Magic: The Gathering


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There are three main types of abilities: Activated, Triggered, and Static. Examples of Static abilities include shroud, first strke, and flying. Activated abilities include any abilities that require some sort of cost, and always include a colon. For example, the card Royal Assassin has an activated ability that reads: "Tap: Destroy target tapped creature." Triggered abilities require a specific event to occur. For example, the card Verdant Force has a triggered ability that says "At the beginning of each upkeep, put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token onto the battlefield."

Evergreen Keywords

These abilities are used in most sets and thus are the core abilities the game is built around.


Deathtouch is a static ability that means any amount of damage dealt by a source with deathtouch is enough to kill the creature receiving the damage no matter how low the damage is.

Main article: Deathtouch


Main article: Defender

Double Strike

A creature with double strike deals damage during the first combat damage step alongside creatures with first strike, then additionally deal damage during the second damage step along with regular creatures.

Main article: Double Strike


Enchant {target} is a static ability found on auras which defines what they can enchant. The keyword is written with a quality after it (e.g. Enchant creature) which defines what the aura can enchant.

Main article: Enchant


Main article: Equip

First Strike

First strike is a static ability that creates an additional combat damage step. A creature with first strike will deal its combat damage before a creature that doesn't.

Main article: First Strike


Flash is a static ability that allows the affected card to be cast at any time you could cast an instant.

Main article: Flash (keyword)


Creatures with the static ability flying cannot be blocked except by other creatures with either flying or creatures with the static ability reach. Creatures with flying can block other creatures with or without flying.

Main article: Flying


Haste is a static ability that allows creatures to ignore the affliction informally known as "summoning sickness". This means that they can attack and use activated abilities with the tap symbol on the same turn they enter the battlefield.

Main article: Haste


Hexproof is a static ability that causes the affected permanent to be unable to be targeted by spells or abilities your opponents control. Permanents with hexproof can still be targeted by spells or abilities you control.

Main article: Hexproof


Indestructible is a keyword ability that means that any permanent that has indestructible cannot be destroyed, and cannot die as a result of lethal damage.

Main article: Indestructible


Intimidate is a static ability which restricts the types of creatures that can block a creature with intimidate. A creature with intimidate can't be blocked, except by artifact creatures and by creatures that share a color with it.

Main article: Intimidate


Landwalk is a static ability that means the affected creature cannot be blocked as long as the defending player controls a land of the specified type.

Main article: Landwalk


Lifelink is a static ability that modifies the result of damage. When a card with lifelink deals damage, the controller of that card also gains an amount of life equal to the amount of damage dealt.

Main article: Lifelink (keyword)


Protection is a static ability which grants the affected permanent the inability to be dealt damage, enchanted, blocked, or targeted by any card with the stated quality.

Main article: Protection


Reach is a static ability that means the affected creature can block creatures with flying.

Main article: Reach


Shroud is a static ability that means the affected permanent or player cannot be the target of any spells or abilities.

Main article: Shroud


Trample is a static ability of creatures that when attacking, allows it to assign the remaining damage not taken by creatures blocking it to the defending player.

Main article: Trample


Vigilance is a static ability that means the affected creature does not tap once declared as an attacker.

Main article: Vigilance

Other Keywords


Banding is a legacy ability once considered part of the main game, but is no longer supported. Banding is when two or more creatures with banding, temporally 'band' together, or team up to attack. It becomes one creature, it can do so to either attack or block. If the majority of the creatures have a certain skill, say 'flying' all the creatures fly until the band is disbanded.

Main article: Banding


Rampage is a triggered ability that increases the affected creature's power and toughness by a set amount for each creature blocking it beyond the first.

Main article: Rampage

Cumulative Upkeep

Cumulative upkeep is a triggered ability that imposes an increasing cost to keep a permanent.

Main article: Cumulative Upkeep


Flanking is a triggered ability that means when a creature without flanking blocks a creature with flanking, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

Main article: Flanking


Phasing is a static ability that every other turn (besides the turn it was summoned) the creature exiles itself. It cannot attack, block, or be targeted by spells, even those that unexile it. All enchantments stay on it, and the next turn, it unexiles itself, it has no summoning sickness. 

Main article: Phasing


Buyback is a static ability that appears on some instant and sorcery cards that allows you to return the card to your hand when it resolves.

Main article: Buyback


Shadow is a static ability that means the affected creature can only block, or be blocked by other creatures with shadow.

Main article: Shadow


Cycling is an activated ability that means you can discard a card from your hand to draw a card.


Typecycling is an activated ability that means you can discard a card from your hand to search your deck for a card of a specific type.

Main article: Cycling


Echo is a triggered ability that requires the affected permanent's controller to pay its echo cost at the beginning of that player's next upkeep.

Main article: Echo

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