How to Play Magic – Part 3 – Card Types
This is part three in a series of articles designed to teach you how to play Magic: the Gathering. In this article, we will be going over the seven other types of cards you'll find in the game of Magic. You'll remember that those seven card types are:
These cards can be cast on your turn when nothing else is going on, during what is called the main phase. Some card types stay in play once cast, others go to your discard pile (called the graveyard) once they're played.
Creatures are the bread and butter of the game of Magic, the troops that you summon into battle at your aid to defeat your opponent. Creatures attack the opponent and his planeswalkers, block incoming attacks, and can have abilities of their own to use outside of combat. Creatures have two key statistics, power and toughness. We'll go through examples of combat later, but know that power is the amount of damage a creature deals in combat, and toughness is the amount of damage a creature can take before dying. Creatures also have subtypes that can be referenced in gameplay as well. For example, Veteran Swordsmith gives a bonus to all other creatures with the subtype Soldier that you control. Picking the right creatures that have positive interactions with one another is a key to deckbuilding.
Enchantments are magical incantations that have a lasting effect on the game. Unlike creatures, enchantments can't attack or block, but can affect creatures by making them stronger, weaker, or giving them abilities they otherwise wouldn't have. Enchantments can also affect rules of the game, allowing you to see more information that you normally would, play spells at other times, draw extra cards, or even protect yourself and your creatures from opposing spells. Telepathy lets you see your opponent's hand whenever you'd like, while Honor of the Pure gives all white creatures you control a power and toughness boost.
Auras are a subtype of enchantments that affect only a single thing, either a creature, land, artifact, or even player. The first line of text on the card starts with the word Enchant and tells you what type of card the aura can be played on. Once played, it stays on the object it's affecting until the aura or the object is destroyed. Auras can be offensive, like Unholy Strength, giving a creature additional power and toughness, defensive, like Pacifism, which keeps a creature from attacking or blocking, provide additional abilities like Power of Fire which lets you tap the enchanted creature to deal damage to a target, or punitive, like Disruption Aura, which causes the enchanted artifact's controller to pay the artifact's mana cost every turn or lose it.
Artifacts are powerful objects, weaponry and mechanical fighters to aid your cause. Some artifacts are creatures as well, indicated on the type line as having both types, like Stonework Puma. Other artifacts are similar to enchantments, having repeatable effects on the field like Icy Manipulator or a constant effect to one side or the other, like Howling Mine. The unique thing about artifacts is that they are usually cast with any type of mana - there are usually no colored mana requirements to play an artifact, which makes these tools available to all decks.
Equipment is a subtype of artifacts representing armor and weaponry that can be passed around between your creatures to increase their stats and confer abilities to them. The effect can be a simple increase of power and toughness like Trusty Machete or grant creatures abilities they wouldn't normally have, like Whispersilk Cloak. They are similar to auras in that they only provide benefits when they're attached to something. Unlike auras, though, equipment does not need to be attached to anything as it comes into play, and the only way an equipment goes away is if it's destroyed. If a creature with equipment attached is destroyed, the equipment is still available to you to attach to another creature by paying its equip cost.
Planeswalkers are powerful mages that can be called upon to change the course of a game. Planeswalkers have their own statistic, Loyalty with which you can have them cast powerful spells once per turn. Most planeswalkers, like Jace Beleren, have two small abilities, one which increases loyalty, and one which decreases loyalty - the costs are offset to the left of the ability. All planeswalkers have one large ability which costs a great deal of loyalty which they can't use until their loyalty has increased through use of their smaller abilities. Unlike creatures, they can be attacked directly like a player to drive them away from the battle, and spells that damage players can be sent to damage them. Given enough time and perseverance, a Planeswalker can break the game wide open.
Sorceries are powerful one-time spells that you have at your disposal to enhance your team, destroy opposing creatures, strip cards out of the opponent's hand, and even change the rules of the game. Unlike creatures, lands, enchantments, artifacts, and planeswalkers, sorceries go to the graveyard once played instead of into play. Sorceries are representative of the slow, powerful spells your chosen color or colors have that their disposal. Note that slow is not necessarily translated into high cost, but effects the game would like to keep from happening anytime, primarily land destruction and discard spells. Examples of sorceries include Rampant Growth, Mind Rot, and Planar Cleansing.
Instants are one-time effect spells, like sorceries. When you play an instant, you perform all the actions on the card and then put it in your graveyard. Instants can be played at just about any time, in reaction to spells played by yourself or your opponent, on the opponent's turn, and other times when you cannot normally play spells. Because of their flexibility, they tend to have slightly weaker effects than sorcery cousins at the same cost. Make no mistake, though, a player who knows when and how to use his or her instant spells is very formidable indeed. Some examples of instants include Lightning Bolt, Safe Passage, and Essence Scatter.
Tribal is a minor card type that does not exist on its own. It exists with other card types to give creature types to spells that could not normally have them. Featured heavily in sets where creature type is a focus, you won't see any of these in the current set.
You'll also see the term "permanent" on some cards, like Disperse. A permanent is any card that stays on the battlefield after being cast; land, creature, artifact, enchantment or planeswalker. In addition, some cards have more than one type, such as Ancient Den and Platinum Angel and have the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Next we'll look at the basic rules of the game and a couple sample turns.