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Part 9 – Understanding Basic Mechanics
by Aburame Shino
 

When you first get started playing Magic, it can be hard to remember all of the rules. One of the harder things to remember when you're beginning the game is all of the keyworded terms and abilities. Some are easy to understand such as flying, some are harder such as Banding. But I am confident that by the time you finish reading this article you will have full understanding of most of the abilities.

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Flying:
(This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying.)

This mechanic is one of the easiest ones to remember. What flying means is that it can only become blocked by another creature with Flying. But this does not mean a creature with flying is unable to block a creature without flying.

Example - My Suntail Hawk would be allowed to block your attacking Eager Cadet, but the same Eager Cadet could not block my attacking Suntail Hawk.

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Haste:
(This creature may attack the turn it comes under your control.)

In the game of Magic, Creatures are not allowed to attack or use any tap abilities the turn they come into play. This is called "Summoning Sickness". Haste overrides the Summoning Sickness, allowing it to attack the turn they come into play. Also, you can tap it the turn it comes into play for any abilities it may have.

Example - If you were to summon an Emperor Crocodile, it would not be allowed to attack the turn it came into play. You would have to wait until your next turn. However, if you were to summon a Raging Goblin, since it has haste, it could attack right away.

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First Strike:
(This creature deals combat damage before creatures without first strike.)

I had problems understanding this when I first got started with Magic. Simply put, if a creature with first strike battles with another creature, the creature with First Strike would deal it's combat damage first instead of at the same time.

Example 1 - I attack with Tundra Wolves and you block with Coral Eel. Combat begins. Since my Tundra Wolves have first strike, it would deal it's one damage to your Coral Eel before the two damage from Coral Eel is even being prepared to be dealt. So my Tundra Wolves would destroy your Coral Eel, and no damage would be dealt to my Tundra Wolves

Example 2 - I attack with Tundra Wolves and you block with Master Decoy. Just like in Example 1, my Tundra Wolves would deal it's one damage to your Master Decoy. But since your Master Decoy is not destroyed by the one damage dealt by my Tundra Wolves, it would be able to deal it's one damage to my Tundra Wolves, destroying it in the process.

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Fear:
(This creature cannot be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures.)

Another easy to understand mechanic. A creature with fear cannot be blocked by red, green, blue, or white creatures, but it can be blocked by an artifact or black creature.

Example - I attack with Severed Legion and your only creature is a Thorn Elemental. Since Thorn Elemental is a green creature, it cannot block the Severed Legion. However, if you also controlled a Beast of Burden, you would be able to block the Severed Legion, but only with the Beast of Burden.

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Landwalk:
(This creature is unblockable if defending player controls [this land])

This is another easy mechanic to remember. If a creature has landwalk, then it is unblockable if the defending player controls a land of that type. So a creature with Swampwalk will be unblockable if the defending player controls a Swamp.

Example - I attack with Canyon Wildcat and one of your lands in play is a mountain. Since you control a mountain, you are unable to block my Canyon Wildcat. However, if you do not control a mountain, you are allowed to block the Canyon Wildcat if you want to.

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Trample:
(If a creature with trample deals more combat damage to a creature blocking it than is needed to destroy the blocker, the excess damage is dealt to the defending player.)

Trample confuses some new players, although it becomes easier to understand as they gain experience. Normally all damage dealt in combat by an attacking creature is dealt to the defending creature. This is not the case with trample. A creature with trample will only deal enough damage to the defending creature to destroy it, then the rest of the damage is dealt to the defending player.

Example - I attack you with a Body of Jukai and you block with a Steel Wall. Instead of my Body of Jukai dealing all eight damage to your Steel Wall, it instead deals four damage to the Steel Wall, destroying it, and four damage to you.

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Regenerate:
(If this creature would be destroyed this turn, tap it instead of destroying it.)

*IMPORTANT NOTE*
Regenerate does NOT mean "Return a creature from your graveyard to play." The above meaning is what it means, and don't question otherwise.

Regeneration is probably the most confusing term for a new player to understand, since it doesn't have any reminder text in the Core Set like the other mechanics. Let's say one of your creatures is going to be destroyed either in combat or by a card effect. You use either an ability or a spell to regenerate that creature. Instead of it going to the graveyard, all combat damage that is dealt to the creature is removed, and it becomes tapped. The creature never touches the graveyard and stays in play.

Example 1 - I attack with Eager Cadet and you block with Drudge Skeletons. You pay the one black mana to regenerate your creature. Instead of your Drudge Skeletons being sent to the graveyard from the combat damage dealt to it, all the damage is removed from your Drudge Skeletons and it becomes tapped. The one damage from your Skeletons would still destroy my Eager Cadet since it has one toughness.

Example 2 - I cast Chastise on your attacking Horned Troll and you decide to Regenerate the Troll. The Troll is tapped and Chastise does not destroy the Troll. But since your Troll was regenerated before it could deal it's combat damage, I would not lose any life from the attack.

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Protection from ____:
(This creature cannot be blocked by ____ creatures; All damage dealt to this creature by ____ sources is reduced to 0; This creature cannot be the target of ____ spells, abilities, enchantments, or equipment.)

Three words have never keyworded so much stuff. That's why it often confuses new players. Let's say you control a creature that has Protection from Black. That creature cannot be damaged by black sources, it can't be targeted or enchanted by black cards, and it can't be blocked by black creatures. However, Protection does not stop world-wide abilities. So if a creature you control has protection from White and your opponent uses Wrath of God, the creature's protection will not keep it from being destroyed.

Example - I attack you with a Tel-Jilad Chosen and your only creature is a Cathodion. The Cathodion would not be allowed to block my Tel-Jilad Chosen. Also, if you attacked with Cathodion and my only creature is a Tel-Jilad Chosen, I would be able to block your Cathodion. The Cathodion would be in combat with my Chosen, but since my Chosen has Pro-Artifacts, the 3 damage from Cathodion would be reduced to 0, and the 2 damage from my Chosen would still be dealt to your Cathodion.

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Defender:
(This creature can't attack.)

If you can't figure out how this ability works, then you should not be playing this game. All defender means is that the creature cannot attack. That's it. You can use it to block, but you can't attack with it.

Example - I control a Minamo Scrollkeeper. He sits out there and twiddles his thumbs, waiting for something to block.

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Vigilance:
(Attacking doesn't cause this creature to tap.)

This is a great ability if you want to use a creature to attack yet not lose a blocker. You can attack with a creature as many times as you want, and it'll never tap, thus letting you block with it.

Example - I attack you with Ardent Miltia. Since he has Vigilance, he does not become tapped, thus letting me block with him if you decide to attack me.

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And that is all. These are the first mechanics that you should learn when you start the game. When you become more experienced with the game, you can begin to learn the rest of the mechanics, which will be explained in Section 10. This has been Aburame Shino, have a nice day.

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