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Magic the Gathering Abilities

Updated on August 26, 2012

Magic the gathering abilities list

Here you will find a list of the abilities that magic cards can have. I will go through the keywords of the magic game and give examples of which magic cards have the abilities mentioned.

When I first started playing Magic the Gathering (MTG) the list of abilities was very short, however as the game progressed and became ever more complex, more and more skills were added and by now it can be hard to remember all of them. Hopefully this lens will shed some light on the abilities and keywords of magic cards.

If you are looking for High Toughness creature cards click here

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Magic the Gathering Ability - Defender - Wall of Denial

Magic: the Gathering - Wall of Denial - Alara Reborn - Foil
Magic: the Gathering - Wall of Denial - Alara Reborn - Foil

The defender ability basically means that the creature is not allowed to attack. These cards might seem limited, however the drawback from defender is usually made up by a high toughness or other nifty abilities.


The MTG Deathtouch ability explained

Magic the Gathering Ability - Deathtouch - Vampire Nighthawk

Magic: the Gathering - Vampire Nighthawk (116) - Zendikar
Magic: the Gathering - Vampire Nighthawk (116) - Zendikar

The Deathtouch ability is pretty straight forward. If your creature with deathtouch damages the opponents creature then regardless of the damage you dealt and the toughness of the other creature, it will die. Very handy ability and very frustrating to your opponent. Could be the perfect counter for a deck full of defenders.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Double Strike - Boros Swiftblade

Magic: the Gathering - Boros Swiftblade - Ravnica
Magic: the Gathering - Boros Swiftblade - Ravnica

Double strike means that the creature will deal damage to the opponent (or his creatures) twice. When a creature has double strike the combat will be divided into 2 damage dealing rounds instead of one. First round the first damage from the double strike will fall and in the second round the damage will be applied again. This means that a 1/2 creature like Baros Swiftblade will deal 2 damage when attacking or blocking an not the 1 you would think looking at his stats.


Magic the Gathering deck building tips and tricks - How to build a good deck

Building your own Magic the gathering deck can be quite daunting, especially if you are new to the game. Here are a few pointers I learned from mistakes I did when I was first starting out many years ago.

  • Chose a strategy and a focus - Make sure you decide what you want your deck to do. Do you want to kill the opponent slowly while lifedraining him so you are invincible or do you want to overwhelm him with many cheap, but weak creatures. Decide the focus otherwise you will only win by luck.
  • Stick to 1 or 2 colours - Multi-coloured decks can work, but they are very hard to balance and not ideal when you are starting out.
  • Limit the number of cards in your deck - Don't stuff your deck with too many cards even though it is really tempting to add just one more creature.
  • Use multiple of the same card - When building a deck make sure that you use the limit of 4 copies per card. If you add 4 of the same card then the chance of you drawing it is bigger and that means that it is easier for your decks strategy to work out. (You did chose a strategy to focus on didn't you?)
  • Make sure you add enough land - I can only stress the importance of this. If your deck is not well balanced with the spell to land ratio then it will fail. You will either end up unable to cast your spells because you don't have any mana or you will have a mana abundance, but no spells to cast. This is vital. Get it right!
  • Read this guide< on basic deckbuilding tips

Magic the Gathering Ability - Flash - Benalish Knight

Magic: the Gathering - Benalish Knight (11/383) - Tenth Edition
Magic: the Gathering - Benalish Knight (11/383) - Tenth Edition

The magic the gathering flash ability means that you can cast the card at any time you would be able to cast an instant (which means almost at any time.)

This is handy for putting down surprise defenders.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Haste - Kyren Legate

Magic: the Gathering - Kyren Legate - Mercadian Masques
Magic: the Gathering - Kyren Legate - Mercadian Masques

The haste ability means that your creature will not be affected by summoning sickness and as such it will be able to attack in the same turn it was cast.

This is a nifty ability to get some early damage in on your opponent.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Indestructible - Blightsteel Colossus

Magic: the Gathering - Blightsteel Colossus - Mirrodin Besieged
Magic: the Gathering - Blightsteel Colossus - Mirrodin Besieged

If your creature has the indestructable ability it means that it can not be destroyed by ordinary damage or by spells that says "destroy target X"

These are very powerful creatures and hard for your opponent to deal with.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Landwalk - Illusionary Presence

Illusionary Presence (Magic the Gathering : Ice Age Rare)
Illusionary Presence (Magic the Gathering : Ice Age Rare)

Landwalk comes in different types, but in short it means that if the opponent owns a land of the type the landwalk ability targets then the creature will be unblockable. For instance a creature with Islandwalk would be unblockable if the opponent owns any islands.


Colour preference in Magic the Gathering

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Magic the Gathering Ability - Lifelink - Serra Ascendant

Magic: the Gathering - Serra Ascendant - Magic 2011
Magic: the Gathering - Serra Ascendant - Magic 2011

The Lifelink ability usually appear on white or green creatures. The ability makes any damage dealt by the creature be added to your lifepool. This means that if a 1/1 creature deals damage to an opponent or creature you will get 1 life. Pretty sweet.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Protection - Goblin Piledriver

Goblin Piledriver ONSLAUGHT Single Card
Goblin Piledriver ONSLAUGHT Single Card

Protection abilities can be amazing if your opponent is playing the colour your creature is protected against. For instance the Goblin Piledriver has protection from blue, this means that no blue spell or effect can touch it in any way, shape or form. Neat huh?


Magic the Gathering Ability - Regenerate - Kathari Remnant

Magic: the Gathering - Kathari Remnant - Alara Reborn
Magic: the Gathering - Kathari Remnant - Alara Reborn

When a creature has a regenerate ability it means that you can pay the cost and bring the creature back if it died in this turn. Be aware though that some creatures will have a counter that prevents a creature from regenerating if damaged by them.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Shroud - Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

Magic: the Gathering - Eladamri, Lord of Leaves - Tempest
Magic: the Gathering - Eladamri, Lord of Leaves - Tempest

The shroud ability prevents any spell or ability from being cast on your creature. This includes your own as well. Very handy ability for keeping your creatures alive, but it does hamper you in the sense that you can't boost them by adding enchantments and such.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Trample - Stonebrow, Krosan Hero

Stonebrow, Krosan Hero (Magic the Gathering : Time Spiral #247 Rare)
Stonebrow, Krosan Hero (Magic the Gathering : Time Spiral #247 Rare)

If a creature has trample it means that when blocked by a creature that has less toughness than your creature has strenght, the additional points will be substracted from the opponents health pool. So your creature is a 7/3 with trample, opponent blocks it with a 1/1 creature. 1 point of damage is absorbed by the blocking creature, however the rest goes through dealing 6 damage to your opponents health pool.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Unblockable - Azorius Herald

Magic: the Gathering - Azorius Herald - Dissension
Magic: the Gathering - Azorius Herald - Dissension

With this ability it will not be possible for your opponent to assign blockers to the creature as it is as stated unblockable. Creatures like these are great when fighting very defensive opponents who makes use of walls and high toughness creatures.


Magic the Gathering Ability - Vigilance - Radiant, Archangel

Magic: the Gathering - Radiant, Archangel - Urza's Legacy - Foil
Magic: the Gathering - Radiant, Archangel - Urza's Legacy - Foil

Vigilance is an ability that allows you to attack with your creatures without tapping them. This means that you can attack and then use the same creature in your opponents turn for blocking his creatures.


Even more abilities

Battle Cry, Exalted. Infect, Landwalk, Protection, Proliferate, Affinity, Amplify, Bloodthirst, Bushido, Convoke, Conspire, Cumulative, Upkeep, Delve, Dredge, Echo, Entwine, Evoke, Flanking, Flashback, Forecast, Fortify, Frenzy, Graft, Haunt, Hideaway, Horsemanship, Imprint, Kicker, Madness, Modular, Morph, Ninjutsu, Offering, Persist, Phasing, Poisonous, Provoke, Prowl, Rampage, Recover, Reinforce, Replicate, Ripple, Shadow, Soulshift, Splice, Split Second, Storm/Gravestorm, Substance, Sunburst,

Suspend, Transmute/Transfigure, Vanishing, Wither, Undying, Morbid, Fateful Hour, Flashback, Double-Faced Cards, Curses, Soulbound, Miracle

Magic the gathering booster packs on Amazon

Here you can see the magic card prices and perhaps get a couple of booster packs to add to your deck. If you haven't already it might be the time to add a couple of Innistrad cards to the collection.

If you are an EU resident, get your magic the gathering items here

Further on Magic the gathering

Everything besides the abilities in MTG

I have now given you a rundown of the abilities in Magic the gathering, however the game doesn't stop there. The rules are vast and very interesting and it can take a long time to master the game. Luckily it doesn't take long to start having fun with it.

Magic the gathering is not only a card game. The franchise has been launched as computer games as well making it a bit easier to jump into without investing too much money. (it doesn't beat a good face to face match though.)

Also it is worth noting that the next Expansion is going to be called Dark Ascension and is set to release 3rd of February 2012

I hope you enjoyed this lens. If you want more information on Magic the Gathering check out the links after the comments section.

Magic the Gathering Starter pack - Get playing right away

Magic the Gathering: MTG: Innistrad Intro Pack: Carnival of Blood Theme Deck
Magic the Gathering: MTG: Innistrad Intro Pack: Carnival of Blood Theme Deck

If this lens has made you want to try out the game or if it has inspired you to start your children out then the intro pack is the right thing to buy.

It provides you with a premade deck constructed by Wizard of the Coast. It can be played straight out of the box without any additions or further purchases. Once you have tested it out you can start buying booster packs, boxes or single cards to construct your own Magic the Gathering deck.

Have fun!


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    • profile image

      JammerJ 6 years ago

      @DANCING COWGIRL: Sane here, but interesting; bring it on.

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 6 years ago from Texas

      Never heard of this before. Learned something new from your lens.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Hubby has played MGT game so I asked him his favorite color to play. He says "blue - cuz I'm a wizard" :) I tried to post this in the poll comments, but it wouldn't let me.