Spells in MAGIC: THE GATHERING™ are a major component in the game but if one is unable to distinguish between them it can be hard to get a game going at all. First a major key element needed to know is the difference between a permanent and non-permanent. Permanent cards are cards that stay after being cast. These cards can be removed from play and sent to the graveyard but are not limited to the cast itself. Non permanents are cards that are then sent to the graveyard after the spell is cast. Next we will go over the structure of a spell card. At the top you will see a rounded bar, this is the title bar. It contains the name of the card and the amount of mana it may require if it is a non-land card. Underneath the title bar is the art work, depending on which pack of cards you get this artwork may look different if there are reprints in newer packs. For land cards they change with each block (two expansions fitting a certain story theme). With some lands it is possible to have a full art land card in which the entire card contains the artwork. Underneath the artwork is the assignment bar. This tells what type of card the spell is. Cards are able to have more than one type. This bar also has an icon to the far right of it indicating which expansion it belongs to. Underneath this bar is the ability box, this shows conditions, abilities, and various other information pertaining to the spell. This box may also contain some flavor text in the form of a quote from certain figures from the magic the gathering multiverse. Underneath that box at the very bottom of the card there is some small text, this texts from left to right tells the number of the card out of the total amount the rarity of it by representation of one or two letters, underneath that is the set it came from in abbreviated form followed by a dot and the language it was printed in. after that we see the name of the artist for the card and at the very left we see the trademarking for wizards of the coast and the year of the copyright. Finally the back of the card. Though there is not much to it in some cases it plays a role to the spell itself. Some creatures can have a transformation and this transformation is shown on the back of the card. Others will be able to “merge” and have a piece of the new creature formed on the back of the card as well. As for tokens the back of the card is used as a sort of advertisement for anything magic related that may be around or may be coming soon. If buying new cards this may give an insight to what is to come.
- The first spell I will mention specifically is a land spell. These land cards are a source of mana with no cost of their own to summon. With enough basic land cards a player can summon creatures, equipment, and various other spells during a match. Like the other types of spells land cards have different types, there are basic land cards which give one of five colors of mana respectively, double land cards which give a combination of two of the five lands, blank color land cards which give colorless mana.
- Creatures are essentially a spell with the ability to attack and defend, though this mechanic is not limited to creatures themselves it is the most common factor amongst them and like lands they are permanent cards. This ability to attack and defend is defined in the ability text and in the number located at the bottom right hand corner of the card notated in x/x format. The first x is for power, this means that the creature once its able to attack will do that much of damage. The second x is for toughness, toughness is basically the amount of damage the creature can take during a turn before it dies and is sent to the graveyard. So if a creature is a 2/4 this means that it has 2 power and 4 toughness. Which if simplified means it can attack for 2 damage and block for 4 damage. These numbers are not static, meaning they remain unchanged, these numbers can be enhanced or decreased depending on factors such as abilities and spells. As mentioned in the first block these cards have the defining features typical of most cards. This means that creatures do have abilities as well that will change how they behave and how you can use them to possibly get an upper hand. A bit of a side note on creature, lands themselves can also become creatures, this is achieved by using an ability possessed by the land or through means of another spell.
Artifact cards are primarily permanent cards and are very different from the other spells in the fact that one: most are colorless, 2: they can also be the other types of spells out there. Artifact cards are not just limited to their name they can be land, creatures, equipment and enchantments. Some artifacts have abilities which allow them to change their card type for a turn or for the duration they are on the field. Artifacts can add an interesting element to the game and it's not uncommon to see them show up one way or the other in some ones deck.
Instants are nonpermanent spells that can be cast during any phase of play on either players turn so long as you have the mana to cast the spell. Instants can be a blessing or a curse depending on which side of the spell you sit on. Instants can range from boosting power and toughness for a creature to canceling entire spells or exiling cards from the battle field and every possibility in between. Instants I feel are good to have purely for the fact that they can drastically change how a players turn goes to possibly winning you the game without having to risk your possible blockers on your attack or block step.
- Sorcery cards, like instants, are nonpermanent spell cards, but, unlike instants, can only be cast during the main phase of the player casting them. Like instants once they are cast and their effect has run its course it is sent to the graveyard. Sorcery spells can do a similar range of things just like instants. Some equipment artifacts, once equipped to a creature, can turn into a sorcery.
- Enchantment cards are permanent cards that change the status quo of the game. These cards can add a new element such as when a player does x then y will happen. These cards also can contain a sub-type called aura, these can attach to creatures and lands and change how they behave by either boosting stats, decreasing stats if cast against the opposing player, or turn lands into creatures. To better understand these cards we can look at the scope of what they affect. Enchantments can either change how the entire field works for players or how a certain card works for players.
- There are certain words to look out for either in the bar that defines what the spell is or in the ability box of the spell. For the definition bar one should take care to look for subtypes such as creature, goblin, human, aura, equipment, etc…. The reason I mention this is because that means they act a certain way with other cards of that type or they only affect the card itself. This also means though they can be affected by spells that state they affect creatures or by spells that state they affect artifacts. Knowing this can help a person to defend against such spells and have a backup plan when such things do happen.
- Keywords are special words that give a card a certain ability. For example, lifelink, lifelink is an ability that will give the controlling player health based on the amount of damage dealt by that card. I will list a few keywords that will show up for players.
Words to know
The other type of word to know are Keywords
- Lifelink (grants controlling player health equal to damage dealt.)
- Deathtouch (Any damage dealt by attacking creature is considered lethal damage to target creature.)
- Scry x( look at x amount of cards from the top of your deck, place x amount on top and x on bottom.)