Magic The Gathering - Glossary
This is an unofficial list of terms and abbreviations commonly used in
relation to Magic, along with short definitions. Additions or
corrections should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: May 25, 1994
- Alpha Edition - The original
print run of Magic cards, 35 of which were discontinued
starting with the Revised Edition. This
set was released around September 20, 1993, and consists of 2.6
million cards. For the Beta Edition, CoP: Black, Volcanic Island, and 1 of each
basic land were added to bring the total to 302 cards. The alpha
edition can be distinguished from the beta
edition by the larger corner radius on the alpha cards.
- AN (abbreviation) - Arabian Nights.
- Ante - The stakes for which the game is
being played. Typically this is one card taken from the top of each
deck before the games begins.
- Artifact - a magically powered
object; also one of the basic spell types. Mages
who build Artifacts are called Artificers.
- Antiquities - Second expansion
set for Magic: The Gathering, based on the War
of the Artificers. There are 100 unique cards in this set
(counting multiples of some cards which have different art,
e.g. Mishra's Factory), 19 of which (so far) have been
recirculated into the Revised Edition.
Approximately 15 million cards were printed.
The symbol for the Antiquities is an anvil.
- Arabian Nights - First
expansion set for Magic: The Gathering, released on December
17, 1993, based on stories from A 1001 Arabian Nights. There
are 78 unique cards in this set, 20 of which (so far) have been
recirculated into the Revised Edition.
The symbol for the Arabian Nights is a scimitar.
Approximately 5 million cards were printed. Although the set
contained 78 unique cards, 14 of these have two variants so collectors
consider it a 92 card set. The Erg Raiders, Oublitte, Fishliver Oil,
Giant Tortoise, Naf's Asp, Wyluli Wolf, Bird Maiden, Rukh Egg, Army of
Allah, Moorish Cavalry, Piety, and War Elephant have versions with
light and dark backgrounded colorless mana symbols. The Hasran Ogress
and Stone Throwing Devils have a variation with whitish versus
orangish black mana symbols in the casting cost.
- AQ (abbreviation) - Antiquities.
- Banding - A special ability which
allows a creature to combine with other creatures for attack or
defense. Banding can be broken down into Mutual
Assistance and Damage Sharing.
- Bands with Other - A special
ability first introduced in Legends.
- Banned List - A list
of cards banned during official Convocation tournaments.
- Basic Land - Plains (white), Islands (blue),
Mountains (red), Forests (green), and Swamps (black).
- BEB (abbreviation) - Blue
- Beta Edition - The original run
of Magic cards, black bordered. This set was released on October
4, 1993, and consists of 7.3 million cards. The beta set corrects many
errors on the alpha cards.
- Black - One of the five colors. Black
magic is the magic of death, and gains its power from Swamps and Bogs.
Its traditional enemies are Green and White.
- Bleeder Deck - A deck constructed
to deny the opponent cards at every opportunity, and bury them when he
does get them.
- Blue - One of the five colors. Blue
magic is the magic of the mind, and gains its power from Islands.
Blue magicians are often adept at deceiving others and casting
illusions. Air and water are also strongly associated with Blue. Its
traditional enemies are Green and Red.
- Booster Pack - (Also known as
simply Booster) A smallish pack of Magic cards,
typically 8 to 15, which retail for about $1.50 to $2.50.
Revised Edition boosters have 15 cards for
$2.45, and typically contain 1 Rare, 3 Uncommons, and 11 Commons,
although there's no guarantee. Cards can also be bought in Starter Decks.
- Buried - Sent to
Graveyard without chance of regeneration.
- Chronicles - An unlimited
Magic: The Gathering
expansion set, reprinting cards from the first 5 Magic
expansion sets. These cards will be white-bordered.
- Collector's Edition - A
special set of Magic cards which was distributed as a complete
set. There were ten thousand of these printed. They have square
corners and the words "Collector's Edition" on the back in gold.
There were also five thousand International Editions printed for sales
overseas. This set was released on December 10, 1993. Collector's
Edition cards are forbidden from official Convocation tournaments.
- CoP (abbreviation) - Circle of
- Convocation - see Duelist Convocation.
- Cumulative Upkeep -
- Dark, The - Fourth expansion set for
Magic: The Gathering. Based on the Dark Ages
of Dominia. There are 119 unique cards in this set, and about 70
million were printed. The symbol for The Dark is a crescent.
- Discard Phase - The fifth phase of your turn. If you are holding more
than seven cards at this point, you must discard to the graveyard until you have exactly seven cards.
- Dominia - The multiverse where
Magic: The Gathering takes place. For a more complete
description, refer to the PPG.
- Duelist - Official magazine published
by Wizards of the Coast, dedicated to Magic and other
collectible trading card games.
- Duelist Convocation -
Offical organization from Wizards of the Coast for players.
- Duelist Supplement -
Addendum to the Duelist, released in June 1994. Describes
differences between Unlimited and Revised cards, and so forth.
- Enchant - One of the basic spell types. In addition to the basic Enchantment,
there is Enchant Land, Enchant Artifact, Enchant Creature, Enchant
Wall, and Enchant World. Enchantments are permanent until destroyed
(or the card they are enchanting is destroyed). They may only be cast
during your Main phase.
- End Phase - The
sixth phase of your turn. This is the phase where you let your
opponent know you are finished (since it isn't always obvious).
- Expansion Set - A limited
edition run of Magic cards (typically 90 to 310), printed with a black
border. The expansions announced or released so far are:
- Fallen Empires - Fifth
Magic: The Gathering
expansion set, released November 14, 1994. There are 102
unique cards, but 187 unique illustrations - many of the common
cards have different versions. A whole bunch of these were/are
The symbol for Fallen Empires is a crown.
- Fast Effect - Interrupts, Instants, and
effects of Permanents which are not
continuous. Fast effects may happen at any time except during the
- First Edition - see Beta Edition.
- First Strike - A creature with
first strike will not take any damage if the creature they are
fighting takes a lethal amount of damage during the exchange. Two
first strike creatures are considered to attack each other
- Flying - A creature with this ability
cannot be blocked by non-flying creatures.
- FoN (abbreviation) - Force of Nature.
- Forestwalk - A creature with this
ability cannot be blocked if the defender has Forests in play (see Walk).
- Fourth Edition -
The current standard set of Magic cards, distributed in
Starter Decks and
- Gold - Cards with a gold-border are
multi-colored, i.e. casting requires mana of more than one color. They should
be considered as though they are of each of the colors needed to cast
(there is no gold color as such, nor are they colorless). So far, all
legends have been gold.
- GoM (abbreviation) - Gauntlet of
- Graveyard - Where cards go when
they are killed, used, discarded, or otherwise taken from active play.
Some cards will allow you to later bring cards back from the
Graveyard. Any player may, at any time, look through anyone's
- Green - One of the five colors. Green
magic is the magic of life and peace, and draws its energies from
forests. Its traditional enemies are Blue and Black.
- Heal Creatures Phase - The seventh and final phase of your turn. This is the
phase where all damage to creatures is healed.
- Ice Age - Sixth
Magic: The Gathering
expansion set, scheduled for release in June of 1995.
- Instant - One of the basic spell types. Unless otherwise specified, instants
where off at the end of your turn. Special abilities are also
considered instants for purposes of timing.
- Interrupt - One of the basic spell types, it may be cast at any time. This is
the only way a fast effect may be
- Islandwalk - A creature with this
ability cannot be blocked if the defender has Islands in play (see Walk).
- Land - Land is a special card type,
which may only be played during your main
phase, and only once per turn. There are basic lands and more exotic, special lands. Any
Magic card which is not a land is a spell
until successfully cast.
- Legends (card) - a new kind
of card introduced for the Legends expansion set. Legends cards
require multiple mana to cast, and have gold borders. Only one of
each Legend may be in play at a time. Note that Legendary Lands, also
introduced in the Legends expansion set, have some things in common
with legend cards (i.e. the uniqueness property), but are not
- Legends (expansion set) -
Third expansion set for Magic: The Gathering, released June 13,
1994, based on the Legends
of Dominia. There are approxiamately 300 cards in this set. 35
million cards were printed, distributed in 15 card boosters with a
retail price of $2.45. Each booster also included a 16th "rules card",
which explained the new rules (Legend cards, Bands with Other, Rampage, Enchant World). The Legends symbol is a
- LoP (abbreviation) - Lord of
- LotP (abbreviation) - Lord of the
- M:tG (abbreviation) - Magic: The
- Main Phase - The fourth phase of your turn. During this phase you
may cast sorceries, enchantments, artifacts,
play land cards (at most 1 per
turn), and attack your opponent (at most once per turn).
- Mana - A term for magical energy, used
to cast spells and cause special effects. The most common source
of Mana is tapping lands.
- Mana Burn - Damage taken from
unspent mana at the end of any phase or attack. Each point of unspent
mana causes one point of damage. This damage is considered
- Mana Pool - The amount of mana you
have available at any given time. If you have any mana left at the
end of any phase or attack, you take Mana
- Mountainwalk - A creature with
this ability cannot be blocked if the defender has Mountains in play
- Permanent - any card which remains
in play after being used (e.g. Land, Artifacts, Enchantments, and
- Permission Deck - A term used
to describe a deck which would cause the other player to ask for
permission before playing any card (due to frustration at having every
card countered in one form or another). Blue
decks can manage this quite well.
- Phase - Your turn is broken up into
several phases, which must happen in the following order:
- Untap Phase
- Upkeep Phase
- Draw Phase
- Main Phase
- Discard Phase
- End Phase
- Heal Creatures Phase
- Plainswalk - A creature with this
ability cannot be blocked if the defender has Plains in play (see Walk).
- PPG abbreviation -
Pocket Players' Guide.
- Pocket Players' Guide -
A separate book about Magic from Wizards of the Coast.
Lots of information on the basic rules, including variant rules,
and collector info. Last seen selling at $7.95.
- Poison - Some creatures will poison
a player when damaging him or her. When any player has 10 (or more)
poison counters, they lose the game. Poison was first introduced
in the Legends expansion set.
- Protection - A creature with
protection from a color cannot be damaged, blocked, or targeted by
cards or effects of that color. It may still be affected by
non-damaging, non-targeting effects.
- Rainbow Magic - A special
five-player variation of Magic, where each player has a different,
single-color deck. Described in Duelist 1, and the PPG.
- RA (abbreviation) - Royal
- Rampage - A special ability first introduced in the Legends expansion set. For each defender
above one, an attacking creature with rampage: x gains
+x/+x until the end of the turn.
- REB (abbreviation) - Red Elemental
- Red - One of the five colors. Red magic
is the magic of destruction, chaos, and war. It is also associated
with earth and fire. Red magic derives its powers from mountains. Its
traditional enemies are White and Blue.
- Regeneration - Creatures on the
way to the Graveyard may be regenerated under
special circumstances. In this case, they return to play with any
enchantments on them intact. Creatures become tapped when regenerated, but they need not have
been untapped before regenerating.
- Restricted List - A list
of cards restricted during official Convocation tournaments. There may be
no more than 1 of each of these cards in a single player's deck.
- Revised Edition -
Also known as the Third Edition. The current edition is the
- Sacrifice - Taking a card and
placing it into your graveyard. This is an
unavoidable cost, even if you have a card which would normally stop
something from going to the graveyard. Some cards, like Lord of
the Pit require a sacrifice during upkeep.
- Second Edition - see Sideboard - A term used to describe
an extra set of 15 cards which may be used during
tournament play to tune your deck.
- Sorcery - One of the basic spell types. They take effect immediately after
being cast, but may only be cast during your Main
- Special Ability - Some
creatures have special abilities beyond those of normal creatures.
Common abilities are Banding, Walking, Trample, Rampage, Flying, First Strike, and
- Spells - There are six basic spell types:
Artifact, Enchant, Instant, Interrupt, Sorcery, and.
- Starter Deck - A pack of 60
Magic cards, including a small rulebook with everything you
need to know (last seen selling at$7.95). Typically includes 2 Rares,
13 Uncommons, and 45 Commons, although there is no guarantee. Cards
may also be bought in Booster Packs.
- Summon - One of the basic spell types.
- Summoning Sickness - A term
applied to creatures the first turn they are summoned. The practical
upshot of Summoning Sickness is that a creature cannot attack or using
a power that requires tapping until it has been
on your side at the beginning of your turn.
- Supplement - see
- Swampwalk - A creature with this
ability cannot be blocked if the defender has Swamps in play (see Walk).
- Tapping - Tapping has two
meanings in Magic. The first is the physical act of marking
a card somehow, most commonly by turning it sideways or sticking a
marker (beads, anyone?) on it. Sometimes the word tapping
is used in the more general sense of using something, which has
the side-effect of tapping a card. Cards are typically untapped
during the Untap phase.
- Third Edition - see Tim - A nickname for a Prodigal
- Trample - A special ability which
lets excess damage go from a blocker directly to the defending
- Unlimited Edition - A
white-bordered set of cards, first released on December 1, 1993. This
was later replaced by the Revised
Edition with many improvements.
- Untap Phase - The first phase of your turn, when tapped cards are untapped. All cards are
considered untapped simultaneously (i.e. no one can take any actions
while untapping is happening).
- Upkeep Phase - The second phase of your turn, when upkeep costs are
paid (e.g. paying mana, or sacrificing
- Walk - see Forestwalk, Islandwalk, Mountainwalk, Plainswalk, and Swampwalk. A creature with one of these
abilities cannot be blocked if the defender has the appropriate type
of card in play.
- Wall - A special kind of creature which
is not allowed to attack.
- Weenie Deck - A term used to
describe a deck composed primarily of creatures that take two or less
mana points to summon. The best defenses against a Weenie Deck
are cards which can destroy lots of small creatures in one shot,
e.g. Pestilence and Earthquake.
- White - One of the five colors. White
magic is the magic of healing and protection, and draws its energies
from the plains. Its traditional enemies are Black and Red.
- WoC (abbreviation) - Word of
- WotC (abbreviation) - Wizards of the
Thanks to the following for additions and corrections:
- Chris Bickford - <email@example.com>
- Aaron C. Smith - <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Michael Constant - <email@example.com>
- Markus Bjartveit Kruger - <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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