Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Keywords to Remember

Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Keywords to Remember

September 27, 2018 Off By Tifa

This is an ongoing series of Magic articles aimed at welcoming people into Magic: The Gathering! If you are an experienced Magic player, I hope you can use this article series to help your friends become Planeswalkers. If you are new to Magic, let me show you some things that will help you break into the game.

Last week we discussed the different types of abilities on Magic cards. This week, I’ll be walking you through some of the most common static abilities (abilities that are always in effect).

Below is a list of the most common evergreen keywords. Keyword is the fancy term for abilities that don’t always have reminder text on the cards to tell you what the ability does. This is not a complete list, but it’s a great place to start understanding the deeper mechanics of the game.

Evergreen Keywords to Remember:

Flying: When I think about the ability Flying, I picture the battlefield and all the creatures battling on it. In general, creatures are fighting on the ground to get through to your opponent, marching forward against your opponent’s creatures that are ready to block. Creatures with Flying are up in the air, on a whole different playing field. Flying creatures can fly right over the head of your opponent’s ground troops and can attack your opponent directly. Flying creatures can block other Flying creatures though because they are fighting on the same level.

Reach: Creatures with Reach can reach into the air and grab Flying creatures, even though they don’t have Flying themselves.

Haste: Creatures with Haste do not suffer from summoning sickness – meaning that they can immediately attack on the first turn they are played.
Flash: Flash means that a card can be played anytime an instant can be played. For example, you can cast a creature with Flash on your opponent’s turn before declaring blockers.

Vigilance: Creatures with Vigilance do not tap when attacking. Be sure to be very clear that you are attacking with a creature with Vigilance since generally tapping a creature during combat is the sign that they are attacking.

Trample: Reminder – All damage is blocked when a creature blocks an attacking creature, regardless of the size of the battling creatures. Trample is an awesome ability that allows a creature’s unabsorbed damage to trickle over to the player being attacked. This means if you attack with a 6/6 creature with Trample and your opponent blocks with a 1/1 and a 2/2, 3 of the 6 damage are absorbed by the creatures and the leftover 3 damage hits your opponent directly.

Lifelink: Whenever a creature with Lifelink deals damage, the controller of the creature gains that much life. This means if you have a 2/2 creature with Lifelink and you attack, as long as the damage is dealt to a creature or player you gain 2 life. Your life total can go above 20, but it’s important to note that there is no win condition based on having the most life.

Deathtouch: Just as it sounds, if a creature is dealt damage from a creature that has Deathtouch, they die regardless of the amount of damage dealt. Deathtouch does NOT kill players, only creatures.

First Strike: Normally, all damage in combat happens at exactly the same moment. However, First Strike adds a stage in the damage phase of combat and creatures with First Strike resolve their damage first. Normally, if a 2/2 faced against another 2/2, both creatures would die simultaneously. If one of the creatures has First Strike, it would deal damage first and the other would die before dealing any damage back.

Double Strike: Adds an additional component where the creature with Double Strike deals damage during both phases. A 2/2 with Double Strike would deal 4 total damage, 2 during First Strike and 2 during regular combat damage.

Defender: Creatures with Defender cannot attack. They are generally really good for blocking or they have other useful abilities.

I hope these new found abilities help you plunge deeper into the multiverse!