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Comprehensive Rules
Game Concepts
100. General
101. The Magic Golden Rules
102. Players
103. Starting the Game
104. Ending the Game
105. Colors
106. Mana
107. Numbers and Symbols
108. Cards
109. Objects
110. Permanents
111. Spells
112. Abilities
113. Emblems
114. Targets
115. Special Actions
116. Timing and Priority
117. Costs
118. Life
119. Damage
120. Drawing a Card
121. Counters
Parts of a Card
Card Types
Turn Structure
Spells, Abilities, and Effects
Additional Rules
Multiplayer Rules
Casual Variants
In Magic: The Gathering , the term spell has three meanings; one technical, one casual and one flavorful.

Technical: Comprehensive Rules[edit | edit source]

A spell is any card that has been played and thus placed on the stack. [1] A card is only a spell when it is on the stack.

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

111. Spells

  • 111.1. A spell is a card on the stack. As the first step of being cast (see rule 601, “Casting Spells”), the card becomes a spell and is moved to the top of the stack from the zone it was in, which is usually its owner’s hand. (See rule 405, “Stack.”) A spell remains on the stack as a spell until it resolves (see rule 608, “Resolving Spells and Abilities”), is countered (see rule 701.5), or otherwise leaves the stack. For more information, see section 6, “Spells, Abilities, and Effects.”
  • 111.1a A copy of a spell is also a spell, even if it has no card associated with it. See rule 706.10.
  • 111.1b Some effects allow a player to cast a copy of a card; if the player does, that copy is a spell as well. See rule 706.12.
  • 111.2. A spell’s owner is the same as the owner of the card that represents it, unless it’s a copy. In that case, the owner of the spell is the player under whose control it was put on the stack. A spell’s controller is, by default, the player who put it on the stack. Every spell has a controller.
  • 111.3. A noncopy spell’s characteristics are the same as those printed on its card, as modified by any continuous effects. See rule 613, “Interaction of Continuous Effects.”
  • 111.4. If an effect changes any characteristics of a permanent spell, the effect continues to apply to the permanent when the spell resolves. See rule 400.7.
Example: If an effect changes a black creature spell to white, the creature is white when it enters the battlefield and remains white for the duration of the effect changing its color.

Any text on an instant or sorcery spell is a spell ability unless it's an activated ability, a triggered ability or a static ability.

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

112.3. There are four general categories of abilities:

  • 112.3a Spell abilities are abilities that are followed as instructions while an instant or sorcery spell is resolving. Any text on an instant or sorcery spell is a spell ability unless it’s an activated ability, a triggered ability, or a static ability that fits the criteria described in rule 112.6.
  • 112.3b Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as “[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]” A player may activate such an ability whenever he or she has priority. Doing so puts it on the stack, where it remains until it’s countered, it resolves, or it otherwise leaves the stack. See rule 602, “Activating Activated Abilities.”
  • 112.3c Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as “[Trigger condition], [effect],” and include (and usually begin with) the word “when,” “whenever,” or “at.” Whenever the trigger event occurs, the ability is put on the stack the next time a player would receive priority and stays there until it’s countered, it resolves, or it otherwise leaves the stack. See rule 603, “Handling Triggered Abilities.”
  • 112.3d Static abilities are written as statements. They’re simply true. Static abilities create continuous effects which are active while the permanent with the ability is on the battlefield and has the ability, or while the object with the ability is in the appropriate zone. See rule 604, “Handling Static Abilities.”

Casual[edit | edit source]

Originally the game was considered to have six basic kind of spells: Summons, enchantments, sorceries, instants, interrupts and artifacts.[2]

Nowadays, spell is the collective term for all non-permanents. This includes: sorceries, instants and the obsoleted mana sources and interrupts.

Flavor[edit | edit source]

In the storyline, spells are the effect of a ritual that involves mental activity and a varying amount of both physical activity and the channeling of mana. [3] [4] [5] [6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Reid Duke. (August 31, 2015.) "When to Cast Your Spells", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Pocket Players' Guide (Revised Edition), p. 53
  3. Matt Cavotta. (April 19, 2007.) "Spelling It Out", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Doug Beyer. (December 05, 2007.) "Magic in Stories", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Doug Beyer. (August 05, 2009.) "Keeping Spells Spellish", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Doug Beyer. (November 30, 2011.) "The Only Constant", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.

See also[edit | edit source]

Card types
Groups Supertypes Card types Subtypes
Instant FUT Instant symbol.png Trap Arcane
Sorcery FUT Sorcery symbol.png
Permanent Basic,
Artifact FUT Artifact symbol.png Equipment, Fortification, Contraption
Creature FUT Creature symbol.png (…)
Enchantment FUT Enchantment symbol.png Aura, Curse, Shrine
Land FUT Land symbol.png (…)
Planeswalker FUT Planeswalker symbol.png (…)
Miscellaneous Tribal (…)
Plane (…)
Ongoing Scheme
Obsolete Mono,
Mana Source,