Evergreen

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The term "evergreen", as in the context of "an evergreen keyword", refers to keywords or keyword actions that can be used in any set.[1]

As the core set has always been the place for new players to start, as of Eighth Edition it was decided to include reminder text with the evergreen creature keywords.[2]

Primary/secondary/tertiary[edit | edit source]

When talking about which colors get which evergreen creature keywords, R&D tends to talk about a system called "primary/secondary/tertiary". In their quest to differentiate the colors in the color wheel, each should have strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, not every color gets every keyword.[3][4]

  • Primary — This is the color (or colors) the ability is seen most in. That means it shows up in the highest volume and usually at the lowest rarity that the type of effects get used at. The primary color will almost always get this effect in a set if it's an ability we do every set. It also tends to be the color that most often pushes the power level, if it's an effect we push the power level on. There's a wide range on what primary means, because different types of effects exist at different levels. A card secondary in flying can show up way more than a card primary in taking extra turns, for instance, because we have so many more flying cards than extra-turn cards.
  • Secondary — This is the color (or colors) that an ability shows up in on a somewhat regular basis, but not as often as the primary and not always in as low of rarity as the primary. If the effect is something we do a lot of, the secondary color will usually get the ability in most sets. Sometimes a secondary color will have restrictions. For instance, red is secondary in flying, but only on Dragons and Phoenixes.
  • Tertiary — This is the color (or colors) that get the ability occasionally. It's not every set. For some abilities, we could go years without seeing a tertiary color using it. Tertiary colors can often come with rules, meaning it's a very narrow subset that makes use of the mechanic. For example, black is tertiary in first strike and gets it primarily on Knights, most often when paired against a mirrored white Knight.

Current evergreen keywords[edit | edit source]

Icons Keyword Type Found in First used in First keyworded in
Activate Action All colors Alpha Sixth Edition
Attach Action All colors Mirrodin Mirrodin
Cast Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Counter Action Blue (1) Alpha Alpha
Create Action All colors Alpha Kaladesh
Duels Deathtouch symbol.png Mtga deathtouch.png Deathtouch Static ability Black (1), green (2) Future Sight Future Sight
Duels Defender symbol.png Mtga defender.png Defender Static ability Walls in all colors[notes 1][5] Alpha Betrayers of Kamigawa
Destroy Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Discard Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Duels Double Strike symbol.png Mtga double strike.png Double strike Static ability Red (1), white (1) Legions Legions
Enchant Static ability Auras of all colors Alpha[notes 2] Alpha
Equip Activated ability Equipment Mirrodin Mirrodin
Exchange Action All colors Alpha Sixth Edition
Exile Action All colors Alpha Magic 2010
Fight Action Green (1), red (2) Visions Innistrad
Duels First Strike symbol.png Mtga first strike.png First strike Static ability White (1), red (1), black (3) Alpha Alpha
Flash Static ability Blue (1), green (2), black (2), white (3), red (3)[4][6] Visions Time Spiral
Duels Flying symbol.png Mtga flying.png Flying Static ability White (1), blue (1), black (2), red (3) Alpha Alpha
Duels Haste symbol.png Haste Static ability Red (1), green (2), black (3)[7] Alpha Sixth Edition
Duels Hexproof symbol.png Mtga hexproof.png Hexproof Static ability Blue (1), green (2), white (3), black (3)[8] Portal Three Kingdoms Duels of the
Planeswalkers 2012
Duels Indestructible symbol.png Mtga indestructible.png Indestructible Static ability Artifacts, white (1), green (2), black (2), blue (3), red (3) Alpha Darksteel
Duels Lifelink symbol.png Mtga lifelink.png Lifelink Static ability White (1), black (2) Mirrodin Future Sight
Menace.png Menace[9] Static ability Black (1), red (2), green (3) Fallen Empires Magic Origins‎
Mill Action Blue (1), black (2) Antiquities Core Set 2021
Play Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Duels Protection symbol.png Protection Static ability White (1), blue (2), other colors (3) Alpha Alpha
Duels Reach symbol.png Mtga reach.png Reach Static ability Green (1), red (2), white (3)[10][11] Alpha Future Sight
Reveal Action All colors Sixth Edition Sixth Edition
Sacrifice Action All colors Alpha Revised Edition
Scry Action Blue (1), white (2), black (2), red (2), green (2) Alliances Fifth Dawn
Search Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Shuffle Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Tap/Untap Action All colors Alpha Alpha
Duels Trample symbol.png Mtga trample.png Trample Static ability Green (1), red (2), blue (3), black (3) Alpha Alpha
Duels Vigilance symbol.png Mtga vigilance.png Vigilance Static ability White (1), green (2) Alpha Champions of Kamigawa

Former evergreen keywords[edit | edit source]

Icon Keyword Type Found in First used in First keyworded in Last used in Supplanted by
Ante Action Artifacts, black, red, green Alpha Alpha Homelands Nothing
Banding Static ability White Alpha Alpha Weatherlight Nothing
Bury Action All colors Revised Edition Revised Edition Fifth Edition Destroy [something]. It can't be regenerated.
Duels Fear symbol.png Fear Static ability Black (1) Alpha Onslaught Alara Reborn Intimidate
Duels Shroud symbol.png Shroud Static ability Green (1), blue (2) Legends Future Sight Mirrodin Besieged Hexproof
Duels Intimidate symbol.png Intimidate Static ability Black, red Zendikar Zendikar Commander 2014 Menace
Duels Landwalk symbol.png Landwalk Static ability Blue (islandwalk), black (swampwalk), red (mountainwalk), green (forestwalk), white (plainswalk) Alpha Alpha Khans of Tarkir Nothing
Prowess Triggered ability Blue, red, white Khans of Tarkir Khans of Tarkir Hour of Devastation Nothing, but this mechanic is now deciduous.
Duels Regenerate symbol.png Regenerate Action Green (1), black (2) Alpha Alpha Oath of the Gatewatch Indestructible (until end of turn)[12]

Most these have been obsoleted, but protection was considered to be deciduous. It is a tool in R&D's toolbox that they're allowed to use, but it's not something they expect to use in every set.[9]

However, protection was reinstated as Evergreen in Core Set 2020.

Evergreen keywords by color[edit | edit source]

Color Primary Secondary Tertiary Obsolete
{W} White Defender, double strike, first strike, flying, indestructible, lifelink, vigilance Scry Flash, hexproof, reach, trample Banding
{U} Blue Counter, flash, flying, hexproof, scry Defender Indestructible, trample Landwalk, shroud
{B} Black Deathtouch, menace Defender, flash, flying, indestructible, lifelink, scry First strike, haste, hexproof, trample Fear, intimidate, regenerate
{R} Red Double strike, first strike, haste Defender, fight,[13] menace, reach,[10][11] scry, trample Flash, flying, indestructible Intimidate
{G} Green Fight, reach, trample Deathtouch, defender, flash, haste, hexproof, indestructible, scry, vigilance Flying, menace Regenerate, shroud
{C} Colorless Equip, indestructible

Of particular note is the evergreen creature keywords each shared between two colors.[14] Prowess formerly served as the red/blue keyword before it lost its evergreen status.

Pair Keyword
{W}{U} Flying
{U}{B} Flash
{B}{R} Menace
{R}{G} Trample, haste
{G}{W} Vigilance
{W}{B} Lifelink
{U}{R} None
{B}{G} Deathtouch
{R}{W} First strike, double strike
{G}{U} Hexproof

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Originally the creature type "Wall" carried the special rule that the creature couldn't attack. This was removed with the release of Champions of Kamigawa. Walls printed prior to that set have received errata giving them defender. Additionally, Wall of Junk, which used to be able to attack, was given defender and the Wall subtype.
  2. By errata as of Ninth Edition. Originally cards that now have the subtype Aura were "local enchantments", with a type including what it could enchant, such as "enchant creature" or "enchant land".

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater (June 18, 2007). "Keyword Play". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (August 05, 2013). "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (November 6, 2015) "Primary/Secondary/Tertiary". Drive to Work # 276
  4. a b Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (October 04, 2004). "Change For the Better". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (January 14, 2018). "Flash has been upgraded to secondary in black.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (December 09, 2018). "Is vengvine a bend in green having haste and all?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (April 03, 2016). "What was the thought process behind not giving Elusive Tormentor a blue activation cost?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. a b Mark Rosewater (June 8, 2015). "Evergreen Eggs & Ham". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. a b Mark Rosewater (2015-07-05). "How do you feel about the red Giant in orgins having reach?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. a b Mark Rosewater (2017-04-14). "Is Reach in Red's pie now?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (2016-09-16). "Rush of Vitality?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Mark Rosewater (2015-09-10). "Could colours other than green have fight effects?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Mark Rosewater (February 17, 2019). "What are the color pairings’ evergreen mechanics?". Blogatog. Tumblr.