List of Magic slang
Magic: The Gathering players have invented many new terms over the years the game has existed, covering a wide variety of aspects of the game, from deckbuilding to card mechanics. These Magic: The Gathering Terms are listed here. This is a(n incomplete) list of Magic: The Gathering slang.
This is not a list of Magic: The Gathering "keywords". Most terms listed below are informal, player-created terms not truly a part of the game rules.
A creature with a "comes into play" ability, like Flametongue Kavu or Nekrataal. Favored among professional players, since they get two effects out of one card. The term "187" comes from, depending on who you ask, the LA Police code for a murder (Flametongue Kavu and Nekrataal, both tournament staples in their time, killed a lot of creatures), or because Nekrataal was card #187 in Visions.
Short for 'acceleration', accel are the elements in a deck which help it gain access to mana faster than the standard one-additional-mana-per-turn rate. It generally refers to placing additional mana-producing permanents into play, but also refers to one-use spells that provide a temporary mana boost (i.e. Dark Ritual). The most famous category of acceleration cards are the Moxes and Black Lotus, which significantly increase the amount of mana available in the early turns of a game.
Used interchangeably with ramp.
Short for 'aggressive', aggro is used to define a deck or archetype which is highly dependent on creature combat and aggressive attacks. The aim is to develop an advantage in the game before the opponent.
Refers to the five pairs of colors which are adjacent on the color wheel: /, /, /, / and /.
Term for the sets of three colors that form an arc, or an obtuse triangle (a color and its two allies): //, //, //, //, //. Since their use in Shards of Alara, these tricolor combinations are now also known as "Shards". In order as above, they are: Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, and Naya.
- Usage: "Hey, is that a Bant deck?" "Nah, it's rainbow - I'm just color screwed."
Archetype has two meanings. First, it refers to a specific branch of very influential or competitive decks in a metagame. Deck archetypes tend to revolve around a particular card, combo, or strategy. Alternatively, refers to the core strategy groups a deck can fall into: control, combo, or aggro (beatdown) (or some hybrid of these "pure" strategies).
Any creature that which has an activated ability involving sacrificing another creature. E.g. Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Falkonrath Aristocrat, Varolz, the Scar-Striped.
The superlative form of 'broken'.
Short for 'barnacle,' this refers to a player who follows around much better, more famous players, hoping to benefit from their experience and success. Usually negative. Its history comes from its association with the term 'Hull'. This, however, is the more popular of the two words.
The Basilisk-ability refers to variations on deathtouch, especially mechanics which have a similar effect but work differently. First seen on the Alpha set's Cockatrice and Thicket Basilisk, it also includes variations like Sylvan Basilisk and Cruel Deceiver.
The introduction of Deathtouch as a keyword has rendered this term obsolete.
A Beatstick, or "stick," is a creature that is effective to attack with. They are usually but not necessarily, large creatures.
A creature with a 'Big Ass' is a creature with a low power, but a high toughness, making it ideal for defense. Examples are the 1/4 Horned Turtle and the 1/7 Kami of Old Stone. It is less common, but not unheard of, for a creature with a high power and low toughness to be referred to as having a 'small ass'.
Exiling a permanent, then returning it to the battlefield, as with Venser, the Sojourner. The term originally referred to Blinking Spirit's ability to return itself to your hand, and its usage declined along with the popularity of its namesake. It was reintroduced into the lexicon with Time Spiral's Momentary Blink.
Used interchangeably with flickering.
The collection of permanents currently on the table. Each player has their own 'board' and the word also describes the collective 'board.' e.g. "There's a lot of creatures on the board" See Also: Board Sweeper
Dealing three damage to a target. 
Boltbait are small, powerful creatures that are rendered impractical to play because they 'attract' removal spells (like Lightning Bolt). That is, they are so potentially dangerous that they are killed as soon as they are played. Hypnotic Specter is a classic example of boltbait.
A bomb is a card powerful enough to change the course of the game on its own. Usually used in the context of limited formats, where drafting or opening a bomb greatly improves one's chances. This is largely due to the relative scarcity of quality removal and other answers in limited formats, compared to constructed.
A combo which seems to work, but upon further rules clarification is actually discovered to be invalid.
In some occasions, a "bombo" is used as a synonym of a nonbo - a combo between cards in a negative way.
Originally referred to the Red White guild from the Ravnica block (called the Boros Legion). Later used as short hand to describe any red white deck, such as the Boros Bushwhacker deck that was popular during Zendikar's time in Standard.
An effect or spell that returns a card that is on the battlefield to its owner's hand. 
- To break a format is to create a deck so much more powerful than the other decks that it dominates the metagame. ("After Pro Tour Paris in 2011, Caw-blade broke Standard.")
- To break a card is to create a deck in which that card becomes broken. ("Johnny's new deck is an attempt to break Spellweaver Helix in Modern.")
A card that's overly powerful - usually a card that you can't afford to play without if you're playing in those colors. When a card is officially broken is of some debate within the Magic community; players frequently declare cards they hate to be broken, even if they're not. Likewise, it's a term that's frequently used sarcastically ("Carnival of Souls? Man, that's broken!" or more precisely "Buh-ROKEN!").
Direct damage not dealt through combat, but rather by spells or effects of cards already in play, such as that dealt by a Lightning Bolt spell or the ability of Prodigal Sorcerer. Burn can also be shorthand for mana burn.
R&D lingo for a mana symbol of a specific, arbitrary color. Additionally, D and E are used for a second and third color in Multicolored cards, and H is used for a Hybrid mana of any type. Commonly used for discussing Cycles. See also WUBRG.
- "In Mirage, all five colors have a rare Dragon that costs 4CC."
- "Red is the only color that hasn't gotten a Vanilla 2/2 for 1C yet."
- "The five Obelisks of Shards of Alara each tap to add C, D, or E to your mana pool."
Named after the card Jester's Cap, the first card to use the effect, this term refers to searching an opponent's library for specific cards and removing them from the game in order to deny the opponent of their use at some future time. This strategy is effective against combo decks which usually rely on one or two specific cards in order to work at all, and control decks which have a lot of control elements but very few win conditions, but is close to useless against most aggro decks, which usually don't rely on any specific card to win.
A valuable rare card that is highly desirable.
Short for "comes into play", used to refer to a variety of abilities which trigger when a creature comes into play. Can also be spelled "CITP" (Comes into the play zone). (As of the M10 rules changes, this is officially called "Enters the Battlefield" or ETB) 
A 'Clock' or 'X Turn Clock' is a threat that will lead to victory over an opponent in a finite number of turns, thus giving the opponent a known time limit in which to either win or answer the threat. For example, if a player is at 20 life and an unblockable creature with a power of 4 is played by their opponent, that player is said to be on a 5-turn clock.
Short for Converted mana cost.
'Color Screw' refers to a specific type of mana screw, where a player, while perhaps having plenty of mana/acceleration, lacks the correct color to play certain spells. e.g. A player may have six Mountains, but lacks the Swamp they need to cast a Wrecking Ball.
Short for 'combination', combo can refer to a variety of concepts.
- Card combination Any combination of 2 or more cards which produces a beneficial effect, designed to gain an advantage over the opponent.
- Combo deck A deck or archetype which uses a combo as its victory condition. The deck is designed entirely for the purpose of setting up and protecting the combo.
Control refers to ways in which players use cards to control the flow of the game.
- Card - A control card is any card designed to help a player control cards in the game. Control cards might destroy an opponent's useful cards, keep an opponent from playing useful cards, or force the opponent to discard his cards before he uses them.
- Control deck or Archetype - A deck or archetype which attempts to gain a decisive advantage using control cards to hinder the opponent and protect its victory condition. A control deck makes sacrifices in speed in order to improve chances of playing past an opponent's defenses.
- Part of a deck - The controlling elements in a deck.
COP, CoP or Cop
Circle of Protection. Also used as a verb: "cop your Bog Wraith" would mean "prevent the damage from your Bog Wraith by using my Circle of Protection: Black. Pronounced either "cop" or "cee oh pee".
The last printing of a Circle of Protection was in 2005, so this term is rarely seen today.
The power level of a card can be judged by players as being 'above', 'on' or 'below the curve'. For example, the power and toughness of most 3 casting cost creatures is 2/2. A 2/2 creature with a casting cost of 3 is considered on the curve, while a 3/3 of the same cost would be above the curve and a 1/1 creature would be below the curve. Often, but not always, creatures that are above or below the curve have a corresponding drawback or ability to balance the card.
A deck's curve, on the other hand, refers to its spread of spells by converted mana cost. A well-designed curve allows a deck to use all or almost all of its available mana each turn, maximising its tempo advantages. This is usually of most concern to aggro and aggro-control decks.
A dead card is a card such that either the player that drew it is incapable of playing it, or it has simply become irrelevant. This may also be expressed with the phrase dead draw if the card was just drawn from the deck.
To 'deck' someone is to run their library out of cards, thus causing them to lose the game for being unable to draw cards when required to do so (see Winning and losing). The original method of doing this involved the card Millstone, and is therefore also commonly known as milling (see Mill).
Draw-go refers to a stagnating period of gameplay in which both players, often because they are waiting for the other player to make the first move, simply draw a card and pass their turns. A draw-go situation can also occur when neither player has a beneficial spell to play and controls no important cards on the table. The term Draw-Go also refers to a deck that, because of its reactive nature, often played spells primarily during the opponent's turn. Draw-Go became the name of that deck because its turns usually consisted only of card drawing.
Refers to a permanent which can be played without major strategic consideration. It is usually used in the context of "2 drop", "3 drop" etc, referring to the turn when a permanent can first be played, which is equal to its converted mana cost. Also, to play a land, i.e. "I drop a plains."
- The original cycle of double-typed lands. (Tundra, Underground Sea, Badlands, etc.)
- Any lands that produce multiple colors of mana.
Refers to the five pairs of colors which are opposite on the color wheel: /, /, /, / and /.
An engine card is a card that converts one resource into another. For example, Channel converts life points to mana, Mind Over Matter converts cards in hand to untaps of target permanents, Skullclamp converts small creatures into cards in hand, and so on. Engines often form the heart of combos and are often restricted in tournaments due to being too effective. Can also be shorthand for the card Wurmcoil Engine .
An acronym for "End of turn, Fact or Fiction, you lose." Fact or Fiction has such versatility and ability that it can win the game solely by forcing your opponent to give you at least one card that you need from the top five cards in your library. Michelle Bush coined this phrase after playing the card at its debut tournament.
Creature enchantments that increase the enchanting creatures' toughness higher than the amount it increases the creatures power are 'Fat Pants'. This comes from the card Hero's Resolve (aka Heroic Pants), which gives the creature it enchants +1 power but +5 toughness.
A fetch land.
Firebreathing is the name commonly given to a creature ability that allows the creature to get a power boost for a certain amount of mana (usually red). The ability was first seen on the Alpha set's Shivan Dragon, which had the basic form of the ability ": Shivan Dragon gets +1/+0 until end of turn". The name comes from the card Firebreathing, which grants any creature the ability. The concept is that the red mana (fire) turns into a power boost (the fire hurts the creature's enemy more).
A blue aggro-control deck. Older versions featured a merfolk theme.
- Short for mana fixing, as in "to fix one's mana."
- The process used by Wizards of the Coast to create less powerful versions of older, popular, but broken (overpowered) cards. For example Shock is considered a fixed version of Lightning Bolt.
Used interchangeably with blinking.
Refers to mana in a player's mana pool that has not been used, especially after that player has just played a spell or ability. Usually, a player will only tap as much mana as required by the particular spell or ability they wish to play, and only when they wish to play it. However, in various situations a player may leave some amount of mana in their mana pool.
The most common situation in which this occurs is when a player is using a recurring loop of spells or abilities to produce an arbitrarily large amount of mana. Each iteration of the loop produces extra mana, which is left floating until the player has acquired enough excess mana to achieve his or her desired end.
Abbreviated form of Friday Night Magic.
For The Win. Often declared as "X for the win" where X is the card that wins the game (directly or indirectly). The worse the card, the more likely the phrase will be used. "Chimney Imp for the win!!"
An indication that your hand has a lot of good cards. "This hand is nothing but gas!" Conversely, when you're at the end of the game and are low on resources, you've run out of gas.
Stands for "Good Game." Also said as "geeg" in a more sarcastic form.
To play a strategy that is exceptionally ambitious, unlikely, and/or high-risk high-reward. Used primarily when discussing Limited formats.
- Usage: "You're playing seven copies of Foundry Street Denizen?" "Yeah, I went real deep in this draft."
A 'God hand' or 'God draw' is the most optimal hand or draw a player could have. E.g 'with a god hand, this deck can pull off a turn three win.' The best possible hand is also called "the nuts".
Goldfishing is the practice of playing without an opponent as in drawing a starting hand and proceeding to continue to play until an opponent who does nothing to stop you from accomplishing the gameplan is defeated.
Refers to a class of decks featuring Quirion Dryad. The original gro deck was Miracle Grow, first piloted successfully by Alan Comer, earning 9th place in the 2001 Grand Prix Vegas, though others followed (such as Super Gro).
Verb used when you change a land type printed on a card, named after Magical Hack.
Hate (card hate/strategy hate)
Hate (generally in the context of "hate cards" or "hate for X") refers to altering the composition of one's deck not to make it generally better, but to try to lower the effective power of an opponent's powerful card or deck. For example, in Vintage magic, blue cards and artifacts are considered to be considerably more powerful than other cards, and decks often include hate for blue or artifacts. See also: Metagame, Splash damage. Also: In the context of draft, to select a card you probably will not play to keep it from others, e.g. a "Hate Draft" or "Hate Pick."
To 'hardcast' a permanent is to put it into play without using any spell or ability, paying its mana cost and playing it normally. This term is used to describe situations that deviate from the norm or to describe a card's rules text. "I won by hardcasting Darksteel Colossus." "You must hardcast Hypnox for its ability to work."
"High flying" is a slang term for creatures with flying that can only block creatures that also have flying. Generally, a creature with high flying costs less than a creature with flying.
One of the most popular casual formats. Highlander rules are that, excluding basic land, there can be no two cards with the same name in the one deck. The term has its origins in the catchphrase of the movie Highlander: "There can be only one". Interestingly enough, this format goes by the name "Singleton" in official Wizards of the Coast communications and advertising even though the format is almost exclusively referred to as Highlander by players. This is most likely to avoid any copyright issues that might arise. Also, see Commander.
A hoser is a card, deck, or style of play that is extremely powerful against another certain deck or archetype. i.e. The card Wrath of God "hoses" or is a hoser of creature-based decks. See also: Hate
Associated with the word "Barn". A Hull is a player who attracts many players, often less skilled. The Barns are constantly following the Hull around in order to leech off of them or simply to attain another level of play or social status.
Each color has a iconic, or marquee, creature which is well known representative of everything the color embodies. Iconic creatures show up only a few times per set (and many times only once). They are almost exclusively rare or mythic rare and show up on splashy cards.  The current roster is Angel (white), Sphinx (Blue), Demon (black), Dragon (red) and Hydra (green). Iconic cards are different from characteristic cards, which show up many times per set and are found in all rarities, especially at common. They appear on many mundane, basic cards (such as Vanilla and French vanilla creatures. Characteristic creature types are Soldier (white), Vedalken (Blue), Vampire (black), Goblin (red) and Beast (green).
In the air
When attacking, combat damage dealt by creatures with flying. See also On the ground
In a given matchup, the deck with inevitability is the one that becomes more and more likely to win as the game continues. While still a theoretical science, inevitability can go to to the deck with more threats, a better late game, an unstoppable trump card, or the deck that simply has more cards in its library to prevent decking.
LD is an abbreviation for Land destruction — a viable but unpopular strategy for victory in which a player uses spells and abilities to destroy an opponent's land, making it impossible for them to play any spells.
A 'card on legs' is a creature which possesses the same characteristics as a non-creature spell which preceded it. For example, 'Fog on legs' is used to refer to Kami of False Hope, which can be sacrificed for the same effect as the instant, Fog. Sometimes, rather than saying 'Fog on legs', a player will use 'Mr. Fog' for the same meaning. Also used is '(Spell name) on wings' or '(Spell name) with wings', meaning a creature with flying that has the same effect as the spell.
During a match, a lock or lockdown refers to a period where a player, through card interactions, has made it difficult or impossible for the opponent to mount an effective defense. "Breaking out" of a lockdown takes skill and luck, but often an effective lockdown will allow the lockdown player to secure victory before the other player can break out. In many tournament communities, decks are built with the tools to break out of locks, reducing the effectiveness of most lockdown cards. As a result, some decks specialize in lockdown strategies and use an arsenal of locks in order to form an exceptionally strong lockdown, followed by a swift victory.
Obsolete. Short for an explosive combo deck in the Vintage format that abused Burning Wish to fetch Yawgmoth's Will, eventually building up a high enough Storm count to win with Tendrils of Agony. Long.dec boasted the impressive ability to win more than half the time on the first turn, prompting the restriction of Burning Wish and Lion's Eye Diamond in Vintage in 2003. Later versions of the deck included "Grim Long" and "Death Long", featuring Grim Tutor and Death Wish as ways to replace the restricted Burning Wish.
A consistently lucky person, usually used with a slightly resentful tone, i.e., "He is such a lucksack, that Wrath of God won him the game!" Also can be used in verb form, i.e., "He lucksacked into that Corrupt!"
Manland, Man Land
Mana burn is an obsolete game concept in which a player lost a certain amount of life equal to the amount of unused mana in their mana pool at the end of a phase. Common slang for this term was "burn", for example someone might say they "burned for 3" when they lost 3 life due to Mana Burn. Now defunct in tournament Magic, as the rules for mana burn were removed with the release of Magic 2010.
A magic theory that is the basis for the mana curve. Mana optimization theory states that a player who best uses the mana available to them in every turn will win the game. At its most basic level applies to the player who uses the most mana in a turn ie: a player who spends 5 mana in a turn will be able to do more and more powerful things than a player with only 3 mana available. Conversely, the player who spends less resources to produce the same effect will have greater mana optimization
Mana screw refers to when a player doesn't draw enough land cards and/or acceleration for his or her deck to work effectively. Another meaning of mana screw is having a problem with colors available to play (also known as "color screw"). In multicolored decks, there is a chance of having lands that provide mana of one color and spells of another color. This is a color screw. A third meaning is when a player draws only land cards and/or mana sources.
Rarely used. The minimum amount of mana needed to be able to cast most of the spells in a deck.
In tournaments you may encounter people who play a deck that is largely, if not entirely the same as yours. You are basically playing against a mirror of your own deck, hence it's called a Mirror Match or simply a mirror.
A mirror match in which the deck and sideboard are exactly identical, card-for-card.
A very lucky happening, most commonly used to refer to a needed card being drawn at the right moment ("Drawing that Black Lotus was an excellent mise,") or the act of doing so ("I mised that Lotus just in time"). MiseTings (so named for the expression) defined a mise as "something unusually great or unexpected" or the act of obtaining such. The expression "mise" is derived from the phrase "might as well" - as in 'mise well draw that wrath'. Its meaning has since changed to the usage described above, however. The joke set Unhinged had a card called Mise, which played on this by giving the player great card advantage, but only if that player is lucky enough to know the top card of their library.
Any deck copied from the internet or a published tournament listing and changed to deal with the local metagame is called a netdeck. In some cases, players use the same deck as a winning tournament player without any changes. Netdecking is sometimes considered "cheap", but many successful players use the successful strategies engineered by other players rather than finding brand new strategies. Netdecking does not necessitate a lack of skill; in fact, successful netdeckers refine and otherwise optimize their decks in order to gain the best advantage. The practice of using netdecks is most common among Spike players who wish above all else to win a tournament. It is worth mention that people who can build the best decks may not be the best players, and vice-versa
New World Order
Similar to a combo, a "nonbo" describes an interaction between two or more cards with the important difference that it is disadvantageous instead of having a profitable effect.
An example is Crystalline Sliver and Magma Sliver, since Crystalline Silver gives shroud to each Sliver, preventing them from being targetable by other Slivers with Magma Sliver's ability.
Refers to a creature or other permanent that has an ability which another card can produce. For example: Kamahl is a "Lightning Bolt on a stick!". Can also refer to a card imprinted on an Isochron Scepter, which itself is sometimes referred to as "The Stick".
On the ground
When attacking, combat damage dealt by creatures without flying. See also In the air.
- Usage: "When he enchanted his Uril, the Miststalker with Shield of the Oversoul, my only out was to topdeck a Terminus."
Shortened name for the Pauper Magic format.
A style of play that involves hardcore/dedicated counter-magic. The permission player attempts to counter every important spell the opponent plays, and simply to draw plenty of extra cards to ensure more counters are available. The term "permission" comes from the way the opponent will end up asking whether each of their spells resolves or is countered.
The term pile refers to a deck or collection of cards which are either unplayable or would appear to be unplayable. Cards which are unreliable or anti-synergistic or weak may constitute a 'pile'. This term is often used to describe a deck which attempts to do something, and succeeds, but does so inefficiently. For example, "My deck is an absolute pile, but somehow it wins." It can also be used to refer to "The Stack," a collection of interesting cards used as a shared deck in the format of the same name. This usage is primarily to distinguish it from the rules concept of the stack.
A pip is the number of mana symbols in a card's casting cost. Not to be confused with converted mana cost. This is sometimes confusing as a card like Necropotence has 3 pips and costs 3 total mana, whereas Emrakul, the Aeons Torn has 1 pip and costs 15.
To pitch a card is generally to discard it from your hand. Occasionally it is used when referring to the remove-from-the-game alternate cost (see pitch card) of Force of Will; one of the game's more famed counterspells.
Over the history of Magic's development, the research and development at Wizards of the Coast noticed that Magic: The Gathering players could be characterized by four general stereotypes. Cards then and since have usually been designed with one of these three players in mind. References to them in casual Magic play are usually in jest, but most players do nonetheless tend to subscribe to one of the styles, or a conglomeration of the three. See also: Vorthos and Melvin.
The first player type to be given a name, Timmy is most associated with playing for fun, and all kinds of huge creatures, fantastic spells, and mythical enchantments. He is the most social archetype, enjoying the interaction that Magic provides. A stereotypical Timmy is usually a younger player with a simple (yet fun for him) deck. Timmy does not care whether he wins or loses, he simply wants to have fun playing really big effects. Timmies see Johnnies as too focused on certain combos and Spikes too bent on winning.
Johnny, the second named archetype, plays for the mental challenge that Magic presents. He likes to find interesting combinations of cards that can win the game or give him an advantage. Johnny may be a player who seeks niche cards, or cards widely reputed as bad, and tries to "break" them, exploiting them in ways to give abnormal power and win the game. He is also a combo player, sometimes choosing for elaborate but ineffective win conditions. Johnny is happiest when his decks work and he wins his way; for him, one in many leaves him happy, if that win is on his own terms. Johnnies see Timmies as simplistic and Spikes as uptight and unoriginal.
Previously called the tournament player, Wizards R&D chose "Spike" as a name that sounded aggressive and competitive. Spike plays to win. He will find the best deck in the format, even if it requires copying another innovator's work (see netdecking). Spike's cards are effective, designed to secure a fast and effective victory over opponents. If Spike plays several games and loses only one, but feels he should have won it, he may be malcontent. Spikes see Timmies as rookies and Johnnies as eccentric and annoying.
Any Magic: The Gathering literature published before the advent of the Weatherlight Saga in 1997. Much of this information has since been invalidated by more recently published material, but anything not specifically contradicted is still considered canon.
Also Inflatable. A card having a built-in ability to increase its power and/or toughness.
Prosperous Bloom, ProsBloom
An old Mirage-era combo deck based around Prosperity, Cadaverous Bloom, and Squandered Resources. The deck would remove most of its hand to generate large amounts of mana with Cadaverous Bloom, feed that into a Prosperity, sacrifice its lands to Squandered Resources, and eventually win with a giant Drain Life. Its functionality was partially based on the old rules for life loss, in which players only lost the game at the end of a phase; frequently the pilot would go to zero life from multiple Infernal Contracts before restoring their life total with Drain Life. While the deck is no longer played, it was one of the first true combo decks to dominate the Pro Tour.
Ravager Affinity, the deck using cards with affinity for artifacts and an Arcbound Ravager - Disciple of the Vault combo that dominated Mirrodin block and standard. Raffinity is despised by most players (who did not play the deck) for its simple yet dominating and flexible gameplay. Raffinity is designed to take out one player as fast as possible, and it caused a huge series of bans in standard and Mirrodin block.
Five-color. Used to describe a deck, card, or activation cost. Also WUBRG, for White blUe Black Red Green
Recursion spells allow a player to return needed cards from his or her graveyard to his or her hand or library, allowing them to be reused.
Removal spells destroy or otherwise answer an opponent's permanents.
Response or Responsive strategy
Refers to plays made in order to neutralize an opponent's threat. Responsive cards form the strategic base of any control deck (See Control).
Short for 'Removed from Game'. It is usually used to describe when a card is in the removed-from-game zone, or used as a verb to express that an action is being taken to move a card to said zone. The term "exiled" and "exile" were added in the 2010 rules revision to refer both the RFG zone and the act of RFG-ing a card, respectively; this term has become mostly deprecated as a result.
A term to describe most Black/Green control decks. Short for "The Rock and His Millions," a term referencing WWE wrestler The Rock, who always spoke of his millions of fans. The original version of the deck abused the combo of Phyrexian Plaguelord and Deranged Hermit.
Rock, Paper, Scissors of Magic
Aggro, Combo, and Control, as generally described here, form the rock, paper, and scissors of Magic: The Gathering. Aggro tends to beat control because it develops an advantage before control can play its signature cards. Control tends to beat combo because it can disrupt the most important pieces of the card combo, leaving the combo player with weak cards. Combo tends to beat aggro because the combo player can finish his combo, killing the aggro player, while the aggro player is still fighting towards victory. Because of this tendency, elements of aggro, combo, and control are used by wise players in order to build the most effective possible deck.
Rock, Paper, Scissors was also featured in a three-card series of artifact creatures in the parody Magic: The Gathering series, Unglued. They were "Rock Lobster," "Paper Tiger," and "Scissors Lizard." Each one had an ability that would render one of the others unable to attack or block (Rock Lobster rendered Scissors Lizard useless, Scissors Lizard would disable Paper tiger and so on.)
Abbreviation for "Read The F***ing Card" or "Read The Friendly Card". Often used by judges at tournaments who have to explain something about a card to someone who would not have asked the question in the first place if they had RTFC.
Saboteur abilities are abilities that trigger when a creature deals combat damage to a player, e.g. Scroll Thief.
Refers to the act of sacrificing a permanent. As an example, a player might remark, "I'll sac my Chromatic Sphere to my Grinding Station." A sacrifice is often paid as a cost, so a player might also say "I sac two mountains to play Fireblast." Also, may be used as a shortened form of the term Lucksack (above).
To concede the game, "scooping" one's cards off the table.
A player that makes consistent, unwise choices; whether in regard to construction of a deck or decisions made during gameplay. Usually, this is someone who is relatively inexperienced with tournament play. Scrub can also be used to describe an adept player who makes (a) significant player error(s) during a game or tournament. In that situation, the player in question is said to have "scrubbed out". Another characteristic of such a player is the outright refusal to improve.
Refers to the act of exchanging cards to and from the sideboard between games. A card added to the main deck is sided in, and a card removed from the main deck is sided out.
When you cast a spell so devastating, your opponent just sits there in silence for a second before reacting.
The Shock Lands were a 10-card cycle of rare Dual lands that were introduced in the Ravnica block and reprinted in Return to Ravnica. They share a common effect which allows the player to enter them onto the battlefield untapped by paying two life. They are called the shock lands because of the card 'Shock', which deals two damage to target creature or player.
A card that, while not necessarily useful all the time, is particularly good in a specific scenario or against a certain type of deck, especially if only one copy of the card is played in your deck. These cards are often found in sideboards, and some decks play a wide variety of silver bullets with tutors to find the correct one for the situation.
A mono red deck that usually wins by gaining tempo on the opponent by playing cheap creatures followed by red damage spells that are usually used to destroy possible blockers.In the absence of opposing blockers the cheap red damage spells are used to damage the opposing player. The deck was named for its creator, Paul Sligh. Sligh popularized (or possibly invented) the idea of a mana curve with this deck. It was constructed to cast the best possible creature on each sequential turn and to always be able to utilize all of its mana. It is the ancestor of the modern "AiR" ("All In Red") and "RDW" ("Red Deck Wins") aggro decks.
A novel whose protagonist is inexplicably able to defeat any opponent, no matter how powerful. For example, the Odyssey, Onslaught, and Mirrodin blocks are considered smashfests. The term 'smashfest' usually also implies that a book is poorly written and has a simple plot, a large number of fight scenes, and banal dialogue.
A combo deck featuring many blue instants and capable of winning on its opponent's turn. (See Legacy Solidarity deck.)
A small creature used to block a large attacker, holding it off for one turn.
A term used in deck construction. To 'Splash' is to add cards of another color or strategy to a deck predominantly of another color (or colors) or strategy. E.g "My deck is white blue splash red."
Splash damage is said to occur when hate against a popular deck hurts the strategies of other decks, even though the hate may not have been directed at them. This is an important consideration for deckbuilders. See also: Metagame
Describes a creature whose power and toughness are the same, for instance a Kalonian Tusker (3/3) or an Angel token (4/4). A square creature is equally strong on attack or defense; you don't have to use it quickly like a small-ass, but you don't want to durdle behind it like a big-ass wall.
A Vintage (T1) artifact deck designed to lock down the opponent with cards like Smokestack, Sphere of Resistance, & Crucible of Worlds. A derivation of the phrase $T4KS, which means The Four Thousand Dollar Solution. A Deck originally created as a Metagame deck to counteract Gro-A-Tog, and its fragile land base. The name was also partially inspired by the deck's extensive use of stacking multiple triggered abilities in the upkeep.
An aggressive mono-green deck consisting of outrageously-cheap fatties, generally with a mana curve topping off at two, and pump spells. Several Stompy decks run only nine lands total; by comparison, a lean Sligh deck wouldn't dare run less than eighteen, and most tournament-quality decks run a minimum of twenty-four.
A card is "strictly better" than another card if it's not only better overall, but there's also no reasonable situation where the other card would be better - there's no drawback to balance out the advantages. E.g. Lightning Bolt is strictly better than Shock, Elite Vanguard is strictly better than Eager Cadet and Kavu Titan is strictly better than Grizzly Bears. Conversely, a card is "strictly worse" than a card that is strictly better than it.
Whereas Shroud means no one can target that card, super shroud means that your opponents cannot target that card. This is preferred as you can do more stuff with said card. It's also known as Troll Shroud for its appearance on Troll Ascetic. This ability received an official keyword in Magic 2012 — Hexproof.
"Super trample" is a slang term for the ability of creatures to assign their combat damage as though they weren't blocked. As with its cousin Trample, Super Trample is typically found on Green creatures. It was introduced in Portal Second Age.
Swing has two meanings:
- To attack with creatures.
- A dramatic change in the game such that one player who was previously losing is now winning.
In tournament play, Swiss refers to a scoring and pairing that allows large-scale card tournaments to be played through in a relatively short period of time. Players are matched with other players according to their record in the tournament, with players with similar records being paired against each other. At the end of any arbitrary number of swiss rounds, the eight players with the most swiss points advance to a separate single-elimination tournament called the Top 8 bracket. See also: Top 8, Swiss system tournament
Synergy refers to the small, positive interactions of individual cards in a deck. A synergistic deck is one where every card benefits from every other card in some way or fashion. Even a deck full of seemingly bad cards can be a good deck if it showcases potent synergy. Tribal decks, such as Goblin or Elf decks, rely on synergy to win games.
In contrast, decks with good cards that seem to contradict each other suffer from disynergy.
When a player is 'tapped out', it means that he or she has run out of mana, and therefore is unable to play any more spells or abilities.
TBTSNBN is short for "The Book That Shall Not Be Named" and refers to the Legions novel.
Tech generally refers to an individual's innovation to a deck or archetype using a card or strategy that is not commonly seen, or that is used in a different manner than that which is common in the current metagame. Tech often appears in large tournament events and serves to throw other strategies off balance by changing some part of how a deck usually works. Tech is generally researched in secret by an individual or a team prior to a large tournament in order to keep competitors from knowing what tricks will be put into a competing deck.
Refers to the popularity of a certain deck or deck archetype. Tier 1 decks are the most popular decks, Tier 2 decks are less popular, Tier 3 decks are the least popular. Tier is often confused with the power level of a certain deck. Although sometimes it's true that more popular decks are more powerful, many powerful decks do not achieve a good Tier level. Also, cards tend to be referred to similarly, based on their popularity in these decks. For example, a Tier 1 card is one that shows up in many top level decks, and is easy to trade or sell.
To the Air(!)
In tournament play, a Top 8 tournament refers to a single-elimination tournament whose participants are chosen from those of a previous Swiss tournament. Players who win play will play each other, and so will players who lose. This format is commonly used to determine the exact ranking of tournament players. However, placing anywhere in the top 8 is widely seen as a success for the player, his deck, and his team.
Topdecking is the act (some call it an art) of a player drawing the exact card they need at exactly the time they need it. Many non-scientific "techniques" have been developed to perform a perfect topdeck, but many tournament players build their decks using "tutors", which are cards that actually move desired cards to the top of the deck.
A topdeck hero often refers to a player who manages to topdeck multiple times/ games in a row to win games. An example of this would be, "Tim won the game by topdecking a Fireball again!" "Yeah, well he's a topdeck hero now." The word is also less frequently used to describe anyone who has, or must topdeck in order to win a game. An example of this would be "Okay, I need to top a Fireball to win the game. Come on, be a topdeck hero!" Topdeck Hero's are often thought to be more lucky than skillful as they frequently are seen as needing to topdeck or mise in order to win games.
'Topdeck Mode' is where a player has no cards in hand and relies solely on the cards they draw each turn to be able to play effectively. It is a situation players try to avoid as it means the player relies entirely on the luck of the draw. See also, Draw-Go.
...to the head/dome/face
'X to the head/dome' is a term used to announce damage dealt directly to a player instead of a creature. E.g 'Deal 3 to the head' or 'Fireball for 6 to the dome'.
Tradebait are cards which a player trades for not because they want the card for a deck or their collection, but because they might be able to trade it later on to someone else for cards that they are after.
Trading up is when a person trades card(s) that are worth less value for card(s) that are worth more. This generally refers to the value of the individual cards, not the total value of all cards traded--for example, trading fifteen $1 cards for one $10 card is still considered "trading up."
Refers to a large group of creatures which share a creature type and work well together in a deck. Such a deck is called a Tribal deck. An example of a competitive tribe is Goblins, which work together in order to win with astounding numbers and force. Rebels previously had a similar strategy, allowing the Rebel player to win with sheer numbers and utility of creatures. Many other competitive Tribe-based decks also exist.
A 'Trick' or 'Combat Trick' is a spell or ability used by a player to alter the outcome of a combat. Common ways in which this is achieved include increasing or decreasing a creatures' power and/or toughness, by granting or removing abilities from a creature or even removing the creature entirely from combat or play.
TSTTBTSNBN is short for The Sequel To The Book That Shall Not Be Named, and refers to the Scourge novel.
Tucking refers to putting cards on the bottom of its owner's library, or shuffle them into owner's library. For example, Condemn tucks an attacking creature.
A spell that allows a player to search their library for another card. Many such cards have "Tutor" in their name, a pattern established by Demonic Tutor and the four tutors from Mirage block (Enlightened Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Worldly Tutor, and Vampiric Tutor) and continued throughout the years with cards like Diabolic Tutor.
Can be used as a verb, as in "I'll tutor up my combo piece."
See also silver bullet.
A planeswalker's ability that provides the biggest effect at the cost of the removal of the most loyalty counters, for example, the effect of Garruk, Primal Hunter has Garruk's controller put a 6/6 green Wurm creature token onto the battlefield for each land he or she controls.
"Untrample" is a slang term for the ability of creatures to assign their combat damage to target creature instead of defending player when they aren't blocked.
A land that has an effect other than mana generation.
A vanilla creature is any creature without rules text (text that grants the creature extra abilities).
Voltron is a deck archetype with the goal of casting one creature, then using other cards such as Auras and Equipment to enhance that creature and making it a true threat to the opponent. The archetype's name derives from the Japanese animated series Voltron which features several small robots that combine into one large robot.
Vorthos is a name for the "flavor guy," someone who enjoys the flavor of Magic separate from the game itself. The name Vorthos was first used by Matt Cavotta in the article Snack Time With Vorthos. Vorthos enjoys the flavor of the game. While Cavotta initially referred to Vorthos as a player psychographic like Timmy, Johnny, and Spike, Mark Rosewater has since clarified that he considers Vorthos, along with Melvin, to be "on a different axis" from the three and a separate idea. The major distinction is that both Vorthos and Melvin are interested in the game in a way that does not have to include playing it.
Refers to the five color triplets that form a wedge shape, or an acute triangle: // (Dega), // (Ceta), // (Necra), // (Raka), // (Ana). These names come from five cycles in Apocalypse, i.e. Dega Disciple, Ceta Sanctuary, Necravolver.
Refers to a small creature, with low power and toughness. Any archetype or deck which uses Weenies as the victory condition is also referred to as a Weenie Deck (usually abbreviating weenie to W and preceding it by the color of the deck; White Weenie becomes WW).
The method that a deck is used to win with. For some decks this could mean a rapid stream of efficient midrange creatures. For others, total lockdown of the opponent's board or milling the opponent's library. Power of individual cards would then measure the strength of the deck's win condition, while disruptability and stability measure its consistency. Often shortened to "wincon".
In booster draft, a "windmill slam" occurs when a player is very happy to pick a card. Comes from the physical "windmill" motion of taking the card and "slamming" it onto the table in excitement. Often shortened to "Slam". See also: bomb, snap-pick
The five colors of Magic: White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. Pronounced "woo-berg."
Short for graveyard.
Card nicknames and abbreviations
The Magic community has given many nicknames to cards, and a number of those nicknames have passed into the mainstream and become part of M:TG terminology.
Short for Tolarian Academy, one of the key components of decks during Combo Winter.
Short for Accumulated Knowledge.
Short for Blue Elemental Blast.
Refers to the card, Dark Confidant, created by Bob Maher Jr. when he won the 2004 Invitational Tournament.
Nickname for the legendary creature Rashka the Slayer, as this card was originally designed to block and kill the Sengir Vampire, provided it hadn't increased in power. The nickname is derived from the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the T.V. show first aired after Homelands was released.
Nickname for Giant Solifuge. Nickname origin unclear.
Refers to the incredibly underpowered card Chimney Imp from Mirrodin, and is often written in a variant of leet speak (such as 7he p1mp, t3h p!mp, etc). In a similar manner as Throat Wolf, it became a common joke in the official Magic forums that The Pimp was an extremely broken card because "it untaps for free", which in fact is a trait shared by almost all permanents.
CoB is a common name for the card City of Brass.
The acronym for each Circle of Ptotection 
Short for Pernicious Deed.
Short for Deep Analysis.
Refers to Isamaru, Hound of Konda because it is a popular card and its creature type is Hound.
A nickname for the card Psychatog. Sometimes this card is announced as "The doctor's in."
Playing defensively. A durdling player relies on high-toughness creatures or other threats to deter attacking or other aggressive moves by the opponent. Durdling often happens when waiting a few turns for a good draw or that missing land drop. Durdling is distinct from draw-go, where you expect to play aggressively on the opponent's turn; in durdling you're mostly just waiting for the right conditions or cards.
"I durdled behind two Returned Phalanx and a Mnemonic Wall but eventually topdecked Phenax."
"Dude, you're playing Boros, why all the durdle? Just burn her dudes and swing."
Short for Elvish Spirit Guide.
Shadowmage Infiltrator, the card made by Invitational winner Jon Finkel in the Odyssey set. "Finkel's Cloak" refers to the card Sleeper's Robe, as it grants the Shadowmage Infiltrator's abilities onto any other creature, even though the Robe was printed earlier than the Infiltrator itself. Occasionally called "infilmage finkletrator" as an affectionate play on the name. Mask of Riddles from Alara Reborn is also referred to as the "Finkel Suit", as, being Equipment, creatures can slip in and out of the suit, becoming Finkel whenever the player has the mana and wishes.
Short for Force of Will.
Another acronym for Force of Will.
Short for Tarmogoyf.
Hypnotic Specter, one of the most beloved cards in Magic. Hippy (or Hippie) is a derivative of the Specter's name.
Short for Hymn to Tourach.
I am Superman
Refers to Pemmin's Aura. The designer who named the card decided to make a tribute to Morphling, which was known as "Superman". Since it was an enchantment which gave the enchanted creature the same abilities that Superman possessed, he made the name Pemmin's Aura, an anagram for the phrase "I am Superman". When asked "Who's Pemmin?" he simply responded "The guy who made the aura", as there was no background for said character, although it did end up in the flavor text of another card in Scourge: Stifle.
Name of Jens Thoren's Solemn Simulacrum, the card he created when he won 2002s Invitational Tournament. Also known as Robo-Jens or Sad Robot due to the pensive facial expression in the artist's portrait of Thoren.
Short for Powder Keg.
Larry Niven's Disk
Short for Misdirection.
The Gorilla Shaman, with the ability to destroy low-costed artifacts quite inexpensively, is called the "Mox Monkey" because he can destroy (or often "eat") the oft-used Moxen for a minimal cost, netting a great card advantage.
Short for Oath of Druids, or a deck featuring the card.
Ophie the One-Eyed Snake
Ophie, known in print as Ophidian, was a card that powered many Blue control decks to victory with its card-drawing mechanic which could be used every turn. Its art depicts a one-eyed snake, giving him the nickname among control players and their opponents.
Short for One with Nothing, a card from Saviors of Kamigawa previously perceived to have no practical purpose, though the results of Pro Tours: Honolulu has had some players suggesting it as an answer to the "Owling Mine" deck that had gained prominence during the tournament. It is sometimes, ironically, used as a pun of the term owned.
Often used to refer to the card Masticore due to its similarity to the word "masturbate', and the phallus-like structure coming out of its mouth.
Four functionally equivalent white and black knights from Ice Age and Fallen Empires: Order of Leitbur, Order of the White Shield, Order of the Ebon Hand, and Knight of Stromgald. The name refers to their +1/+0 pumping ability.
Short for Red Elemental Blast.
Short for Ancestral Recall.
Short for a deck featuring Academy Rector and Tendrils of Agony. The deck uses Rector to fetch a Yawgmoth's Bargain. The Bargain draws many cards, allowing the player to play many spells and Tendrils as a finisher.
Short for Dark Ritual. Alternately shortened to "Dark Rit" or even further to just "Rit."
Short for Sakura-Tribe Elder, which is usually sacrificed (see "sac") for mana acceleration (see "accel"). Other nicknames include Saccy Tribe Elder, Tribe-Elder, Saccy Chan and sometimes just 'Elder.
The art on the Uktabi Orangutan card depicts monkeys in a position that resembles the sexual act in its background, hence the appellation. The background was noticed during the reign of the "Artifact" block, where it became wildly popular because of its ability to destroy an opponent's artifacts. The flavor text of the card also reinforces this interpretation, as it refers to monkeys in gold coats marrying. In Unhinged, there was a parody of the card, called Uktabi Kong, with a larger version of the original Orangutan in the foreground, and an expectant pair of monkeys in the background, playing on the original art and its implications. The effects of that card are relevant to the act, too, allowing you to tap two Apes to generate another one.
Refers to Isochron Scepter, a powerful card in the Mirrodin set which allows a player to Imprint an Instant on the Scepter and activate the Scepter to play a copy of that card. The name is derived from the card's art, which shows a humanoid woman holding the scepter (which obviously looks like a stick).
"Card on a stick" is a term used to refer to an Isochron Scepter in play with a particular card imprinted on it.
When Counterspell is on the stick, it is referred to as the "No stick"; the stick now lets the player say "no" to an opponent's spell once per turn. "NO Stick" was a popular deck which imprinted Orim's Chant on Stick, preventing the opponent from playing anything except instants and cards with Flash.
"(thing) on a stick" can also mean a creature with some useful ability. For example: "Temporal Adept" is a "boomerang on a stick", because his ability resembles the card Boomerang, while being a creature.
An acronym for Sakura-Tribe Elder. See also Sac Elder.
Refers to Morphling, a very powerful creature which received the name because it could fly and was practically invulnerable. The nickname has also been acknowledged by WOTC in Pemmin's Aura, an aura that grants Morphling's abilities to the enchanted creature and which name is an anagram of "I am Superman".
Short for Swords to Plowshares, the best creature-removal spell ever printed. Creatures targeted by a Swords to Plowshares are said to be "Swordsed" or "Plowed".[fact? citation needed] Sometimes abbreviated STP.
The classic nickname for the card Prodigal Sorcerer, named after the enchanter from Monty Python's Holy Grail. Rod of Ruin was sometimes referred to as "Tim on a stick", while Pirate Ship was of course "Tim on a ship" 
'Tog refers to the card Psychatog. This card was once the most powerful creature in Magic, allowing for you to easily attack for the win in a single attack when playing a control deck.
Short for Time Walk.
Short for Goblin Welder.
Abbreviation of Wrath of God, which has been a staple card due to its ability to destroy many creatures using only one card.
YawgWin or Yawgmoth's Win refers to the card Yawgmoth's Will. Yawgmoth's Will allows all previously played cards to be played a second time, netting an enormous advantage, and usually wins the game for its caster immediately.
Short for Yotian Soldier.
- Jaharu. (March 09, 2006.) "Magic Player's Dictionary" — MTG Salvation
- Gavin Verhey. (August 03, 2005.) "Encyclopedia Magica" — MTG Salvation
- Ted Knutson. (September 09, 2006.) "Magic Jargon", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Mark Rosewater. (September 08, 2008.) "Between a Rock and a Shard Place", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Melody Alder. (1998). The Duelist #22, 40-42
- ↑ Mark Gottlieb. (April 15, 2004.) "Attack of the Bombos", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Ken Nagle. (November 09, 2009.) "Premium Deck Series: Slivers", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/deck/303
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (December 12, 2011.) "Flashback to the Future", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Beth Moursund. (2007). Official Strategy Guide (5th Edition), Wizards of the Coast
- ↑ Brian David-Marshall. (October 20, 2012.) "Video Deck Tech: Second Breakfast with Stanislav Cifka", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (March 26, 2007.) "Fatty, Fatty, Two By Four", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Aaron Forsythe. (March 30, 2007.) "Fat: A Retrospective", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Mark Rosewater. "Wait, I thought Vanilla was (...)", Blogatog, Tumblr. (November 09, 2013.)
- ↑ Mike Flores. (February 07, 2008.) "Top 10 Extended Decks of All Time", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (October 19, 2009.) "Care for a bite?", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Randy Buehler. (December 19, 2003.) "Classic Developments", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (December 05, 2011.) "New World Order", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Marshall Sutcliffe. (August 28, 2013.) "Counter Sweep", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (June 09, 2003.) "Top Down and Goal", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Robby Rothe (April 11, 2012). Building your own Voltron through white cards. Gathering Magic.
- ↑ Mark Gottlieb. (June 12, 2003.) "Grand Designs", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.