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NOTE: This Glossary does not contain Magic rules, or official rules exmplained in the Magic Comprehensive Rules guide. Be sure to check the Comprehensive Rules first. This Glossary is intended to contain unofficial information such as abbreviations, Magic software terminology, slang and other non-tournament terms.




"2" is (a request for or announcement of) a second game. Sometimes written as "2?" instead.



This is a general term for any activated or continuous things a permanent may do. The result of an ability is called its "effect".

A permanent may have the same ability more than once. If this happens, it has all the abilities. For many abilities, having it more than once makes no difference, such as with Flying or First Strike. These kinds of abilities simply make a creature able to do something or make something "true" about it. For others, such as Rampage X and Flanking, the ability becomes cumulative because the effect is active. [Mirage Page 28]

Abilities played when a card is not in play are not "creature abilities", "artifact abilities" or so on. They are card abilities (or more specifically "creature card abilities", etc.). Thus Elvish Spirit Guide and similar cards are not affected by Gloom or Cursed Totem. [WotC Rules Team 06/01/97]


Aggro is an abbreviation for "aggresive". It become more or less a word of it own. It stands for Aggresive playstyle. A form of deck based around attacking with a large amount of creatures. Aggro stands for agressive and means a fast deck. With an aggro deck you often try to play so many cheap but still effient creatures, that you overwhelm your opponent. Aggro decks often use a bit of small counter magic, direct damage, or destruction cards to keep their creatures attacking. In the past black had efficient creatures, red goblins had good direct damage to finish the game, and even white had enough destroy cards to be good at aggressive decks. Lately it completely matters on the available sets.


Abbreviation for Apprentice.


Acronym for "attack".


An avatar is a small image generally unique to a user and displayed with their username. There are free services for hosting avatars such as Gravatar.


Block Constructed Deck

This section takes effect on 07/01/97.

These formats follow the Standard (Type II) tournament rules for deck construction but only allow cards from a given "block" rather than from the larger list of sets.

The current "blocks" are: Ice Age/Homelands/Alliances and Mirage/ Visions/Weatherlight.

Only cards explicitly banned from this format are banned. The Standard (Type II) tournament list is not the only indicator.

Some cards are 'banned' from the Ice Age/Homelands/Alliances format so that none may appear in a deck or sideboard. These cards are: [Tourney Rules 10/01/95] + [Update 04/01/97] Amulet of Quoz, (IA) Thawing Glaciers, (AL) Timmerian Fiends, (HL) Zuran Orb (IA)

Some cards are 'banned' from the Mirage/Visions/Weatherlight format so that none may appear in a deck or sideboard. These cards are: [Update 06/01/97] Squandered Resources (VI)

Booster Draft

Players sit in groups of no more than 8 players.

On a signal from the judge, each player opens one pack, picks a card and then passes the remaining cards (face down) the the player on their left. Repeat until all cards in the opened packs have been chosen by someone. Then repeat for any additional packs.

Ante cards in initial boosters are replaced by tournament officials from a random stack of cards.

30 minutes are given to construct the deck after drafting is complete.

Players may add as many basic lands as they want to the deck.

Minimum of 40 cards in the play deck. All other cards function as the sideboard (as in sealed deck play).



Abbreviation for Converted Mana Cost.

Colorless Mana

Same as Generic Mana.


Cyclic Redundancy Check. Usually a hash/checksum calculated over the content of a deck. CRC can be used to determine that the deck your oponent is playing with has not changed during game. Apprentice and Magic Workstation implement their own so called "Security Codes" which are a checksum calculated in a special way over the cards in the deck and/or sideboard and their quantity.



Acronym for "draw" after the coin toss.


The DCI is the worldwide organization that handles tournaments and organized play for Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill games. If you are not already a DCI member, you can get more information about the various programs of the DCI at Getting a DCI membership is free and easy. You can participate in any DCI Sanctioned event and get a DCI number there. You can find the list of upcoming event in Wizards of the Coast tournament locator.


Destruction and Corruption playstyle. In the past black often had good destruction and corruption decks, and red had good decks that destroyed lands. Without lands, means without resources and often ment you couldnt cast a single land. And thus a single creature could easily finish the opponent.


Acronym for Damage.



Abbreviation for End of Turn.


Fast Effect

Fast effects are Instants, Interrupts, Mana Sources, or non-continuous special abilities of a permanent. [Mirage Page 68] Most people use the term as slang for "instant speed effect" but this is not accurate.

Some other game actions are treated as instant speed fast effects. For example, the draw during your draw phase. [D'Angelo 07/30/96]


The term "fizzle" is used to indicate a spell/ability which was announced with a legal target but whose target becomes illegal or invalid prior to resolution. The spell/ability does nothing and is said to "fizzle". [Mirage Page 68] This is different from a "failure" to work correctly on a valid target.

Spells which fizzle are still considered "successfully cast" even though they have no effect. [bethmo 05/30/94]

Floor Rules

Fifth Edition rules become the standard rules as of November 8, 1996. [Update 10/01/96]

Decision of the judge is final. This is true even if the judge turns out later to have made an incorrect ruling. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

All tournaments are single elimination, double elimination, round-robin, or Swiss draw format with each round consisting of up to 3 duels during a fixed time limit. A win gets 3 points and a draw gets 1 point. A bye gives a player 6 points. [Tourney Rules 10/01/95]

Players cannot change the contents of their deck and sideboard throughout the entire tournament, but cards can be rotated between the deck and sideboard between games. The sideboard (if used at all) must always have exactly 15 cards (except in Sealed Deck tournaments).

Players may not play for ante. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

If a player draws all land or no land in the initial 7 cards, they can call a "mulligan" and reshuffle, recut, and draw again. If a player does this, the opponent has the option of doing so as well. Each player is allowed to use this rule once per duel. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

Card sleeves are allowed on cards, but the judge or opponent in a specific duel may request that they be removed. If this is requested, it must be complied with. If sleeves are used, all cards in the deck, library and sideboard must be identically wrapped. If holograms are on the sleeves, they must be on the face (not the back) of the cards. Players can ask the judge to inspect the sleeves and can disallow them if they are obviously marked, worn, or in a poor condition that may interfere with shuffling. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

Black-backed sleeves are allowed but are subject to the normal sleeve removal rule. The deck must be fully legal without the sleeves. [DCI Letter Jan 1997]

You can always use a card sleeve as a reminder when placing one of your cards in your opponent's territory.

Using "proxy" cards is not allowed. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

If a deck contains Alpha printing cards, it must consist entirely of them. You should also inform the judge that your deck is so constructed. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

A time limit of 45 or more minutes may be placed on a round other than the semi-final or final rounds. A 10 minute warning should be given. The duel is over when the time is called, except the current player has 60 seconds to finish their turn. The turn is considered started if they had already untapped all their cards. [Tourney Rules 10/01/95] A time limit may be placed on the final rounds, but it is strongly recommended that the judge not do so. [Aahz 01/14/97]

The head judge may terminate a match early. If this is done, at least a 30 minute warning must be given. It a game is terminated this way, the judge will give the player who is currently in the middle of their turn a fixed amount of time to finish it. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

If time runs out before all the games in the match are completed, the player who won the most games wins the match. If time runs out during a game, neither player is considered the winner of that game. If neither player won more games than the other, the match is a draw. If the tournament is an elimination tournament where a player must advance, the judge should declare the player with the higher life total the winner.

Players can look through their sideboards during play. [bethmo 07/18/95]

After whatever normal shuffling you do, you are required to do three "riffle shuffles" (this is the standard shuffle technique of dividing the deck in half and then placing the ends of the two halves together and rapidly interleaving them as the fall together). [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

Your opponent is always entitled to shuffle your deck before each duel begins if they want to. They get the right to a final shuffle if they want it. [Mirage Page 46] This is to prevent people from possibly stacking the deck. Usually people just settle for "cutting the deck".

Your opponent is always entitled to shuffle or cut your deck after any shuffle during a game. They may not use this opportunity to view cards in your deck. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

As per the game rules, the first player each game skips their draw phase. The winner of the coin toss before the each match decides if they want to play first or to draw first. [Mirage Page 46]

You are not allowed to waive any penalties imposed by the judge on your opponent. Violation of the floor rules must be enforced. [Update 10/01/96]

Players are allowed only 5 minutes prior to each duel to do sideboarding, deck shuffling and shuffling/cutting of opponent's deck. Violation of this rule is considered stalling and may result in a warning or disqualification as decided by the judge. The judge may alter this time limit (usually lowering it) but if so, this must be advertised prior to the tournament. [Update 10/01/96]

Players in a tournament environment that withdraw before the first match will receive a loss for that match and the opponent will receive a win. Players may withdraw between matches without penalty. To withdraw, the proper official must be notified prior to the pairings being assigned for the next round. Failure to do so, such as just wandering out of the tournament area, will result in a loss of the next round for failing to show up. [Update 04/01/97]


These cards can be identified by the metalic foil finish and the start burst in the lower left corner of the card. Urza's Legacy was the first set to have foil cards.

Fog Effects

Fog effects are effects that prevent a creature from dealing damage in combat.

These effects only prevent combat damage (which is damage done by creatures during the damage dealing portion of the attack) and do not prevent damage from other effects during the attack phase. [Mirage Page 48]

Does not prevent a creature from being affected by blocking abilities such as the Thicket Basilisk's [Duelist Magazine #2, Page 8] Note that Revised Edition Fog does add in that special prevention clause.

Does not prevent the Is Not Blocked abilities from being used. [Aahz 12/19/94]

If a Trampling attacker can deal damage (because it is not under the fog effect) but none of the blockers can receive damage, then the Trample damage goes through to the defender. [Aahz 05/23/95]

If a single creature is under a Fog effect and it is a member of a band, it can still contribute banding to the band. [Aahz 08/31/94]

If a single creature is under a Fog effect and it is a member of a band, it cannot have damage assigned to it as part of the band. [Aahz 12/03/94]



Acronym for "good game". Usually said to your opponent(s) after the game is over.



All players have the right to know how many cards you have in your hand. [Mirage Page 59]

You always know what cards are in your hand, and get to know what cards an opponent sees when they look at cards from your hand. [D'Angelo 02/10/97]

You are technically not allowed to show cards in your hand to other players. [Aahz 03/04/97]

Spell cards being announced are considered to not be in your hand for purposes of target selection, sacrifices, and other things related to casting the spell. For all other reasons, such as for the power/toughness of Maro, the spell card is still in your hand until the spell announcement is complete. [Duelist Magazine #18, Page 28]


Infinite Combos

Infinite combos are legal. There are currently no rulings to prevent them from happening. [D'Angelo 11/07/96]

In reality, most "infinite" combos are just "arbitrarily large" combos. This means that you can do it as many times as you want, but the question of how many times comes up. There is no official ruling on this. Some people play that you can just say you do it X times (where X may even be infinity!) and get on with the game, but many say that you are required to do each instance so it would not truly be infinite. And then taking too long to do something may actually considered stalling the game. At a Pro-Tour event, it was ruled that you had to do the action 10 times individually. If it was not broken after that, you could pick any finite number and just say it happens that many times.

Some things really are infinite. For example, a Clergy of the Holy Nimbus with Weakness on it will keep dying and regenerating until the end of time. And if an Ivory Gargoyle comes into play at end of turn while a Vibrating Sphere is in play, it'll keep dying and coming back. In these cases, it has been ruled that you project the eventual outcome and just have it be that way. The Clergy stay tapped but in play. The Gargoyle is put in the graveyard and you lose all your draw phases for the rest of the game. Usually the really infinite things are automatic and not under your control.

A player with infinite life or a creature with infinite toughness cannot be killed by damage, even infinite damage. [Aahz 11/04/96]



As of 09/01/97, all sanctioned title events require a Level III certified judge. Title events include Pro Tour(TM) Qualifiers, Grand Prix(TM) tournaments, Grand Prix Trial tournaments, and Regional Championships. [Tourney Update 08/01/97]

As of 09/01/97, all Pre-release events require a Level II certified judge. [Tourney Update 08/01/97]

As of 01/01/98, all sanctioned tournaments without a Level II certified judge. If one is not present, the K value will be 1/2 (most often 16). This is cumulative with other decreases in the K value. [Tourney Update 08/01/97]



Short for "keep," as in they will keep their hand and not mulligan.




Abbreviation for Magic Library.


Abbreviation for Magic Suitcase.


Abbreviation for Magic: the Gathering.


Abbreviation for MTG Studio.


Abbreviation for MTG Online. In the past MODO was used as well. Nowadays MODO is threated obsolete and should be avoided.


Abbreviation for Magic Interactive Encyclopedia.


Abbreviation for Magic Workstation.





Acronym for "play" after the coin toss.


Abbreviation for Power and Toughness

Pitch Spells

This is the nickname for spells which allow you to discard cards (typically they are actually removed from the game) instead of paying the casting cost. They were introduced in Alliances.

This name has also been extended to cover other non-mana ways to cast spells. For example, the Visions card Fireblast which lets you sacrifice Mountains.

The card is discarded (or other non-mana cost is paid) at the time you announce the spell or ability and is considered to be paying the cost. [Duelist Magazine #11, Page 55]

It does not actually change the casting cost of the spell for any other reasons, including spells or abilities like Spell Blast. [Duelist Magazine #12, Page 32]

If there is a penalty on the cost of the spell, such as Gloom on a Scars of the Veteran, you must pay the penalty even if you use the "pitch" ability to avoid the rest of the casting cost. [Duelist Magazine #12, Page 32]

You cannot use Sleight of Mind to stop a "pitch" spell which requires a card of a certain color to be discarded. This is because the costs are paid prior to the Sleight being usable. [Duelist Magazine #12, Page 32]


Abbreviation for Power



Abbreviation for Quantity. Usually used in decks, sideboards or collections.



Wizards of the Coast Research and Development department.


Wizards of the Coast Research and Development department.

Rating System

All players start with a rating of 1600.

People who have played less than 25 matches (best 2 of 3) are considered to have a 'provisional rating'. After that, scores should be accurate to within plus or minus 56 points.

During 'provisional rating' period, a person's rating is: (Rc) + ((400 * (wins - losses)) / number of matches) Rc = Average rating of all opponents This rating is re-calculated after each match.

Once a player is off of provisional rating, their score changes with each match: New Score = (Old Score) + (K * (W - We)) K = 32 for ratings of 0-2099, 24 for 2100-2399, 16 for 2400 and up. W = 1 for a win, 0 for a loss We = 1 / ((10^D)+1) D = (difference between your and opponent's ratings) / 400

Scores only count in officially sanctioned tournaments and if the tournament coordinator actually sends the results to WotC.

As of 01/01/98, tournaments with less than 8 people do not count in the ratings system. Ones with 8 to 31 people use a K value of 1/2 the above (most often 16). [Tourney Update 08/01/97]

As of 01/01/98, all sanctioned tournaments without a Level II certified judge. If one is not present, the K value will be 1/2 (most often 16). This is cumulative with other decreases in the K value. [Tourney Update 08/01/97]


Responding to a spell/ability means to add a spell/ability to the batch the one you are responding to is in.


Rounding down means to drop the fractional part. Rounding up means to add one if there is a fractional part, and then drop the fractional part. [bethmo 05/30/94]


Acronym for "in response".



Abbreviation for Sideboard.

Sealed Deck

These rules apply to any sealed deck format.

Decks consist of 90 to 300 cards. The standard way to do it is to provide one starter deck plus two 15 card boosters or three 8 card boosters. The judge may also allow additional (usually 4) basic lands to be added to this. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

45 minutes are given to construct the deck.

There is no 30 day period after an expansion set is released in which the expansion is not valid for Sealed Deck tournaments. [Tourney Rules 10/01/95]

Minimum of 40 cards in the play deck.

All additional cards function as the 'sideboard'. The sideboard and deck size can change freely between duels.

Games are not played for ante. The judge may allow play for ante, but if so, it is required for all games in the tournament. [Tourney Rules 10/01/96]

When playing for ante, the top card off each player's deck is put face-down on the table as the ante.

No restricted or banned cards, except Ante cards may be used when playing for ante.



Abbreviation for Toughness



Vanguard Cards

The effects of these cards are treated like the first effects in play during the game. They can be overridden by later effects, just like any other effect can. [Aahz 07/21/97]

They are only legal if they are allowed in the given tournament format, or if not in a tournament and all player's agree to allow them.

A player with Gerrard who goes first skips one draw in the first draw phase, not both of them. [Aahz 08/10/97]

The Barrin card does not target the creature, so untargetable creatures are not immune. [D'Angelo 01/06/98]

Crovax triggers once per player or creature successfully damaged, and not once per point of damage. [bethmo 01/07/98]

Orim gives the option of blocking as if the creature had Flying. You can choose to block as if you did not have Flying. This is useful with Chaosphere. [bethmo 01/07/98]

Vanilla (slang)

A creature with no rules text.



Abbreviation for Wizards of the Coast.


Abbreviation for Wizards of the Coast.





There are 9 zones in Magic. Each player has their own version of each zone.

The zones are: Hand, Graveyard, Library, Territory, Out of Game, Out of Play, Set Aside, Ante, and Limbo.

If a card moves from one zone to another, it forgets everything about what it was doing and any effects which were upon the card lose track of it. [Mirage Page 58] The only effects that can track are ones that specifically do track certain transitions (i.e. from play to the graveyard).

Each player has their own hand, graveyard, and library zones. The "in play" or Territory zone is shared by both players. [Duelist Magazine #18, Page 55]

If more than one card is moved from one zone to another by a single effect, all those cards move simultaneously. If the target zone requires some sort of ordering (as with the graveyard and library), the controller of that zone decides in what order to place the cards. [Duelist Magazine #18, Page 55]

An ability that triggers on something going from one zone to another is not resolved until after the something gets to its target zone. [Mirage Page 60]

The Hand, Library, Graveyard, Ante, and Out of Game zones are fairly self-explanatory.

The Territory is also known as your "in play" area. Tokens cannot exist outside of this zone. [Mirage Page 59]

An Out of Play card is one that is not in play but is expected to return to play at some time. Cards in this zone can be examined only if the card could have been examined while it was in play. [Mirage Page 59] This usually only applies to permanents. In some cases, as with Phasing, the card may even keep counters and enchantments.

Some effects have cards "Set Aside". These cards are commonly put under or near other cards which are in play, but these cards are not in play. [Mirage Page 59] Cards that are set aside may only be viewed if the effect that puts them there makes them face-up.

Limbo is the place where spells that have been announced but are not yet resolved are. Such cards are not in your hand, in play or in the graveyard. [Mirage Page 59] Cards in this zone break one of the basic rules of zones. They can enter and leave this zone and carry changes with them. Normally zone changes clear a card's "memory".

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