Rules Q&A - Magic Rules FAQ

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Rules Q&A Magic Rules FAQ

Please do not post questions of your own here!
You should only post in this thread if you want a question or topic to be added to the list. If you do, please post both question and answer, along with an explanation of why the given answer is the correct one.
Please make your own thread if you want to get a question answered.

Introduction
The purpose of this thread is to compile a list of frequently asked rules questions and confusions and their answers. If you think you have a common question, check here to see if you can find the answer before asking about it in a new thread.

If you find a rules error or a broken link in this FAQ, please PM me so that I can fix it. Be aware that I may not respond; if it's nitpicky, I might decide to leave it out in the interest of clarity.

There are still many topics that this FAQ doesn't cover, so if you think there is something that needs to be covered or answered, please make a post. Don't post questions unless you are suggesting that they should be added to the FAQ.

If you have some other comment, PM me if you think it is important. I'm always looking for critique, so I welcome your feedback!


Table of Contents


The Supplementary FAQs





Resources
  • Basic Rulebook
    Simplified rules for beginning players. If you are new to the game, you should read this and not the Comprehensive Rules.

  • The Returning Player Rules Primer
    For those who have played before, but wish to bring themselves up to speed with how the rules have changed since they last played, this primer is the place to go.

  • Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules (TXT file; also available in DOC, RTF, and PDF formats.)
    The current edition of the comprehensive rules. If you want a complete detailing of the current rules structure, you can always find it here. Be warned: it may be confusing for those not familiar with it. Beginners might not want to go here; they're very intimidating for the uninitiated.

  • Oracle Card Reference
    The official text for every card in existence is contained in the Gatherer database. Note that this takes precedence over what is actually printed on the card.

  • Yawgatog's Magic Resource Page
    Yawgatog has been kind enough to provide a number of excellent resources for the average player on his website, including an indexed and hyperlinked version of the CompRules, downloadable Oracle text files, lists of the changes made with each new version of the CompRules and Oracle since Ninth Edition, and a full list of creatures whose creature types have been retroactively altered.

  • Official Tournament Rules
    The official rules for sanctioned tournaments.

  • Banned and Restricted Cards
    The official listing of banned and restricted cards in every sanctioned tournament format. Also includes information on set legality and deck-construction for said formats.

  • Set FAQs
    The official FAQs for each released set. You can look here if you have a specific question about a card, but keep in mind that these FAQs do not get updated over time. They explain how things worked at the time the set was released--that may not be the same as how they work now.

  • MTG-L mailing list archives
    A good place to get official answers for rules questions, or to search for previous answers.

  • Magic in a Nutshell
    This article contains information on a large number of fairly basic Magic rules concepts; it's a good read if you're looking to brush up on the basics.

  • Judge Certification Program
    How to become a judge.


Contributors:

The following people submitted material initially:
Anusien, Caurador, DarkSun2012, John Carter, kriz_riktr, MadWarper, Mirri, Natedogg, Owan, Rulesmonger, Sober, wolf_mage

Special Thanks to:
KillerSheep and swampatog (for writing the old FAQs), and Caurador (for lots of suggestions and corrections)

Additional Acknowledgements:
Anyone who helped out in some small way with this FAQ (you know who you are).
Lots of people who have suggested changes; I can't list you all.

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Basic RQ&A Information
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Q: So, what belongs in this forum?
A: Quite simply, questions and topics pertaining to the rules of Magic, either the game or tournament variety. Nothing else. Questions about how cards work, why combos work, and so forth are perfectly acceptable, but questions about why a card or combo is good don't belong here, as they have nothing to do with the rules.

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Q: I know this doesn't belong here, but...
A: Then don't post it. If you know something doesn't belong in a particular forum, you have no business posting it there anyway, and RQ&A is no exception.

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Q: What should I do before posting a question?
A: You've already done one of the first things you need to do: check the FAQs. The things in here are called "Frequently Asked Questions" for a reason; they come up a lot.

Also, understand that you're probably not the first to ask a particular question--check the thread titles on the first page or two of the forum to see if someone else has asked the same question recently. If you have access to the search function (some users don't), you can use that to search for similar questions as well.

If you don't have access to the search function, you can try sorting the forums by thread title to find threads with the names of the card(s) you're wondering about. It's not quite as handy as real searching, but it can be effective.

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Q: Is there anything special I should do when asking a question?
A: Yes!
  • Please remember to autocard! This makes the lives of the people trying to answer your question much easier, as they may not remember exactly what the card(s) you're asking about do by heart. This is especially important when asking about older, more obscure cards.

    You autocard by typing in card tags, like this:
    {card]Mountain[/card] = Mountain

    Or this:
    {c]Mountain[/c] = Mountain

    (Just replace the curly brace in the first part of the tag with a square bracket.) For more information on autocarding, see the [thread=1086080]Magic Area FAQ[/thread].

  • Be sure to list all the cards that are involved with your question, but you don't need to list cards that aren't. Make sure it's clear who controls what, whose turn it is, and what phase or step the game is in, as these things might change the answer to your question. Sometimes these are obvious ("I attack with my Raging Goblin..."), but if not, specify them.

  • Most respondents will assume that you're asking about a normal two-player game. If your question is regarding a multiplayer format, especially one with alternate rules such as Emperor or Two-Headed Giant, make sure you make that clear.

  • If you're asking about an article or post (especially if it's from somewhere else), please include a link to it, and ideally a brief quote that covers what your question is about.

  • Please give your thread a title that describes your question. "Two Questions" or "In the middle of a game" won't help anyone else trying to find a question by the thread title.


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Q: If I have more than one question, should I ask them all in the same thread, or in separate threads?
A: In general, posting multiple threads with just one or two questions each is preferable to posting one giant one with ten or fifteen. Multiple questions on a single topic should be kept to a single thread for ease of explanation, but if you have questions on multiple different topics, it's best to ask them in different threads.

You'll usually find that you get your answers faster when you split up the questions; answering just one or two questions is quicker and easier than answering ten, so more people are inclined to do it, and since answers to individual questions are posted faster, posters don't have to waste as much time typing out the answers to questions other people have already typed out the answers to. It also makes the conversation easier to follow for other users, and there's a better chance of some other player finding the answer to the question that they wanted to ask if it's in its own thread.

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Q: How long will it take to get an answer to my question?
A: While there's no definite point at which you can be guaranteed an answer, the vast majority of questions posted to Rules Q&A are answered within five minutes. More detailed questions or threads with more than one question at a time may take longer to answer, but are still likely to receive an answer within five or ten minutes.

Threads posted in the middle of the night (for North America) and questions about the rules of tournaments (rather than the rules of the game) or judging decisions will generally take longer to receive an answer, but will still usually be answered within half an hour unless the forum is particularly dead.

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Q: How can I tell if an answer is right? Should I ask for a judge to answer?
A: Please don't do that. While a fair number of people in the forum are judges, there are also a large number of regulars who know the rules just as well as any judge, and will give answers that are just as accurate. If somebody gives you a wrong answer, someone else will correct it, almost certainly within half an hour, and usually within ten minutes. (And I'm being generous with that estimate--it's freaky sometimes how quickly we answer questions and correct wrong answers.) If four or five people all give you the same answer, you can bet it's right.

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Artifacts
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Q: Is an artifact creature an "artifact"? Is it a "creature"?
A: Yes. It's both."Artifact Creature" isn't a type all its own, it's two different types: "Artifact" and "Creature". It's both an artifact and a creature, with all that that implies. It's affected by things that affect artifacts and by things that affect creatures.

Same thing goes for artifact lands--they're both artifacts and lands.

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Q: Does tapping an artifact "turn it off"?
A: Not usually, no. Read the current Oracle text of the card. If the card doesn't say that it turns off, it doesn't.

Artifacts used to automatically turn off when they were tapped, but that rule was eliminated more than a decade ago; some artifacts (like Howling Mine) were given errata to keep the same functionality, but the vast majority weren't; tapping them will have no effect whatsoever on their abilities.

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Q: Can I choose "Artifact" when asked to choose a color or creature type?
A: No. "Artifact" is a card type, like Instant or Enchantment. You cannot choose "Artifact" as a creature type or color for the same reason you can't choose "Venusian" or "purple"--it's not a legal choice.

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Q: Is something that is colorless automatically an artifact? Is an artifact automatically colorless?
A: No. Most artifacts are normally colorless, but that's only because they don't have colored mana in their mana costs--being colorless is not an inherent property of artifacts, and being colorless doesn't automatically make something an artifact.


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Lands
See also Mana
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Q: What are lands, and how do they relate to mana?
A: Lands are a type of card, mostly used to produce the mana (magical energy) necessary to cast spells, though they can do other things too.

A basic land is a colorless permanent that stays on the battlefield (until something removes it) and has the ability ": Add [big symbol in the text box] to your mana pool."--that's the ability you're activating when you tap lands to cast your spells. You're tapping the land to produce some amount of mana which you can then use to cast your spell.

Land is not the same thing as mana, and mana is not the same thing as land. This is a common misconception among new players, but lands are an entirely different thing from the mana they produce. The relationship between lands and mana is a lot like the relationship between land in real life and oil. Let's say you tap Alberta (Texas, Saudia Arabia, wherever) and start pumping up oil. You can then sell this oil, trade it, use it--whatever you like; it's profitable. Did tapping Alberta allow you to search the world for another Alberta? No, it just got you some oil.

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Q: When and how do I play lands?
A: You may play one (and only one) land during each of your turns, and you can do it only during your main phase when the stack (see the Turn Structure and Stack entries) is empty. To play a land, simply take it from your hand and drop it directly onto the battlefield. This is a special action that doesn't use the stack and that no player can respond to.

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Q: Are lands permanents?
A: Yes. Everything on the battlefield is a permanent. However, chances are the reason you're asking this question is because you want to know if lands that produce the appropriate color of mana count towards things like Drove of Elves or Chaotic Backlash. If that's the case, the question you should be asking is the next one.

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Q: What color are lands? (Especially the basic lands?)
A: They aren't any color. Lands are always colorless unless they specifically say otherwise. The color of a card is determined by its mana cost, and lands have no mana cost, so they therefore have no color. It doesn't matter what colors of mana they can produce and it doesn't matter what color their text box is--they're colored that way so you can see at a glance what colors they can produce, not because they're actually those colors.

Lands only have a color if something specifically says they do, like Dryad Arbor or Painter's Servant.

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Q: Are lands spells?
A: No. Never. A spell is a card that is sitting on the stack waiting to resolve. (Or a copy of one.) Lands are never put on the stack, so they are never spells.

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Q: I use a spell or ability that allows me to "put [a land] onto the battlefield". Does this count as my one land for the turn?
A: No. You may only play one land each turn, but "putting" a land onto the battlefield through some method other than actually playing it doesn't count towards this total, because it's not the same thing as "playing" it.

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Q: My opponent casts Early Frost or something else that allows him to tap my lands--does that give me mana?
A: Not unless you want to get it. An activated ability (such as the ones lands have that give you mana) needs you to deliberately pay its cost for the purpose of using that particular ability in order to do anything--tapping a land as an effect of a spell or ability is completely different from tapping the land for mana. So while you can tap them for mana in response to the Early Frost if you actually want the mana, your opponent can't forcibly give you mana this way.

Note that this also applies to other card types--an opponent can never force your permanents' activated abilities to "go off" on their own. (Triggered abilities, on the other hand, are a different matter.)

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Q: Something has turned my land into a creature. Will killing the creature kill the land as well?
A: Yes; the land is the creature--they're not two separate things. Killing the creature is killing the land.

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Planeswalkers
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Q: What is a planeswalker?
A: Planeswalkers are a completely new card type. It's actually easier to start off by explaining what planeswalkers aren't. Planeswalkers are not players, though they are similar in some respects, and they are not creatures. Thus, spells that target players can't target them, and things that affect creatures don't affect them, either.

A planeswalker on the battlefield is a permanent; it will stay there until something removes it.

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Q: So how do I cast a planeswalker?
A: Planeswalker spells are cast like any other spell that isn't an instant; you may cast a planeswalker from your hand during a main phase of your turn when the stack is empty. (See the Turn Structure and Stack entries in the FAQ for more information on main phases and the stack.) Planeswalker spells, just like any other spell, may be responded to, and can be countered by anything that can counter a spell. (Note that since planeswalkers are not creatures, things that specifically counter creature spells, like Remove Soul, can't counter them.)

When the planeswalker spell resolves, it enters the battlefield just like any other kind of permanent, and it will have a number of loyalty counters on it equal to the number listed in the bottom right-hand corner of the card. These counters act like hit points or your life total-- when a planeswalker is dealt damage, that many loyalty counters are removed from it, and when it has no loyalty counters on it, it gets put into your graveyard. If two or more planeswalkers with the same planeswalker type (the type listed on its type line after the dash) are on the battlefield, all are put into their owner's graveyard; this is similar to the rule for legendary permanents.

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Q: How do I activate a planeswalker's abilities?
A: The abilities printed on a planeswalker card are a special kind of activated ability called 'loyalty abilities', so called because you activate them by adding or removing some number of loyalty counters to or from the planeswalker. (Note that since these are activated abilities, not triggered ones, they only happen if you add/remove the counters specifically in order to activate the ability--if counters are added/removed some other way, the ability won't "go off".)

The number of loyalty counters you need to add or remove is shown in the little "shield" symbol just before the colon; if you need to add counters, the shield points up and the number will be positive. (+1, +2, etc.) If you need to remove counters, the shield points down and the number will be negative. (-1, -2, -10, etc.) Note that you can't take off counters that aren't there, so you can't activate an ability whose cost requires you to remove counters unless the planeswalker already has the appropriate number of counters on it.

Finally, most importantly, you may only activate one loyalty ability of a given permanent each turn (so you can't activate the same ability twice, nor can you activate one loyalty ability and then a different loyalty ability of that same permanent) and you may only activate loyalty abilities during your main phase when the stack is empty.

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Q: How can I kill/remove a planeswalker?
A: You can kill a planeswalker by dealing enough damage to it to remove all of its loyalty counters, either in combat or by redirecting noncombat damage to it from its controller. (See the questions below for more information on that.) Also, since planeswalkers are permanents, anything that will affect a permanent, such as Boomerang or Rootgrapple, will also affect a planeswalker.

See below for explanations of how planeswalkers work in combat and how to redirect noncombat damage to a planeswalker.

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Q: How do planeswalkers work in combat?
A: Planeswalkers aren't creatures, so they can't attack or block. However, they can be attacked, just like you can be. As your opponent is declaring attackers, he or she can decide whether each of his creatures is attacking you or attacking one of your planeswalkers. You can use your creatures to block creatures that are attacking a planeswalker you control just the same as you can use them to block creatures that are attacking you. Creatures that are attacking a planeswalker you control that you don't block will assign and deal their combat damage to your planeswalker just the same as they would assign and deal damage to you if they were attacking you; and again, since planeswalkers are not creatures, the planeswalker doesn't deal any damage back to those creatures.

Remember, when a planeswalker is dealt damage, that many loyalty counters are removed from it, and when it has no loyalty counters on it, it gets put into your graveyard.

Note that while the creatures may be attacking the planeswalker, it's the planeswalker's controller who is considered the "defending player". This can be important for things like Landwalk.

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Q: How is damage dealt to a planeswalker outside of combat?
A: If a spell or ability your opponent controls would deal noncombat damage to you, that opponent can choose to have all of that damage dealt to one of your planeswalkers instead. So if your opponent Shocks you, that opponent may choose to have that Shock deal its damage to one of your planeswalkers instead. This is a replacement effect that is applied as the damage is actually dealt--they don't make the decision until the spell or ability is resolving and the damage would actually be dealt.

Note that only your opponents can do this--you can't have the damage from a spell you control be redirected to one of your planeswalkers. And this redirection only applies to noncombat damage, so your opponent can't attack you and then redirect the damage to your planeswalker. If he wants to deal combat damage to one of your planeswalkers he has to attack that planeswalker.

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Q: How does this redirection work with things that prevent damage?
A: If two or more replacement or prevention effects (redirection is a kind of replacment effect) are trying to alter the same event (in this case, damage being dealt to you), the player who would be affected by the event (you) gets to decide in which order to apply them. So you can choose to either give your opponent the opportunity to redirect the damage and then apply the damage-prevention effect if it's still relevant, or vice versa. Note that your opponent doesn't choose whether or not to redirect the damage until the redirection effect is actually applied, so at the time you decide how to apply the effects you can't be sure whether or not your opponent will choose to redirect the damage or not.

So, let's take an example. You control an Ajani Goldmane with five loyalty counters on it. Your opponent casts a Lava Axe targeting you. (He can't target your planeswalker with it, because a planeswalker is not a player.) In response, you cast a Mending Hands targeting yourself. (You can't target your planeswalker either, for the same reason.) Mending Hands resolves, setting up a prevention "shield", and then the Axe resolves. You have two choices; either give your opponent the opportunity to redirect before applying the Hands' effect, or apply the Hands' effect, then give your opponent the opportunity to redirect.

If you do the former, your opponent can choose to redirect all 5 damage to Ajani, and then the Mending Hands won't do anything, because the Axe isn't trying to deal damage to you anymore. The Axe would deal 5 damage to Ajani, removing all the counters from it, and Ajani would die. (He could also choose not to redirect the damage, in which case the Hands would kick in and you would only be dealt 1 damage, but I think he'd probably want to go with the former.)

If you do the latter, however, you prevent 4 of the 5 damage first, before your opponent chooses whether or not to redirect the damage. Then your opponent gets the chance to either let the Axe deal its remaining 1 damage to you, or to your Ajani, which wouldn't be enough to kill it anyway.

(In most cases, you'll probably be wanting to prevent the damage first.)

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Q: How does the redirection work with things that otherwise replace the damage? (ie. Furnace of Rath, Pyromancer's Swath, and so on.)
A: Very similarly to how it works with prevention effects. Again, you choose in which order to apply the effects. So in the case of a Furnace of Rath or Pyromancer's Swath, you would choose whether to first give your opponent the opportunity to redirect and then increase the damage, or increase the damage then give your opponent the opportunity to redirect it. (In this case, you'll probably want to do the first, because then if they redirect the damage the Furnace/Swath will no longer apply and they won't be able to increase it--they don't affect damage being dealt to planeswalkers, see.)

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Q: If a planeswalker and a legendary creature have similar names, and I have both on the battlefield at the same time? (ie Nicol Bolas and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker)
A: Yes, you can. The rule that kills of multiple planeswalkers with the same planeswalker type doesn't apply, because the creature isn't a planeswalker and thus doesn't have any planeswalker types at all; the rule that kills off multiple legendary permanents with the same name also doesn't apply, because the planeswalker is not legendary and it does not have the same name as the creature.



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Specific Card Interactions

Q: How do planeswalkers interact with Doubling Season?
A: The Season will double the number of loyalty counters the planeswalker enters the battlefield with; however, it will not double the counters added to the planeswalker as a cost to activate one of its "plus" loyalty abilities. Doubling Season only doubles counters placed due to effects; activating loyalty abilities adds or removes counters as a cost, not an effect. (Though note that if the ability happens to create counters or tokens as part of its effect, such as with Garruk Wildspeaker's Beast-making ability, then Doubling Season will affect that.)

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Tribals
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Q: What is a Tribal card?
A: A Tribal card is a noncreature card that can have one or more creature types. Those creature types will be listed on its type line after the dash, just as they would on a creature. Anything that is looking for cards with specific creature types will also accept a Tribal card with the appropriate creature type. (As long as it doesn't specifically say it's looking for a creature card.)

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Q: What's the point of Tribals? Do they only work on cards of their type? Can I only use them if I have a card of their type?
A: No. Tribal cards work exactly the same as non-Tribal cards, except they also have a creature type. The creature type of a tribal card doesn't limit how it can be used in any way. The fact that the card has a creature type is the entire point--it allows Tarfire to be brought back to your hand by Wort, Boggart Auntie, for example, and allows a Bosk Banneret to reduce the cost of your Lignify.

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Q: So do Tribals count as "creature cards"?
A: No. Never. Tribals may have creature types, but that doesn't mean that they themselves are creatures.

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Auras
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Q: What is an Aura?
A: Auras are a subtype of enchantment that are "attached" to a specific permanent or player. (They 'enchant' it.) The kind of permanent or player any given Aura can be attached to is defined by its enchant ability, which all Auras have.

When the permanent or player an Aura is enchanting dies or changes such that it's no longer legal for the Aura to enchant it, the Aura is put into its owner's graveyard as a state-based action. (Before anyone can do anything; see the section on State-Based Actions.)

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Q: So it's just like the old "Enchant " cards?
A: More than that; those older cards are Auras. All "Enchant {Something}" cards received errata with the release of Ninth Edition to become Auras. (The definition of what they can enchant was moved to the enchant ability in their rules text.)

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Q: Do Auras target?
A: When you cast an Aura spell, you choose a target for it (as defined by its enchant ability). When it resolves, it's put onto the battlefield attached to that target. So yes, Auras do target when you first cast them.

It's important to note that while Auras do target when you cast them, they do not target at any other time. An Aura that's already on the battlefield is not targeting anything, and an Aura that's put directly onto the battlefield without being cast is simply attached to whatever it's supposed to be attached to (as appropriate) without targeting anything.

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Q: Can I cast Auras on an opponent or on an opponent's permanents?
A: Generally, yes. If that Aura's enchant ability does not specifically say otherwise, you can enchant an opponent or his or her permanents just fine.

Veteran's Voice is an example of an Aura that has a restriction on what it can enchant--you can't put it on something your opponent controls. (It can work the other way around, too, though; Betrayal, for example, can only enchant a creature an opponent controls.)

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Q: If I cast an Aura on an opponent or an opponent's permanent, who controls the Aura?
A: You do; it's your Aura. The permanent or player an Aura is attached to has nothing whatsoever to do with who controls the Aura itself.

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Q: Who can activate abilities of an Aura?
A: Only the controller of an Aura can activate that Aura's abilities. However, if an Aura grants an ability to the permanent it's attached to, then only that permanent's controller can activate the ability.

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Q: My Aura is attached to a permanent, and then that permanent gains [post=9971836]protection[/post] (from something the Aura is) or [post=12191595]shroud[/post]. What happens?
A: In the case of protection, the Aura is removed; part of protection's effect is preventing Auras with the protected-from qualities from enchanting the permanent. In the case of shroud, nothing happens; the Aura does not target while it is on the battlefield.

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Q: I have something that allows me to move an Aura from one permanent or player to another. Can I use this to put the Aura on something it couldn't normally enchant?
A: No. If you try to move an Aura, you have to move it to something it could normally be attached to. (Note, however, that you can use this to put Auras on creatures or players with [post=12191595]shroud[/post], as long as the moving effect doesn't itself try to target the creature or player.)

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Equipment
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Q: What is an Equipment?
A: Equipment is a subtype of artifact that, like Auras, can be attached to things. An Equipment can be attached to a creature you control by paying its Equip cost, giving the creature some benefit. (Some cards may provide other ways of attaching Equipment to creatures.)

"Equip {Cost}" means: "{Cost}: Attach this Equipment to target creature you control. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery."

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Q: The reminder text on one of my Equipment says: "Equip only as a sorcery". What does that mean?
A: It means you can only activate the Equip ability during your main phase while the stack is empty. (See the Turn Structure and Stack entries in the FAQ for more information on main phases and the stack.) It does not mean it is temporary, and it does not mean it is a spell. Once equipped, the equipment stays attached to the creature. The Equip ability is an activated ability.

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Q: Can I equip my equipment to my opponent's creature?
A: No you can't--the Equip ability can only target a creature you control.

Note that if an opponent gains control of an equipped creature you control, the equipment doesn't fall off--it stays attached. You still control the Equipment, however, so you can move it off later if you want to. Also note that some cards might be able to attach your Equipment to your opponent's creature some other way.

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Q: Can I "unattach" an equipment by paying the equip cost?
A: No you can't. You can move it onto another creature you control by paying the equip cost, but you can't simply unattach it.

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Q: If a card affects artifacts, does it affect equipment also?
A: Yes. Equipments are artifacts.

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Q: If my creature has shroud or protection from artifacts, can I equip it?
A: No; the Equip ability targets, so it can't be activated targeting a creature with shroud or protection from artifacts.

Note that if an creature that's already equipped gains protection from artifacts somehow, the Equipment will fall off (as protection also stops equipping). If a creature that's equipped gains shroud, on the other hand, nothing will happen, since the equipment itself doesn't target anything; only the equip ability is targeted.)

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Q: When you tap an equipped creature, does the equipment tap too?
A: No; you only tap the creature. The equipment remains untapped.

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Q: What happens if an equipment that's attached to a creature is tapped?
A: Absolutely nothing. It stays attached and still affects the creature normally. It will untap like any other permanent during your next untap phase.

Tapping an equipment is completely irrelevant in most cases, but it also means you get a free Lodestone Myr pump for each equipment you control.

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Q: What happens if my equipment becomes a creature? (March of the Machines)
A: If it was attached to a creature, it is unattached. It cannot be attached to a creature as long as it is a creature itself.

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Q: Why does my equipment has an Equip cost AND an ability that says ": Attach ~ to target creature you control"? (eg, Cranial Plating)
A: By definition, you can only activate an Equip ability during your main phase, when the stack is empty. The second "attach" ability, however, has no restriction like that and can therefore be activated any time you could cast an instant. (Any time you have priority.)

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Legendary Cards
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See also the entry on State-Based Actions

Q: I have a card that says "Legendary" on its type line or has the creature type "Legend"--what does that mean?
A: It means that the card is (surprisingly enough) legendary, which means it's subject to a rule called (big surprise here) the legend rule, which is as follows: If two or more permanents on the battlefield are legendary and have the same name, all of them immediately die, before any player can do anything. That's it. This is not a form of destruction, so they can't be regenerated, being indestructible doesn't help either, and it isn't a sacrifice. They're just put into their owner's graveyard directly.

Note: All cards printed with the creature type "Legend" have received errata to be just legendary. "Legend" is no longer a creature type.

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Q: What about characters who were printed on multiple cards, such as Kamahl, Pit Fighter and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa?
A: "Name" here refers to the name of the card, not the name of the character. Different versions of a particular character will have different card names. As such, you can have multiple different versions of the character hanging around without difficulty.

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Q: So what happens if I Clone a legendary creature?
A: Both the Clone and the creature it was copying die as soon as the Clone hits the battlefield--Clone copies everything about the creature, including its name and legendary status. This makes Clone and cards like it effective countermeasures to almost any legendary permanent.

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Q: What happens to tokens if a Leyline of Singularity is on the battlefield?
A: All tokens that have the same name as another token will eliminate each other. Note that only the names of the tokens matter--they don't have to be the same in other respects. Thus, if you have a 1/1 white Spirit token with flying from Afterlife, a 1/1 colorless Spirit token from Honden of Life's Web, and a 3/3 white Spirit token with flying from Oyobi on the battlefield, they'll all kill each other, because they all have the same name: "Spirit".

See also the entry on Tokens for more information.

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Q: If a legendary creature and a planeswalker have similar names, can both be on the battlefield at the same time? (eg, Nicol Bolas and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker)
A: Yes, they can. The legend rule doesn't apply, because the planeswalker is not legendary and it does not have the same name as the creature; the rule that kills of multiple planeswalkers with the same planeswalker type also doesn't apply, because the creature isn't a planeswalker and thus doesn't have any planeswalker types at all.

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Split Cards
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Q: What are split cards and how do they work?
A: Split cards are a series of cards printed in multiple sets with a special frame that looks like two mini-cards side-by-side, stuffed onto the same card. You can cast them as one spell, or you can cast them as an entirely different spell. A split card looks like this:





If you happen to need removal or want to burn your opponent's face, you can cast this card as Assault to deal 2 damage to a creature or player. If you need a creature, you can cast it as Battery instead to get a 3/3 green Elephant creature token.

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Q: Can I cast both sides of a split card at once?
A: No, you cannot. You can cast one side or the other, and you can cast one side, get the card back somehow, then cast the other side, but never both at once.

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Q: So what's the color/mana cost/name/etc. of a split card?
A: Anywhere other than the stack, a split card has two sets of characteristics. (One from each side.) Thus, the mana cost of Supply // Demand is both and , Life // Death is both green and black, Fire // Ice's name is both "Fire" and "Ice", and so on.

While it's on the stack, a split card only has the characteristics from the side you cast--the other half is treated as though it didn't exist.

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Q: So can I imprint a card like Research // Development on an Isochron Scepter? And can I cast both sides, or only one?
A: Yes, you can imprint it. Having two mana costs means that Research // Development also has two converted mana costs: 2 and 5. Since one of those converted mana costs is 2, it is indeed "a card with converted mana cost 2 or less", even though the other converted mana cost is 5.

This principle applies to all cards that look for cards with specific characteristics. The key is that the requirement is not exclusive, but inclusive--that is, the card doing the looking doesn't care what other characteristics the card it finds may have, as long as it does have the one characteristic it cares about.

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Q: So can I search for Research // Development with Sunforger's ability?
A: Yes, you can. R//D is red (Development half), is an instant (both halves) and it has a converted mana cost of 4 or less (Research half). The fact that the various parts of the requirement are fulfilled on different sides of the card doesn't matter.

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Q: Can I counter Supply // Demand with Frazzle?
A: Depends on which half was cast. If Demand is being cast, then no, as it is blue. If Supply is being cast, yes, because it is not blue. (Remember, it's on the stack, so if your opponent cast Supply, only the Supply half exists: the Demand half is gone until the card leaves the stack, and thus the spell isn't blue.)

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Q: If I reveal a split card with Dark Confidant, how much life will I lose?
A: You'll lose life equal to the converted mana costs of both sides combined.

When the Confidant asks "what is the converted mana cost of this card?" it hears two answers, one for each half. Thus, it does its life-loss thing twice, once for each cost it hears. Ouch!


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Flip Cards
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Q: What are flip cards and how do they work?
A: Flip cards are a series of cards from Kamigawa block that use a special frame. They act just like normal cards, until they meet certain conditions; once they do so, they 'flip', and change into something almost entirely different. A flip card looks like this:





Holding the card right-side up, its mana cost and normal name, P/T, types, and text box are at the top, above the art. On the other side are its 'flipped' name, text box, type, and P/T. You play the card as written on the 'normal' side, which will tell you how to flip it into its other form.

As far as the game is concerned, the card only has the 'flipped' characteristics while it's on the battlefield and has been flipped. Everywhere other than that, and on the battlefield before it gets flipped, it only has the normal characteristics. Being flipped is a status, like being tapped, or being face down. Permanents will always enter the battlefield unflipped (and untapped, and face-up) unless something specifically says otherwise.

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Q: How do I indicate that a flipped card has flipped?
A: Most people turn it upside-down, or maybe put a marker of some kind on it. It has to remain clear to everyone that the card has indeed flipped, but how you do that is up to you.

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Q: A flipped flip card leaves the battlefield, then returns somehow. Is it still flipped?
A: No. When things change zones, they forget all about their previous existence and are treated as a new permanent with no recollection of its old state. As such, the flip card will re-enter the battlefield unflipped, just as it would if you were casting it for the first time.

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Q: Does flipping a flip card cause auras, counters, or equipment to 'fall off' of it?
A: No, for the same reason that tapping doesn't--it's just changing the state of the card, not what it is. Simply flipping something will not remove anything from it. However, if the flipped side is something that those auras or equipment couldn't legally be attached to, they will fall off. For example, if you cast Holy Strength on Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant, and then flip the Ascendant, the Strength will fall off and go to the graveyard, because it can only enchant a creature, and the flipped side of the Ascendant, Rune-Tail's Essence, is not a creature.

Note that in the case of Homura, Human Ascendant, the card leaves the battlefield before returning already flipped, which will remove counters, auras, equipment, and so on--but because it left the battlefield, not because it flipped.

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Q: If I'm searching my library for something, can I find the 'flipped' half of a flip card?
A: No. As far as the game is concerned, the flipped half of a flip card does not exist unless the card is both on the battlefield and flipped. Everywhere else, the flipped half is treated as though it does not exist.

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Q: I need to name a card. Can I name the flipped side of a flip card?
A: Yes, you can name the flipped side of a flip card, which will allow you to do things like shut down Nighteyes the Desecrator with Pithing Needle or prevent the damage from Stabwhisker the Odious with Runed Halo. However, remember that the flipped side of the card only exists when the card is on the battlefield and flipped--anywhere else, it only has its unflipped characteristics, so you'd have to name the unflipped side if you wanted to do something like find it with Spoils of the Vault.

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Q: Does flipping an already-flipped card de-flip it?
A: No. Flipping is a one-way process--attempting to flip an already-flipped card will not do anything, just like attempting to tap an already-tapped permanent does nothing. (And unlike tapping, there are no cards that allow you to unflip things.)

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Q: I Clone a flip card. Which half do I get?
A: Generally, the unflipped half; you will then be able to flip it as normal.

Copy effects, such as Clone, will copy the whole card--including both sides--but they don't copy whether or not the permanent is flipped. Being flipped or unflipped is a status, like being tapped or untapped. As long as the flip card is not flipped, it uses one set of characteristics, and as long as it is flipped, it uses the other. Thus, the same will be true for the copy. Unless something says otherwise, the copy will enter the battlefield unflipped by default, and will remain unflipped until something flips it. Once it's flipped, it will be the flipped half of whatever it's copying.

As an example, you control a Stabwhisker the Odious (the flipped version of Nezumi Shortfang), and I Clone it. The copy is a Nezumi Shortfang--not Stabwhisker--because it is unflipped. If I then use my copy's ability to flip it, it will become another Stabwhisker, and both Stabwhiskers will die thanks to the legend rule.


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Leveler Cards
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Q: What are leveler cards and how do they work?
A: Leveler cards are cards that have a special frame and make use of the Level up keyword ability. A leveler card can 'level up' and become stronger, or more powerful, or gain better abilities. Whatever. A leveler card looks like this:



As you can see, the text box of a leveler card is divided into several different striped tiers, with level symbols on the left-hand side and P/T boxes on the right-hand side. As long as the number of level counters on the card (the card's level) matches one of the level symbols, it has the abilities described in the corresponding tier, and is the P/T listed in the corresponding P/T box. (If not, then it only has the abilities listed in the very first tier, and is the P/T listed in the very top P/T box--that's the default.)

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Q: What level does a leveler card start at?
A: A leveler card's level is the same as the number of level counters on it. It doesn't start out with any level counters, so that means it starts at level 0 and works its way up from there.

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Q: How do I increase a leveler card's level?
A: Put more level counters on it. This is generally done with the card's built-in Level up keyword ability, but other things that add level counters will also boost the card's level. (And things that remove them will decrease it.) All that matters when determining a leveler card's level is the number of level counters on it right now; everything else is irrelevant.

Level up is an activated ability that you can use to add level counters to your leveler--generally it'll be your primary method of leveling up your leveler card. To activate level up you must pay its cost, and when the ability resolves it puts a level counter on the leveler. Level up can only be used any time you could cast a sorcery, meaning only during your turn's main phase when the stack is empty and you have priority--you can't respond to something by leveling your creature up with that ability. For more information on Level up, see its FAQ entry.

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Q: How do things that alter a creature's P/T interact with leveler cards? (eg. +1/+1 counters, Giant Growth, Glorious Anthem)
A: Leveling up a card doesn't stop other things from altering its P/T; those effects will apply as normal. For example, Beastbreaker of Bala Ged has no level counters on it, so it's a 2/2. I then cast Giant Growth on it; it's now a 5/5. After that, I use its level up ability once. It's now a 7/7. ((4/4) + (+3/+3))

The only thing you have to watch out for are effects which set the creature's P/T to a specific value, like Godhead of Awe. Such effects will always override the creature's 'default' P/T, but due to a quirk of how leveler cards work, they may or may not overwrite the P/T that the creature gets for being a particular level. Ones older than the creature itself will be overwritten by the creature's level-boosted P/T, while ones that are newer than the creature will apply over top no matter what level it is. Using Beastbreaker of Bala Ged as an example again, if there's a Godhead of Awe already on the battlefield, then you drop the Beastbreaker and level it up once, it will be a 4/4, not a 1/1. (And could become a 6/6 if more level counters were added.) If, however, the Beastbreaker was already around and someone dropped a new Godhead of Awe, the Beastbreaker would be 1/1 no matter how many level counters were on it.

(Yes, that is slightly complicated, but luckily such effects are rare, so it won't come up often.)

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Q: How do things that remove a creature's abilities interact with leveler cards?
A: Technically speaking, the lower tiers of a leveler card's text box, the ones with level symbols beside them, are actually shorthand for abilities that read, "As long as ~this~ has {this many} level counters on it, it has {these abilities} and is {this big}". Effects that remove all abilities from the leveler will wipe these out, as well as the level up ability, so it will be left with only its default P/T. (Assuming that isn't overwritten, too, which it probably will be.)

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Q: When a creature reaches the next 'tier', does it lose the abilities from the previous tiers?
A: The abilities on each 'tier' don't technically overwrite the abilities from the previous tiers--it's just that the previous tiers don't grant that creature those abilities any more, because they no longer apply. Any other abilities the creature might have, such as the level up ability, or something granted to it by something else, are retained.

For example, an Enclave Cryptologist with three level counters on it no longer has 1-2 level counters on it, so that tier no longer does anything; it only has the ability from the tier that applies right now. You couldn't use the draw-and-discard ability even if you wanted to for some reason, because the Cryptologist no longer has it. You can only use the just-draw ability.

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Q: What level is a leveler card when it's not on the battlefield?
A: If the leveler card isn't on the battlefield, it doesn't have any level counters on it, so it's effectively level 0; it will be its default P/T and will not have any of the abilities that it might get at higher levels. (It does, however, have the level up ability.)

This means, for example, that revealing a leveler card for Skill Borrower will give it the level up ability and no others, no matter how many level counters you put on the Borrower.

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Q: What happens if a leveler card leaves the battlefield and then returns somehow? (eg. with Momentary Blink or Turn to Mist)
A: When the leveler card leaves the battlefield, it forgets all about its previous existence and any counters it had on it. When it comes back, it does so as a completely new permanent, just as though it was coming in for the first time. As such, it won't have any level counters on it any more; if you want to bring it back up to its former level, you're going to have to do it normally.

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Q: How do leveler cards interact with copy effects?
A: If something copies a leveler card, it only copies the card itself, not how many level counters are on it and not what abilities it may have for being a certain level. (And not Auras, Equipment, or other counters, either.) If you Clone a fully-leveled Beastbreaker of Bala Ged, for example, the Clone will be a 2/2, not a 6/6 trampler. You'll be able to level up the Clone-Beastbreaker if you like, but you start out at the bottom.

If a leveler card becomes a copy of some other permanent, its level counters stay on it, even if the thing it's copying isn't a leveler card itself. They just won't mean anything until it turns back if the thing it's becoming a copy of isn't a leveler card--and if it is another leveler card, the level counters work as normal. So a Joraga Treespeaker with five level counters on it that becomes a copy of Beastbreaker of Bala Ged will be a 6/6 trampler.

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Q: How do Experiment Kraj and Quicksilver Elemental interact with leveler cards?
A: Leveler cards only have the abilities described on their higher tiers if they have the appropriate number of level counters on them. If they do not have those counters, they don't have those abilities and thus Kraj and Quicksilver won't have them either. If they do have the appropriate number of level counters, then Kraj and Quicksilver will have the appropriate tier's abilities, too. It doesn't matter how many level counters Kraj or Quicksilver have.

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Color
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Q: What defines a card's color?
A: A card is all of the colors of the mana in its mana cost. So a card with in its mana cost is blue, a card with in its mana cost is red, and so on. If the card has more than one color of mana in its mana cost, the card is all of those colors. If the card has no colored mana in its mana cost, it is colorless.

It does not matter what the color of the card's frame is; a card with more than one color in its mana cost may have a gold frame, but it is not "gold"--there's no such color as "gold".

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Q: What color are lands (especially the basic lands)?
A: Lands have no mana cost, so therefore they don't have any colors of mana in their mana cost, and they are therefore colorless unless something specifically states otherwise.

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Q: What color is a card with hybrid mana in its cost?
A: Again, a card is all of the colors in its mana cost; hybrid mana counts as all of its colors. A Wild Cantor is therefore both red and green, for example. It doesn't matter what you actually pay for the spell; the card's colors remain the same.

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Q: What color is an artifact with colored mana in its mana cost?
A: It's all the colors of the mana in its mana cost, just like any other card. Most artifacts are colorless, but that's only because they have no colored mana in their mana costs, not because of some inherent property of artifacts.

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Q: Is "colorless", "artifact", or "multicolored" a color? Can I choose those for something like Wash Out?
A: No. The only colors in Magic are white, blue, black, red, and green. Anything else isn't a color.

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Q: What does a card mean when it says "non"?
A: It means "not {color}". A spell is nonblack, for example, if it is not black. (And if it is black, it therefore cannot possibly be nonblack.) It doesn't matter what other color(s) the card may or may not have; all that matters is whether or not the card is that one particular color.

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Q: What happens if I'm casting a spell for some cost that has different colors than its mana cost? (eg, I flash back Momentary Blink--is the Blink blue?)
A: It doesn't matter what colors of mana you paid to cast the spell--a spell is all the colors of the mana in its mana cost, and no others, no matter what you actually paid to cast it, and the mana cost doesn't change. So in the example, the Blink is white even though you only had to spend blue mana to cast it.

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Q: What color are abilities? (eg, Dawnray Archer--is the ability white?)
A: Abilities don't have colors at all. Anything that's looking for color in relation to abilities is looking for the color of the ability's source, the thing that it comes from. And that doesn't change no matter what you're spending to activate the ability. Dawnray Archer's ability is coming from a blue source, even though you're spending white mana to activate it.

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Mana Cost and Converted Mana Cost
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Q: What is a card's mana cost?
A: The mana cost of a card consists of the mana symbols printed in the top right-hand corner of the card. (Along the top left-hand side for timeshifted cards from Future Sight.)

The only thing that can alter a card's mana cost are copy effects--something that copies a card copies that card's mana cost as well.

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Q: What is a card's converted mana cost?
A: The converted mana cost (CMC) of a card is a number equal to the total amount of mana in its mana cost, regardless of what color that mana may be. For example, a card with a mana cost of has a converted mana cost of 2.

Note that the mana cost (and therefore converted mana cost) of a spell doesn't change depending on how much you actually pay to cast the spell. There is only one exception, and that's the next question.

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Q: What is the converted mana cost of an -card like Blaze?
A: An counts as 0 for purposes of mana cost (and therefore converted mana cost), unless the card is on the stack, in which case the X counts as whatever the player who cast the spell chose X to be. Note that this isn't the same thing as what was spent to cast the spell. When casting an X-spell, X isn't set depending on what you paid. (Though many people think that.) Instead, the player casting the spell first decides what they want X to be, and then pays the cost required by the spell when X is that number.

Example: A Blaze has a converted mana cost of 1 ( + = 1) when it is in your hand, but Spell Blasting a 7-point Blaze ( + = 8) would cost you .

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Q: There's something out that reduces/increases the cost to cast a spell--does this reduce/increase the mana cost or converted mana cost as well?
A: No; the mana cost and converted mana cost of a card cannot be changed in such a manner. No matter what you pay to cast the spell, the mana cost and converted mana cost is always the same. (Unless, as explained above, it's an X spell.)

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Q: What is the mana cost and/or converted mana cost of a land?
A: Lands have no mana cost. As such, they have a converted mana cost of 0.

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Q: What is the mana cost and/or converted mana cost of a token?
A: By default, Tokens have no mana cost--and thus a converted mana cost of 0. However, if the token is a copy of something, its mana cost (and converted mana cost) will be the same as the thing it's copying.

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Q: How do monocolored hybrid symbols affect a card's converted mana cost? ((), (), etc.)
A: A monocolored hybrid mana symbol will always affect the mana cost as though it were . So the converted mana cost of Flame Javelin, for example, is 6, not 3 or anything in between.

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Types, Supertypes, and Subtypes
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Q: What are types, supertypes, and subtypes?
A: Types, also known as card types, are the various different ty...er...kinds of cards in the game. Each card type has a specific set of rules that governs how it works and how you can play cards of that type. A card may have more than one card type, in which case it follows the rules for both.

Supertypes are a special class of types that can appear on cards of any card type. All cards with a particular supertype are subject to the rules governing cards of that supertype.

Subtypes are types that are tied to a specific card type, and are referred to using the name of that card type; subtypes of the Creature card type, for example, are known as creature types; subtypes of the Land type are known as land types, and so on.

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Q: What are the card types?
A: The card types are Artifact, Creature, Enchantment, Instant, Land, Phenomenon, Plane, Planeswalker, Scheme, Sorcery, Tribal, and Vanguard. If you are asked to choose a card type, you must choose one of these types; nothing else is a legal choice.

(Note that not all of these types are used in normal Magic; the Phenomenon, Plane, Scheme, and Vanguard card types only appear on special oversized cards used in certain Magic variants.)

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Q: What are the supertypes?
A: The current list of possible supertypes is as follows: Basic, Legendary, Snow, World, Ongoing. (Ongoing is only used on the oversized Scheme cards used in the Archenemy variant.)

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Q: What are the subtypes?
A: The current list of legal subtypes for all card types, as updated through Return to Ravnica, is as follows:
  • Artifact Types
    Contraption, Equipment, Fortification


  • Creature Types (Tribal Types)
    Advisor, Ally, Angel, Anteater, Antelope, Ape, Archer, Archon, Artificer, Assassin, Assembly-Worker, Atog, Aurochs, Avatar, Badger, Barbarian, Basilisk, Bat, Bear, Beast, Beeble, Berserker, Bird, Blinkmoth, Boar, Bringer, Brushwagg, Camarid, Camel, Caribou, Carrier, Cat, Centaur, Cephalid, Chimera, Citizen, Cleric, Cockatrice, Construct, Coward, Crab, Crocodile, Cyclops, Dauthi, Demon, Deserter, Devil, Djinn, Dragon, Drake, Dreadnought, Drone, Druid, Dryad, Dwarf, Efreet, Elder, Eldrazi, Elemental, Elephant, Elf, Elk, Eye, Faerie, Ferret, Fish, Flagbearer, Fox, Frog, Fungus, Gargoyle, Germ, Giant, Gnome, Goat, Goblin, Golem, Gorgon, Graveborn, Gremlin, Griffin, Hag, Harpy, Hellion, Hippo, Hippogriff, Homarid, Homunculus, Horror, Horse, Hound, Human, Hydra, Hyena, Illusion, Imp, Incarnation, Insect, Jellyfish, Juggernaut, Kavu, Kirin, Kithkin, Knight, Kobold, Kor, Kraken, Lammasu, Leech, Leviathan, Lhurgoyf, Licid, Lizard, Manticore, Masticore, Mercenary, Merfolk, Metathran, Minion, Minotaur, Monger, Mongoose, Monk, Moonfolk, Mutant, Myr, Mystic, Nautilus, Nephilim, Nightmare, Nightstalker, Ninja, Noggle, Nomad, Octopus, Ogre, Ooze, Orb, Orc, Orgg, Ouphe, Ox, Oyster, Pegasus, Pentavite, Pest, Phelddagrif, Phoenix, Pincher, Pirate, Plant, Praetor, Prism, Rabbit, Rat, Rebel, Reflection, Rhino, Rigger, Rogue, Salamander, Samurai, Sand, Saproling, Satyr, Scarecrow, Scorpion, Scout, Serf, Serpent, Shade, Shaman, Shapeshifter, Sheep, Siren, Skeleton, Slith, Sliver, Slug, Snake, Soldier, Soltari, Spawn, Specter, Spellshaper, Sphinx, Spider, Spike, Spirit, Splinter, Sponge, Squid, Squirrel, Starfish, Surrakar, Survivor, Tetravite, Thalakos, Thopter, Thrull, Treefolk, Triskelavite, Troll, Turtle, Unicorn, Vampire, Vedalken, Viashino, Volver, Wall, Warrior, Weird, Werewolf, Whale, Wizard, Wolf, Wolverine, Wombat, Worm, Wraith, Wurm, Yeti, Zombie, Zubera


  • Enchantment Types
    Aura, Curse, Shrine


  • Land Types
    Desert, Forest, Gate, Island, Lair, Locus, Mine, Mountain, Plains, Power-Plant, Swamp, Tower, Urza's


  • Planeswalker Types
    Ajani, Bolas, Chandra, Elspeth, Garruk, Gideon, Jace, Karn, Koth, Liliana, Nissa, Sarkhan, Sorin, Tamiyo, Tezzeret, Tibalt, Venser, Vraska


  • Spell Types (Instant/Sorcery Types)
    Arcane, Trap


  • Planar Types (For the oversized Plane cards,used only in the Planar Magic variant.)
    Alara, Arkhos, Azgol, Belenon, Bolas's Meditation Realm, Dominaria, Equilor, Ergamon, Fabacin, Innistrad, Iquatana, Ir, Kaldheim, Kamigawa, Karsus, Kephalai, Kinshala, Kolbahan, Kyneth, Lorwyn, Luvion, Mercadia, Mirrodin, Moag, Mongseng, Muraganda, New Phyrexia, Phyrexia, Pyrulea, Rabiah, Rath, Ravnica, Regatha, Segovia, Serra's Realm, Shadowmoor, Shandalar, Ulgrotha, Valla, Vryn, Wildfire, Xerex, Zendikar

Remember, if instructed to choose a specific kind of subtype you must choose exactly one type (no more), and it must be from the appropriate list; "Forest", for example, is a land type, not a creature type, even though Dryad Arbor is both a forest and a creature.

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Q: Something instructs me to pick a card type or subtype. Can I choose one of my own invention? Can I choose a combination of them? (eg. "Artifact Creature" or "Human Soldier")
A: No. If you are instructed to choose a type or subtype, you must pick one, and only one, of the (sub)types that currently exists in Magic. You also cannot choose a specific combination of types, because that would be choosing more than one type, and you can only choose one type.

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Q: Can "Artifact", "Enchantment", or "Land" be chosen as creature types?
A: No. Those are card types, not creature types. You cannot choose them for the same reason why you can't choose "blue" or "without flying"--they're just not legal choices. There are indeed creatures that have those particular characteristics, but that doesn't mean that that those characteristics are considered creature types--they're something entirely different.

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Casting Spells and Activating Abilities
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Q: How do I cast spells and activate abilities?
A: Casting or activating a spell or ability follows the these steps in order:
  • Announce the spell or ability you want to cast/activate, and place it on the stack.
  • If a mode is required ("Choose one — "), choose one. If there are any variable costs (X) you must announce those now.
  • If you wish to use any alternative, additional, or other special costs, you must announce that now. You cannot apply two alternative costs to the same spell or ability.
  • If there are any targets, you must announce how many there are (it if is variable), then announce what those targets are. A spell or ability can target a given target only once for each occurrence of the word "target". A spell or ability cannot target itself.
  • If the spell/ability affects targets in different ways, you must announce how each target is affected. If a spell/ability requires you to divide something (like damage or counters), you must announce how those things will be divided. Each target must receive at least one of whatever is being divided.
  • Determine the total cost of the spell/ability. Start with the base cost (mana cost, alternate cost, etc), add any cost increases, and then subtract any cost reductions. The result is then "locked in", and cannot be changed.
  • Activate mana abilities until you have at least enough to pay the mana cost.
  • Pay all the costs in any order. Partial payments are not allowed.
  • Once these steps are completed, the spell/ability becomes cast/activated. Any abilities that trigger on a spell or ability being cast/activated or put onto the stack trigger at this time.
  • The player who had priority before the spell/ability was cast/activated again gains priority. (This is generally the person who cast/activated the spell or ability.)


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Q: How do I play lands?
A: You simply take the land card from your hand and put it onto the battlefield. You can only do this during your main phase when the stack is empty, and only once per turn. This action does not use the stack.

Note that if a card is both a land and something else (like Great Furnace), you can only play it as a land--you cannot cast it as a spell.

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Q: When can I cast/activate spells and abilities?
A: You may cast instants and spells with Flash and activate most activated abilities any time you have priority; you may cast/activate everything else (including the loyalty abilities of Planeswalkers) only during a main phase of your turn when the stack is empty.

For a detailed explanation of exactly which points during each turn that this occurs, check the Turns and the Turn Structure entry of the FAQ.

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Q: Does putting a card onto the battlefield directly (using Elvish Piper or similar) count as "casting" it, or "casting [it] from [my] hand"?
A: No. "Cast", in Magic, has a very specific meaning, outlined above at the top of this post. Anything else isn't "casting" the card.

A Myojin of Life's Web put onto the battlefield with Elvish Piper will not have a divinity counter, for example.

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Q: Can I cast a spell without having all the required targets?
A: No. In order to cast a spell, you have to choose legal targets for all of the targets the spell lays out. If you can't, you can't cast the spell.

Note that creature, artifact, and non-Aura enchantment spells never require targets; triggered enters- the-battlefield abilities do not limit when you can cast the spell. If there happens to not be any targets when the card enters the battlefield, the ability simply doesn't do anything.

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Q: Can a sacrifice a single creature to activate two abilities? For example, if I have two Nantuko Husks and one other creature, can I give both Husks +2/+2?
A: No, you can't. This would be like using one green mana to cast two Giant Growths. One creature allows you to pay the cost of one of these abilities, but not both.

Note: If you were to sacrifice a Festering Goblin or another creature with a triggered ability that triggers when the creature is put into a graveyard, it would trigger. This is because the ability is triggered, not activated; it doesn't have a cost--instead, it happens when a certain event occurs.

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Q: I have a card that isn't a land, but has nothing where the mana cost is supposed to be. How do I cast it?
A: Not easily. Cards without a mana cost can't be cast normally, because a nonexistent cost cannot be paid. If you can find some way to circumvent paying the mana cost, however, you're more than welcome to cast them that way.

Note: A nonexistent cost is not the same thing as a cost of . {} is a valid cost, and can be paid. {} is not, and cannot.

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Q: Can I sacrifice a creature (such as Nantuko Husk) to activate its own ability?
A: Yes, you can. The ability says you must sacrifice a creature; it doesn't say you can't sacrifice the creature it's on, so you can.

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Q: What's with spells/abilities?
A: Simply put, X is declared, and then paid twice. (It must be the same both times.)
Example: To cast a Chalice of the Void and get two counters on it, you must pay . ( + = )

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Q: I am casting a spell without having to pay the spell's mana cost; what does that mean?
A: That means just that--you don't have to pay the mana cost. Any other costs, such as additional costs, still have to be paid. Optional additional costs, such as Kicker, Buyback, or Entwine, can be paid for if you like, but aren't free.

Note that if you are casting a spell "without paying its mana cost", and the mana cost includes an X, then the only legal choice for an X is 0. So using something to cast that Blaze for free isn't really a good idea.

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Q: If I use a card such as Muse Vessel or Ornate Kanzashi that allows me to play an exiled card, can I keep playing that card again and again?
A: No; you can only play it once, for the same reason you can't play cards from your hand again and again. When you cast a spell, it goes onto the stack, and from there into the graveyard or battlefield (and when you play a land, it goes onto the battlefield). Once you do that, it stops being exiled, the Vessel/Kanzashi/Whatever loses track of it, and you can't play it any more.

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Resolving Spells and Activated or Triggered Abilities
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Q: How do I resolve a spell, activated ability, or triggered ability?
A: Once all players have had the opportunity to respond to that spell or ability and declined with it as the top object on the stack (see the Stack FAQ entry for more information on this), that spell or ability begins to resolve. This happens in several steps.

First, if the ability has any targets, it checks to see if those targets are still legal. If all of its targets are illegal, it is countered by the game rules for having no legal targets. If, however, at least one of its targets are still legal, it will continue to resolve.

Next, follow the instructions given by the spell or ability, in the order that they are written. If one of a spell's targets are illegal, it won't be able to perform any actions on that target or make that target perform any actions, and if the spell or ability instructs you to do something impossible, just skip over that instruction, but for the rest, do as much as you are able to do. If an ability triggers during this process, it isn't put on the stack just yet. If a player is asked or given the option to pay mana, they are given the ability to activate mana abilities just prior to having to pay. If a replacement effect tries to replace part of the actions in resolving the spell, those replacements happen "in-line"--at the same time whatever they are replacing would have happened.

Finally, once you've followed all of the instructions, put the spell into your graveyard if it's represented by a card. (If it's an ability or a copy of a spell, it doesn't have a card associated with it, so that ability/copy simply cease to exist.) The spell or ability is now done resolving. State-based actions are checked and resolve, then any triggered abilities that triggered during the spell's resolution or during that SBA-check are then put onto the stack. (And this process repeats until no more SBAs/triggered abilities are generated.)

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Q: Can I do something in the middle of resolving a spell or ability? Say, cast/activate another spell or ability?
A: No. Not unless the spell or ability specifically instructs you to do so. You do not have priority when resolving a spell or ability and thus you cannot cast/activate any spells or abilities or take any action other than the ones the spell is instructing you to do.

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Q: A triggered ability triggers during another spell or ability's resolution. When do its effects happen?
A: It waits until after the spell or ability finishes resolving, and then it is put onto the stack and can be responded to like any other spell or non-mana activated or triggered ability. It will not do whatever it's supposed to do until long after the spell or ability is finished resolving.

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Q: Are state-based actions checked during a spell or ability's resolution?
A: No. This usually doesn't matter, as they are the very first thing to happen after the spell or ability finishes resolving, but it does have some important implications. For example, if you Consume Spirit yourself for enough damage to bring you to 0 life, you will live. You were indeed brought down to 0 life, but you then gained enough life during the resolution of the spell that you were once again above 0; SBAs will be checked immediately after this, but you are now above 0 life, so you won't die.

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Q: A spell or ability tells multiple players to do something. Who does it first?
A: Any choices relevant to the action are first made in turn order, then all the actions happen simultaneously.

So, for example, when Innocent Blood resolves, first the player whose turn it is decides which creature they will sacrifice, then each other player in turn order. Once all players have decided, all the creatures are sacrificed at the exact same time.

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Q: My spell or ability needs to check information about the game--say, how many cards I have in my hand or a particular creature's power. When is this information checked?
A: It will be checked during the spell or ability's resolution, and at no other time, unless the spell or ability either specifically says otherwise or it is getting a player to divide or distribute something, such as damage. (In that case it will check as you are casting or activating it.)

For example, Living Inferno's ability checks the Inferno's power as you are activating the ability, because it wants you to divide the damage in a particular way. Spikeshot Goblin's ability, on the other hand, doesn't want you to do any dividing, so it checks the Goblin's power during the resolution of the ability.

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Countering Spells and Activated or Triggered Abilities
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Q: What does it mean to counter a spell or ability?
A: To counter a spell or ability is to negate it. A spell that has been countered is put directly into its owner's graveyard (In the case of abilities or copies of spells that aren't cards, they simply cease to exist.); it never gets the chance to resolve and therefore has no effect.

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Q: When can I counter a spell or ability?
A: A spell or ability can only be countered while it is on the stack; they must be countered before they resolve. This essentially means that if you want to counter a spell, you can only do so just after it has been cast--you can't counter a spell after it has resolved. (Note that your opponent must give you the opportunity to respond to their spell and counter it should you wish to do so--they can't rush things through without giving you the opportunity to counter their spells and abilities. Magic is not a game of reflexes.)

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Q: If a spell or activated ability gets countered, does it count as having been "cast/activated"?
A: Yes. The act of casting/activating something is the act of putting it onto the stack, choosing targets, paying costs, and so on, and that all happens long before anyone or anything gets a chance to even attempt to counter it. The spell/ability was cast/activated just fine--it just never got a chance to resolve.

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Q: Can I counter an ability? What kind of abilities can be countered?
A: Spells and abilities can both be countered, but they aren't the same thing; thus, things that can only counter spells can't counter abilities, and things that can only counter abilities can't counter spells. Cancel, for example, can't counter an ability, and Stifle can't counter a spell.

Note that only activated and triggered abilities that are not mana abilities are put on the stack, so they are the only kinds of abilities that can be countered; static abilities do not use the stack, so they cannot be countered, or even responded to.

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Q: Are there any spells or abilities which can't be countered?
A: Yes. A spell or ability can't be countered if it says it can't be countered. In addition, mana abilities do not use the stack, so there's never a chance to counter them.

Note that it is perfectly legal to cast a counterspell targeting a spell that cannot be countered--it just won't actually counter the spell. Any secondary effects that don't specifically say that they only happen if the spell is countered will still happen. So you could, for example, cast Undermine targeting an opponent's Obliterate solely in order to make them lose life. However, since mana abilities don't use the stack at all, it is impossible to target them with a counterspell.

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Q: Can I counter something that's being "put" onto the battlefield or "return[ed]" to the battlefield?
A: No. You can only counter spells and abilities, and something that is being put onto the battlefield directly is not, at any point, a spell or ability on the stack, so it cannot be countered. You can counter the spell or ability that will attempt to put that thing onto the battlefield, but you can't counter the actual entering-the-battlefield part itself.

Also note that if the thing would be coming from a hidden zone such as your opponent's hand (such as with Through the Breach or Elvish Piper's ability), then you have to decide whether to counter the spell or ability before you know for sure what will be put onto the battlefield.

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Q: Some of my spells have the type "Interrupt" or "Mana Source". What does this mean?
A: All spells which used to be Interrupts and Mana Sources have been given errata. The vast majority of these spells are now Instants. You can look up the current Oracle wording for them in Gatherer.

Some abilities also say "play this ability as an interrupt/mana source". These have also been given errata.

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Q: I keep seeing people discussing spells being "countered on resolution" or "fizzling". What does this mean?
A: When a spell or ability that has one or more targets tries to resolve, if all of its targets are now illegal, the game rules step in and counter it directly. As it has been countered, none of its effects occur. This is commonly known among players as "fizzling". Even spells that can't be countered by spells or abilities can "fizzle" if all their targets are illegal.

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Q: Some spells and abilities have multiple targets. What if some become illegal but some remain legal?
A: Spells and abilities are only countered on resolution if they no longer have any legal targets. Spells and abilities which have more than one target, but have lost one or more targets still attempt to do as much as they can.

Example: You cast Pyrotechnics, choosing to do 1 damage to each of 4 creatures, but when the spell resolves, only two of those creatures are still on the battlefield. Pyrotechnics still resolves and deals 1 damage to each of the remaining creatures.

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Q: What about spells and abilities which have more than one effect?
A: Those are not the same as spells with multiple targets. All that matters when determining if a spell "fizzles" or not is whether or not its targets are legal. If all of the targets are illegal, the entire spell is countered, even if the spell has other parts that don't do things with the target.

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Costs
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Q: When do I pay costs? Can I respond to stop somebody from being able to pay a cost?
A: You pay costs as you cast/activate the spell or ability or take the special action that they pay for. Paying a cost doesn't use the stack and cannot be responded to; by the time you can respond, the cost has already been paid and there's nothing you can do about it.

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Q: If my spell or ability is countered, do I get a "refund" on the costs I paid?
A: No. You will never get a refund on any cost you pay.

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Q: I have something that reduces the amount of mana I have to pay to cast something. Does this affect alternate and additional costs as well, or just the regular mana cost?
A: It affects the total cost of the spell, which includes both alternate and additional costs.

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Q: There's something that increases the amount of mana I have to pay to cast things. Does this also affect alternate costs? What if I'm not paying the mana cost? (eg, Force of Will, Skyshroud Cutter, Massacre)
A: Yes, it applies. Once again, the thing being affected isn't the normal mana cost of the spell, but the total cost of actually casting the spell; this means it applies even if you're not paying the normal mana cost.

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Q: Something tells me to cast something "without paying [its] mana cost". Do I still need to pay mandatory additional costs? Can I pay optional additional costs? How about alternate costs?
A: You will be forced to pay any mandatory additional costs (like sacrificing an artifact to Shrapnel Blast), and will have the option of paying for optional additional costs if you so desire (like [post=9971915]Kicker[/post]), but you will not be able to pay alternative costs, as such costs must be paid instead of the mana cost, and you aren't given the option of paying the mana cost at all.

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Mana
See also Lands
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Q: What is mana, and how does it relate to lands?
A: Mana is the magical energy required in order to cast spells. It is most commonly produced by lands, but may be produced by other means. Mana is either colorless or one of five colors: White ( ), Blue ( ), Black ( ), Red ( ), or Green ( ) Each colored symbol stands for one mana of the appropriate color--amounts of colorless mana will be represented by numerals in little gray circles. (, , etc.)

Mana is not the same thing as land, and lands are not the same thing as mana. It's a common misconception among new players to think that the two are the same thing, but they are not; the two are entirely different things.

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Q: So what's a "mana pool"?
A: Any time you use something to produce mana, it goes into your mana pool, an imaginary place in which you store it. From there, it can be used to pay for other things. At the end of each step of the turn, your mana pool will empty.

If you're having trouble visualizing your mana pool, think of it as your checking account. You work a job and get paid. After you get your check, you deposit it in your bank, where you can then use that money to buy stuff. The only difference is that money doesn't disappear if you go too long without spending it, like mana does.

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Q: How can I get mana?
A: Using lands is the most common method of producing mana, but they are by no means the only way to get mana. Mana can be produced by any type of card--creatures, enchantments, artifacts, planeswalkers, or even instants and sorceries.

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Q: If a card lets me add mana "of any color" to my mana pool, can I pick aqua, pink, or some other random color? How about colorless?
A: No. Colorless is not a color at all, and the only legal color choices are the five colors of Magic: White ( ), Blue ( ), Black ( ), Red ( ), or Green ( ).

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Q: I heard somebody talking about "mana burn". What's that?
A: Before the Magic 2010 rules changes, when mana disappeared from your mana pool, you lost life equal to the amount of mana lost this way; this was called "mana burn".

Mana burn wasn't very common, because most of the time players produce only as much mana as they need as they need it, but it sometimes came up when a spell or ability added a fixed amount of mana to their mana pool and they weren't able to spend all of it. However, you don't have to worry about that, because mana burn is no longer a part of the game.

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Hybrid Mana
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Q: What are hybrid mana symbols and what do they mean?
A: A hybrid mana symbol looks like two different, normal mana symbols squished together into one. For example, this: () is a red/white hybrid mana symbol. A hybrid mana symbol can be paid with mana that matches either of its constituent parts.

To give some examples:
  • A cost of () can be paid with either or .
  • A cost of ()() can be paid with , , or .
  • A cost of ()()() can be paid with , , , or .
  • A cost of () can be paid with one mana of any type, plus either or .
  • A cost of () can be paid with either or two mana of any type.
  • A cost of ()()() can be paid with either , or , or or .


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Q: What color is a hybrid mana symbol?
A: A hybrid mana symbol is all of its constituent colors. So a () symbol is both blue and red, a () symbol is both white and black, and a () symbol is green. (It's not colorless, though--colorless is not a color. It's the property of not having any colors.) So something that's looking for, say, the number of green mana symbols on permanents you control will count a hybrid mana symbol that has green as one of its components.

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Q: What color is a card with hybrid mana symbols in its mana cost?
A: A card is the colors of the mana symbols that appear in its mana cost. This is true no matter what you actually pay when you're casting the spell, and no matter what the card's frame looks like. If a card has a mana cost of (), like Slippery Bogle, then it's both green and blue no matter what colors of mana you spend to cast it, because it has both a blue mana symbol and a green mana symbol in its mana cost.

Some other examples:


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Q: Can I add actual hybrid mana to my mana pool?
A: No. There isn't actually any such thing as actual 'hybrid mana'. You have red mana and you have green mana, but no mana that is both red and green at the same time. If something attempts to add an amount of mana to your mana pool that's represented by a hybrid mana symbol, instead, for each of the hybrid symbols, you choose one half of the hybrid symbol, and that's what it adds. So an Elemental Resonance on a Gruul Guildmage, for example, could give you either , , or , but never ()().

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Q: What is the converted mana cost of a card with monocolored hybrid symbols in its cost? ((), (), etc.)
A: When calculating the converted mana cost of a card with monocolored hybrid mana symbols in its cost, each symbol counts as the largest possible number it could be paid with. So a () symbol would add 2 to the converted mana cost, because the most it can be paid with is 2 mana. Thus, a card with mana cost ()()() (like Flame Javelin) would always have a converted mana cost of 6, no matter what you spend to cast it.

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Targets and Targeting
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Q: What "targets"? Does Wrath of God target? What about Giant Growth? What about Pyroclasm?
A: A spell or ability targets if and only if it uses the word "target", either in the card text itself or in the rules. Giant Growth, for example, targets, because it uses the word "target". Auras, like Holy Strength, also target when you cast them, because the rules say that they do. The Equip ability of Equipment like Leonin Scimitar also targets, because the rules for the Equip keyword say it does. If something doesn't say "target", it doesn't target. Wrath of God and Pyroclasm don't say "target", so they do not target.

Note: The only things that are defined as targeting by the rules (rather than in the actual rules text of the card itself) are Aura spells on the stack and the [post=9971958]Provoke[/post], [post=9971980]Equip[/post], [post=9971986]Modular[/post], [post=9972010]Soulshift[/post], [post=9972057]Haunt[/post], [post=12191534]Fortify[/post], and [post=14838922]Reinforce[/post] abilities. (Note that enchanting, equipping, and haunting a creature do not target that creature; it's just Auras on the stack and the Equip and Haunt abilities themselves that target.)

Be careful! Some old cards may have confusing, outdated wording that may not properly represent the card's current templating. They may use the word "target" when they don't actually do so. While anything printed after Sixth Edition is generally all right on this score, when dealing with older cards, it's always a good idea to check the Oracle text of the card to see what its current templating is.

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Q: What exactly is a legal target for my spell/ability?
A: Any targeting requirements for your spells or abilities will be laid out in the "target phrase", which consists of the words directly following the word "target" that describe the nature of the required target. For Aura spells, the target phrase consists of the words directly following the "enchant" keyword.

For example:
  • Slay's target phrase is "green creature".
  • The Equip keyword's target phrase is "creature you control".
  • Backlash's target phrase is "untapped creature".
  • Radiant's Judgment's target phrase is "creature with power 4 or greater".
  • Balduvian Shaman's target phrase is "white enchantment you control that doesn't have cumulative upkeep"


Anything that is not part of the target phrase is not part of the targeting requirements, and doesn't matter when it comes time to choose targets. You can target a creature you control with Threaten, for example, because there is no requirement that the target be a creature your opponent controls.

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Q: Can I cast/activate a spell or ability without being able to choose all of its targets?
A: No. In order to cast/activate a spell or ability, you have to choose legal targets for all of the targets it lays out. If you can't, you can't cast/activate it.

Note that if a spell or ability has multiple possible modes (it says "Choose [some number]--"), then you only have to choose targets for the mode(s) you select. The other modes are treated as though they didn't exist, so you don't have to select targets for them.

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Q: What can cause a target to become illegal?
A: When a spell or ability tries to resolve, it rechecks its targets. If whatever it was targeting has changed zones since the time the spell or ability's targets were chosen, it is now an illegal target, even if it came back. This is because an object that changes zones "forgets" all about its previous existence and is treated like an entirely new object.

A target can also be illegal if it no longer matches the spell or ability's target phrase (as described above)--if I cast Deathmark on your Kavu Chameleon and you make it blue in response, my Deathmark will be countered, because your Kavu is no longer a "green or white creature" and is thus no longer a legal target for my spell.

Lastly, a target can become illegal if something has come into effect that says the creature can't be targeted--for example, something may have given it [post=12191595]Shroud[/post], or you may have somehow gotten a Privileged Position onto the battlefield in response to whatever was targeting it.

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Q: What happens if my spell or ability's only target becomes illegal before it resolves?
A: When the spell or ability tries to resolve, it is countered by the game rules for having no legal targets. (In player-slang, it "fizzles".) None of its effects occur, even if they didn't have anything to do with the targeted part.

Note: You do not get to change the target of a spell or ability if its original target becomes illegal. You can only change the targets of a spell or ability using a spell or ability that will allow you to do so.

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Q: Some spells and abilities have multiple targets. What if some of my spell or ability's targets become illegal, but some remain legal?
A: Spells and abilities are only countered on resolution if they no longer have any legal targets. Spells and abilities which have more than one target, but have lost one or more targets still attempt to do as much as they can.

Example: If you cast Pyrotechnics, choosing to do 1 damage to each of 4 creatures but when the spell resolves, only two of those creatures are still on the battlefield, Pyrotechnics still resolves and deals 1 damage to each of the remaining creatures.

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Q: I have a spell that lets me change the targets of a spell. Can I use this to cause my opponent's permanent spells to enter the battlefield under my control?
A: No, for several reasons. First, permanent spells, with the sole exception of Auras (which target the thing they will enter the battlefield enchanting), have no targets to change; a permanent spell doesn't target the player under whose control it will enter the battlefield. Second, changing a spell's target does not change who controls that spell.

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The Stack and Priority
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This section has been rewritten and split into two sections, one for the Stack, and one for Priority. See those entries for an explanation of each concept.

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Abilities
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Q: What are the different kinds of abilities?
A: There are four main categories of abilities: activated abilities, triggered abilities, spell abilities, and static abilities. There is also a special class of abilities called mana abilities, which follow special rules. Activated abilities, triggered abilities, and mana abilities are covered in their own posts below (though there is an explanation of what they are here). If you want to know more about one of those kinds of abilities specifically, see their specific posts. This post covers issues relevant to all kinds of abilities, as well as an explanation of static abilities.

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Q: What's an activated ability?
A: An activated ability is an ability of a card that reads "{Cost(s)}: {Effect}" (The colon is important--all activated abilities have it.) Some keywords, such as [post=9971980]Equip[/post], are also activated abilities. (Check and see if their reminder text has a colon in it.)

See the entry on activated abilities for questions specifically about activated abilities.

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Q: What's a triggered ability?
A: A triggered ability is an ability of a card that uses the words "When", "Whenever" or "At" to specify a specific event or time and specifies some action that is to occur at that time or when that event occurs. The "At", "When" or "Whenever" usually occurs at the start of the ability, though it may occur someplace else. Triggered abilities may be created for later use by spells or activated abilities.

See the entry on triggered abilities for questions specifically about triggered abilities.

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Q: What's a spell ability?
A: Spell abilities are the instructions you find on instants and sorceries that tell you what to do when they resolve.

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Q: What's a static ability?
A: Pretty much everything else--if it's not one of the other kinds of abilities and it's not in italics, it's a static ability. (Anything in italics has no rules relevance, no matter what.)

Static abilities create an effect that is always "on", which we call a continuous effect. They do not use the stack--if the effect changes based on the game state, the effect changes as soon as the state does.
For example, if you control a Cranial Plating plus 4 other artifacts, the Plating will give a bonus of +5/+0 to the creature it equips. If you sacrificed one of the artifacts to Krark-Clan Ironworks, the bonus would immediately drop to +4/+0, because you now only control a total of 4 artifacts.

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Q: What's a mana ability?
A: A mana ability is a special kind of activated or triggered ability. Mana abilities are activated abilities without a target that produce mana and triggered abilities without a target that produce mana and trigger off of a mana ability themselves.

Mana abilities, unlike regular activated or triggered abilities, don't use the stack--they produce their effect immediately. As such, they can't be responded to or countered.

See the entry on mana abilities for questions specifically about mana abilities.

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Q: Do abilities "stack" (Are they cumulative)?
A: You can always have multiple instances of an ability, but those extra copies may or may not have any added effect. What you really meant is: "Do effects stack"? To get the answer, you need to figure out if multiple instances of the same kind of effect changes anything.

If multiple applications changes anything, they are cumulative; otherwise they aren't. For example, two instances of [post=9971819]Flying[/post] won't make a creature "fly more", so they don't stack; two instances of [post=9971969]Affinity[/post] will reduce the cost to cast a spell even more than one, so they do. Having two Leonin Scimitar on a creature will give it +1/+1 and +1/+1, for a total of +2/+2.

An effect that sets a characteristic to a specific value isn't cumulative; it "overwrites" previous values. If two Shifting Sky are out, one set to Green and the other set to Red, they are applied in the order they entered the battlefield. Permanents will be either Green or Red, depending on which one entered the battlefield last.

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Q: Do abilities count as spells?
A: No. Never. Abilities and spells are fundamentally different things, and are never the same.

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Q: Do abilities of permanent cards work when the card they're on isn't on the battlefield?
A: Not usually. Abilities of permanent cards only work while the card they're on is on the battlefield unless they meet one of three conditions. Either:
  • The ability specifically states that it works in some other zone. (Carrionette, Genesis)
  • The ability could only work in some other zone, because it doesn't make sense working from the battlefield. (Akuta, Born of Ash, Bladewing's Thrall)
  • It's a characteristic-defining ability. (Maro, Mistform Ultimus, Crookshank Kobolds)
    Characteristic-defining abilities are abilities of an object that unconditionally define one of that object's characteristic values (color, types, name, mana cost, rules text, power, toughness, expansion symbol, and/or loyalty) as being some specific value.


If the ability does not fall under one of these three categories, it only works while the card it's on is on the battlefield.

For example, the ability "~This~ can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control" works only while the card it's on is on the battlefield, because it doesn't state that it works in some other zone and it works perfectly well while on the battlefield. On the other hand, the ability "{Cost}: Return ~this~ from your graveyard to your hand" only works while the card is in the graveyard, because obviously you can't bring the card from your graveyard to your hand if it isn't in your graveyard to begin with.

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Q: Will removing the source of an ability stop that ability? (ie, Can I kill something to stop its ability?)
A: If you're talking about a static ability, like Blood Moon's, then yes--removing the permanent it's on turns the ability "off" (because static abilities only work while the card they're on is on the battlefield unless they state or imply otherwise, as explained above). If, however, you're talking about activated or triggered abilities, then no. Once it's on the stack, an activated or triggered ability is completely independent of its source, and won't be affected by anything that happens to that source.


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Activated Abilities
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Q: What counts as an activated ability?
A: An activated ability is an ability of a card that reads "{Cost(s)}: {Effect}" (The colon is important--all activated abilities have it.) Some keywords, such as [post=9971980]Equip[/post], are also activated abilities. (Check and see if their reminder text has a colon in it.)
Examples of activated abilities include Anaba Shaman's damage-dealing ability and Nantuko Husk's pump ability.

Activated abilities will never do anything on their own--you have to activate the ability in order to produce the effect, and you have to pay the entire cost of the ability in order to do so. After you activate the ability, it goes on the stack like spells do and waits to resolve.

Be careful! Some really old cards (printed before Sixth Edition) have abilities that use colons and are templated like modern-day activated abilities, but that say "Use this ability only when {something happens} and only once per {thing}." See the Fifth Edition version of Crystal Rod for an example. These abilities are not activated abilities; they are triggered abilities.

There also exist even older (Tempest block and earlier) instant and sorcery spells that use a colon; such cards will look (by modern-day standards) like their entire text is one big activated ability. See Fling or AEther Tide for examples. These cards also do not have activated abilities; the colon is used to denote an additional cost of casting the spell, and that cost can only be paid once--that kind of templating isn't used any more.

For these reasons, when dealing with old cards, especially those that were printed before Sixth Edition, it's always a good idea to check the Oracle text of the card to see what its current templating is.

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Q: What kinds of activated abilities are mana abilities?
A: An activated ability is a mana ability if it doesn't have any targets and can potentially produce mana. It's that simple. Any activated ability that has targets or that can't produce mana isn't a mana ability.

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Q: When and how often can I activate an ability?
A: Unless the specific ability says otherwise, you may activate any activated ability any time you have priority and as many times as you want, as long as you can pay for it. There are no inherent restrictions on how many times you may use an activated ability.

Of course, some costs might impose inherent limitations on the abilities they pay for--you can't tap a tapped permanent, for example, so any permanent with in its cost can usually only be paid once per round, unless you can find some way to untap it.

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Q: I heard there's a limitation on when you can activate abilities of creatures. What's up with that?
A: See the entry on Summoning Sickness to learn about this.

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Q: Can I pay more for an activated ability in order to "pump it up" and get a bigger effect?
A: No. You pay the cost it tells you to pay to get the exact effect it tells you you get; no more, no less. However, you can often activate the same ability several times in a row to get a similar effect.

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Q: Will removing or tapping the source of an activated ability stop that ability?
A: No. Once an activated ability has been activated, it's completely independent of its source, and nothing that happens to the source will have any effect on the ability itself. (Unless it specifically says so.)

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Q: Do activated abilities count as spells?
A: No. Never. Abilities and spells are fundamentally different things, and are never the same.

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Mana Abilities
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Q: What's a mana ability?
A: A mana ability is a special kind of activated or triggered ability, either an activated ability that doesn't have a target and could produce mana, or a triggered ability that doesn't have a target, could produce mana, and triggers off of another mana ability. A mana ability is not "an ability which costs mana to use" (though some mana abilities do cost mana to use).

Mana abilities, unlike regular activated or triggered abilities, don't use the stack--they produce their effect immediately. As such, they cannot be responded to or countered.

Examples of mana abilities:


Examples of things that are NOT mana abilities

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Q: When can I activate (activated) mana abilities?
A: You can activate activated mana abilities any time you could activate a normal activated ability, and in addition, you may also use such mana abilities any time you are asked to pay mana, even if it's while casting/activating another spell or ability or during the resolution of another spell or ability. Note that you don't activate triggered mana abilities--they just happen on their own when their trigger event (generally you activating some other mana ability) occurs.

Note also that there are some mana abilities that specifically forbid you from activating them at times you couldn't activate a normal activated ability, such as Charmed Pendant's ability. This is simply to avoid rules complications that arise when weird things happen during the process of casting spells and activating abilities; such abilities are still mana abilities and still cannot be responded to or countered.

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Q: I have a spell that produces mana, such as Seething Song. Does it follow the same rules as mana abilities?
A: No. Spells that produce mana are the same as any other spell; there are no special rules for such spells, and they can be countered the same way any other spell can be countered.

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Triggered Abilities
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Q: What's a triggered ability?
A: A triggered ability is an ability of a card that reads "[At/When/Whenever] (insert condition or time here), {effect}."
Examples of triggered abilities are: Disciple of the Vault's graveyard trigger, Willbender's "when I turn face up" ability, and even Decree of Justice's Soldier-making ability.

When a triggered ability's conditions are met, they trigger and go on the stack. When the trigger resolves, the effect happens.

A special kind, called delayed triggered abilities, can be created by a spell/ability in order to so something later--they'll contain "when", "whenever", or "at" (usually the first or the last) somewhere in the middle. Such delayed triggers will wait around for the appropriate event, trigger, resolve, and then disappear.

There is a special kind of triggered ability that is printed like this: "[Trigger condition], if [additional condition], [effect]." These triggered abilities have what are called 'intervening "if" clauses'; the additional condition is seen as both part of the triggering conditions and part of the effect. The ability will only trigger if the condition is true, and when it resolves the ability will only do something if the condition is still true. If at either time it's not true, the ability won't do anything.

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Q: What kind of triggered abilities are mana abilities?
A: A triggered ability is a mana ability if it could potentially produce mana, it doesn't have a target, and it triggers off of some other mana ability (usually an activated one).

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Q: Will removing the source of a triggered ability stop that ability?
A: No. Once it's on the stack, an activated or triggered ability is completely independent of its source, and won't be affected by anything that happens to that source.

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Q: Do things "see" other things entering or leaving the battlefield at the same time as themselves?
For example, my opponent has a Dingus Staff on the battlefield and casts Obliterate. Would I take damage because my creatures died or not?
A: Things always see other things entering or leaving the battlefield at the same time as themselves.

The first step in understanding is the realization that every permanent entering the battlefield and every permanent leaving the battlefield sees itself doing so. (For example, triggered abilities such as Eternal Witness work because the Witness sees itself entering the battlefield. Similarly, Chimney Imp will also trigger when he dies, because he sees himself leaving the battlefield.)

Once this is understood, it logically makes sense that all cards not only see themselves entering or leaving the battlefield, but they also see every other card that does so at the same time they do.

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Q: What happens when more than one triggered ability triggers at the same time?
A: If more than one triggered ability triggers at the same time, any of those abilities controlled by the active player go onto the stack, then the abilities controlled by each other player go on the stack, in turn order. Each player chooses the order that his or her abilities go on the stack relative to each other. (Remember, Last-In, First-Out. The last ability put onto the stack is the first to resolve.) Then, they all wait to resolve.

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Q: If I control something with a triggered ability, can I choose to not have it trigger?
A: No, you cannot. If a triggered ability's conditions are met, it will trigger whether you want it to or not.
Note: Although you cannot stop them from triggering, some triggered abilities, like Leonin Elder's, use the word "may" to give you the option on resolution as to whether or not they actually do anything. This is different than the wording of other triggered abilities, like the similar Soul Warden, which do not use the word "may" and must take effect whether you want them to or not.

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Q: Can I cast something with an enters-the-battlefield trigger if there are no targets for the ability?
A: Yes, you can still cast it. When it enters the battlefield, the ability will trigger, just like normal, but it will be removed from the stack unless there is a legal target. (Note that you must choose a target if it is possible to do so.) Whether there is a target or not, the card with the ability stays on the battlefield.

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Q: I have a card with a triggered ability that lets me pay some cost in order to do something. (Such as Circle of Affliction, Mirari, or Frenzied Goblin.) Can I pay the cost multiple times to get the effect multiple times?
A: Not unless it specifically says so. The ability says you can pay the cost (once) to get the effect; it does not say you can pay the cost multiple times, and it does not say that you get an increased effect if you pay more. So you can't, and you don't.

If there is more than one trigger, however, you can pay the cost once for each of the triggers. You just can't pay multiple times for the same trigger.

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Damage
See also State-Based Actions.
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Q: Does dealing damage to a creature reduce its toughness?
A: No; that's not how damage works. Damage marked on a creature doesn't reduce toughness; it's simply compared to it. If the amount of damage marked on a creature is equal to or higher than its toughness, it's destroyed. At no time is the creature's toughness reduced. This is important for indestructible creatures, [post=12501037]regenerating[/post] creatures, and many other effects. And remember, all marked damage is removed from all creatures during the cleanup step of every turn.

Note that the [post=15809331]Wither[/post] and Infect abilities cause damage to be dealt as -1/-1 counters instead of the normal way; obviously, this changes matters somewhat.

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Q: Can a creature be dealt more damage than its toughness?
A: Yes; a creature's toughness doesn't limit the amount of damage it can receive. For example, if you block an opponent's Craw Wurm with your Mogg Maniac, the Maniac will take the full 6 damage, (and then deal 6 to your opponent) regardless of the fact that its toughness is only 1.

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Q: What counts as "combat damage"?
A: Combat damage is damage dealt as part of the process of creatures attacking and blocking during combat. Any other damage is not combat damage, no matter when it is dealt.

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Q: When is marked damage removed from a creature?
A: All marked damage is removed from each creature during the cleanup step of every turn. (You normally won't be able to do anything after this happens--for more information, see the Turns and the Turn Structure entry of the FAQ.) Marked damage is also removed when a creature [post=12501037]regenerates[/post]--not when the regeneration spell or ability is cast/activated, but when the regeneration actually takes effect; see the FAQ entry for more information.

Note that since damage from sources with [post=15809331]Wither[/post] is applied as -1/-1 counters rather than being marked on the creature like normal damage, those counters won't be removed during the cleanup step like normal damage.

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Q: I use something to cause damage that would have been dealt to something to be dealt somewhere else instead. Where is this redirected damage coming from?
A: Damage that is redirected is still being dealt by the same thing it would have been dealt with without the redirection. If it was combat damage, it is still combat damage.

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Summoning Sickness
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Q: What does 'summoning sickness' do?
A: Creatures with summoning sickness can't attack and can't use abilities with costs that include the or symbols. Creatures have summoning sickness if they have not been under their current controller's control since the beginning of that player's most recent turn.

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Q: Can I block with or activate abilities of a sick creature?
A: You can block with a creature with summoning sickness, and you can also activate its abilities as long as they don't have or in the cost--summoning sickness only prevents you from attacking and using abilities that include or .

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Q: Can I tap/untap a creature with summoning sickness for a cost that doesn't use the or symbols?
A: Yes. You're only forbidden from tapping/untapping the creature to pay a or cost. You can still tap/untap the creature to pay for other costs that don't use those symbols.

For example, you can tap a creature with summoning sickness for [post=9972036]Convoke[/post]; you could also tap three summoning-sick Elves to activate Heritage Druid's ability, and you can tap Crackleburr and two summoning-sick red creatures to activate Crackleburr's first ability (The Crackleburr itself can't have summoning sickness, though, because it's paying the cost.)

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Q: Are non-creature artifacts affected by summoning sickness?
A: No; only creatures are affected by summoning sickness.

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Q: If a noncreature permanent turns into a creature, does it suffer summoning sickness? (eg, Mutavault)
A: That depends. How long has it been on the battlefield under your control? Summoning sickness only cares about how long that permanent has been on the battlefield under your control; it doesn't care anything about whether or not that permanent was a creature during that time.

So if you play a Mutavault and turn it into a creature that turn, it will suffer from summoning sickness, since you haven't controlled it since the beginning of your most recent turn. But if you turn it into a creature on your next turn, it won't be sick, because you've controlled it since the beginning of your turn. It wasn't a creature at that time, but the game doesn't care about that.

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Q: If I take control of my opponent's creature, will it suffer summoning sickness?
A: Unless the card that gives you control gives the creature [post=9971825]Haste[/post] (like on Threaten), then yes, it will suffer summoning sickness. It doesn't matter how long the creature may have been on the battlefield under your opponent's control; if you haven't controlled it since the beginning of your most recent turn, it will have summoning sickness.

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Q: If my creature leaves the battlefield temporarily (Momentary Blink, Astral Slide, etc.), when it comes back, will it have summoning sickness?
A: Yes. When the creature comes back onto the battlefield, it is considered a new creature and as such, hasn't been under your control since the beginning of the turn.

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Combat
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Q: How does combat work in Magic?
A: During each player's turn, that player has one combat phase. During this combat phase, that player may choose to attack his or her opponent (and/or any planeswalkers that opponent controls) with any number of creatures he or she controls. That opponent (the "defending player") may then choose to use his or her own creatures to block those attacking creatures. Attacking and blocking creatures exchange combat damage, and unblocked creatures deal damage to the player or planeswalker they are attacking.

In order to attack, a creature must be untapped and must not be suffering from "summoning sickness". (Its controller has to have controlled it continuously since the beginning of his or her most recent turn.) The act of attacking causes the creature to become tapped. An attacking creature that's blocked deals combat damage equal to its power divided among the creature(s) blocking it. If it's not blocked, it deals that much damage to the player or planeswalker it's attacking instead. A blocked creature cannot (normally) deal combat damage to anything other than the creature(s) blocking it.

In order to block, a creature must be untapped. However, blocking doesn't cause a creature to tap and "summoning-sick" creatures can block just fine. Any given creature may (normally) block only one attacking creature, but any given attacking creature may be blocked by any number of creatures. A blocking creature deals combat damage equal to its power to the creature it's blocking. (If it's somehow blocking more than one creature, the damage is divided among the creatures it's blocking.)

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Q: Can I do things during combat... ...before attackers are declared?
Q: ...after attackers are declared but before blockers are?
Q: ...after blockers are declared but before combat damage is dealt?
Q: ...after combat damage is dealt but before combat ends?
A: Yes. Combat proceeds through a number of steps, and players have the chance to do things (mainly cast or activate spells and abilities, though there are other possibilities) during each of those steps before the game moves on to the next one.

The first step of combat is called the Beginning of Combat step. Being in the Beginning of Combat step means that the player whose turn it is (the "active player") can no longer cast spells that aren't instants, but no attackers have yet been declared. Players are given a chance to do things during this step, and it's your last chance to do things before attackers are declared. Once everyone's done doing things, the game moves on to the Declare Attackers step.

As the Declare Attackers step begins, the active player chooses his or her attacking creatures and those creatures become tapped and become attacking creatures. (He can choose not to attack if he doesn't want to do so.) This happens first, before players can do anything. After that, players have another chance to do things, and then the game moves on to the next step, Declare Blockers.

As the Declare Blockers step begins, the defending player chooses which creatures (if any) he or she wants to block with and which creature each will block, then those creatures become blocking creatures, and the creatures they're blocking become blocked. (Any attacking creatures which aren't blocked become unblocked creatures.) The active player also decides in which order he or she will assign damage to the creatures blocking his attackers. As in Declare Attackers, this happens before players have the chance to do anything else. Once that's done, players get another chance to do things, and then the game moves on to the Combat Damage step.

As the Combat Damage step begins, each player assigns the damage from his or her creatures. (Assuming there's more than one way it could be done.) Then, that damage is dealt as assigned. After that, players get another chance to do things, and then the game moves on to the End of Combat step.

Nothing much usually happens in End of Combat, but it acts as a "last chance" for players to do things before the game moves back to the active player's second main phase and the active player gets the chance to cast non-instant spells again.

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Q: How do I stop an attacking or blocking creature from attacking/blocking?
A: If you want to stop a creature from attacking or blocking at all, you need to do something to it before it can be declared as an attacker/blocker that would stop it from doing so, such as tapping it or casting something that says it can't attack or block. However, doing those things after it has already been declared as an attacker/blocker won't somehow make it "un-attack" or "un-block"--it will still be attacking or blocking. The only ways to remove an attacking or blocking creature from combat are to make it leave the battlefield, make it stop being a creature, change its controller, or use something that specifically says it removes it from combat.

Note that removing a blocking creature from combat won't make the creatures it was blocking become unblocked.

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Q: My creature is forced (somehow) to attack or block "if able", and there's some additional restriction on how or when it can do so. What happens? (eg, Your opponent [post=9971958]provoke[/post]s your Ember Beast)
A: When the time comes for you to declare attackers/blockers, your creature is forced to do so if it is possible, at that very moment, for you to make it do so somehow. You are required to declare other attackers and so on in order make the attack legal.

However, it's very important to note that while the above is true, nothing is forcing you to take unrelated actions that would then, in turn, make it possible for the requirements to be met so that that creature could attack.

To give an example, imagine your opponent has played Into the Fray on your Ember Beast. When the time comes to declare attackers, if you happen to control at least one other creature that can attack, you are forced to attack with Ember Beast and some other creature. It is possible for you to meet the Beast's requirements, so you must do so. However, now imagine that Ember Beast was your only creature on the battlefield, but you did happen to have a Raging Goblin in your hand and an untapped Mountain with which you could have cast it. Casting the Goblin before combat would later allow your Ember Beast to attack (with the Goblin), but you're not required to do so. Sure, it would allow you to fill the requirement later on, but the game doesn't look that far ahead. It only cares about what you can do right as attackers are being declared, and can only force you to do things right then and there. You aren't required to do anything before that if you don't want to.


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Attacking
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Q: I want to tap a creature to keep it from attacking--when do I have to do that?
A: If you want a creature to be unable to attack, you have to tap it before your opponent gets the chance to declare it as an attacker--after that, it's too late.

The last chance to tap a creature to keep it from attacking is during the Beginning of Combat step, before the Declare Attackers step begins. (Note that at that point you technically don't know for sure whether your opponent is going to attack with that creature or not...though you may be able to make a fairly accurate guess if he has a massive creature on the board and you have no blockers.)

If your opponent is rushing things and goes ahead without allowing you a chance to do the things you want, you are perfectly justified in getting him to back up so you can do the things you want to--Magic is not supposed to be a game of reflexes. If you had your chance and wasted it, however, there's no turning back.

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Q: Does untapping an attacking creature make it stop attacking?
A: Not unless the spell or ability that taps or untaps it specifically says so. Once a creature is attacking, tapping or untapping it can't change that.

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Q: So what can make a creature stop attacking?
A: A creature is removed from combat when something specifically says it removes it from combat (Gustcloak Savior), or when it leaves the battlefield (Terminate), changes controllers (Grab the Reins), stops being a creature (very rare), or is [post=12501037]regenerated[/post]. (Note that using something that regenerates a creature simply creates a shield that will perform the actual regeneration later, and doesn't remove the creature from combat right away; see the [post=12501037]Regeneration[/post] FAQ entry.) Nothing else (including tapping or untapping) will remove a creature from combat.

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Q: My opponent attacks with a particular creature--can I then do something before he attacks with his other creatures?
A: No. All attackers are declared at once--there is never a time "between" two creatures attacking during the same combat phase.

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Q: My opponent's creature "attack[s] if able" for some reason, and there is some restriction on how or when that creature can attack. (For example, it's an Ember Beast.) What happens?
A: When the time comes for your opponent to declare attackers, your opponent's creature is forced to attack if it is possible for your opponent, at that very moment, to make it do so somehow. Your opponent is required to declare other attackers in such a way as to make the attack legal.

However, it's very important to note that while the above is true, nothing is forcing your opponent to take unrelated actions that would then, in turn, make it possible for the requirements to be met so that that creature to attack.

To give an example, take the case of the forced-to-attack creature being an Ember Beast. If your opponent controls other creatures that are able to attack when it becomes time to declare attackers, he will be forced to attack with his Ember Beast and one of his other creatures, because Ember Beast must attack if able and it can't do so alone. It's possible at that moment for your opponent to attack with the Beast and another creature, so he must do so. However, imagine your opponent's only creature on the battlefield is the Ember Beast, but he has a Raging Goblin in his hand. Casting the Goblin before combat would later allow his Ember Beast to attack (along with the Goblin), but your opponent is not required to do so, because that's a separate, unrelated action. Sure, it would allow him to fill the requirement later on, but the game isn't looking that far ahead--it only cares about what he can do right as attackers are declared, and can only force him to do things right then and there. He isn't required to do anything before that if he doesn't want to.

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Blocking
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Q: Can a creature be blocked by more than one creature?
A: A creature can be blocked by any number of creatures. It can block only one creature. (Unless specified otherwise.)

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Q: I want to tap a creature to keep it from blocking--when do I have to do that?
A: If you want a creature to be unable to block, you have to tap it before your opponent gets the chance to declare it as a blocker--after that, it's too late.

The last chance to tap a creature to keep it from blocking is during the Declare Attackers step, just before the Declare Blockers step begins. (Note that at that point you technically don't know for sure whether your opponent is going to block with that creature or not...though you may be able to make a fairly accurate guess if you're attacking with a massive creature that will kill him if he doesn't block.)

If your opponent is rushing things and goes ahead without allowing you a chance to do the things you want, you are perfectly justified in getting him to back up so you can do the things you want to--Magic is not supposed to be a game of reflexes. If you had your chance and wasted it, however, there's no turning back.

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Q: Does tapping a blocking creature make it stop blocking? Does it make it not deal combat damage?
A: Not unless the spell or ability that taps or untaps it specifically says so. Once a creature is blocking, tapping it can't change that, and will have no effect on whether or not the blocking creature deals combat damage.

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Q: So what can remove a creature from combat?
A: A creature is removed from combat when something specifically says it removes it from combat (Gustcloak Savior), or when it leaves the battlefield (Terminate), changes controllers (Grab the Reins), stops being a creature (very rare), or is [post=12501037]regenerated[/post]. (Note that using something that regenerates a creature simply creates a shield that will perform the actual regeneration later, and doesn't remove the creature from combat right away; see the [post=12501037]Regeneration[/post] FAQ entry.) Nothing else (including tapping or untapping) will remove a creature from combat.

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Q: If all the creatures blocking a particular creature are somehow removed from combat, does that make the creature unblocked?
A: No. Once a creature becomes blocked, it stays blocked for the rest of combat, no matter what happens to the creatures blocking it.

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Q: My opponent blocks my creature with another creature--can I then give my creature [post=9971819]flying[/post], [post=9971932]fear[/post], unblockability, or some other evasion ability to make it so the creature's no longer blocking?
A: No. Once blockers have been declared, that's it. It doesn't matter whether the creature has some sort of ability that would prevent it from being blocked if you went through declaring blockers again--it's blocked now, and that's all that matters.

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Q: My opponent blocks with a particular creature--can I then do something before he blocks with his other creatures?
A: No. All blockers are declared at once--there is never a time "between" two creatures blocking during the same combat phase.

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Q: My opponent's creature "block[s] if able" for some reason, and there is some restriction on how or when that creature can block. (For example, it's an Ember Beast.) What happens?
A: When the time comes for your opponent to declare blockers, your opponent's creature is forced to block if it is possible for your opponent, at that very moment, to make it do so somehow. Your opponent is required to declare other blockers in such a way as to make the block legal.

However, it's very important to note that while the above is true, nothing is forcing your opponent to take unrelated actions that would then, in turn, make it possible for the requirements to be met so that that creature could block.

To give an example, take the case of the forced-to-block creature being an Ember Beast. If your opponent controls other creatures that are able to block when it becomes time to declare blockers, he will be forced to block with his Ember Beast and one of his other creatures, because Ember Beast must block if able and it can't do so alone. It's possible at that moment for your opponent to block with the Beast and another creature, so he must do so. However, imagine your opponent's only creature on the battlefield is the Ember Beast, but he controls a Mobilization. Activating the Mobilization's ability before he needs to declare blockers would later allow his Ember Beast to block (along with the Soldier token), but your opponent is not required to do so, because that's a separate, unrelated action. Sure, it would allow him to fill the requirement later on, but the game isn't looking that far ahead--it only cares about what he can do right as attackers are declared, and can only force him to do things right then and there. He isn't required to do anything before that if he doesn't want to.

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Combat Damage
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Q: Does untapping an attacking creature or tapping a blocking creature prevent it from dealing combat damage?
A: No.

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Q: If all the creatures blocking a particular creature are somehow removed, will that creature deal damage to the defending player?
A: No. Once a creature becomes blocked, it stays blocked for the rest of combat, no matter what happens to the creatures blocking it, and blocked creatures can't deal combat damage to the defending player. (Unless, of course, they have [post=9971847]Trample[/post] or a similar ability.)

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Q: When is my last chance to boost/shrink creatures to make them deal more/less damage in combat?
A: If you want to change the size of a creature so that it deals more or less damage, you have to do it during the Declare Blockers step, before it deals its combat damage at the beginning of the Combat Damage step. (If [post=9971813]first[/post] or [post=9971954]double strike[/post]rs are involved in combat, you can wait until the first strike combat damage step to pump/shrink non-first-strikers.)

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Q: Can I sacrifice my creature (say, as a cost to cast/activate a spell or ability) and still have it deal combat damage?
A: No. If you sacrifice your creature before the Combat Damage step begins, it won't be around to deal damage. If you wait until the Combat Damage step, it's already been dealt damage and thus will have died from lethal damage.

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Q: Can my creature be dealt more damage than its toughness?
A: Yes. Things that deal damage to creatures don't "pull their punches" based on the toughness of the creature. If your creature is blocked by an 8-power creature, it's going to take 8 damage, no matter what its toughness is.

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Q: My attacking creature is blocked by more than one creature. What happens?
A: Your creature will deal damage equal to its power divided among the creatures blocking it. The exact procedure for doing this is as follows.

Immediately after blockers have been declared, you must decide the order in which each of your creatures will assign damage to the creatures blocking it. Once the combat damage step begins, you will assigns the damage from his or her creatures to the opposing creatures in the stated order. Each creature must be assigned "lethal damage" before any damage can be assigned to the next creature in the line.

For the purposes of assigning damage this way, "lethal damage" is defined as an amount of damage equal to or greater than the blocker's current toughness, minus any damage already on it or other damage being assigned at the same time. (Or any amount of damage from something that has deathtouch.) Any abilities or effects that might prevent or redirect the damage are ignored.

For example: Alice attacks Neil with Alpha Tyrranax; Neil blocks the Tyrranax with Indomitable Ancients and Assault Griffin. Alice must choose the order in which her Tyrranax will assign damage to the two creatures blocking it. Let's walk through each option.

Alice could choose to assign damage to the Ancients first, then the Griffin second. In this case, she must assign at least 10 damage to the Ancients before being able to assign any to the Griffin, but since her Tyrranax only has 6 power, she isn't going to be able to do that, so her Tyrranax will deal 6 to the Ancients and not be able to deal any to the Griffin.

If she chooses to assign damage the other way, to the Griffin first, then the Ancients, she must assign at least 2 to the Griffin before being able to assign any to the Ancients. Her 6-power Tyrranax will be able to do that easily, assigning 2 damage to the Griffin--the rest can be divided as she chooses between the Griffin and Ancients.

The best choice for Alice is probably the second one--assigning damage to the Griffin first allows her to kill one of the blockers at least, whereas assigning damage to the Ancients first would mean she doesn't kill anything.

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Q: My blocking creature is blocking more than one attacking creature. What happens?
A: Much the same as in the above question, the controller of the blocker decides the order in which his or her creatures assign their combat damage to the creatures they're blocking. This ordering is done just after the attacking player chooses the damage assignment ordering for his own creatures. The same rules apply for what is considered 'lethal damage' as above.

For example: Alice attacks Neil with Alpha Tyrranax and Order of the Sacred Bell; Neil blocks both creatures with Avatar of Hope. Neil must choose the order in which her Avatar will assign damage to the two creatures it's blocking.

If Neil assigns damage to the Tyrranax first, he must assign at least 5 to the Tyrranax before being able to assign any to the Order; since the Avatar has only 4 power he won't be able to do that. The Avatar will deal 4 damage to the Tyrannax and none to the Order.

If Neil assigns damage to the Order first, then the Tyrranax, he must assign at least 3 to the Order before being able to assign any to the Tyrranax; this he can do. The 4-power Avatar will be able to assign 3 damage to the Order, and the remaining 1 can be dealt to either the Order or the Tyrranax, whichever Neil prefers.

Again, the second case is probably the better one for Neil, since he kills off one of the attackers.


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Counters
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Q: What is a "counter"?
A: The word "counter" has two meanings in Magic. To "counter" (verb) a spell or ability is to negate it and prevent any of its effects from happening. (This process is outlined above in Countering Spells and Abilities). A "counter" (noun), on the other hand, is a small marker placed on an object in order to either denote permanent changes to that object or as some way of keeping track of something.

("Poison counters" are given to a player instead of placed on a permanent, but it's the same idea.)

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Q: What do +1/+1 counters do? How about -1/-1 counters?
A: A +1/+1 counter (or +2/+2, or -1/-1, or whatever) on a creature modifies that creature's power and toughness. A +1/+1 counter gives, unsurprisingly, +1/+1, and so on.

Note: +1/+1 counters don't do anything on noncreature permanents, but that doesn't mean they can't be there.

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Q: What do named counters do? "Age", "divinity", "training", "ice"... how are you supposed to keep track?
A: Counters with names don't do anything by themselves; they are placed on a permanent and act as markers that allow other abilities to refer to them. [post=9971867]Cumulative Upkeep[/post], for example, uses age counters to keep track of how long a permanent has been on the battlefield.

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Q: Does removing a named counter from a permanent do anything?
A: That depends on how the effect that's actually doing something to the thing with the counter on it works. Effects that put counters on things to change them (or mark them as changed) can work any of several different ways.

First, they can do something to the permanent and then put a counter on that permanent for no other reason than to make it easier for you to remember the effect--in these cases, removing the counter won't stop the effect, and removing whatever added the counter doesn't do anything either. An example of this kind of effect would be Sensei Golden-Tail--note how the same ability that adds the counter says the creature gains Bushido and becomes a Samurai, and it doesn't say anything about the effect ending. Since no duration is specified, the effect from this activated ability is permanent, and won't end no matter what happens to the counter or to Sensei.

Second, they can have an ability that puts a counter on a permanent, and then have a separate ability that does something to permanents with counters on them. Rimescale Dragon works this way--its first ability puts an ice counter on a creature, but it doesn't say that that counter does anything. Instead, the Dragon has a separate ability that affects creatures with ice counters on them. In this case, once the Dragon leaves the battlefield or the ice counter is removed, the permanent starts to untap as normal, because the ability that's actually creating the effect leaves with the Dragon or stops applying once the ice counter is removed.

Third, they can add a counter to the permanent and then specifically say that the effect lasts as long as the counter remains. Quicksilver Fountain works this way--the ability that adds the counter says what happens, and specifically says that the effect only lasts while the counter is there. In this case, removing the Fountain wouldn't stop the effect, but removing the counter would.

If you're not sure which kind of effect you're looking at, don't be afraid to ask here in Rules Q&A.

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Q: Are counters interchangeable?
A: As long as they're of the same type, all counters are equal, no matter where they came from. So yes, you can use That Which Was Taken's divinity counters to use Myojin of Cleansing Fire's ability repeatedly, or whatever.

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Q: Do counters ever "fall off" a permanent?
A: With one sole exception, not unless something removes them or the permanent they're on leaves the battlefield. Counters will never "fall off" of a permanent of their own accord. Even if they're on something other than what they're supposed to or whatever gave them meaning has left the battlefield, the counters still remain, waiting to become relevant again.

The one exception is that +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters will annihilate each other on a one-to-one basis until only one kind remains if both are present on the same permanent.

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Indestructibility
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Q: What does being indestructible mean?
A: A permanent that is indestructible cannot be destroyed. In other words, it is immune to effects that attempt to destroy it. There are only two types of destroy effects: spells and abilities that actually use the word "destroy" and, for creatures, lethal damage (damage equal to or greater than the creature's toughness).

Note: "Bury" doesn't exist anymore and was changed in most cases to "destroy, can't be regenerated". Check the Oracle wording, though, because in some cases it was changed to "sacrifice". "Sacrificing" isn't the same thing as destruction, so indestructible creatures are put into the graveyard as normal when they are sacrificed.

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Q: How can I get rid of an indestructible permanent?
A: Permanent spells that will be indestructible once on the battlefield can be countered like any spell; once they're on the battlefield, you can exile them (Path to Exile), force your opponent to sacrifice them (Diabolic Edict), bounce them (Boomerang), or in the case of a creature, reduce its toughness to 0 using toughness-reducing effects (Infest). Anything that doesn't use the word "destroy" and doesn't deal damage will work just fine on an indestructible permanent. ([post=15809331]Wither[/post] or Infect damage will also work, because they use -1/-1 counters to reduce toughness, but regular damage won't.)

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Q: Can I still target an indestructible permanent with a spell that destroys?
A: Yes; it will simply do nothing. Note, however, that if the spell has two parts and the second part doesn't say it depends on the first part (Deconstruct, for example), the second part will still happen. If you Deconstruct a Darksteel Colossus, the Colossus will stay alive, but you will still add to your mana pool.

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Q: Is being indestructible an ability?
A: No. Being indestructible is a quality, not an ability in and of itself--indestructible is something the permanent is, not something it has. However, and this is where people often get confused, the text "{This card} is indestructible" is an ability, an ability which grants the card the quality of being indestructible. Removing that ability would stop the card from being indestructible, because there would no longer be anything granting it that quality.

So, for example, if you make a Spearbreaker Behemoth lose its abilities with Snakeform, it will no longer be indestructible, because it loses the "this is indestructible" ability that causes it to be indestructible in the first place. However, if your opponent played Spearbreaker Behemoth's ability to make one of his creatures indestructible until the end of the turn, and then you Snakeformed that creature, it would still be indestructible, because the Behemoth's ability is granting a quality, not an ability.

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Q: If an indestructible creature is dealt lethal damage in combat, is it removed from combat?
A: No. An indestructible creature doesn't "regenerate" when dealt lethal damage; it simply ignores it.

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Status (Tapping and Untapping)
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Q: Does untapping an attacking creature make it stop attacking? How about tapping a blocking creature?
A: Not unless the spell or ability that taps or untaps it specifically says so. Once a creature is attacking or blocking, tapping or untapping it can't change that. (And no, tapping a blocking creature doesn't stop it from dealing combat damage.)

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Q: I want to tap a creature to prevent it from attacking me and/or blocking--when do I have to do that?
A: If you want a creature to be unable to attack/block, you have to tap it before your opponent gets the chance to declare it as an attacker/blocker--after that, it's too late.

The last chance to tap a creature to prevent it from attacking is during the Beginning of Combat step, before the Declare Attackers step begins, and the last chance to tap a creature to prevent it from blocking is during the Declare Attackers step, just before the Declare Blockers step begins. Note that at that point you don't know for sure whether your opponent is going to attack or block with that creature or not.

If your opponent is rushing things and goes ahead without allowing you a chance to do the things you want, you are perfectly justified in getting him to back up so you can do the things you want to--Magic is not supposed to be a game of reflexes. If you had your chance and wasted it, however, there's no turning back.

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Q: Can I tap something in order to stop its ability that requires a tap cost?
A: No. Tapping is part of the cost to activate the ability, and you can't respond to a cost being paid--by the time you can respond, the permanent is already tapped and thus trying to tap it again would be useless. And of course, if you try to pre-emptively tap the permanent, they can simply respond to your spell/ability with the very ability you wanted to stop them from activating. The best you can do for most abilities is force your opponent to either "use it or lose it", forcing them to use the ability at a time they might prefer not to or else lose the ability to do it later.

If the ability requires a target that isn't always available (like Crossbow Infantry needing an attacking or blocking creature) or can only be played at certain times (like Ghost-Lit Stalker), you could do your tapping at a time when that ability can't be played, such as before combat for the Infantry or during their upkeep for the Stalker; in such a case they wouldn't be able to use the ability in response. But most activated abilities can be played any time, and thus can't be circumvented this way.

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Q: My opponent casts Twiddle or another card that allows him to tap my lands--does that give me mana?
A: No. An activated ability (such as the ones lands have that give you mana) needs you to deliberately pay its cost for the purpose of using that particular ability before it does anything--tapping a land as an effect of a spell or ability is completely different from tapping the land for mana.

Note that this also applies to other card types--an opponent can never force your permanents' activated abilities to "go off" on their own. (Triggered abilities are a different matter.)

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Q: I attack with a creature, which taps it. I later untap it somehow. Can I attack with it again?
A: No. You get only one combat phase per turn (and thus only one chance to attack per turn) and that's it, unless a card specifically says otherwise. Untapping creatures won't allow you to attack with them again.

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Q: Do cards (of any kind) "turn off" when they're tapped?
A: Read the current Oracle text of the card. (You can find the Oracle text by looking up the card in Gatherer.) If the card doesn't say that it turns off, it doesn't.

Artifacts used to turn off when they were tapped, but that rule was dropped more than ten years ago; some artifacts (like Howling Mine) were given errata to keep the same functionality, but the vast majority weren't.

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The Layer System
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Q: What is the layer system and how does it work?
A: In Magic, many different effects can try to somehow alter or modify objects in any number of ways. When two or more effects try to modify the same object, the order the two are applied in often becomes important. Determining how all these different kinds of effects should logically interact is a complex and difficult job, which is why the layer system was created in an attempt to unify and simplify it. The layer system is Magic's method of determining just how multiple different effects should interact, by telling you the order in which you should apply them.

For an example of an interaction that could be changed by the order in which effects are applied, look at Darkest Hour and Bad Moon. If the Hour was applied before the Moon, every creature on the battlefield would get +1/+1. But if the Moon was applied before the Hour, only creatures that were black before the Hour did its thing would get the bonus. The layer system clears this up by giving us a consistent answer: the former is the way it actually works out, every time.

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Q: So what are the layers and how do I apply them?
A: The layers are as follows:

Magic's layer system is similar to the layers of an onion. Each different kind of modifying effect is applied in a specific layer. You start with the actual cards, then apply the effects in the first layer, then those in the second, then the third, and so on until all relevant effects have been applied.

Note that this is all seen as a single continuous process. Even though we act as though we apply the layers one by one, there is never a time in which a particular effect has not been applied. (To use the onion analogy again, the size of the onion can be determined by starting with the size of the core of it, then adding to that the thickness of each layer in turn. The layers were always in place--we didn't take the onion apart and then reconstruct it. We just determined exactly how each of the layers affected the onion's size.)

For example, I control a Glorious Anthem, and have played Confiscate on one of my opponent's creatures. The Confiscated creature gets +1/+1, because control-changing effects are applied before P/T- changing effects, so by the time it's time to apply the Anthem, I control the creature and thus the Anthem applies to it.

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Q: What if one effect wants to do things in more than one layer? (eg. March of the Machines wants to change artifacts into artifact creatures, and also wants to set the power and toughness of those artifact creatures.)
A: If an effect wants to apply in multiple different layers, you apply each part of the effect in the appropriate layer. Note that once an effect has started to apply to a certain set of things in one layer, it will continue to apply to the same set of things in any other applicable layers, even if the ability that generated the effect is removed.

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Q: What if two effects are supposed to be applied in the same layer?
A: If two effects are applied in the same layer, there are three factors to consider:
  • Is one of the effects a "characteristic-defining" effect?
  • What is the "timestamp" of the effects, relative to each other?
  • Is one of the effects "dependent" on another?

Characteristic-defining effects are effects from inherent abilities of a card that define some characteristic of that card as being a specific value. A card's characteristics are its name, mana cost, color, type, subtype, supertype, expansion symbol (yes, expansion symbol; don't ask), rules text, abilities, power, and toughness. Something that affects the characteristics of something other than what it's on, or affects characteristics only under specific circumstances, is not characteristic-defining. Examples of characteristic -defining abilities can be found on Ancestral Vision, Maro, and Mistform Ultimus.

An effect's "timestamp" is essentially the time that it started to become relevant. For effects created by the resolution of spells or abilities (such as Giant Growth's +3/+3 effect), that's when the spell or ability that created it resolved. For Auras, Equipment, and other cards that become attached to other things, that's whenever they became attached to whatever they're currently attached to. For most other things, it's the time the object it's on entered the game zone that it's currently in. If two objects enter a zone at the same time, the player whose turn it is decides their timestamp order relative to each other.

An effect is said to be "dependent" on another if applying that other would change either the existence of the first effect, what it would apply to, or how it would affect the things it applies to. (Note that an effect can only be dependent on effects within the same layer as itself.)

So, with that under our belt, we (finally) answer the question. First, you apply characteristic-defining effects. Then you apply other effects in timestamp order, unless some of the effects depend on each other. If so, you apply the "independent" effects first (the ones that don't depend on anything), then the dependent ones.

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Q: What if there's a chain of effects that are dependent on each other? (Effect C depends on effect B which depends on effect A) What if that chain forms a loop? (Effect A also depends on effect C)
A: If there is a linear (straight line) chain of dependencies, you apply them in order--first the independent, then the one that depends only on that, then the one that depends only on that, and so on.

A "loop" of effects that are all interdependent is called a "dependency loop". If such a loop is created, you ignore dependency and just apply the effects in strict timestamp order.

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Q: So...can I get an example of how this works?
A: Sure! I'll give you two examples; the first is fairly easy, while the second is harder.

First example:

I control a Crovax, Ascendant Hero, a Wind Drake, and a Celestial Dawn, which I played the turn after you played your Darkest Hour. You also control a Glory Seeker equipped with a Bonesplitter. What is every creature's power and toughness?

All right, we start in layer 5, which is the first layer in which all these things start to become relevant, as that's the layer in which color-changing effects are applied. Working in timestamp order, first, Darkest Hour makes every creature black. Then, Celestial Dawn makes all my creatures white. So my creatures are all white, and yours are all black.

Next comes layer 7c, where Crovax and Bonesplitter are both applied. Crovax gives all of my other creatures +1/+1 (they're all white, remember), and gives all of your creatures -1/-1 (they're all just plain black). Bonesplitter gives your Seeker +2/+0. So Crovax is 4/4, Wind Drake is 3/3, and the Seeker is 3/1. (While you technically apply the effects in timestamp order, it doesn't really matter in this particular case.)



Sound simple enough? All right, let's try a really complex situation and see how things work out.

I control a Humility, which I played before anything else, two Opalescences, a March of the Machines, a Night of Souls' Betrayal, a Mycosynth Lattice, a Copy Enchantment (copying a Swirl the Mists; I chose "green"), and a Conspiracy set to "Goblins" that I stole from you with Word of Seizing. You control a Dralnu's Crusade (which you just played) and a Shared Triumph set to "Zombies". What the heck happens?

All right, Layer 1 first: copy effects. The only one here is the Copy Enchantment; it becomes a Swirl the Mists.

Layer 2: Control-changing effects. I control your Conspiracy.

Layer 3: Text-changing effects. Our Copy Enchantment disguised as a Swirl the Mists makes Dralnu's Crusade say "green". (The "colorless" on Mycosynth Lattice is not a color word, and is therefore not affected.)

Layer 4: Type-, supertype-, and subtype- changing effects. This is where things get interesting. Mycosynth Lattice turns everything into an artifact, then March of the Machines turns everything into an artifact creature. Conspiracy turns all of my creatures (I control it now) into Goblins, and Dralnu's Crusade turns them into Goblin Zombies. (It's a dependency chain; applying each affects the applicability of the others, so you follow the chain.) Opalescence also turns all the non-Aura enchantments into creatures (they already are, but whatever; we don't care).

Layer 5: Color-changing effects. Mycosynth Lattice's color-changing ability and Dralnu's Crusade's color-changing effect both apply--since the Lattice was on the battlefield first, you apply it first, turning everything colorless, and then the Crusade, turning my Goblin-Zombie-y creatures green.

Layer 6: Abilities. Humility kicks in and removes everything's abilities. (They're all creatures at this point.) Note that even though it removes its own ability in the process, this doesn't matter--it's started to apply, and will continue to do so. The same goes for the Opalescences and March of the Machines--they started to apply back in layer 4, and will continue to be applied even though Humility's removed their abilities.

Layer 7: P/T-changing effects. Humility, both Opalescences, and March of the Machines want to apply here. (Night of Souls' Betrayal, Dralnu's Crusade, and Shared Triumph would love to join in the party, but can't, because their P/T-changing abilities were removed by Humility before they had a chance to start applying.) All three effects want to change P/T to a specific value, so they apply in 7b. Humility goes first (because it's older), then the others. Everything ends up with P/T equal to its converted mana cost.

Whew!

So in the end, all of my permanents are green Goblin Zombie artifact creatures with power and toughness equal to their converted mana cost. Your Triumph and Crusade are both colorless artifact creatures with no creature type, and also have p/t equal to their converted mana cost.



Make sense?


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Tokens
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Q: What is a token?
A: A token is a marker that is used to represent a permanent that isn't represented by its own card. The effect that's creating the token will define a number of characteristics for the token, and you put a marker of some kind onto the battlefield that you pretend is a permanent with those characteristics. For example, The Hive creates 1/1 Insect artifact creature tokens with flying named Wasp; each token is represented by a marker and in game terms looks like this:
Wasp
Artifact Creature - Insect
Flying
1/1

They are treated exactly the same way you would treat a card that has those same characteristics, except that they are "tokens", not "cards", (an important distinction for some cards, like Wirewood Hivemaster) and if they leave the battlefield for any reason, they cease to exist immediately after. (Once gone, a token can never return to the battlefield.)

A token can be represented by anything you like--a coin, a die, a glass bead, a piece of lint, whatever. While Wizards does make "official" token cards, which they include in booster packs, for players to use to represent tokens, these token cards are for looks only; they're strictly optional.

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Q: Do tokens have names?
A: Yes. A creature token's name is usually the same as its creature type(s); however, if the token is a copy of something, its name is the same as whatever it's a copy of, and if the effect that created it specified a name for it, that is its name.

Example: A "1/1 red Goblin Scout creature token" (Goblin Scouts) is named "Goblin Scout", but a "legendary 2/2 green and white Wolf creature token named Voja" (Tolsimir Wolfblood) is named "Voja".

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Q: What is the converted mana cost of a token?
A: It is 0, unless the token is a copy of some other card, in which case it has the converted mana cost of that card.

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Q: Does putting a creature token onto the battlefield count as casting a creature spell?
A: No. The act of "casting a spell" has a special meaning in magic, involving taking a card (usually from your hand), putting it onto the stack, choosing required targets, modes, and making other required decisions, and paying the required costs to do so. Putting a token onto the battlefield doesn't involve any of that--you aren't casting anything, much less a creature spell, when you put a token onto the battlefield.

Thus, putting a creature token onto the battlefield won't trigger abilities like Equilibrium's, which trigger on casting a creature spell. They will, however, trigger abilities like Pandemonium's, which trigger on a creature entering the battlefield and don't care how it got there.

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Q: What happens when a token leaves the battlefield?
A: After a token has left the battlefield, it ceases to exist almost immediately, as a state-based action; once a token has left the battlefield, it can never come back.

(Note that it still gets to wherever it was going--it just vanishes after getting there.)

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Q: So, do they still trigger things like Grave Pact or Warped Devotion?
A: Yes, they do--the token leaves the battlefield (and triggers the ability) and then ceases to exist--it hangs around just long enough to trigger leaves-battlefield triggers before it disappears.

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Multiplayer
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Q: Can I attack more than one opponent at once?
A: If your playgroup decides to allow it, yes, you can attack as many different players as you wish at the same time. If not, no--you can only attack one. While some specific variants may work one way or the other, for general multiplayer play, either is a legal choice, and individual playgroups differ on which they allow. (Generally, allowing players to attack multiple opponents is the more common choice.)

Do note that this should be decided before the game begins. If you try to leave it until after, things can get a bit awkward.

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Q: How do mulligans work in multiplayer?
A: In multiplayer play, each player gets one 'free' mulligan, in which their hand size isn't reduced. Other than that, unless a variant specifies otherwise, mulligans proceed as in a normal two-player game.

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Q: Does the player who goes first draw a card on his or her first turn?
A: Yes. The first player only skips his or her first draw step in two-player play. In multiplayer, the first draw step isn't skipped.

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Q: How does sharing turns work?
A: In some variants, teammates share the same turn, which means that it's both their turns at the same time. They both untap their permanents during the untap step, they both draw a card as the draw step begins, they can both cast sorceries during their main phase, they both can attack during combat, and so on.

If something would cause a player to skip a turn or part of a turn, or gain additional turns or parts of turns, then the players they're sharing their turn with are also affected--it's all the same turn. Same goes for effects like Mindslaver and Sorin Markov's ultimate.

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Q: What happens when a player loses the game?
A: When a player loses the game, they leave the game, and everything they own goes with them. Then, any effects that are giving them control of things other people own end. After that, if there's anything left that they still control, it gets exiled. The game then continues as normal without them or anything controlled by them. (If something they would control would somehow do something, it doesn't instead.)

'Effects that are giving them control of things' means things like Dominate, Act of Treason, Mind Control, and so on. Something that takes something already on the stack or battlefield and changes who its controller is. Things like Bribery, Rise from the Grave, or Gather Specimens that put something directly onto the battlefield under a specific player's control right from the beginning are not the same thing; they have no previous controller to go back to, so things the losing player grabbed using cards like those get exiled.

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Q: What is range of influence and how does it work?
A: Some variant formats use what's known as the limited range of influence option, which restricts how players can interact with each other. When players have a limited range of influence each player has a specific number of players to their right and left who are 'in range', and all others are out of their range. A player can't target someone or something that's out of their range, their spells and abilities don't have any effect on things outside of their range, and so on. (Also, if an effect in a limited range of influence game would have a player win the game, instead, everyone else within that player's range of influence loses the game.)

The actual rules for range of influence get a bit more involved than that, since they have to cover all the little corner cases, but that's the basic idea.

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Archenemy
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Q: What is Archenemy and how is it played?
A: Archenemy is a casual variant that allows multiple players to fight cooperatively against one powerful opponent, the Archenemy. Normally, such a team-up would be strongly in the favor of the opposing players (the 'heroes'), but the archenemy has a suite of advantages to swing things back in their favor. The archenemy starts with 40 life, while each of the opposing players (the 'heroes') starts with the normal 20. The heroes share a common turn (see the question on sharing turns in the General section above), but the archenemy always goes first and gets to draw on his or her first turn. The heroes win by defeating the archenemy; the archenemy wins by defeating all of the heroes.

But the biggest advantage for the archenemy is their Schemes. The archenemy plays with an additional deck of oversized Scheme cards, set aside from the rest of the cards in the game. These schemes contain powerful effects that swing the game in the favor of the archenemy. As each of his or her precombat main phases begin, the archenemy sets a scheme in motion by flipping over the top card of his or her Scheme deck, and following its instructions. These schemes may grant benefits to the archenemy, such as letting him draw extra cards or making his spells easier to cast, or they may hinder the heroes, such as by destroying their permanents or forcing them to discard cards.

Note that Archenemy is balanced best for one-on-three play; while you can play with any number of players, the archenemy has a big advantage against only two players, and is at a big disadvantage against four or more players. You may wish to modify the rules somewhat in such cases so that games are more evenly balanced and won't be so heavily in favor of one of the two sides.

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Q: How does setting schemes in motion work?
A: The Archenemy sets a scheme in motion as he or she begins his or her precombat main phase. ('Precombat main phase' is just a fancy way of saying 'the first main phase of the turn'.) This turn-based action can't be responded to--you can't do anything in the main phase before a scheme is set in motion. However, the actual instructions of the scheme are a normal triggered ability (you can tell because they say 'when') and can be responded to.

So, for example, the Archenemy starts his or her main phase. Before anyone can do anything else, the Archenemy sets the top scheme of his or her scheme deck in motion--let's say it's Tooth, Claw, and Tail. This triggers its ability, and that ability is put onto the stack and targets are chosen, just as for any other triggered ability. Players then have the opportunity to respond to the trigger, before anything is actually destroyed, just as they do with regular triggered abilities.

Once the triggered ability has resolved or otherwise been dealt with, the scheme is 'abandoned', put face-down on the bottom of the archenemy's scheme deck.

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Q: What are ongoing schemes and how do they work?
A: An ongoing scheme is a special type of scheme that doesn't just do one thing and then disappear--instead it hangs around to have a continuous effect on the game until something--the card will say what--forces the Archenemy to abandon it.

Note that having an ongoing scheme in motion doesn't prevent the archenemy from setting additional schemes in motion on future turns. Eventually, the archenemy could end up with five or ten ongoing schemes all at once, with new schemes each turn!

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Commander (aka EDH, Elder Dragon Highlander)
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Q: What is Commander and how is it played?
A: Commander is a casual multiplayer variant that uses special decks and rules to allow players the feel of fielding an army under the command of a specific hero. (Or villain, as the case may be.) Each player's deck must consist of exactly 100 cards, including one legendary creature designated as the deck's commander. Each deck can contain only one of any given card, and most importantly, the choice of commander defines the deck's 'color identity', which determines which cards can be included in the deck. A card's color identity is the color of all of the mana symbols that appear in its mana cost and rules text--a card can't be in your deck if one of the colors in its color identity isn't also in the color identity of the commander.

Players start with 40 life. As the game begins, each player announces the identity of his or her commander, and the commanders are set aside in the 'command zone' (basically, just put them out of the way for now). Players then proceed to play as normal, with the following caveats:
  • Any player may cast his or her commander from the command zone in the same manner in which they could be cast from the player's hand.
  • If a commander would be put into a graveyard or get exiled from anywhere, its owner may choose to put it in the command zone instead.
  • A commander being cast from the command zone costs an additional for each time that player has previously cast that commander in this manner.
  • A player who has been dealt 21 or more combat damage by the same commander over the course of the game loses the game.
  • If a player would add mana to his or her mana pool of any color that's not in the color identity of his or her commander, that player adds that much colorless mana to his or her mana pool instead.

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Q: Can I put multicolor hybrid or split cards into my deck if they only half-match my comander? eg, Could I put Dovescape into an Azami, Lady of Scrolls deck? Or Fire // Ice into a Kamahl, Pit Fighter deck?
A: No. The restriction is that the mana symbols on the cards in your deck cannot be of any colors that don't appear in your commander's mana cost or rules text. It doesn't matter that you'd be able to use the card with just the colors of mana you are allowed to use. Dovescape's mana symbols, from the example, are both white and blue, and Azami, Lady of Scrolls doesn't have any white mana symbols on her.

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Q: Are commanders subject to the legend rule?
A: Yes. If two or more legendary permanents with the same name are on the battlefield, all of them get put into the graveyard before anyone can do anything. Nothing about being a commander will prevent this. (Though the commander could end up being put into the command zone instead of the graveyard.)

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Q: If a commander is being put into my hand or library, can I put it into the command zone instead?
A: No. The replacement that allows you to put the commander into the command zone only kicks in if the commander was going to the graveyard or being exiled. If it was going anywhere else, it'll go there just fine, like any other card.

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Q: If I'm casting my commander from somewhere other than the command zone, do I have to pay the extra mana?
A: No. The additional cost of casting your commander only applies when you're casting it from the command zone. Casting it from your hand or somewhere else won't force you to pay the additional mana--you'll only have to pay its normal mana cost.

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Q: If I put my commander into the command zone instead of the graveyard, will things that look for it going to the graveyard still trigger?
A: No. Your commander is being put into the command zone instead of the graveyard--it never actually hits the graveyard.

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Q: How does 'commander-ness' work? eg, if I make a copy of a commander somehow, is that copy also a commander? Does removing a commander's abilities or types make it stop being a commander?
A: Being a commander is an inherent property of that specific card that cannot be copied or removed. Nothing will ever cause something to make a commander not a commander any more, and there's no way to make something that's not a commander into one, nor to create a new commander.

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