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Note that these are general definitions. Certain exceptions in the rules and the cards may apply in specific situations. Cross-references to terms also in this glossary appear in italics.



Many permanents have abilities, which generally are played as instants and count as fast effects. See also continuous abilities; banding; first strike; flanking; flying; landwalk; phasing; protection; rampage; regeneration; trample.

Activation Cost

The price to play an ability. Abilities with an activation cost are written as "activation cost: ability." See also casting cost.

Active Player

The player whose turn it is. If an effect instructs both players to do something, the active player goes first.


Play for ownership of a card.


A type of permanent. Artifacts are normally colorless.

Artifact Creature

A permanent that counts as both an artifact and a creature. An artifact creature is affected by spells and abilities that affect artifacts as well as those that affect creatures.

Assigned to Block

Declared a blocker to an attacking creature.


Once during your turn, you can attack your opponent with some, all, or none of your creatures.

See also null attack.

Attacking Creature

A creature that's been declared as an attacker. A creature is an attacking creature only during the attack portion of the main phase. Contrast blocking creature.


An ability that allows your creatures to attack in groups. It also lets you decide how to distribute combat damage.

Basic Land

A permanent whose ability is to produce mana. There are five types of basic land: plains, islands, swamps, mountains, and forests. Contrast special land.


A series of effects, which can be spells, the abilities of permanents, or both. A batch of effects is resolved in last-in, first-out order.


To "get in the way of" an attacking creature with some, none, or all of your creatures. If blocked, an attacking creature deals damage to its blockers, not to the defending player. Contrast attack.

Blocking Creature

A creature that's blocking an attacking creature. A creature is only a blocking creature during the attack portion of the main phase. Contrast attacking creature.


To put a permanent into the graveyard. This can't be prevented in any way. Contrast destroy.

Card Type

The identification of a card's category. The card type is printed just below the artwork.


To play a spell, paying all its costs and making all required decisions. See also successfully cast.

Casting Cost

The amount and type of mana required to play a spell. All spells have a casting cost in the upper right corner of the card.


The last phase of the turn.


There are five colors of Magic: white, blue, black, red, and green. A card's background acts as a reminder of its color. See also colorless; multicolored.


Not connected to one of the five colors of mana. Lands and artifacts are normally colorless.


The part of the main phase that begins when both an attack and its defense are announced.

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Combat Damage

Damage dealt by creatures as a result of attacking or blocking. Contrast direct damage.

Continuous Abilities

Abilities that take effect as soon as the permanent enters play and that end only when the permanent leaves play.


The player who currently possesses a card; usually (but not always) the card's owner.


The price to play or maintain a spell or ability. See also activation cost; casting cost; phase cost; untap cost.


To use an interrupt to cancel a spell being cast and put it into the graveyard.


Markers used to note long-term changes to a permanent or for "bookkeeping purposes." Contrast token.


The troops with which you attack your opponent. Creature cards are easily identifiable because they have power and toughness numbers in the bottom right corner. See also walls.


Successful damage to a creature that equals or exceeds its toughness kills it. Successful damage to a player reduces her life total.

Damage Prevention

A step that occurs whenever damage is dealt, in which players can prevent or redirect damage. Effects that prevent damage simply remove it; effects that redirect damage move it from one target to another.


To put a permanent into the graveyard. Some effects can prevent this. Contrast bury.

Direct Damage

Damage dealt without combat. Contrast combat damage.


(1) To put a card from your hand onto the top of your graveyard.
(2) A phase of the turn, at the end of which you must reduce your hand to seven cards.


(1) To put the top card of your library into your hand.
(2) A phase of the turn, in which you draw a card.
(3) A tie, in which neither player wins or loses the game.


A complete game of Magic: The Gathering.


The impact on play of a spell or ability.

Enchant World

A unique global enchantment. Only one enchant world can be in play at any given time. See also legend.


Permanents that affect play. See also global enchantment; local enchantment.

Evasion Abilities

Abilities that make attacking creatures unblockable. See also flying;landwalk.

Fast Effect

An instant, interrupt, mana source, or noncontinuous ability. Fast effects may be played during either player's turn and during most phases.

First Strike

An ability allowing creatures to deal their combat damage before the regular damage-dealing step.


A spell or effect doing nothing to a target because the target disappeared or became illegal by the time the spell or effect resolved.


An ability that decreases the power and toughness of creatures without flanking that are assigned to block creatures with flanking.


An ability that makes creatures unblockable except by other creatures with flying.

Generic Mana

Generic mana costs (such as (1)) can be paid with mana of any color or with colorless mana.

Global Enchantment

A enchantment that has a continuous effect on the game or that grants certain abilities. Contrast local enchantment.


The pile into which you discard. See also library.


The cards you hold.


A fast effect that's put into the graveyard when it takes effect.


A fast effect that can counter or modify other spells or abilities being played. Interrupts are put into the graveyard when they take effect.


A colorless permanent that typically produces mana. See also basic land; special land.


A group of abilities (swamphome, mountainhome, etc.) that prevent the creature with the ability from being declared an attacker if the defending player controls no lands of the appropriate type. Additionally, creatures with landhome are buried if their controller doesn't control any lands of the appropriate type.


A group of abilities (swampwalk, mountainwalk, etc.) that make an attacking creature unblockable if the defending player controls any lands of the appropriate type.


Unique artifacts, creatures, lands, and so on. Only one copy of a particular legend can be in play at a time. See also enchant world.

Lethal Damage

If the damage accumulated by a creature during a turn is equal to or greater than its toughness, it suffers lethal damage and is destroyed.


The pile from which you draw. See also graveyard.

Life Total

Your "score." You begin the game with 20 life. If you have less than 1 life at the end of a phase or at the beginning or end of combat, you lose the game.

Local Enchantment

An enchantment that can be played only on other permanents and that affects only the permanent on which it's played. Contrast global enchantment.

Main Phase

The principal phase of the turn. During your main phase, you can play a land, play any type of spell or ability, and attack using any or all of your creatures.


The energy used to power spells. Mana is typically produced by lands.

Mana Burn

Any leftover mana in a player's mana pool at the end of a phase or at the beginning or end of combat is lost, and the player's life total drops by that amount.

Mana Pool

Mana you draw from your mana sources is put into your mana pool. You take mana out of this pool to pay for a spell or ability.

Mana Source

Typically, a land that produces mana; also includes any mana source spell and any ability that's played as a mana source. Nothing can interrupt drawing mana from a mana source.

Mana Symbol

A symbol corresponding to one of the five colors of Magic: W (white), U (blue), B (black), R (red), and G (green).
Note:Due to copyright laws I cannot display the actual symbols here. The letters above are represented by a bright sun (W), a drop of water (U), a skull (B), a fireball (R) and a tree (G).
See also generic mana.


Related to more than one color of mana. Multicolored cards are considered to be of each color in their casting cost.

Neutral State

A condition of each phase, when both players have the option of beginning a batch of effects.

Null Attack

An attack with no creatures. A null attack counts as the player's one attack for that turn.


The player who started the game with that card. See also controller.


Artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and lands. Once played, permanents remain in the game until something removes them.


One of the six parts of the turn. See also untap; upkeep; draw; main; discard; cleanup.

Phase Cost

A cost on some permanents that's paid during a specific phase. You must pay a permanent's phase cost before you can play its ability or attack with it.

Phase Effect

An effect that happens or can be used only during a specific phase. Phase effects are played as instants.

Phase In

For a permanent that has phased out, to return to play at the start of its controller's next untap phase.

Phase Out

For a permanent, to temporarily leave play at the start of a turn because of its phasing ability.


An ability that causes a permanent to phase in or phase out at the start of each turn.


The amount of damage a creature deals in combat. Contrast toughness.


An ability that makes a creature largely immune to spells, effects, and permanents with a given characteristic (typically a color).


An ability that makes a creature bigger as more creatures are assigned to block it.

Redirect Damage

See damage prevention.


A creature that's been destroyed or that's suffered lethal damage can be kept in play with regeneration. Regenerating a creature taps it.


To take effect. Spells, abilities, and batches all resolve.


To bury a permanent in its owner's graveyard. Sacrifice is typically a cost of playing a spell or ability.


A spell that you can cast only on your own turn and not during combat. Sorceries take effect once and then are put into the graveyard.


The origin of something, typically damage, effects, or mana.

Special Land

A land with a name other than "plains," "island," "swamp," "mountain," or "forest." Special lands have abilities as described on them.

Specialized Effect

A spell or ability that can be played only in certain situations. See also triggered effect.


Any card in the process of being played that's not a land.

Successfully Cast

Played and not countered. See also cast.

Summoning Sickness

The inability of a creature to be tapped to attack or pay for an ability unless you've had control of it from the beginning of your turn. Summoning sickness affects all creatures, including artifact creatures.

Summon Spell

A spell that brings a creature into play on your side. A summon spell can only be cast on your own turn and not during combat.


To turn a card sideways. A tapped card has been "used up" and typically can't be used for any purpose until it becomes untapped. The symbol for "tap" is TAP . Contrast untap.


To direct a spell or ability at specific things.


The area containing all of your permanents.

Text Box

The box on each card containing that card's rules and flavor text.


A marker representing a creature, an artifact, or such. A token's characteristics are defined by the effect that create it. Contrast counters.


The amount of damage needed to destroy a creature in one turn. Contrast power.


If a creature with trample deals more combat damage to a creature blocking it than is needed to kill the blocker, the excess damage is dealt to the defending player.

Triggered effect

A specialized effect that occurs automatically, but only under certain conditions.


An unblockable creature can't have any other creatures assigned to block it.

Unblocked Creature

An attacking creature that's not being blocked. A creature is only an unblocked creature during the attack portion of the main phase after blockers have been assigned.


(1) To turn your cards upright again.
(2) The first phase of the turn. All of your permanents untap during your untap phase and so become available for use again. Contrast tap.

Untap Costs

The costs sometimes associated with untapping certain permanents during or at the end of upkeep.


A phase of the turn. The effects of some permanents apply every turn during upkeep.


A class of creatures that can't attack.