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Ability word

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Comprehensive Rules
Game Concepts
Parts of a Card
Card Types
Zones
Turn Structure
Spells, Abilities, and Effects
Additional Rules
700. General
701. Keyword Actions
702. Keyword Abilities
703. Turn-Based Actions
704. State-Based Actions
705. Flipping a Coin
706. Copying Objects
707. Face-Down Spells and Permanents
708. Split Cards
709. Flip Cards
710. Leveler Cards
711. Double-Faced Cards
712. Controlling Another Player
713. Ending the Turn
714. Restarting the Game
715. Subgames
716. Taking Shortcuts
717. Handling Illegal Actions
Multiplayer Rules
Casual Variants

An ability word is a word that thematically groups cards with a common functionality, but has no special meaning in the Comprehensive Rules.

Description[edit | edit source]

Because they indicate flavor rather than rules text, ability words are printed in italics and are separated from their corresponding rules text by an em-dash. Ability words are used to label mechanics that cannot be keyworded.[1]

Ability words were introduced with Unhinged's Gotcha, and were first printed on tournament-legal cards in Saviors of Kamigawa with channel and sweep. Some earlier unnamed mechanics, such as Invasion block's domain, have retroactively received ability words. Odyssey block's threshold was errataed during rules changes in Time Spiral block to be an ability word, rather than a keyword.

Ability words are distinct from keyword actions and keyword abilities.

Differences between keyword actions, keyword abilities, and ability words[edit | edit source]

Ability words have no rules meaning, but exist to name and flavorfully link otherwise unnamed mechanics. Like flavor text, ability words are italicized. Because they are have no rules meaning, and are not listed in the Comprehensive Rules, ability words are never referenced on other cards.

Keywords actions and keyword abilities are closely related. Both represent a longer segment of rules text and may allow variable costs and effects. Because they have a specific rules meaning and are listed in the Comprehensive Rules, keywords of either type can be referenced from other cards. They differ in that keyword abilities are either characteristics of objects or are objects themselves, whereas keyword actions describe game-related actions.

For example, the keyword ability enchant, as in Enchant creature, states a restriction on the valid targets for an aura. The related keyword action attach describes the process of physically putting such an aura onto its target.

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Magic Origins (July 17, 2015))

207.2c An ability word appears in italics at the beginning of some abilities. Ability words are similar to keywords in that they tie together cards that have similar functionality, but they have no special rules meaning and no individual entries in the Comprehensive Rules. The ability words are battalion, bloodrush, channel, chroma, constellation, domain, fateful hour, ferocious, formidable, grandeur, hellbent, heroic, imprint, inspired, join forces, kinship, landfall, lieutenant, metalcraft, morbid, parley, radiance, raid, spell mastery, strive, sweep, tempting offer, threshold, and will of the council.


Examples[edit | edit source]

Examples of ability words are:

  • Metalcraft — {Additional or alternate effect} if you control three or more artifacts.
  • Sweep — Return any number of {basic land types} you control to their owner's hand. {An effect based on the number of lands returned.}

List of ability words[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (July 28, 2008.) "Ability Word to Your Mother", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.