Planeswalker Portal #3: Play Your Cards Right

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Glad you are back from the battlefield, Planeswalkers!

Let us start getting to the heart of Magic: The Gathering: the cards themselves. There are seven main card types you will come across while playing Magic: Artifact, Creature, Enchantment, Instant, Land, Planeswalker, and Sorcery. A description and example of each card type will help you understand how each card works.

Basic and Non-Basic Land

A Basic Land is a permanent that produces one mana of the five colors when it is tapped. The five Basic Land types are Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest; and they produce white, blue, black, red, and green mana respectively. The example shows an Island, which produces one blue mana when tapped.

The difference between Basic Lands and Non-Basic Lands, is that a Basic Land will have the “Basic Land” type while a Non-Basic Land will have the “Land” type. This becomes more important when you start to construct your own deck to play with.


A creature is a permanent that is used primarily for inflicting damage on other creatures or players. Some creatures also have abilities that are either triggered as they are put on the battlefield or require an activation cost. Most creatures will have “summoning sickness” which prevents the creature from attacking or use its tapping abilities until that controller’s next turn. Creatures with Haste do not suffer from summoning sickness.

In the lower right-hand corner of a creature card are two numbers. The number on the left is the creature’s power and the number on the right is the creature’s toughness. A creature’s power is the amount of combat damage it can dealt to other creatures and players. A creature’s toughness is how much damage a creature can take before it dies.


Artifacts are permanents that a player may only put onto the battlefield during your main phases, which is before and after the combat phase. They are usually colorless, but some can have specific colors. Since most are colorless they can be put into any kind of deck. Artifact creatures are the same as non-artifact creatures, and can be affected by any spells or abilities that would affect either creatures or artifacts.

Equipment artifacts are permanents that players may “equip” to a creature that gives that creature the ability(s) described on the equipment. Players may only equip a creature as a sorcery. Some equipment have the “attach” ability, which allows a player attach it to a creature as an instant. In order to equip (or attach) an equipment to a creature, a player must pay the equip cost noted on the card.

When a creature with equipment is put into the graveyard, the equipment remains on the battlefield, and the player may equip it on another creature.



An enchantment is a permanent that has either a positive or negative effect on other permanents or players that lasts until the enchantment is removed from the battlefield. An Aura is a sub-type of Enchantments. Auras will have “Enchant X” which describes what it can legally enchant. Our example, Rage of the Goose, can only target creatures.



A Legendary permanent is a special card, typically bound to the lore of the game. Legendary is a super-type, meaning there are Legendary Creatures, Legendary Artifacts, Legendary Lands, and Legendary Enchantments. They behave the same way as their non-Legendary counter-parts with one exception:

There can be only one Legendary card with the same name on the battlefield at one time. This follows the “Legendary Rule” which states that if two or more legendary permanents with the same name are on the battlefield, all are put into their owner’s graveyards. The permanent is not destroyed, or sacrificed, it is placed in the graveyard.



A sorcery is non-permanent spell that can only be cast during a player’s main phase, and only when there are no other spells on the stack. Sometimes, a sorcery will come with a sub-type such as Arcane or Tribal as well. When a sorcery spell is resolved, it is then put into its owner’s graveyard.



An instant is non-permanent spell that, unlike a sorcery, can be cast at anytime - even if it is not the players turn, as long as they have priority. Abilities on cards like tapping abilities can also be played as if they were instants as well. As with a sorcery, when an instant is resolved, it is then put into its owner’s graveyard.



Planeswalkers are permanents that have abilities that are activated by loyalty counters. A planeswalker’s starting loyalty is located in the lower right corner. When a planeswalker’s loyalty reaches zero or less, it is sent to its owners graveyard.

Damage dealt to a player maybe redirected to a planeswalker that player controls. This includes combat damage from creatures or spells and abilities that deal damage to a player. When dealing damage, you indicate whether the damage is being dealt to the player or the planeswalker. Damage dealt to a planeswalker reduces its loyalty countered by the amount of damage dealt.

Planeswalkers have powerful abilities that are activated the same way you would activate the ability of a creature, artifact, or enchantment: pay the cost and the ability is activated. In the case of planeswalkers, the cost is adding or removing loyalty counters to the planeswalker. Activating Goose’s second ability requires removing two loyalty counters to Goose, then Goose puts an X/X token creature onto the battlefield.


This should help you understand the main types of cards you will encounter while playing Magic: The Gathering. With this and my earlier article, The Magic Dictionary, you should have a basic understanding of how to play. In later articles, I will be going over more advanced parts of the game such as The Stack, Phases, Combat, and the five colors themselves. Check us out next time when I take a break from mechanics and go over the new and exciting world of Innistrad.


Battle well, planeswalkers!!

Related posts:

  1. Planeswalker Portal #2 The Magic Dictionary
  2. Planeswalker Portal #1 The Journey Begins

About NeoJames82

Justin "NeoJames82" Schuber is lover of many things geeky and a follower of Magic: The Gathering for almost a decade. In his spare time he plays all sorts of PC and console games, tabletop RPGs and loves to write as well.