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
(This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with
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.
(This creature may attack the turn it comes under your
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
(This creature deals combat damage before creatures without
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
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.
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.
(This creature is unblockable if defending player controls
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
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
(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
(If this creature would be destroyed this turn, tap it
instead of destroying it.)
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
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.