card does share a creature type with the card with Kinship, the player may reveal it for a bonus effect.

Kinship appears on several cards in Morningtide.


Radiance is the ability word associated with the Boros Legion. It denotes abilities that target one permanent, but affect all permanents of the same type that share a color with the target.


Spells with sweep have effects which can be strengthened by returning any number of basic lands (of a single type) to their owners' hands.

Sweep only appears on four cards in Saviors of Kamigawa. Mark Rosewater has opined that labeling this mechanic with a keyword was "a mistake."[13]


This ability was originally written "Threshold — ability". Whenever a player has seven or more cards in his graveyard, his or her cards gain any threshold abilities they might have. A player can't play an activated ability tied to threshold unless he or she has seven or more cards in their graveyard.

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 in your graveyard.)

And was changed to:

W, Tap: Tap target creature.
Threshold — WW, Tap: Tap two target creatures. Play 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.[14]

Threshold appears in Odyssey block and on some timeshifted cards in Time Spiral.

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 exception) within the rules of the game, it has been strongly indicated that they will never appear on any cards printed in future sets.


Banding is an ability that has two parts. First, a player determines how combat damage is dealt by an opposing creature if at least one of the creatures blocking or blocked by 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 (one non-banding creature could be included in a band). If one creature becomes blocked, the whole band becomes blocked as well, whether or not the defender could block other creatures in the band.

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."[15]

Bands with Other[]

This ability is a limited version of Banding, written as "Bands with other (creature type)." A creature with this ability has banding, but can only band with creatures that also have "Bands with other", provided the creature type listed matches. Creatures with banding can join the attacking band, and all other banding rules apply. Counter to the name of the ability, creatures with "Bands with other" cannot simply band with any creature that has the same type as the one listed in the ability; all creatures involved in a band must have the same "Bands with other" ability or normal Banding.

"Bands with Other" appears only in Legends. The only creature that natively has the ability are Wolves-of-the-Hunt tokens created by the card Master of the Hunt. Bands with Other is called "possibly the worst keyworded ability of all time" by Magic rules manager Mark Gottlieb in the article Absurd or Ridiculous? You Decide, implying that the mechanic has likely been retired for good.


This ability is written as "Fading X", where X is a number. A permanent with fading comes into play with X fade counters on it. Every 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, which Wizards of the Coast has said will replace Fading.[16] Vanishing uses time counters instead and requires sacrifice upon removal of the last counter, rather than one upkeep later.


This ability is written as (land type)home. A creature with this ability 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. With the exception of Gorilla Pack, Ronom Serpent, and Bog Serpent, the ability appears only on blue cards and in the "Islandhome" variety.

The ability has been present since the Limited Editions of the game, but was only keyworded in Mirage Block with the introduction of Kukemssa Serpent. The keyword has since been discontinued; the last card to be printed with a keyworded landhome ability was Manta Ray from the Weatherlight expansion.

Landhome is unique in that it is the only keyworded ability to be retroactively removed from the rules. While cards which previously had landhome still feature the associated restrictions, they have been issued errata removing "landhome" as a keyword, leaving merely the reminder text.


  1. Buehler, Randy (2004-10-07). "Ask Wizards - October 2004". Ask Wizards. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-07-17. "One of the big differences between Core Sets and Expert-level sets is that every single keyword in the Core Set gets reminder text every time. That way new players will get to learn what all the basic Magic abilities (like flying, first strike, fear, and vigilance) actually do." 
  2. "The Premium Foils of Tenth Edition". Magic Arcana. Wizards of the Coast. 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  3. Laugel, Del (2007-08-27). "Ask Wizards - August 2007". Ask Wizards. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  4. Gatherer search for cards with the text 'any time you could play an instant',, accessed 26 September, 2006
  5. Forsythe, Aaron (2007-05-18). "Scry and Keyword Actions". Latest Developments. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  6. The Scrying Game by Mark Rosewater,, Monday, May 14, 2007
  7. Rosewater, Mark (2007-10-01). "And the Rest". Making Magic. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  8. Karsten, Frank (2007-09-19). "Threshers and Blades". Online Tech. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  9. Masters Edition Update Bulletin
  10. Gottlieb, Mark (2006-03-07). "Ask Wizards - March, 2006". Ask Wizards. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  11. Forsythe, Aaron (2005-05-20). "The Sky is Falling". Latest Developments. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-07-22. "“Why 'keyword' these abilities at all?” The answer is for ease of communication. It's easier to talk about and understand cards as a group if there is some verbal link that ties them together." 
  12. Rosewater, Mark (2005-05-23). "Choosing a Channel". Retrieved 2007-02-26. "The mechanical reason was to tie the cards into soulshift. By being spirits, the cards could be brought back when soulshift creatures were put into the graveyard." 
  13. Rosewater, Mark (2005-06-06). "One with One With Nothing". Retrieved 2007-02-26. "Sweep fails as a keyword on a number of levels... keywording sweep was a mistake." 
  14. Gottlieb, Mark (2007-09-20). "Too Cool for Rules". Feature Article. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  15. Rosewater, Mark (2003-12-01). "The Baby and the Bathwater". Retrieved 2007-07-24. "One such project was working at the 1995 Magic World Championships. As a judge, I had the opportunity to answer a large number of rules questions. The most popular one was essentially “How does banding work?” These were the top players in the world and even they were confused by banding." 
  16. Rosewater, Mark (2007-01-15). "Utter Chaos". Retrieved 2007-02-24. "It’s fading 2.0. It’s how we wish fading had always worked and it’s what we plan to move forward with in the future." 

Additional sources[]

ru:List of Magic: The Gathering keywords

External links[]