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Magic The Gathering: Terminology Explained

There are a lot of different terms in Magic The Gathering that are really difficult to remember, but we've got the full list for you.
Magic The Gathering: Terminology Explained

Magic The Gathering has a lot of different terms that mean different things, yet you need to know all of them if you really want to get good at the game. You need to have at the very least a basic understanding of what every keyword and term means to just play a game, and if you want to play at a professional level then you need to understand them deeply. Luckily, we've got a full list of important Magic The Gathering terms you need to know.

Magic The Gathering Keywords Explained


This allows a creature to prevent a certain amount of damage.


A deck type focused almost entirely on dwindling your opponent's life points to zero. 


Afflict is a condition that deals damage to an opponent even if they block you, similar to Trample in nature. 


Aura is a card that you choose the target of, normally in the form of an enchantment. It stays there until either it is destroyed or the permanent that it is attached to leaves the battlefield. In the eventuality that the permanent leaves the battlefield, the Aura card enters the graveyard.


Combo decks are decks that are centered around getting to certain pieces of your deck to create an unwinnable scenario for your opponent. Usually, these decks are all about drawing cards above all else.


Control Decks are all about countering your opponent's strategies and figuring out the best possible way to stop them from getting what they want, because that almost never aligns with what you want.


Countering a spell removes it from the stack without having to apply the effects. This can prevent your opponent from achieving card advantage or from dealing damage to you and finishing you off. 


Deathtouch refers to an ability that a card has to destroy any creature it touches. If a creature is dealt any amount of damage by a creature that has the Deathtouch keyword then it is immediately destroyed.


A Defender card is a creature that cannot attack and is only used to block attacks from your opponent.

Double Strike

A creature type that deals combat damage twice. 


Enchant defines what type of card it can be used on. This will change how you play certain cards and your overall strategy. 


You can attach a card with this keyword to another card.


Exiling a card involves an effect that removes the game entirely from play, meaning that cards that would usually recover cards from the graveyard can't do that. 

First Strike

First Strike is a keyword found on cards that deal combat damage before any other creature without the keyword. 


Flash is a keyword that means a card can be played at any time that you could normally play an instant spell. 


A flying creature can only be blocked by creatures with flying or reach, which means they're great at attacking your opponent directly.


A creature that has haste can attack the turn it is summoned, and can also activate any abilities that would require it to be tapped straight away.


Hexproof makes a card unable to be the target of any spells or abilities controlled by your opponent. This does not prevent you from targeting your own cards, however.


These cards can't be destroyed, so only cards that don't specifically destroy a card and instead Exile or send to the graveyard can get rid of these cards.


Lifelink is an ability that basically steals life from your opponent. If a creature with lifelink deals damage to your opponent, then you gain life equal to that damage.


A midrange is a form of the deck that does everything. It can take your opponent down to zero life, it can deck them out, it can counter them, it's the best of all worlds, but the master of none. A lot of decks in Magic The Gathering fall into this category.


Milling cards refers to the act of sending cards directly from your deck to the graveyard. Usually, this happens through either the cost of one of your effects or through an opponent's effect.


Planeswalker cards are special types of creature cards that can't attack or be attacked, but that have multiple different effects that can activate based on the amount of loyalty tokens that are placed on it


Prowess is an ability that causes a creature to gain +1/+1 whenever a non-creature spell is cast until the end of the turn.


A creature that has Reach can block a flying creature.


Saga is a special type of enchantment that has multiple effects when it enters the field based on how many Lore Counters it has. A new Lore Counter is added when the card hits the field and then added during each draw phase. 


Scrying is the act of looking at a certain amount of cards from the top of your deck before being able to place those cards on either the top or the bottom of your deck. This allows players to set up future draws and move cards that they'd much rather not see yet from the future of their games. 


Trample is a keyword that allows a creature to deal combat damage to a player even if the creature is blocked. Basically, any excess damage that would usually just go to waste is applied directly to your opponent, so if you have a five versus four then your opponent will take one point of damage. 


Vigilance allows a creature to attack without tapping. What this means is that it can still attack on the next turn, or it can activate an ability after attacking.