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Section II: The Main Rules

The First Rule of Magic

Occasionally, a card's effect contradicts the rules. In these cases, the card text always takes precedence.

The Types of Cards

Each card has a card type, which is given underneath its art (see the card diagram below). The first type of card is land; you may play one land during each of your turns without interference. All other types of cards are spells, which are cast from your hand and may be countered by other effects. Certain types of spells remain in play as permanents if they're successfully cast; these include artifacts, artifact creatures, enchantments, and summon spells. The other types of spells take effect once and are then put into the graveyard; these include instants, interrupts, mana sources, and sorceries.

(At this point should be the picture of an actual Magic-card (Hurloon Minotaur). As I'm not sure whether I would violate any copyrights by including this picture in this text, I removed it. Take a look at the page at Wizard's to see the actual picture.


There are five colors in Magic: white, blue, black, red, and green. Every card in Magic has a color definition, which describes it as having one color, many colors (in which case it's said to be multicolored), or no color (in which case it's said to be colorless). Any effect that changes a card's color definition replaces the old color definition with a new one.


Thoughtlace changes the color of a target permanent or spell to blue. As soon as it takes effect, it throws away it's target current color definition and replaces it with "blue". Since it's indifferent to the target's previous color definition, it changes a colorless target to colored (blue) and reduces a multicolored target to just one color (blue).

When cards refer to the color of damage, they're really referring to the color of the source of the damage. The color of damage is always defined by the color of its source, even if another effect increases the amount of damage dealt by the source.


Bob's Grizzly Bears (2/2, green) is enchanted with Holy Strength (white), which gives it +1/+2. Any time the Grizzly Bears deals damage, it deals 3 damage, all green.

Mana and the Mana Pool

Few spells or abilities are free to use; most have costs, which generally consist of one or more mana. Mana is generated by various spells and permanents, collectively referred to as mana sources. Mana sources may be played whenever you need mana to play an effect that's legal at the time. Using mana sources can't be interrupted as other spells and abilities can. Instead, they simply add the appropriate mana to your mana pool.

When mana is produced by a mana source, it's added to your mana pool; it's then taken out of that pool to pay for things. Therefore, it's possible to generate a lot of mana all at once and then spend that mana on several spells and/or abilities.

You can't store mana in your pool indefinitely, however. Whenever a player's life total is checked (at the end of a phase and at the start and end of an attack), she must first check to see if she has any mana left in her mana pool. Any player with mana in her pool at this point loses that mana and an equivalent amount of life. This is known as mana burn. As with other loss-of-life effects, mana burn can't be prevented or redirected.


Bob decides to play Terror on Sue's Serra Angel, but he has only one land (a swamp) available, so he plays Dark Ritual. This adds BBB to his mana pool, and he spends BB on the Terror. If he can't spend the third B before the end of the phase, he'll lose that mana and 1 life.

Each mana has its own color definition, which describes the sort of costs that mana can pay for. Each of the five colors has a mana symbol associated with it: W (white), U (blue), B (black), R (red), and G (green). Every cost that includes mana will use one or more of these mana symbols and/or the generic mana symbol, which is a number inside a gray circle (such as (1)). For example, a cost of one blue mana and two generic mana would be written as (2)U. Generic mana costs may be paid with any type of mana, including colorless. There's no symbol for colorless mana.

The color of a spell is defined by the color(s) of mana required in its casting cost, though spells other than artifacts also have a background matching their color to help in identifying which color they are. Spells that become permanents "inherit" the spell's final color definition.


There are four types of permanents: lands, creatures, artifacts, and enchantments. Lands are the only type of permanent not created by spells. Lands generally serve to produce mana but might instead or additionally have other abilities.

Creatures form your armies and are generally used to attack your opponent. Many creatures have special abilities, and some are more valuable for their abilities than for their power and toughness. Creatures can't attack or use abilities that require tapping them as a cost the turn you gain control of them.

Artifacts and enchantments may have a general effect on the game, or they may have an ability which only you can use. Local_Enchantments are played on other permanents and affect only that permanent. Global enchantments, and all artifacts, are simply put into play in your territory. Artifacts don't function while tapped unless they also count as creatures and/or lands.

Certain permanents count as more than one type of permanent. Such permanents count fully as each type and are subject to effects that apply to each. Artifact creature spells, for example, become permanents that are treated as both artifacts and creatures.

Once a permanent is in play, it remains in play until an effect removes it from play (or, if it's a creature, it takes lethal damage). Permanents don't require a cost to be paid each turn to maintain them in play. The usual way of removing a permanent is to destroy it or to bury it. Either of these methods puts the permanent into the graveyard; the former may be prevented by effects such as regeneration, while the latter can't be prevented by any means. Other effects may return a permanent to its owner's hand, remove it from the game, or otherwise remove it from play.

Every permanent has a controller, who decides when to use its abilities (assuming there's a choice), when to attack or block with it, and so on. A permanent enters play under the control of whoever played it. Other effects may change who controls it, in which case it's moved to the territory of its new controller. Whenever card text says "you" or "your" or speaks in the imperative, it's referring to the card's controller.

Most permanents have one or more special abilities. Some of these abilities are continuous, or constantly in effect. Other abilities are played as fast effects, following rules similar to those for playing spells. Still others are triggered effects, which are played when a certain event occurs, or are specialized effects, which may be played only at certain times (see Specialized and Triggered Effects ).

Continuous abilities are always "on," regardless of whether you want the ability to be in effect at any given moment. Usually, the only way to stop such an ability is to remove the permanent from play. Remember, however, that some effects apply only in certain situations--only as long as you control any forests, for example--and that artifacts generally "shut off" when tapped (see Artifacts).

Many abilities may be played as you choose. These abilities default to being played as instants, except for tapping lands for mana, which defaults to being played as a mana source. Abilities that are used as desired are generally written in the format of "cost: ability," and you must pay the cost in order to play the ability. The "cost" is referred to as the ability's activation cost. These abilities may be used while the permanent is tapped unless the ability includes tapping the permanent in the cost (marked by the TAP symbol) or the permanent is an artifact (see Artifacts).

Tapping and Untapping

Various actions will cause a permanent to become tapped; typical examples include tapping a creature to attack and playing an ability that taps a permanent. A permanent that becomes tapped remains tapped until an effect untaps it; often, it can't be used until it becomes untapped. At the start of your turn, all of your permanents untap.


There are five types of basic land, each of which produces a different color of mana: plains (white), island (blue), swamp (black), mountain (red), and forest (green). Any land that has one of these words as its entire name is a basic land of the appropriate type. Any land that counts as one of the basic land types produces mana of the appropriate color; for example, mountains produce R.

Lands with names other than these five are special lands and have abilities as described on them. Note that special lands don't provide mana unless they say that they do and that they don't count as basic lands or basic land types unless noted otherwise.

Whenever a land produces mana, it does so as a mana source.


Artifacts "shut off" while they're tapped. None of their abilities will work, whether those abilities are continuous abilities, fast effects, or specialized effects. Any phase costs of the artifact, however, will continue to function normally.

The rule about "shutting off" doesn't apply to artifacts that also count as creatures or lands; the rules concerning the other type(s) of permanent take over in these cases.