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In Magic: The Gathering, gameplay consists of players accumulating resources and using them to play cards. Some cards have an effect and instantly go to the discard pile, or graveyard; these are known as instants and sorceries. Other cards remain on the table until conditions cause them to be removed from play; these are known as permanents.

In addition to their presence on the table, permanents often have abilities, or functions that can directly affect gameplay. Abilities are often reusable and impact strategy to a significant degree.

There are three main types of abilities:

  • Activated,
  • Triggered, and
  • Static.


Activated abilities include any abilities that require some sort of cost. For example, the card Waker of the Wilds has an activated ability that reads: "CXColor GColor G: Put X +1/+1 counters on target land you control. That land becomes a 0/0 Elemental creature with haste. It's still a land."


Activated abilities that Required Tapping include any abilities that require tapping. For example, the card Encampment Keeper has an activated ability that reads: "C7Color W, Mana Tap, Sacrifice Encampment Keeper: Creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn."


Triggered abilities require a specific event to happen, or by having met certain conditions. For instance, Vicious Conquistador has : Whenever Vicious Conquistador attacks, each opponent loses 1 life."


Static abilities include keyword mechanics such as hexproof, first strike, and flying. Must Attack or Can't Block are static abilities without a keyword.

List of Magic Arena Abilities and Mechanics

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

Aftermath

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Split cards, that let you play one half of a split card only from your graveyard.
Main article: Aftermath

Awaken

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Awaken is an ability that lets you pay an alternative casting cost in order to transform a land into a creature.
Main article: Awaken

Can't Block

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Can't Block is a static ability found on creatures. They cannot be used as blocking creatures.
Main article: Blocking

Can't be blocked

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Can't be blocked is a static ability found on creatures. They cannot be blocked.
Main article: Blocking

Crew

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Turn a Vehicle Artifact into an Artifact Creature by tapping another creature. Gain additional benefits if the tapped creature has the Pilot subtype.
Main article: Crew

Cycling

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An ability, which let's you discard the card from your hand to draw another card.
Main article: Cycling

Deathtouch

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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.
Main article: Deathtouch

Defender

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Defender is a static ability that means the affected permanent cannot attack. It is commonly found on creatures with low power, and high toughness, such as most walls.
Main article: Defender

Devoid

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Devoid is a static ability that makes a card colorless, no matter if it has colored mana as its casting cost.
Main article: Devoid

Doesn't Untap

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Sometimes a permanent gets this ability mostly from a blue source like Fogwalker or Ice Over.
Main article: Tapping

Double Strike

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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

Embalm

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An activated ability that lets you exile a creature card from your graveyard to create a mummified token version of that card.
Main article: Embalm

Emerge

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Emerge is a ability that gives an alternative way to cast colossal Eldrazi. Instead of the mana cost of a spell with emerge, you can sacrifice ONE creature and pay its emerge cost instead at a discount. The emerge cost is reduced by the converted mana cost of the creature sacrificed. 
Main article: Emerge

Enchant

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Enchant {object or player} 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 a the aura can enchant. Technically it can attach to permanents.
Main article: Enchant

Energy

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Gather Energy counters (Energy) and spend them on Energy abilities.
Main article: Energy

Equip

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Equip is an activated ability found on equipments. By paying an equip cost, you can attach the artifact to a creature you control. Equipping can only be used at sorcery speed.
Main article: Equip

Escalate

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Escalate is a static ability, that lets you pay an additional mana cost for each mode after the first.
Main article: Escalate

Exert

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An ability, which may be used, when a creature attacks. The effect of the ability happens, but the creature won't untap during the next untap step.
Main article: Exert

Fabricate

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A triggered ability, that lets you put a number of +1/+1 counters on a creature, or create a number of 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature tokens.
Main article: Fabricate

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

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

Flying

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A creature with flying cannot be blocked except by other creatures with either flying or reach. Creatures with flying can block other creatures with or without flying.
Main article: Flying

Haste

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Haste is a static ability that allows creatures to ignore the rules informally known as "summoning sickness". This means that they can attack, and activate tap or untap abilities on the same turn they enter the battlefield.
Main article: Haste

Hexproof

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Hexproof is a static ability that means that the affected permanent can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control, but can still be target by spells or abilities you control.
Main article: Hexproof

Improvise

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Improvise is a static ability that lets you tap artifacts for C1 to help casting the spell.
Main article: Improvise

Indestructible

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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

Ingest

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Ingest is a triggered ability that exiles an opponent's top card of the library, when damage is dealt.
Main article: Ingest

Intimidate

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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

Investigate

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Investigate is a keyword action meaning “Put a colorless Clue artifact token onto the battlefield. It has ‘C2, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.’”
Main article: Investigate

Lifelink

Lifelink is a static ability that modifies the result of damage. When a creature or card with lifelink deals damage, the controller of that creature also gains an amount of life equal to the amount of damage dealt, in addition to dealing the damage as normal.
Main article: Lifelink

Madness

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Madness is a static/triggered ability that lets you cast a spell for an alternative mana cost, if the card is discarded.
Main article: Madness

Meld

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Meld exiles two cards of a meld pair, combines them into one and then returnes it to the battlefield.
Main article: Meld

Menace

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Menace is a static ability that makes a creature unblockable unless it is blocked by more than one creature.
Main article: Menace

Must Attack

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Must Attack is a static ability found on creatures. They must attack if possible. If you tap your creature before the declaring attacker phase with some other effect, like crew a vehicle, your creature don't need to attack.
Main article: Attacking

Prowess

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Prowess is a triggered ability. Creatures you control that have prowess gain +1/+1 every time you cast a non-creature spell.
Main article: Prowess

Reach

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

Regenerate

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Regenerate is an activated ability. When you regenerate a creature, this means that the next time this turn that it would be destroyed, instead it becomes tapped, all damage marked on it is removed, and if it's in combat, it is removed from combat.
Main article: Regenerate

Renown

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Renown is a triggered ability. “Renown N” means “When this creature deals combat damage to a player, if it isn’t renowned, put N +1/+1 counters on it and it becomes renowned.”

Certain cards, often the ones that have Renown on them, care about creatures becoming renowned to trigger their own abilities.

Main article: Renown

Skulk

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Skulk is an evasion ability that makes a creature unblockable to creatures with greater power.
Main article: Skulk

Support

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Support is a keyword action that lets you put +1/+1 counters on target creatures.
Main article: Support

Surge

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Surge is a static ability that lets you pay an alternative mana cost, if you or a teammate (e.g. in Two-Headed Giant) casted a spell before in the same turn.
Main article: Surge

Token

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A Token is a marker for a permanent that is not represented by a card. Tokens don't have a casting cost. In Magic Duels Copies of Cards get this Icon.
Main article: Token

Trample

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Trample is a static ability that allows creatures to deal the rest of the damage not taken by target creature(s) blocking does that much damage to the defending player.
Main article: Trample

Transform

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Transform is a triggered ability that allows to turn double-faced cards upside down.
Main article: Transform

Vigilance

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Vigilance is a static ability that means the affected creature does not need to tap when attacking.
Main article: Vigilance
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