Magic: The Gathering Wiki
Magic: The Gathering Wiki

Magic: The Gathering players have invented many neologisms (new terms) over the years the game has existed, covering a wide variety of aspects of the game, from deckbuilding to card mechanics. These Magic: The Gathering Terms are listed here.


The terms listed below are informal, player-created slang or jargon used to describe aspects of the game, and are not part of the official game rules.


The opposite of a threat. An answer is a card used to negate one or more threats. For example, Doom Blade is an answer to a generic creature, such as Tarmogoyf, and Pyroclasm is an answer to a several small creatures. A deck built mainly around answers is a control deck (see Control, below). Some answer cards are placed in the sideboard and are very specific (sometimes inflexible) on what kind of threat they are designed to answer. For example, Combust is a typical sideboard answer to Baneslayer Angel.

Acceleration, Accel

Mana acceleration - those elements in a deck which allow the player to access mana at a faster rate than the usual one land per turn limit would permit. The most famous acceleration cards are the Moxes and Black Lotus, outlandishly powerful artifacts which have been on the restricted list for almost the game's entire history. The amount of acceleration available in a block is an important factor in setting the tone for Limited, Block Constructed and even Standard play involving that block. Without acceleration, combodecks wouldn't be as deadly as they are.

Also known as "Ramp".

Alpha Strike

An alpha strike is an attack with all creatures available for combat that aims to deal a lethal amount of damage to the opponent. Since this action leaves the attacker defenseless, it is generally used when the attacking player is positive that his attack will result in victory, or as a last resort. The term comes from the tabletop wargame BattleTech, where it describes the firing all of the player's forward-mounted weapons simultaneously.


While it is not a common one, Archery is the short form for the creature ability "Mana: This card deals 1 damage to target attacking or blocking creature." For example, "Are you sure you want to attack with that 3/1 shadow creature? Remember, this guy has archery."


Grizzly Bears is one of the better known examples because it was the first, not because it was the only. vanilla "bears" such as Cylian Elf continue to be released

A bear is a 2/2 vanilla creature for 2 mana, in regards to the iconic Grizzly Bears. While it technically refers to a vanilla creature—one without any special abilities—many use the term to refer to any 2/2 creature for 2 mana.

Bend It

To change the target of a spell or ability. Named for the card Willbender, which does just that, and for David Beckham, who is said to have the ability to "Bend" his soccer kicks. e.g. "Demonfire on me for 8? I bend it onto your Hunted Dragon".

Big Butt

A creature whose printed toughness is much higher than its power. Big Butt differs from Big Pants (see below) in that one is the card's printed power/toughness and one gives it as an effect.

Big Pants

Creature enchantments that increase the enchanted creature's toughness, while leaving its power alone or increasing it by a lesser amount. First applied to the card Hero's Resolve (aka Heroic Pants or just The Pants), which gives the creature it enchants +1 power but +5 toughness.

Black Summer

Black Summer was the summer of 1996, when a popular black deck featuring the card Necropotence dominated the tournament scene following the banning of Black Vise. This 'Necro Deck' defined the format as a battle between Necropotence decks and decks specifically aimed at defeating them.

Blow up

To destroy or sacrifice a creature. A shock "blows up" a Goblin Guide.


The collection of permanents currently on the table. Each player has their own 'board' and the word also describes the collective 'board.' e.g. "There's a lot of creatures on the board."

See Also: Board Wipe

Board Wipe (a.k.a. Board Sweeper)

A spell which destroys/removes/neutralizes multiple permanents - most commonly, all creatures currently in play. Famous examples include Wrath of God, Akroma's Vengeance, and Plague Wind.


Generally used in conjunction with Limited play, a bomb is a card that always makes a large impact on a game in which it is played. Such cards are usually hard to defend against in a limited-card-pool setting. Sometimes, bombs are broken, but not always; in fact, some cards which are bombs in Limited formats are almost useless in normal Constructed formats.


A combo which might seem like it should work at first glance, but upon further rules clarification is actually discovered to be invalid.

Alternately, a combo which is so far-fetched and difficult to complete that it could not realistically be considered a combo by competitive standards. These bombos are often created intentionally for experimental purposes and/or humour value, and often seek to make use of cards otherwise thought to be underpowered or useless, such as Mudhole (create) or Chimney Imp.


An effect that returns cards from the play area to the player's hand. Bounce effects are generally blue. An example would be Boomerang.


An adjective used in reference to a card, or combination of cards, generally regarded as overpowered. To break a card is to find some game situation or card combination in which a normal card becomes broken. Broken can also refer to what happens to tournament formats upon discovering a radically new dominating deck. This is called breaking the format or the deck that broke the format.

For example: Michelle Bush's infamous "Trix" deck took the seemingly harmless cards 'Donate' and 'Illusions of Grandeur,' and created a combo which is considered one of the most powerful (broken) ever to emerge in the game. Consequently, just when Trix was dominating tournaments and unanimously hailed as the best deck in the format, Alan Comer's "Miracle Gro" broke the metagame by crushing the seemingly unstoppable Trix deck.


Direct damage not dealt through combat, but rather by spells such Lightning Bolt or abilities like that of Prodigal Sorcerer. Most cards of this nature are red, and much of their flavor involves fire or heat in some way, hence the term 'burn'.

Burn can also be shorthand for "mana burn", which refers to damage taken from unused mana, though as of Core Set 2010, mana burn no longer exists.

Burn Out

To concede a game by deliberately killing oneself through mana burn. Also used to refer to "burning out one's opponent": finishing the game via direct damage spells rather than combat damage.


A spell that draws a card when it is cast (or used) in addition to providing other effects; such cards are said to replace themselves. Cantrips are included in decks for varying reasons. A cantrip can effectively thin a deck, so more useful cards can be drawn faster, while at the same time not losing card advantage. It can also inexpensively increase the number of spells played in a turn, which is a key factor in some decks.

Cantrips were introduced in the Ice Age set, where the effect read "draw a card at the beginning of next turn's upkeep." Starting with the set Weatherlight, this was replaced by the simpler and slightly more useful "draw a card." The Ice Age Cantrips are also known as Slowtrips, and made a brief return in the 2006 set Coldsnap.

Card Advantage

Card advantage may refer to drawing more cards than an opponent, or to the assessment of how efficiently a player is using his responses in relation to an opponent's threats. For example, if a player uses two or more cards to neutralize a single threat, then he lost card advantage; conversely, if a player uses a single card to neutralize two or more threats, then he gained card advantage. In many games, especially between control decks or in the Sealed Deck format, card advantage can be the key to victory.


Cheese is used to refer to any tactic which completely avoids what seems (or seemed) like the meat of the game in order to win or bring oneself closer to winning. Tactics which are easily repeatable and which the opponent has no answer for often show up in limited play, and you will find this used frequently in such situations. ("I pay 11 mana and use my Tolarian Sentinel/Brine Elemental cheese again to prevent you untapping next turn.")

In constructed, it is nearly synonymous with Burn, but with an added emphasis on damaging the opponent rather than creatures; so called because doing so is perceived by some as a cheesy way to win. Occasionally a verb ("I cheese you for 6" would mean "I deal 6 damage to you using a card such as Fireball").

Chump Block, Chump-Blocker

To chump block is to block an attacking creature in such a way that the blocking creature will neither survive the experience nor take the attacking creature with it. A creature (often a token generated by some reusable ability or a creature whose main purpose is its "comes-into-play" or "unmorph" ability) with few uses other than in making such a play is occasionally disparagingly referred to as a chump-blocker. When a good, or even middling, player chump blocks, it is usually either a desperation play or a sign that the creature is more useful dead.


A 'Clock' or 'X Turn Clock' is a threat that will lead to victory over an opponent in a finite number of turns, thus giving the opponent a known time limit in which to either win or answer the threat. For example, if a player is at 20 life and an unblockable creature with a power of 4 is played by their opponent, that player is said to be on a 5-turn clock. Darksteel Reactor is another example of a "clock" card.

One consequence of this terminology has been a general disregard for small creatures. A 1/1 is a clock that kills after 20 turns, so it is essentially useless for 20 turns. This view is very wrong. Clocks can be added together into being very efficient. For example: Turn 1: play a land, cast a 1/x. (opponent has 20 life) Turn 2: Play a land, cast a 2/x. Attack. (opponent has 19 life) Turn 3: play a land, cast a 3/x. Attack. (opponent has 16 life) Turn 4: play a land, cast a 4/x. Attack. (opponent has 10 life) Turn 5: Attack. (opponent is dead)

With 4 different types of clocks an opponent may be defeated at 5 turns...

Two clocks cast at the same turn will also work as a faster clock.

The whole concept behind combining clocks to "spin the opponents time of death forward has been named "sligh" after a player that played with a deck using "manacurves" to perfect how clocks work together.

Magic has some "superclocks" like 2/1 creatures for 1 mana, or enchantments that indirectly works as clocks with "haste" as long as their user has a single creature. Using a lot of enchantments on a single creature is called "giantbuilding"


Converted Mana Cost.

Combo Winter

The period beginning in the winter of 1998-1999, after the release of Urza's Saga. Powerful combo decks, some of them capable of winning before the opponent had taken a turn, dominated most tournament formats. This moved the DCI to ban a large number of cards in December 1998 and again in March 1999, when for the first and only time to date a Magic card was added to the banned list before it was released (namely Memory Jar).[1]

The metagame after the release of Mirrodin block is now sometimes referred to as the second Combo Winter. The popular Affinity archetype succeeded in overpowering most decks in Standard, due in significant part to the cards Skullclamp, Disciple of the Vault and Arcbound Ravager, all of which were eventually banned in multiple tournament formats along with the six Artifact Lands that helped fuel these decks.


Characteristic-setting ability. A special type of ability sometimes necessary to define characteristics such as base power/toughness, color, and creature type. For example, Lhurgoyf has base power equal to the number of creatures in all graveyards and has base toughness equal to the number of creatures in all graveyards plus one. Since this is unrepresentable in the small "[power]/[toughness]" box, a CSA is used. Other cards with CSAs include Mistform Ultimus ("~ is every creature type") and Evermind ("~ is blue").


The power level of a card can be judged by players as being 'above', 'on' or 'below the curve'. For example, the power and toughness of most 3 casting cost creatures is 2/2. A 2/2 creature with a casting cost of 3 is considered on the curve, while a 3/3 of the same cost would be above the curve and a 1/1 creature would be below the curve. Often, but not always, creatures that are above or below the curve have a corresponding drawback or ability to balance the card. This is slightly different to a creature being over or undercosted; for example, while the card Archivist has a very poor power and toughness for its cmc, it is nonetheless evenly costed due to its ability.

This term is also used as an abbreviation for Mana Curve, below; a deck is considered to have a "low" curve if it has many low casting cost spells. Most aggro decks have low curves, that they might maximize the number of cards they can play each turn. Decks with a lot of "high" casting cost spells are said to have high curves. The most common version of these decks are control decks, which use their control cards to buy time until they can play their expensive spells.

Curve Out

To 'curve out' is to play a card on a number of turns one after the other equal to the turn number. e.g to play a spell with a casting cost of one on turn one, a two cost spell on turn two, a three cost spell on turn three and so on. This is considered the most optimal way for most decks to work, especially creature based decks, such as aggro or limited decks and is effectively the opposite of mana screw and mana flood. ie: "I got mana screwed on two land and he just curved out for the win".

In deckbuilding, curving out a deck refers to the process of adjusting the number of mana sources and the number of spells of various costs in order to maximize the chance that the deck will curve out in gameplay, as above. Example: "my deck has way too many casting cost 2 spells, I need to curve it out by adding some more expensive spells."

Deck Description

There are no hard and fast rules to deck-naming, much to the chagrin of many tournament players. Popular decks get their own unique nickname or, through netdecking, can be specified by the event and pilot. But in general, decks can be effectively described by format, color, and archetype. The most popular sanctioned formats are Vintage (Type 1), Legacy (Type 1.5), Extended (Type X), Standard (Type 2), Block, and Limited. The colors are White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green (W, U, B, R, and G, with a heavy artifact component sometimes denoted by "brown" for older decks and "silver" for newer ones) and the archetypes are Aggro, Control, Combo, and mid-range (however, Combo decks are usually described by shorthanding the cards that form the actual combo). The term Aggro Control is also often used for a deck merging the two archetypes. If the deck uses only one color, it gets prefixed with mono. If the deck uses only a small splash, the main color(s) are abbreviated in capital letter(s) and the splash(es) in small letters.

"My Standard deck is monoblue Eye of the Storm combo."
"It's an Extended UGb Aggro-Control deck." (Spoken as blue-green splash black)
"I'm working on my mono-red aggro deck."

Some decks are also named after their designer, or the player that piloted it to the most success. For instance, an R/G aggro deck that Mark "Heezy" Heberholz used to win Pro Tour: Honolulu quickly became known as Heezy Street.

Ever since the introduction of color pair guilds in the Ravnica block, players often say the name of the guild instead of the colors for two-color decks. This is especially true of Boros, Izzet, and Gruul. For example, "I went into that draft telling myself I wasn't going to play Azorius yet again, but within the first pick I already had solidified myself into blue, and a number of great white cards tabled. I was playing it by the 7th card."

Some decks use the Tri-colored "Shards" from Shards of Alara to name their decks,. These shards are a main color and the two colors next to it. Starting with White and going around the circle they are: Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, and Naya.

The introduction of the 3-color Clans in Khans of Tarkir has also given rise to the use of the clan names for wedge decks.


To 'deck' someone is to run their library out of cards, thus causing them to lose the game for being unable to draw cards when required to do so. The original method of doing this involved the card Millstone, and is therefore also commonly known as milling (see Mill).


The elements of a deck that stop, delay, or hinder the development of an opponent's deck. Common disruption elements include counterspells (which stop an opponent's spells from resolving), discard (which forces the opponent to discard needed cards from his or her hand), land destruction (which stops an opponent from being able to produce enough mana to cast the spells in his or her hand), or removal (which destroy or otherwise eliminate an opponent's cards in play). Other forms of removal include graveyard removal (which removes cards from an opponent's graveyard to prevent the recursion or reanimation of those cards), library removal (aka "capping", which eliminates specific cards from an opponent's library to eliminate the chance of the opponent being able to use them at some time in the future), control-changing spells (which allow one to gain control of an opponent's cards in play), target-changing (spells or abilities which allow you to change the targets of other spells or abilities, turning them against their original caster), damage prevention and redirection (which do just what their names imply), and cards which disallow specific cards or spells from being played or used at all. Disruption is a cornerstone to all control decks.

Direct Damage

Direct damage is the term used to refer to any targeted damage other than combat damage, especially damage dealt directly to an opponent; whereas the term 'burn' generally refers to red spells, direct damage can be caused by any source of any color. Examples of direct damage are Soul Feast, Blaze, and Crossbow Infantry. Note that direct damage has to be targeted to some degree; while Lightning Blast is direct damage, Wildfire is not.


See " the head/dome".


To play a permanent. (To "Drop" it on the table.) Some players use it to refer to the mana symbols, even though only blue mana's symbol is actually shaped like a drop. Both definitions allow its use in the context of "2 drop", "3 drop" etc, referring to the number of mana required for a permanent to be played, which is usually also the number of the first turn it can be played.


Can be used to refer to any creature. However, it usually indicates a smaller creature who's greatest benefit is the body it puts into play that can be used to chump block an opponent's creature or attack. For example, When Elspeth, Knight-Errant activates her +1 ability, it could be said that she is dropping a dude into play. Can also be referred to as a Dork.


When a creature or creatures are sacrificed to another creature in order to activate an ability, or strengthen the second creature. For example, "My Predator Dragon comes into play, and eats 3 dudes, getting +6/+6." Often used in tandem with the Devour ability.

Also used when a creature kills another creature in combat without dying itself. For example, "After your Bear blocks my Bear, I'll play Giant Growth to eat your guy for free."

Additionally, "eat" will be used to describe an ability that causes you to exile a card that relates to the card exiling (ie. Helvault or Karn Liberated). An example of this is, "My Karn will eat your island, reducing its loyalty to three."


A term used to reference a creature whose power and toughness are generally equal to the amount of mana used to play it. Grizzly Bears is efficient since it cost 2 mana and is a 2/2. Loxodon Hierarch is very efficient, as a 4/4 for 4 mana, and granting 4 life when it comes into play. Some creatures are even larger than their mana cost but may require a tradeoff, like Plague Sliver.


An engine card is a card that converts one resource into another. For example, Channel converts life points to mana, Mind Over Matter converts cards in hand to untaps of target permanents, Yawgmoth's Bargain converts life into massive card advantage, and so on. Engines often form the heart of combos and, if too effective, may be banned or restricted by the DCI.

Sometimes, this can also refer to a combo (see Combo), especially one that allows a specific action to be performed over and over.


An acronym for "End of turn, Fact or Fiction, you lose." This acronym comes from the fact that the card Fact or Fiction has such versatility and ability that it can win the game solely by forcing your opponent to give you at least one card that you need from the top five cards in your library. Michelle Bush coined this phrase after playing the card at its debut tournament.

Fast Effect

An Instant card or an ability that can be played any time an instant could be played; for example, Shock or the activated ability of Shock Troops. The term comes from pre-Sixth Edition magic, when it referred to both instants and interrupts (the latter card type is no longer used under the current rules) as well as abilities that could be played as one of these types.


Refers to a large (usually 4/4 or bigger) creature, generally used offensively. A fatty is the opposite of a weenie.


Lands that are sacrificed to search one's library for other lands. Usually refers to those from the Onslaught or Zendikar expansion (Polluted Delta, Arid Mesa etc), but can also refer to the older series from Mirage (Flood Plain etc). The Onslaught cycle in particular are considered to be among the most useful lands ever printed for their flexibility, deck-thinning effect, and the modicum of protection from land destruction effects that they offer.


"Finisher" is most commonly used to describe the win condition in control decks. During Urza's Block, this was most commonly Morphling, a card with multiple abilities that make it almost unkillable.

Can also refer to a card whose typical use is to deal the last damage needed to win the game; examples include Lava Axe and Kaervek's Spite.


Firebreathing is the name commonly given to a creature ability that allows the creature to get a power boost for a certain amount of mana (usually red). The name comes from the card Firebreathing, which grants any creature the ability. The ability also appeared on the Alpha set's Shivan Dragon (and many other dragons since). The concept is that the red mana (fire) turns into a power boost (the fire hurts the creature's enemy more).


A blue Aggro-Control deck. Older versions featured a merfolk theme, thus the name.


'Fixing' cards is the process used by Wizards of the Coast to create less powerful versions of older, popular, but broken (overpowered) cards. For example Shock is considered a fixed version of Lightning Bolt.

Also short for "mana fix(ing)"; see Fixer, immediately below.


The term Fixer is used for cards that help diversify (or "fix") one's mana base. Examples of such cards include Birds of Paradise, the dual lands, Signets, and Harrow, which provide or provide access to multiple colours of mana.


When a spell or ability gets countered due to lack of targets. Before the Sixth Edition rules update this was an official game term, but has since become slang.

Also refers to a combo failing to go off as planned.


Refers to any creature with both flying and trample, such as Lord of the Pit. This is usually written as "X/Y flampler" where X is the creature's power and Y is the creature's toughness.


Refers to mana added to a player's mana pool and not used immediately. For example, a player might tap all of his or her lands for mana, then play Armageddon (destroying all land in play), then use the excess "floating" mana to play some other card.


The action of just swinging/attacking with all creatures and hoping for the best, rather than looking for an optimal attack. The term was originally coined by the LoadingReadyRun Team.

For The Win (FTW)

"For The Win" is an expression that is taken from popular gamer jargon. It refers to a situation, wherein a deck manages to win a game with a single, or unexpected card. Often the card in question is not a card that usually can win a game. For example if a game is won because of the unexpected playing and subsequent attack from a Raging Goblin, the winning player might say, "Raging Goblin For the Win!" A more unusual expression for this is "FTW". The use of "For the Win" or "FTW" can be seen as both an expression of humor at the unexpectedness of the situation, or as being rude if the winning player says it with to much exuberance; especially if the situation is the result of a mise or a topdeck.


From the context of "adding gas to the fire," this word is used when a player who is already winning repeatedly draws the appropriate cards to maintain—or increase—the winning momentum (i.e. he was "drawing gas"). Also "Run out of gas", to stop having threatening plays to make after having strong opening plays.


Stands for "Good Game." Used as a polite term for "I win" or "I lose" (which meaning is intended is supposed to be obvious from context). Also pronounced "geeg" in a more sarcastic form. Saying "gg" to your opponent before you win a game is considered impolite by most players.


In a draft, a 'gift' is a card that is normally too powerful to still be in the booster pack when it reaches you. Receiving many gift cards indicates that your deck archetype is underdrafted upstream. See also signal.

Going Infinite

A certain category of combo deck is designed to put into play a series of cards that interact with each other in such a way that a certain effect may be generated any number of times. When these decks succeed in initiating this sequence, the deck is said to 'go infinite'.

For example, the land Dimir Aqueduct taps for one blue and one black mana, and the creature Tidewater Minion taps to untap target permanent; if one enchants the Tidewater Minion with the card Freed from the Real (an aura that allows one to tap or untap enchanted creature by paying one blue mana), one can 'go infinite' by tapping the Aqueduct and untapping it with the Tidewater Minion, spending the blue mana generated by the Aqueduct to untap the Minion with Freed from the Real. This produces a cycle in which any amount of black mana may be produced.

Note that these cycles are not actually infinite; if a player can produce any number of iterations, they must actually specify a number. Sometimes, though, the game can get into a state in which a set of mandatory actions are to be repeated forever: one triggers the other, which triggers the first, and so on. In these circumstances, unless a player can 'break the loop' somehow, the game ends as a draw.


When a deck kills someone over the course of a single turn (not necessarily a first turn kill). Also refers to a method of testing an aggro deck or combo deck's speed by seeing how many turns it takes to kill an imaginary opponent who plays nothing. There are many variants of goldfishes that can actually do something. In one variant you roll a die on the goldfish's turn: on 1 it casts a white instant that makes you sacrifice all enchantments. On a 2 it casts a blue enchantment that counters your next spell. On a 3 it casts a black sorcery that makes you lose x life (roll the dice) and it gains x life. On a 4 it casts a red xx that makes you sacrifice all your lands, and so on... This testtype can have many effects and may be made to reflect many decktypes in the die-roll.

Gray Ogre

Named after the card of the same name this is a term used to refer to any 2 power creature, usually with 2 toughness as well, with a casting cost of 3. The morph mechanic has been known to be called this as well, since it costs 3 to play a facedown morph, which is 2/2.


Describes a creature that does the dirty work for you. Can also mean a creature that is good in combat or hard to kill. Most often refers to dwarves.


Hate (generally in the context of "hate cards" or "hate for X") refers to altering the composition of one's deck not to make it generally better, but to try to lower the effective power of an opponent's powerful card or deck. For example, in Vintage Magic, blue cards and artifacts are considered to be more powerful than other cards, and decks often include hate for blue or artifacts. In the context of a draft, selecting a card you probably will not play just to keep it from others is called a "Hate Draft" or "Hate Pick." A "Hate Magnet" is any permanent in a multiplayer game that everyone wants / needs removed. See also Metagame and Splash damage.

Hate Bear

A creature with an ability that has an ability that is disruptive. Usually Hate Bear refers to a 2/2 creature (a [Slang#Bear bear]) with an ability, but not always. Some examples of Hate Bears are Gaddock Teeg, and Ethersworn Canonist.


To 'hardcast' a spell is to play it in the normal way (from your hand, by paying its mana cost), as opposed to playing it and/or putting it into play via another method (such as reanimation or a built-in alternative cost such as that of Force of Will). This term is used to describe situations that deviate from the norm or to describe a card's rules text. "I won by hardcasting Darksteel Colossus." "You must hardcast Hypnox for its ability to work."

Hill Giant

This term, named from the card Hill Giant, refers to a creature with a power and toughness of three and a casting cost of four.


A Hoser is a card, deck, or style of play that is extremely powerful against another certain deck, archetype or (most commonly) color. i.e. Karma is a black hoser and Wrath of God "hoses" or is a hoser of creature-based decks. This term is derived from Canadian slang.

See also: Hate


A card that is extremely powerful, at least in a given environment or situation, is said to be a house; for example, one might say "Ancient Silverback is a house in Ninth Edition sealed deck". Originally only referred to creatures with very high power and toughness (and referred to their sheer size, not necessarily their usefulness) but later expanded in meaning to cover any very powerful card.


In a given matchup, the deck with inevitability is the one that becomes more and more likely to win as the game continues. While determining who has inevitability is still an art, inevitability can go to the deck with more threats, a better late game, an unstoppable trump card, or the deck that simply has more cards in its library to prevent decking.

...In/To the Face

See the head/dome

Into the Red/ Into the Red Zone

To attack with a creature/creatures. (I send my Hill Giant into the Red). Derives from the Red Zone, or red area on early tournament play mats where attacking creatures would be placed to differentiate them from non-attacking creatures. Also could derive from the American football term for being within 20 yards of the opponent's end zone—when you tap a creature to attack, you're sending it in to score "points" of damage.


A card or deck which isn't very good or doesn't appear to be good. For example, "Tallowisp may look like jank, but in the right deck, it's actually very powerful." Also used as in adjective form as 'janky'. 'Jank' is also associated with decks that seem to have no synergy between the cards in them (a pile).

This was also once a commonly used name for the deck type now usually called Zoo. These decks tend to use many small, unimpressive-looking creatures and other cards that superficially seem like jank in the above sense, though their strong tournament performance at various points in the game's history indicates otherwise.


A level 0 DCI Judge, or Judge-in-training. A judge candidate can expect to work as a judgeling for some time before being offered certification to Level 1.


A land that adds two mana to your mana pool when tapped, but comes into play tapped and requires you to return another land to your hand. Named for Karoo, one of five such lands in the set Visions; ten more, strictly superior to the originals due to producing two colours of mana each, have appeared in the Ravnica block. Also "bounce lands" because of their return-to-hand mechanic.


A deck originally built to abuse the most powerful cards in Vintage. It is now obsolete, but was a long-running archetype, and was often used in discussions of Magic Theory. The name was derived from "Keeper-of-All-Stripes", as it was a deck utilizing all five colors, which was atypical at the time.

Also, a favorable initial hand of cards (one that is kept rather than mulliganed).

Kill Switch

Similar to a "Victory Condition" except that it is used to describe the kills in decks that rely on single cards to ultimately win games. Often, it is used to describe the powerful creature (or a bomb) that some control and combo decks rely on to win games.

See also: VIctory Condition, Bomb, Win Condition, House


LD is an abbreviation for Land Death - a viable but unpopular strategy for victory in which a player uses spells and abilities to destroy an opponent's mana base. Although this is most commonly achieved by actually destroying the opponent's Land cards, the term is considered to apply to other methods of disruption, such as causing the lands to stay tapped, produce a different color of mana, or gaining control of Land. In casual play this strategy is sometimes regarded as unsporting, since the point is essentially to prevent one's opponent from being able to participate properly in the game.

Lightning Rod

Lightning rods are small, powerful creatures that are rendered impractical to play because they 'attract' removal spells (like Lightning Bolt). That is: they are so potentially dangerous that they are killed as soon as they are played. Hypnotic Specter is a classic example of a lightning rod.

The origin of this comes from the creature Juggernaut. It was a 5/3 creature, and Lightning Bolt dealt exactly three damage, so Juggernaut was a favorite target.


During a match, lockdown refers to a period where a player, through card interactions, has made it difficult or impossible for the opponent to mount an effective defense. "Breaking out" of a lockdown takes skill and luck, but often an effective lockdown will allow the lockdown player to secure victory before the other player can break out. In many tournament communities, decks are built with the tools to break out of locks, reducing the effectiveness of most lockdown cards. As a result, some decks specialize in lockdown strategies and use an arsenal of locks in order to form an exceptionally strong lockdown, followed by a swift victory.

A "hard lock" is one where the opponent can't do anything, where a "soft lock" is one where the opponent has very few options or the lock may not last until the end of the game. An example of a soft lock is Yosei, the Morning Star and Greater Good. Since you can only have four Yosei, the Morning Star in your deck, you can only repeat four times. A hard lock would include the previous two cards as well as Debtors' Knell and Loxodon Gatekeeper. With them, the same Yosei, the Morning Star keeps recycling itself, and your opponent will never be able to untap and all lands (which they need in order to play spells) will come into play tapped, thus they will be unable to play any more spells or stop you in any way.

Manland, Man Land

Battle for Zendikar "manland"

A manland or man land is slang for a land that can change into a creature. The most famous of these is Mishra's Factory from the Antiquities expansion and Mutavault from Morningtide.

Mana Curve

Mana Curves are deeply related to the "sligh principle" and "mana optimisation" (see below) In `96 Jay Schneider created the "sligh principle" using manacurves and a new sort of strategy.

The original Sligh deck, called “Geeba”, was created by Jay Schneider, using the following guidelines -

Concept #1: The most important one. The Mana Curve. A true Sligh deck (and any good active deck) is optimized to use the mana curve that comes from playing one land per turn, and using ALL of it's mana on every turn. This is done using a "tiered" system. When you look at a Sligh deck you should see “slots”, not specific cards. Taking this approach Sligh looks like this:

1 mana slot: 9-13 2 mana slot: 6-8 3 mana slot: 3-5 4 mana slot: 1-3 X spell: 2-3 Lightning bolt (critter kills): 8-10 mana 23-26 15-17 of color

In a deck designed to use it, it is highly effective to use all of your mana each turn. Think of how often Sligh's 1 casting cost critters do 5 - 10 points of damage before they are neutralized or dealt with.

Concept #2: Card Advantage. It doesn't look like it but Sligh is built on card advantage. The key is selective card advantage. All of the cards in Sligh are effective by themselves. Sligh is very effective at killing all of an opponents creatures, thereby rendering creature support cards useless. Orcish Artillery represent the culmination of this principle, i.e. a useful card in and of itself that also gains card advantage if it’s special ability is used just once.

Concept #3: How the attack progresses. First on the ground, which an opposing deck should eventually stop. Then in the air. If this attack is stopped then finish them off with direct damage.

This has been a solid strategy since it was made, but a few pioneers in magic have been using computersimulations to create better and faster manacurves over the years, and it has been discovered that Jay Schneiders guidelines are not correct. Some computergenerated manacurves work far better than most known humanmade curves, and they work outside the "restricted" amounts of lands as well as spells.

Only one thing in magic works faster than the use of manacurves, and that is "combo" which uses a lot of artifact mana and drawbased cards to kill the opponent at turn 1-4.

There is a "weapons race" between "sligh" and combo. Manacurves are mathematically very reliant, and when using a good manacurve a deck almost never have to "take a mulligan" Combo is much faster but not very reliant, often mulliganning a deck into a lost battle...

Mana Drop

Mana Drop is an unofficial style of gameplay, most often used when there is a very limited amount of time available to play the game. Similar to Lunchroom, Mana Drop is a fast paced game where whenever you draw a land or have a land in your hand, you play (or "drop") each of those lands (regardless of whose turn it is) and draw a number of cards equal to the number of lands put into play. Then repeat this process until you have no lands in hand.

Mana Flood

During a match, mana flood refers to a situation where a player draws too many land cards and/or acceleration cards, resulting in too much available mana and too few useful spells. This is something that can be mostly avoided using a welltuned manacurve...

Mana Optimization

A magic theory that is the basis for the mana curve (see above). Mana optimization theory states that a player who best uses the mana available to them in every turn will win the game. At its most basic level applies to the player who uses the most mana in a turn ie: a player who spends 5 mana in a turn will be able to do more and more powerful things than a player with only 3 mana available. Conversely, the player who spends less resources to produce the same effect will have greater mana optimisation. This, however, is difficult to apply to all decks, especially those utilizing counterspells. The addition of flash creatures, useful as surprise blockers, only compounds this difficulty. There are ways to work around this however by generating a manacurve based on having available mana at all time, but such manacurves are best discovered by use of computer simulations or really extensive testing. Magic is a game about timing and reliability.

Manascrew / Manascrewed

To be manascrewed is to have insufficient mana available to play the cards one draws. The closely related problem of drawing mismatched colours of mana and spells is called colourscrew while the reverse problem of drawing too many lands and mana accelerators and not enough cards that actually help to win the game is mana flood. A common complaint about the game is that manascrew and its relatives, which depend solely on random chance, decide a significant percentage of games without the skill of either player being a factor. Though the likelihood of these mana problems can be reduced by sound deck design and careful playtesting, it is simply not possible to eliminate them entirely. Carefull calculations will reduce this and that fact is used as the main approach when creating whats called a manacurve. 100% reliability is not possible but generating manacurves that works 90% of the time are a wellestablished fact. Some people create programs that can play billions of games to test the result of single decks, and it is possible to see the impact of the removal of a single card and addition of another.

The joke set "Unhinged" has a card called Mana Screw which satires the random nature of manascrew by providing mana at random.

Manaconverter / Mana Converter

A card capable of turning one colour of mana into another. Bog Initiate and Chromatic Sphere are good examples. Cards that produce more mana than it takes to activate them, such as Golgari Signet, are not generally called mana converters, even if they can change the colour of that mana in the process. "Mana filter" is a synonym. Using one is sometimes called "mana laundering" (a pun on money laundering), especially if the mana ends up being white.

Mass Removal

A spell that destroys/removes/neutralizes more the one permanent type. Examples: Jokulhaups (artifacts, creatures, and land) and Nevinyrral's Disk (artifacts, creatures, and enchantments).

Also a spell that destroys multiples of a single type. Example: Wrath of God


Refers to moving cards from the top of a player's library to his graveyard. Derives from Millstone, the first card to have this effect.

Mind trick (or Jedi Mind Trick)

A mind trick is any action used to disrupt an opponent's mental state, or "mental game". An opponent who is distracted from the game may make play mistakes due to lack of planning ahead or lack of concentration. While some players have voiced the opinion that distracting or toying with an opponent is unsporting, it is a widely used strategy. A common and pervasive mind trick involves the mono-Blue Control deck, which uses counterspells to foil the opponent's useful spells. Counterspells often cost two or three blue mana, so control-deck players often leave them available at all times, and keep one or two cards in his hand even if playing them might put him ahead. Because the opponent thinks the control player has a counterspell, he might withhold cards that would otherwise have put him ahead. What the control-deck player actually has is, of course, a very different question.


A very lucky happening, most commonly used to refer to a needed card being drawn at the right moment ("Drawing that Black Lotus was an excellent mise,") or the act of doing so ("I mised that Lotus just in time"). MiseTings (so named for the expression) defined a mise as "something unusually great or unexpected" or the act of obtaining such [2]. The expression "mise" is derived from the phrase "might as well" - as in 'mise well draw that Wrath of God'. Its meaning has since changed to the usage described above, however. The joke set Unhinged had a card called Mise, which played on this by giving the player great card advantage, but only if that player is lucky enough to know the top card of their library.

See also: Rip, Topdeck.


"Magic Online with Digital Objects", the former title of Magic Online.


Any deck copied from the internet or a published tournament listing and changed to deal with the local metagame is called a netdeck. In some cases, players use the same deck as a winning tournament player without any changes. Netdecking is sometimes considered "cheap", but many successful players use the successful strategies engineered by other players rather than finding brand new strategies. Netdecking does not necessitate a lack of skill; in fact, successful netdeckers refine and otherwise optimize their decks in order to gain the best advantage. The practice of using netdecks is most common among Spike players who wish above all else to win a tournament (see Spike). It is worth mentioning that people who can build the best decks may not be the best players, and vice-versa.

...On a stick!

Refers to a non-creature permanent with an activated ability that mirrors either an activated ability on another card or the effect of an instant or sorcery spell. For example, Rod of Ruin is a "Tim on a stick".

In a more recent usage, can also refer to the card imprinted on an Isochron Scepter. Some have also dropped the non-creature requirement, and use this to refer to creatures that duplicate the effects of instants and sorceries (as with "-on legs", below).

On legs/wheels/wings

A 'card on legs' is a creature which possesses the same characteristics as a non-creature spell which preceded it. For example, 'Holy Day on legs' or 'Fog on legs' is used to refer to Kami of False Hope, which can be sacrificed for the same effect as the instant, Holy Day. Other example include Loxodon Gatekeeper could be described as a Kismet on legs. Sometimes, rather than saying 'Fog on legs', a player will use 'Mr. Fog' for the same meaning. Also used is '(Spell name) on wings' or '(Spell name) with wings', meaning a creature with flying that has the same effect as the spell. Also referred to as (spell name) on wheels.


Lands that deal damage to you when you tap them for mana; usually offers you the choice of two different types of mana.


To change the colour of a spell or permanent. For example, Aurora Griffin's ability paints permanents white.

Panic Switch

Either a form of removal or a board-wipe effect.


In the same vein as Bear, a Piker is 2/1 creature for two mana. Term derives from Goblin Piker, an archetypical example of such.


Players can "Pimp" out their decks/collections in a variety of ways, most commonly by adding foils, foreign cards, and misprints/rarities.  This serves to make the deck more expensive, more visually appealing, and adds to the rarity and difficulty of collecting


To deal one point of damage with a targeted effect, such as a Tim card.

see also: Archer


To discard, or remove from the game, a card in your hand, especially to pay the alternate cost of cards like Force of Will. For example, a variant of the infamous deck "Long" has been created and dubbed "PitchLong" due to its heavy use of this sort of spell, specifically the aforementioned Force of Will and Misdirection.

Please May I / Permission

A term used for any deck heavy on counterspell cards, so named because the opponent must effectively ask for permission to play any thing "please may I play ...".


The act of sacrificing a permanent to its own ability, usually for an effect. e.g. 'Popping' the artifact Pyrite Spellbomb to deal two damage to a target. Synonymous with other words carrying the same connotations, such as 'bust', 'break' (in this context), and 'crack'. For example, a player might note that they are removing the last counter from a Gemstone Mine to generate green mana by saying "Bust for green".

Power Nine

A group of very powerful cards: The five moxen, Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, and Time Twister. An individual card from the power nine is sometimes referred to as "power."


To temporarily increase the power, toughness, or potentially both attributes of a given creature. The term 'Firebreathing' (above) refers to a mana-fueled pump of power alone.


To receive a card or cards from a booster pack, most notably the contents of your first pack in a draft. e.g. "The guy to the right of me pulled a Masticore."

Raw Dog

Running a card when it won't gain you an advantage that it could have gained you if you had played it at a different time. For instance, playing a Pit Keeper when you have no creatures in the graveyard would be 'raw dogging' it.


Reanimation effects return cards from a graveyard directly to play. A "reanimator" deck is one that puts one or more large creatures into the graveyard and then reanimates them, typically to circumvent a prohibitive mana cost.


Recursion spells allow a player to return needed cards from his or her graveyard to his or her hand or library, allowing them to be reused.

Red Deck Wins

A red deck featuring burn and cheap, aggressive creatures. Sometimes abbreviated RDW. It was granted this name because the types of cards that are printed for red usually always help the same goal, and misplaying/misbuilding red is difficult. New versions of the deck, splashing white or green, are labeled Boros Deck Wins (BDW) or Gruul Deck Wins (GDW) after the corresponding Ravnica guilds. The original Red Deck Wins is one out of many "sligh" decks using manacurves.


Removal is a term referring to spells and abilities used to remove permanents from play permanently, either by putting the permanent in the graveyard or by removing it from the game. Cards that remove only specific problem cards (rather than an entire class of cards at once) are sometimes called "spot removal". Cards that remove multiple cards at once are "mass removal."

Removal generally refers to creature removal. Cards such as Terror, Putrefy, and Last Gasp are called spot removal, because they remove only one creature at a time. Cards that remove multiple creatures are called mass removal, such as Wrath of God or Pernicious Deed.

This is sometimes also used to refer to less obvious effects. For example Faith's Fetters might be considered creature removal in light of the fact that the target is unable to participate in combat, while Azorius Guildmage achieves the same effect by repeatedly tapping said creature. Note that these are typically considered weaker forms of removal, as the opponent may yet use removal of their own to neutralize these hindrances.

Response or Responsive strategy

Refers to plays made in order to neutralize an opponent's threat. Responsive cards form the strategic base of any control deck (See Control). Also referred to as reactive answers or disruption, as contrasted to proactive answers or disruption.


Short for 'Removed from Game'. It is usually used to describe when a card is in the removed-from-game zone, or used as a verb to express that an action is being taken to move a card to said zone.


See Topdeck.

The Rock

A term to describe most Black/Green control decks. Short for "The Rock and His Millions," a term referencing WWE wrestler The Rock, who always spoke of his millions of fans. The original version of the deck abused the combo of Recurring Nightmare and Deranged Hermit.

Rock, Paper, Scissors of Magic

Aggro, Combo, and Control, as generally described here, form the rock, paper, and scissors of Magic: The Gathering. Aggro tends to beat control because it develops an advantage by playing too many threats for control to handle. Control tends to beat combo because it needs to disrupt only the most important pieces of the card combo, leaving the combo player with weak cards. Combo tends to beat aggro because the combo player can set up their combo engine largely unimpeded, and "go off" while the aggro player is still trying to eat through their life total. Wise deckbuilders are aware of these tendencies and seek to build decks that can compensate for their traditional weaknesses in some way, often by becoming hybrids of two or even all three deck types; for example, many successful combo decks contain just enough control elements to protect the combo from the forms of control they expect to run into the most often. It should also be noted that this hybridization often has the tradeoff of weakening the dedicated nature of the "pure" forms in return for better odds in less favorable matchups.

Rock, Paper, Scissors was also featured in a three-card series of artifact creatures in the parody Magic: The Gathering series, Unglued; Rock Lobster (also a possible reference to a song by The B-52s), Paper Tiger, and Scissors Lizard. Each one had an ability that would render the corresponding 'weak' creature unable to attack or block.

Rogue deck

Rogue deck refers to a tournament deck which doesn't seem to follow the trends of a particular metagame. Rogue decks are often attributed to Johnny players, and are generally not believed to be able to compete with the more popular decks in the metagame. However, rogue decks often benefit from being a surprise to a well-established metagame, thus giving an advantage to the player. Rogue decks are the origins of netdecks, developing into popular archetypes once the effect is noticed.


Rotation, in it's many forms, is used to refer to cards that are tournament legal. For example if a card is said to be in rotation, it was printed in the three most recent sets and is therefore legal for use in officially sanctioned tournament play. Another example is that if a card is said to be rotating out on June 16, a new set will be released on June 16 to replace the set that that card was printed in, causing that card to no longer be legal for official tournament play. And finally if a card will rotate in on August 5, it will be printed on August 5 for the first time ever or will be printed again after a leave of absence from tournament play (for example in the Magic 2010 Core Set Lightning Bolt rotated back in), resulting in that card becoming legal for tournament play.


Abbreviation for "Read the F-ing Card" (sometimes bowdlerized as "Read the Friendly Card" or "Read the Full Card"). Common response to rules questions easily answered by simply paying closer attention to the text of the card in question.


Refers to the act of sacrificing a permanent. As an example, a player might remark, "I'll sac my Chromatic Sphere to my Grinding Station." A sacrifice is often paid as a cost, so a player might also say "I sac two Mountains to play Fireblast."


State-based effect. An effect generated by the game rules in order to maintain a legal game state. These effects occur and are resolved before any player can react to them.

Examples of a SBEs are a creature being placed in its owners graveyard because its toughness is 0 or less or a player losing the game because he/she has 0 or less life.


A term used to refer to a token creature created during the course of a game. Schmoes rarely have abilities and are often used for Chump Blocking. Older players may use the term "Dude", tokens produced from the "Dude Ranch" (Kjeldoran Outpost) - A land that could generate multiple creature tokens over the course of many turns. Also simply "Chump".


To concede the game. Named for the first action typically done after doing so (gathering one's cards up to return them to his or her deck). Sometimes verbalized as entering one's "Scoop Phase".


A player that makes consistent, unwise choices; whether in regard to construction of a deck or decisions made during gameplay. Scrub can also be used to describe an adept player who makes a significant player error, or errors, during a game or tournament. In that situation, the player in question is said to have "scrubbed out". The term is known for being rather rude at face value, so it's reserved for heckling a friend when they lose an important game at a low level event, but that doesn't stop the higher level players from putting each other on blast when they 'Scrub Out'. If someone called me a scrub it would not go well. If a friend called me a scrub we'd both laugh. It's a pretty serious thing that goes from being a joke to the thing your round 4 opponent muttered as he scooped up his cards after taking a loss.


To attack with a creature. ie "I send Juggernaut. Take 5."


Refers to combat tricks, or any ability or spell that could be activated unexpectedly or played during a player's turn. Often used when a creature is killed through the implementation of several small spells or effects rather than through a direct spell or combat.

Ship The Turn

When a player finishes their turn and allows their opponent to begin their turn.


Dual lands printed in the Ravnica block: Blood Crypt, Breeding Pool, Godless Shrine, Hallowed Fountain, Overgrown Tomb, Sacred Foundry, Steam Vents, Stomping Ground, Temple Garden, and Watery Grave. Named so because of the loss of 2 life that sometimes occurs from using them, which is the same result as playing the spell Shock. Sometimes referred to as "Nuals", a portmanteau of new and duals.

Sphere Effects

Refers to effects from spells like, Sphere Of Resistance, Trinisphere or Thorn Of Amethyst, which increase the casting cost of spells.


A creature ability which prevents that creature from being targeted by spells or abilities. For instance, a Shrouded creature may not be targeted by Lightning Bolt or enchanted by Control Magic, and may not be the target of Prodigal Sorcerer "ping" ability. A variant of Shroud involves a creature being untargetable only by spells or effects controlled by an opponent, whereas its controller may target it without restriction. This variant has been nicknamed "Troll Shroud". Sphinx of Jwar Isle possesses Shroud; Uril, the Miststalker possesses "Troll Shroud". "Troll Shroud" is now known by the keyword Hexproof.


Refers to the ways in which, during a draft, a player may communicate to the other players which colour(s) s/he is focussing on via which cards are passed on to those players rather than being drafted. Players are not allowed to speak during a draft, and so this is the only available means of broadcasting such information. For example, if a player is passed an extremely powerful red card as a potential third pick, that player should suspect that neither of the previous two players is taking red cards, and may thus wish to move into red himself. Neighboring players who cooperate with each other by sending signals will have better decks and than either would if they fought over the same colours. The ability to send clear signals and interpret those of others accurately is an important factor in separating an excellent drafter from a merely good one.


A mono-red aggro deck that usually wins by gaining tempo on the opponent by playing cheap creatures, followed by red damage spells that are either used to destroy possible blockers or to damage the opposing player. The original "sligh" deck was the first instance of a deck designed around a mana curve in tournament Magic. That deck was often referred to as "Geeba" or the "orcish librarian" deck, and was played by Paul Sligh, thus the name "sligh" has spread to all other decks using a manacurve.

Spirit Link

A term often used as an abbreviation for the creature ability "Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life"; So named after the card Spirit Link, a white Aura that gives enchanted creature the ability listed above.


A term used in deck construction. To 'Splash' is to add cards of another color or strategy to a deck predominantly of another color (or colors) or strategy. E.g "My deck is white blue splash red."

Splash damage

Splash damage is said to occur when hate against a popular deck hurts the strategies of other decks, even though the hate may not have been directed at them. This is an important consideration for deckbuilders.

  • See also: Metagame


A Type 1 decktype named after a once central piece of the deck, Smokestack, that uses various powerful artifacts to slow/lock down gameplay, generally winning with few threats over a long period of time.


An aggressive green deck with lots of mana acceleration and large creatures, such as Llanowar Elves and Thorn Elemental respectively. Stompy also often uses some potent combat tricks and auras to make their mana-accelerating creatures useful as offensive threats.


A 0/1 or 1/1 creature token that has no abilities and are used to overrun opponents.

Sprat Engine

Usually referring to Nuisance Engine or Orochi Hatchery, a sprat engine is any artifact capable of summoning vast quantities of sprats.

Super Trample

The short term for the ability "This creature may deal combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked", which is so far exclusively green. However, whereas creatures with trample must first assign enough damage to kill the blocking creature(s) first, super trample does not need to fulfill this requirement. An example of this is Thorn Elemental. Note that this is not the same as being unblockable, as an attacking creature with super trample can still be blocked and will be dealt damage normally by the blockers.

Its opposite, "Untrample" or "Backstab" allows an unblocked creature to deal its damage to a creature instead. This is seen on white and red cards such as Dwarven Vigilantes and Zealot il-Vec.

Stuffy Doll

The voodoo doll frequently seen in illustrations by Richard Thomas, such as the one for Black Vise. Was finally given its own card (Stuffy Doll) (with art by Dave Allsop, not Thomas) in the set 'Time Spiral'.


Swing has two meanings:

  • To attack with creatures.
  • A dramatic change in the game such that one player who was previously losing is now winning.


In tournament play, Swiss refers to a scoring and pairing that allows large-scale card tournaments to be played through in a relatively short period of time. Players are matched with other players according to their record in the tournament, with players with similar records being paired against each other. At the end of any arbitrary number of Swiss rounds, the eight players with the most Swiss points advance to a separate single-elimination tournament called the Top 8 bracket. See also: Top 8, Swiss system tournament


Synergy refers to the small, positive interactions of individual cards in a deck. A "synergistic" deck is one where every card benefits from every other card in some way or fashion. Even a deck full of seemingly bad cards can be a good deck if it showcases potent synergy. Tribal decks (i.e. Goblin or Elf decks) and the infamous Affinity deck rely on synergy to win games. An example of cards with good synergy would be Underworld Dreams, Teferi's Puzzle Box and Cerebral Vortex. A deck is said to have good synergy if it contains several such interactions.

In contrast, cards that work at cross-purposes suffer from "disynergy", "negative synergy", or "anti-synergy" . An example might be playing cards with high casting costs (such as Darksteel Colossus) in the same deck as Dark Confidant.


In a draft, a card that 'tables' is one that is still in the booster pack after it makes a full circle back to a given player (there being 15 cards in a pack and only 8 players in each draft pod, 7 cards from the first pack will "table"). Expert drafters can memorize packs and determine which cards were chosen from the cards that have tabled.

Tapped out

When a player is 'tapped out', it means that he or she has run out of usable sources of mana, and therefore is unable to play any more spells or utilize most abilities.

Team Small Child

A term used to globally refer to the younger participants in a Magic tournament. Team Small Child is generally less than 16 years old. It is a point of great shame to 'Lose to Team Small Child', unless you yourself are a member.


Tech generally refers to an individual's innovation to a deck or archetype using a card or strategy that is not commonly seen, or that is used in a different manner than that which is common in the current metagame. Tech often appears in large tournament events and serves to throw other strategies off balance by changing some part of how a deck usually works. Tech is generally researched in secret by an individual or a team prior to a large tournament in order to keep competitors from knowing what tricks will be put into a competing deck.

Tech is usually a single card that is strong against a common archetype that a player has reason to believe will appear in a tournament.

Another use of the term refers to a card that interacts very strongly with other cards in the deck, or embodies the deck's main strategy; see Synergy.

Test Spell

A test spell is a spell played, usually against mono-blue control, to see if your opponent has any answers to that spell. It is often a fairly powerful spell, but not actually the one you want to play on that turn. Sometimes a test spell is used to either get a threat onto the table against the blue player, or tap them out so that you can play your stronger spells without fear of them being countered. Also called "counter-bait", as you are "baiting" out the opponent's counterspells.


Any card which, if successfully played and not (soon enough) met with an Answer, can lead to its controller winning the game. Most decks built mainly around threats are aggro decks, though (if "threat" is defined somewhat loosely) this could also describe some combo decks.


Refers to the idea that some classes of cards are created better than others; for example, Sphinx's Revelation may be considered a 'Tier 1' card in Return to the Ravnica Block Constructed format, while Aquus Steed is often considered of a lower tier.

Also refers to the quality of a deck.


Tilt, or "being tilted" refers to a angry/disgruntled state of mind that one might be in after making a mistake that causes you to lose a game, or your opponent getting a lucky win. "going on tilt" will often cause a player to make even more mistakes, compounding their problems.


Topdecking is the act of a player drawing the exact card they need at exactly the time they need it. Many superstitious "techniques" have been developed to perform a perfect topdeck, the most commonly seen being a quick knock on the top of the player's deck. Topdecking can also refer to the illegal action of a player sneaking a look at the top of his deck when others aren't looking his way.

Topdecking can also be used to describe a player who has no cards in hand, and simply plays what he draws each turn. "I was topdecking by turn four."

Topdeck Hero

A topdeck hero often refers to a player who manages to topdeck multiple times/ games in a row to win games. An example of this would be, "Paul won the game by topdecking Black Lotus again!" "Yeah, well Paul's a topdeck hero now." The word is also less frequently used to describe anyone who has, or must topdeck in order to win a game. An example of this would be "Okay, I have an one outer, I need to topdeck a Black Lotus to win the game. Come on, be a topdeck hero!" Topdeck Hero's are often thought to be more lucky than skillful as they frequently are seen as needing to topdeck or mise in order to win games.

Topdeck Mode

'Topdeck Mode' is a situation where a player has no cards in hand and relies solely on the cards they draw each turn to be able to play effectively. Players usually try to avoid this, as it means the player is forced to rely entirely on luck.

See also: Mise, Rip the head/dome

'X to the head/dome' is a term used to announce damage dealt directly to a player instead of a creature. e.g 'Deal 3 to the head' or 'Fireball for 6 to the dome'. The phrase "In/to the face" or "nug" is also used.


Tradebait are cards which a player trades for not because they want them for a deck or their collection, but because they might be able to trade them later on to someone else for cards that they actually want.


A 'Trick' or 'Combat Trick' is a spell or ability used by a player to alter the outcome of a combat. Common ways in which this is achieved include increasing or decreasing a creature's power and/or toughness, by granting or removing abilities from a creature, or even removing the creature entirely from combat or play.


A combo deck based around the interaction of Illusions of Grandeur and Donate. Followed a then-common trend of combo decks being named after breakfast cereals.

Troll Shroud

Troll Shroud is slang for the non-keyworded ability "This creature cannot be the target of spells or abilities your opponent controls." It is used interchangeably with super shroud. The term is derived from the Troll Ascetic who had this ability. The official term is now "Hexproof", as of the release of the 2012 Core Set.


Tuck is slang for when a you are forced you to shuffle the target into your library. This is common in the EDH/Commander variants where opponents will target a commander and force them to shuffle them into that players library. Examples of such cards are Hinder , Condemn


Tutoring is slang for any number of cards that allow you to search your deck. Comes from the many cards with deck searching ability that end in Diabolic Tutor. This term is used whether the searched-for card winds up in the player's hand or is placed on top of a shuffled deck. The value of a tutor is determined by limitation on what it can search for, and where it is places (in hand is typically preferred to the top of the library).


Lightning Bolt M11.jpg

Typically in the form "going upstairs", referring to a player choosing to direct damage to an opponents life total rather than something else they could target. For example: "Looks like that Lightning Bolt is going upstairs."


A vanilla creature is any creature without rules text (text that grants the creature extra abilities). Unless its creature type is somehow useful, the creature's only use is for attacking and blocking, or as a sacrifice to another card.

Victory Condition

Sometimes also called the "Win Condition", a Victory Condition is shorthand for the card(s) or combo(s) used to win in a deck. This term tends to be used in reference to Control or Combo decks, which tend to have a small number of cards which the deck depends upon to win. One of the strengths of aggro decks is the typically high number of such cards.

Weenie, Weenie Deck

Weenie refers to a small creature, with low power and toughness. Depending on their cost and abilities, these range from among the worst cards in the game to among the best. Any archetype or deck which seeks to win by overwhelming the opponent with a swarm of such creatures is referred to as a Weenie Deck; such decks have had a strong tournament presence on and off throughout the game's history, usually in white or red.

Wheel, Wheels, Wheeling

A term used in drafts to describe when a card you see in a pack but don't pick makes its way around the table and is still in the pack when you see the pack for a second (or sometimes a third) time. Example: I really wanted to pick that Bellowing Saddlebrute, but I picked the Murderous cut while hoping the saddlebrute wheels.

Win Condition

See Victory Condition, and Kill Switch.

Windmill Slam

Triumphant motion made when a player drafts an outlandishly powerful card, or draws a card that demolishes the current opponent's strategy. By extension, may refer to any event so fortunate as to be just cause for performing this motion. Consists of raising the card high in the air and then slamming it down; some players are capable of spinning the card horizontally as they do so, producing a "windmill" effect. Sometimes seen as bad sportsmanship if done during a game rather than during drafting.


Short for graveyard.


Zebra refers to a DCI Judge. The term originates from the Black & White referee style uniform of DCI Judges.

Zebra Herd

Refers to a group of DCI Judges, normally on a tournament floor. Occurs most often during investigations and very quiet periods of tournaments, when judges will stand together to discuss rulings, policy or the weather. Generally Zebra Herds of 3 or more are frowned upon and can cause bad judge coverage of the tournament floor.

Card Nicknames and Abbreviations

The Magic community has given many nicknames to cards, and a number of those nicknames have passed into the mainstream and become part of M:TG terminology.


Short for Tolarian Academy, widely considered the most overpowered land in the game.


Short for Accumulated Knowledge.


Samite Healer, and by extension any creature with a similar ability. So-called because it is arguably a mirror image of Tim (juxtaposing the two names is a reference to the television show Home Improvement).

Antwaan Bramble El

Bramble Elemental.


Short for Bloodbraid Elf a key card in jund decks and cascade decks


Short for Blue Elemental Blast.


Refers to the card, Dark Confidant, created by Bob Maher Jr. when he won the 2004 Invitational Tournament. This has become the dominant definition, replacing:

Refers to cards that get around blue counter spells. (Beats on Blue) such as Treetop Village because the ablility allows the controller to play a creature with very limited options for a blue control deck to counter it or keep it from coming into play.

Bob Gnarley

Gnarled Mass.


Short for Lightning Bolt. Can also refer to Chain Lightning and other 3-damage burn spells, such as Incinerate.


Short for Birds of Paradise. Also referred to as birds.


Nickname for the legendary creature Rashka the Slayer, as this card was originally designed to block and kill a fresh Sengir Vampire. The nickname is derived from the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as the TV show first aired after the Homelands set was released.

Burly Protector

Nickname for Steel Golem. Usually used in the phrase "Spring forth, Burly Protector, and save me!", a quote from The Simpsons. One famous story also uses this phrase in connection with Kaervek's Spite.

Cap'n Tickles

Giant Solifuge. A similar card, Falkenrath Aristocrat, has become known as Miss Tickles thanks to the influence of this card.

Chimney Pimp

Refers to the disgustingly underpowered and overcosted card Chimney Imp from the Mirrodin set, and is often written in a variant of leet speak (such as 7he p1mp, t3h p!mp, etc). In a similar manner as Throat Wolf, it became a common joke in the Magic forums that The Pimp was an extremely broken card because "it untaps for free", which in fact is a trait shared by almost all permanents.


Short for the Circles of Protection. For example, CoP: Blue would mean Circle of Protection: Blue.


Short for Pernicious Deed.

Deep Anal

Short for Deep Analysis.


Though there are over sixty different creatures of type Dragon in the game, this usually refers to Worldgorger Dragon or a specific combo deck built around it.


Short for Mana Drain or Drain Life.

Dr. Teeth

Psychatog, whose illustration somewhat resembles the Muppet of the same name. By nearly any measure one of the most powerful creatures in the game. Sometimes this card is announced as "The doctor's in."


A card that forces players to sacrifice a creature, especially Diabolic Edict, Chainer's Edict, Cruel Edict, or Imperial Edict.

Elvis, Elvis Archers

Elvish Archers - a pun on their name (as the earliest of many cards with "Elvish" in their names) and possible dig at their pre-Seventh Edition hairdo. The joke card Elvish Impersonators may be a reference to this nickname.


Short for Elvish Spirit Guide.


Short for Fire & Ice (create) which is considered to be the most powerful of the Invasion Block split cards.

Favored Homeboy

Favored Hoplite

Fetch Lands

Also known as "Fetches" or "Fetchies", refers to a cycle of rare lands from the Onslaught expansion including Windswept Heath, Wooded Foothills, Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, and Polluted Delta, and a following cycle involving opposed colors in Zendikar--Marsh Flats, Scalding Tarn, Verdant Catacombs, Arid Mesa, and Misty Rainforest. Each fetch corresponds to a color pair, and allows its controller to tap it, pay 1 life, and sacrifice it to search his/her library for a land of a basic land type corresponding to one of the colors in that pair, and put it into play. The main advantages to playing fetches are thinning one's deck and easier access to dual lands, since duals have basic land types and therefore are valid targets for fetches. It may also be used for an uncommon-level cycle from Mirage (Flood Plain, Bad River, Rocky Tar Pit (create), Mountain Valley, and Grasslands (create)), which come into play tapped, but do not require any life payment.


Shadowmage Infiltrator (create), the card made by Invatational winner Jon Finkel in the Odyssey set. Finkel's Cloak refers to the card Sleeper's Robe, as it grants the Shadowmage Infiltrator's abilities onto any other creature, even though the Robe was printed earlier than the Infiltrator itself. Occasionally called "infilmage finkletrator" as an affectionate play on the name.


Acronym for Fact or Fiction.

Fog Frog

Spore Frog (its effect when sacrificed is identical to that of the earlier card Fog).


Short for Force of Will.

Fork of Doom

A nickname for Umezawa's Jitte, the powerful equipment from Betrayers of Kamigawa.


An acronym for Force of Will.


Lord of the Pit


Short for Flametongue Kavu, a creature from the Invasion expansion that deals 4 damage to a creature when it comes into play.


An anagram of "gray", refers to Gray Merchant of Asphodel, an especially powerful common in the Theros block and a major player in monoblack devotion decks.

Ghost Dad

Nickname for Ghost Council of Orzhova

Hippie or Hippy

A derivative of Hypnotic Specter's name.


Short for Hymn to Tourach.

I am Superman

Refers to Pemmin's Aura. The card was named as a tribute to Morphling, sometimes known as "Superman", since it was an enchantment giving the enchanted creature the same incredible set of activated abilities as Morphling (also, notice that the enchanted creature shown in the art sports the same tiny wings and tail Morphling has). "Pemmin's Aura," is an anagram for the phrase "I am Superman." When asked "Who's Pemmin?" the designer simply responded "the guy who made the aura," as there was no background for said character. Pemmin did show up again, though, in the Flavor Text of another card in the Scourge expansion: Stifle.


A mispronunciation of jitte (and misspelling based on its phonetic inaccuracy), referring to the card Umezawa's Jitte. The infamous artifact gains counters when dealing damage to either a player or opposing creature, which can be used to enhance the creature wielding it (+2 power and toughness per counter), depower another creature (-1 power and toughness per counter), or give the controller of the equipped creature 2 life. Because of the versatility of its counters, it is often described as broken. Its only weakness is that only one copy of Umezawa's Jitte can be used at a time.


Name of Jens Thoren's Solemn Simulacrum, the card he created when he won 2002s Invitational Tournament. See also Sad Robot.


Short for Powder Keg.


Nickname for Kami of Ancient Law - KoAL (the abbreviation of Kami of Ancient Law) became KoALa.

Larry's Disk

See Nevvy's Disk; this version is an even more direct reference to Larry Niven.

Lawnmower Elves

Nickname for Llanowar Elves.

Library of Victory

Library of Alexandria; playing one early in the game was regarded as a near-automatic win for the first few years of Magic's existence.

Matt Demon

Comical name for the mono black all-star Desecration Demon

Master of the Fatness

Comical name for Master of the Feast Master of the Feast


Short for Misdirection.

Miss America

Lightning Angel. So named because of her Red, White, and Blue colors. Was played in a deck called "Star-Spangled Slaughter".

Miss Tickles

Falkenrath Aristocrat (create). So named because of her similarity to Giant Solifuge (see Cap'n Tickles), except the art depicts a female. Was the basis of a deck called "The Aristocrats."


Short for Mox Pearl, Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, and Mox Emerald. Can also refer to Mox Diamond or Chrome Mox. Because the five original cards are all restricted in Vintage, on more casual deck lists players will often simply write, “Moxen 5,” rather than write out each one separately. 'Moxen' is also the plural of 'Mox'

Mox Monkey

The Gorilla Shaman, with the ability to destroy low-costed artifacts quite inexpensively, is called the "Mox Monkey" because he can destroy (or often "eat") the oft-used Moxen for a minimal cost, netting a great card advantage.

Nevvy's Disk

Short for Nevinyrral's Disk. Named in tribute to author Larry Niven, as Nevinyrral is Larry Niven backwards.


Short for Oath of Druids, or a deck featuring the card.

Ophie the One-Eyed Snake

Ophie, known in print as Ophidian, was a card that powered many Blue control decks to victory with its card-drawing mechanic which could be used every turn. Its art depicts a one-eyed snake, giving him the nickname among control players and their opponents.

Orzhov Enthusiast

The Orzhov Enthusiast's printed name is Orzhov Euthanist, but he is almost universally known as an Enthusiast, probably because of natural confusion with the less common term "Euthanist" and also because of the humorous aspect of what is basically a murderer being very enthusiastic about his task of killing.


Short for One with Nothing, a card from the Saviors of Kamigawa expansion which is widely perceived to have no practical purpose (it compels its player to discard his entire hand, and has no other effect), though it is occasionally used to trigger the "Hellbent" mechanic from Dissension. Some players also suggest it as an answer to the "Howling Mine" deck that gained prominence after Pro Tour Honolulu 2005. It is sometimes, ironically, used as a pun of the term owned. If an opponent has Adamaro, first to desire in play, it is now a custom to play OwN and say "i OwN you". Arguably, if one pays full retail price for a pack of Saviors and opens One With Nothing, one has been pwnt.


Short for Red Elemental Blast.


Short for Ancestral Recall. Some players may find this nickname confusing, as there are cards named Recall and Hurkyl's Recall as well; however, as Ancestral Recall is by far the most played card of the three, most players feel comfortable with the nickname. The popularity of the term in reference to Ancestral Recall is due to its widespread use in Type 1 Magic decks.


Short for Dark Ritual, or when plural ("Rits") means Cabal Ritual as well. Sometimes further shortened to "Rit", although "Dark Rit" is not unheard of, either.

Sac Elder

Short for Sakura-Tribe Elder, which is usually sacrificed (see "sac") for mana acceleration (see "accel"). {C}Other nicknames include Steve, Saccy Tribe Elder, Tribe-Elder, and sometimes just 'Elder. Also more commonly STE, and sometimes Stewie or Sac Me Elder. {C}"Rampant Snake" is sometimes used, as it mimics Rampant Growth, and the creature type includes 'snake'.

Sad Robot

Yet another name for Jens Thoren's Solemn Simulacrum, the card he created when he won the 2002 Invitational Tournament.

Sex Monkey

The art on the Uktabi Orangutan (create) card depicts monkeys in a position that resembles the sexual act in its background, hence the appellation. The background was noticed during the reign of the Mirrodin block, where it became quite popular because of its ability to destroy an opponent's artifacts. In the joke set Unhinged, there was a parody of the card, called "Uktabi Kong", with a larger version of the original Orangutan in the foreground, and an expectant pair of monkeys in the background, playing on the original art and its implications. The effects of that card are relevant as well, allowing two apes to be tapped to generate another one. Uktabi Orangutan (create) is also known as "Fuktabi Orangutan". There have been other creatures in magic since then with the same or similar power and toughness, mana cost, and comes into play ability. These cards are often referred to using the same nickname, such as "Sex Shaman" (Viridian Shaman).


Short for Sword of fire and ice. Alternatively 'SoFI', pronounced 'Sophie'.


Short for Sword of Light and Shadow


Short for Sol Ring, Black Lotus, and the five Moxen from Alpha.


An acronym for Sakura-Tribe Elder. See also Sac Elder.


Refers to Isochron Scepter, a powerful card in the Mirrodin set which allows a player to imprint an Instant on the Scepter and activate the Scepter to play a copy of that card. The name is derived from the card's art, which shows a humanoid woman holding the scepter (which, obviously, looks like a stick).

"[Card] on a stick" refers to any noncreature permanent which duplicates the ability of the named card, including but not limited to an Isochron Scepter with that card imprinted on it.


Short for Stinkweed Imp.


An acronym for Swords to Plowshares. See also Swords.

Stupid Elephant

Loxodon Hierarch, despised by many players for being overpowered in their opinions. When a player uses Congregation At Dawn to fetch three copies of Loxodon Hierarch (effectively neutering many Aggro deck strategies), this action is usually referred to as "Three Stupid Elephants". Similarly, when played in conjunction with a series of tutors, the Elephants could be said to be "going on parade." Mike Flores referred to the Elephant as the "Panacea Pachyderm"

Super C

Counterspell; from the promotional name of the video game Super Contra, sequel of Contra.


Refers to Morphling, a very powerful creature which received the name because it could fly and was practically invulnerable. Would give birth to the nickname I am Superman which was in turn used in the name for the enchantment, Pemmin's Aura, which duplicates Morphling's abilities, and which is an anagram for that phrase. It has also been known as "Jesus" and "Cardboard Jesus." When combat damage still used the stack, Morphling could fly, hit very hard (pump his power before damage went on), and survive practically anything in combat (pump toughness AFTER damage went on) all in one combat phase. 


Short for Swords to Plowshare (create)], considered one of the best creature removal spells ever printed. Creatures targeted by a Swords to Plowshares are said to be "Swordsed" or "Plowed." Sometimes also verbalized as "So-and-so goes farming" due to the card name and art. Sometimes abbreviated STP.


Short for Sword of War and Peace (create)]

The Best Card in Magic

Seldom heard today, this was once a common nickname for Impulse.

The Best Creature Ever Printed

Slang for the ridiculously overpowered Psychatog. Sometimes abbreviated as TBCEP. See also 'Tog; Doctor Teeth.

The Best Fatty Ever Printed

Slang for Verdant Force, abbreviated as TBFEP, made popular by Jamie C. Wakefield, the "King of the Fatties," in his book "Tournament Reports for Magic: The Gathering." Recently has come into use to describe Akroma, Angel of Wrath also.

Throat Wolf

Throat Wolf is a non-existent card. Shortly after the release of the first large expansion set, Legends, a couple of players on usenet decided to pull a prank and start rumors about this card.[3] Since this was before the ubiquity of the Internet, many players didn't have access to full card lists and spoiler lists, and so had no way of knowing whether this card was real or not. Later, the term was used in a variety of in-jokes, and Magic developers occasionally use it as a temporary name for a card in development, this led to the development of Heart Wolf.Various versions circulate on the internet, many with obscure or technically impossible rules text. The main ability that seems consistently attributed to the throat wolf is effectively 'double first strike' or 'firstest strike', worded in various ways. {C}In an article in the Duelist #9, Throat Wolf was described 5 colorless mana for a 4/4 Summon Throat Wolf. The abilities read, "Firstest Strike. Throat Wolf may attack during your opponent's untap phase. Attacking does not cause Throat Wolf to tap." The Flavor Text read "The most feared of Dominia's mythical creatures, the Throat Wolf is wylie and unpredictable. Its incredible speed and attack abilities have prompted many net. to wonder if it is real. Ask the Throat Wolf, he'll tell you..." The creator of the card (Dan Stephans II) presented the card pictured in Duelist #9 to Tom Wylie of of the Coast at GenCon 1995. Tom was the USENET representative for of the Coast at the time. Only 5 printings of the card were made (thus the 5 colorless mana), one was given to Tom, one kept by Dan, one traded to a GenCon attendee and the other two were stolen.

In the short story Chef's Surprise by Sonia Orin Lyris in the Magic: The Gathering anthology Distant Planes, the main character, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, works as a chef for the demon Vincent, Lord of the Pit. All of the meals she cooks for him are actual cards from the game (for example, atog pate on honey-soaked ironroot bark; Atog and Ironroot Treefolk are both creature cards) except one: Barbequed Throat Wolf ribs.

The ability usually attributed to Throat Wolf finally made it onto several real cards in the Onslaught block and since, in the form of Double Strike.


Abbreviation for Thirst for Knowledge.


Prodigal Sorcerer, and by extension other cards with the same (or a very similar) ability, and thus, roughly synonymous with "Pinger". The name is a reference to Tim the Enchanter of Monty Python fame, who has a similar ability of damaging things from a distance.

"Tim" can also be a verb meaning to use such an ability.


Any creature of type Atog, but especially (and perhaps, nearly exclusively in recent years) Psychatog, generally considered one of the most powerful creatures in Magic.


See "Urzatron."


Urzatron refers to the three cards Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower. These cards are popular in several kinds of decks because of their ability to accelerate the player's mana development. Also commonly called "the 'Tron," or just "Tron."


Short for Goblin Welder.


Abbreviation of Wrath of God, which has been a staple card due to its ability to destroy many creatures using only one card. Also Woggy, The WoGginator, etc.


Abbreviation of Wrath of God.


YawgWin or Yawgmoth's Win refers to the card Yawgmoth's Will. Yawgmoth's Will allows all cards in that player's graveyard to be played again, netting an enormous advantage, and usually wins the game for its caster immediately. Considered one of the best cards in Magic, it is restricted in Vintage and banned everywhere else.


Zippy refers to the card Zephyr Spirit, an extraordinarily underpowered and overpriced creature from the Ravnica block, considered the worst printed creature since "Chimney Imp"

Also an alternate name for Psychatog, a reference to his resemblance of the Rainbow character of the same name.

Much earlier, was used to refer to Zephyr Falcon (create), often in the phrase "Zippy the Chicken".


  1. [1] Returning to Combo by Randy Buehler