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Ability word

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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, as was Mirrodin block's imprint with the release of Scars of Mirrodin.

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 have no rules meaning, and are not listed in the Comprehensive Rules, ability words are never referenced on other cards.

Keyword 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 (July 12, 2019—Core Set 2020)

  • 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 addendum, battalion, bloodrush, channel, chroma, cohort, constellation, converge, council’s dilemma, delirium, domain, eminence, enrage, fateful hour, ferocious, formidable, grandeur, hellbent, heroic, imprint, inspired, join forces, kinship, landfall, lieutenant, metalcraft, morbid, parley, radiance, raid, rally, revolt, spell mastery, strive, sweep, tempting offer, threshold, undergrowth, and will of the council.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 12, 2019—Core Set 2020)

Ability Word
An italicized word with no rules meaning that ties together abilities on different cards that have similar functionality. See rule 207.2c.

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". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.