Magic: the Gathering has grown since it originated in 1993 with more than 20,000 cards available to play across different formats and 20 million players worldwide. If you are just getting into the massively popular trading card game, take some time to learn about the basic card types.

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Artifact

Artifacts are magical items on your battlefield that give you advantages such as additional mana and increased power and toughness or other abilities for your creatures in the form of equipment. While most artifacts are colorless, some may have colored mana in the casting cost.

For example, Sol Rings costs one colorless (or any color mana you have) to play. Its ability is you can tap it to add two colorless mana to your mana pool during your turn.

The Great Henge is a green legendary artifact that costs seven colorless mana and two green mana. However, you can cast it for a reduced cost based on the greatest power level amongst creatures you have. The card helps you gain life, add mana, and pump creatures’ power and toughness.

One of the most popular colorless artifact equipment is Swiftfoot Boots which cost two colorless mana to cost and another one mana for the cost to equip a creature. It gives one creature haste and hexproof.

Hence, Sol Ring and Swiftfoot Boots are examples of colorless artifacts while the Great Henge is an example of a green artifact.

Creature

Creatures are the members of your army whether you play standard, modern, pioneer, commander, or another format. The mana casting cost is on the top right of the card and the creature’s power and toughness are on the bottom right of the card. The artist’s name who illustrated the card is written on the bottom middle or bottom left.

Each creature is classified into a main type and a subtype. For example, Blightsteel Colossus is a Phyrexian Golem. Phyrexian would be the main type of creature that Blightsteel Colossus is while his subtype would be Golem.

Every creature is unique with different abilities. Reading the card can explain all of the creature’s abilities so that you can pair it with other synergistic creatures in your deck accordingly. Creatures may have entered the battlefield with effects such as drawing cards. Others may have mana abilities where you have to tap mana to capitalize on one of their perks. Other creatures will have activated abilities that when one thing happens, something else will happen.

Some creatures do not have extra abilities at all and just have power and toughness such as Sanctuary Cat which costs one white mana to cast and is a Cat creature with power and toughness of 1/2.

Enchantment

Enchantments give your battlefield magical effects that give you a home-field advantage. They can be a separate card with specific abilities or they can be an enchantment aura where you place it on a specific creature for magical effects.

There are even enchantment creatures that are both enchantment and a creature. Enchantments can also come in a Saga form with three effects happening across your next few turns.

Examples:

  • Exploration is a standard enchantment that allows you to play an additional land on each of your turns.
  • Nyxbloom Ancient is an elemental enchantment creature with trample and helps increase your mana output by three times as much.
  • Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is an enchantment saga that lasts for three of your turns.
  • Kenrith’s Transformation is a green enchantment aura that can turn one of your opponent’s creatures into an elk where it loses all its abilities.

Instant

Instant cards can be cast at instant speed, hence the card type’s name. It can be cast on your turn or any time during an opponent’s turn. They help to protect your permanents (creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers), remove creatures on your opponent’s battlefield, and give your creatures different perks so they can stay alive after combat.

For example, Flawless Maneuver costs two colorless mana and a white (it is a free spell to cast if your commander is on the battlefield in the commander format). Your creatures gain an indestructible end of the turn. This is the best cast after you have declared blockers if your opponent is attacking so some or all of your opponent’s creatures can die and yours stay alive.

Planeswalker

Planeswalkers are allies with very powerful abilities that help your army fight. They have one to three abilities on the card that allow you to add or subtract loyalty counters. Every planeswalker starts with a specific number of loyalty counters instead of power and toughness-like creatures.

For example, Ajani, the Greathearted is a planeswalker with a static ability to give your creatures vigilance. He starts with five planeswalker loyalty counters. You can add a loyalty counter to gain three life or subtract two loyalty counters to put a +1/+1 counter on all creatures you control and one loyalty counter on all planeswalkers you control.

Sorcery

Sorcery cards have the same effects as instant cards. However, you cannot cast these at an instant speed. You can only cast them during one of the phases of your turn.

Damnation is a sorcery card that costs two colorless and two black mana to play to destroy all creatures to where they cannot be regenerated. With it being a sorcery card, you can only cast it on your turn. Alternatively, if you have the instant card, Fated Retribution in your hand, you can destroy all planeswalkers and creatures no matter if your turn or an opponent’s turn.

Final Thoughts

Magic: the Gathering is a complex tabletop game when first learning it, but as you get used to all of the card types, you will be deck-building and slinging spells in no time. What magic will you create during gameplay?

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