MTG Arena Beginner's Guide

Common MTG Slangs

The corpus of Magic slang is formidable (and that list isn’t full either). So, here’s a somewhat more digestible arbitrary selection of terms considering the focus of this guide on Arena.

1. Colors and color combinations in deck naming

Five colors of mana in Magic are presented in a circle, often called color wheel or color pie; the latter is well suited for discussions on color’s share of power/mechanics.

  • Gold — cards of more than one color.
  • Allied colors — pairs of adjacent colors on the wheel.
  • Enemy colors — pairs of non-adjacent colors on the wheel.

Ten color pairs are often referred to with names coming from Ravnican guilds.

  • Azorius — white and blue
  • Orzhov — white and black
  • Boros — white and red
  • Selesnya — white and green
  • Dimir — blue and black
  • Izzet — blue and red
  • Simic — blue and green
  • Rakdos — black and red
  • Golgari — black and green
  • Gruul — red and green

Names for five color triplets of adjacent colors (arcs) come from Alara shards.

  • Esper — white, blue and black
  • Bant — white, blue and green
  • Naya — white, red and green
  • Grixis — blue, black and red
  • Jund — black, red and green

Names for five other color triplets (wedges) come from clans of Tarkir.

  • Jeskai — white, blue and red
  • Mardu — white, black and red
  • Abzan — white, black and green
  • Sultai — blue, black and green
  • Temur — blue, red and green

Four color combination names are much less used.

  • Five color decks are referred to as Rainbow or WUBRG.
  • A small addition of a color is called splash.

2. Monikers for mechanics and effects

Many popular card effects have a slang name coming from a card that exemplified the effect. Others just exist.

  • Anthem — an effect that buffs the power and toughness of all your creatures. (Glorious Anthem)
  • [Board] Wipe or Sweeper or Wrath — a spell that destroys all creatures. (Wrath of God)
  • Bounce — an effect that returns a permanent to a player’s hand. Gating may refer to returning your permanent specifically.
  • Cantrip — a spell, usually cheap, that draws a card. Sometimes as a verb for that effect added on any card, e.g. “A creature that cantrips.”
  • Edict — an effect forcing the opponent to sacrifice something. (Diabolic Edict)
  • Falter — preventing creatures from blocking. (Falter)
  • Flicker or blink — an effect that exiles a permanent, then brings it back. (Flicker)
  • Loot — an effect that lets you draw a card, then discard a card. (Merfolk Looter)
  • Lord — a creature providing an anthem effect to creatures of a certain type. (Lord of Atlantis)
  • Mill — putting cards off the top of the library directly into the graveyard, and a deck archetype aiming to win by milling. This term became an official keyword with the release of Core Set 2021. (Millstone)
  • Ping — deal a small amount damage, most often 1, and usually repeatedly.
  • Ramp — a creature or an effect providing extra mana/more land than could be achieved normally by playing 1 land a turn. Also, a deck strategy aiming to do that (and then play expensive game-winning spells).
  • Rummage — an effect that lets you discard a card, then draw a card.
  • Time walk — an effect that allows you to take another turn or that neutralizes all the actions the opponent took on their turn, letting you take another turn figuratively. (Time Walk)
  • Tutor — an effect that allows you to search your library for a card (usually of a certain type, except in black). (Demonic Tutor)
  • Wheel — an effect discarding your hand and drawing once again. (Wheel of Fortune)
  • Wish — an effect that allows you to fetch a card from your sideboard (that may be consequently called a Wishboard).

3. Dual-colored lands

Lands that provide two colors of mana are often released in cycles and get a common name among players.

  • Dual lands — any lands of that type, but primarily “true” duals from the oldest sets that just gave one of two types of mana, no strings attached. (Savannah)
  • Taplands — the other end of the spectrum: lands that come into play tapped with no benefits. Sometimes any land that comes into play tapped is called a tapland. (Highland Lake)
  • Fast lands — enter tapped unless you control two or fewer other lands. (Inspiring Vantage)
  • Gainlands — enter tapped, give 1 life on entering. (Jungle Hollow)
  • Pain lands — damage you for 1 when tapped for colored mana. (Sulfurous Springs)
  • Reveal lands — enter tapped unless you reveal a relevant basic land. (Vineglimmer Snarl)
  • Scry lands — enter tapped, scry 1 on entering. (Temple of Deceit)
  • Shocklands — may enter untapped for 2 damage. (Godless Shrine)
  • Checklands — enter untapped if you have a land with a relevant basic type. (Glacial Fortress)
  • …and others. Gates from Ravnica sets also belong to this group but they are Gates and don’t need another name. (Gruul Guildgate)

4. Various

  • Aristocrats — a deck archetype that aims to benefit from sacrificing its stuff.
  • Bo1, Bo3 — short for best-of-one and best-of-three.
  • Burn — primarily red spells dealing damage directly to the player.
  • Chump block — blocking with a creature that will die, just to defend the life total, with no intent to kill the attacker.
  • Clock — a threat to finish the game in N turns (like by attacking with a given creature), e.g. “He has a 3-turn clock”.
  • CMC — converted mana cost.
  • Curve — CMC-composition of a deck: imagine a bar graph for a deck breakdown by CMC. Playing on curve — casting a spell for N on turn N. Curving out — consecutively playing several cards on curve, spending all the mana.
  • ETB — referring to “enter the battlefield” effects.
  • Evasion — any of the creature abilities that make it harder to block.
  • Evergreen — a subset of mechanics free to appear in any set.
  • Fizzle — about a spell that fails to resolve because of all its targets becoming illegal.
  • Flash — a deck archetype based on cards with Flash mechanic.
  • Grizzly Bears — a 2/2 creature with no abilities for 2 mana. Usually encountered in Limited talk. Also: Gray Ogre — 2/2 for 3 mana, Hill Giant — 3/3 for 4 mana, Wind Drake — 2/2 flying for 3, all after their namesake cards. Usually referenced as a baseline card power in Limited.
  • Hand hate — effects discarding cards from the opponent’s hand. Also graveyard hate, etc.
  • Jank — a vague term for a deck or a card that’s not strong enough to be competitive, often in a sense of intentionally playing a subpar thing for fun.
  • Johnny/Jenny — a player archetype; those who fancy spectacular or complicated card combinations even if not effective.
  • [Mana] dork — a [mana-providing] creature that’s not effective combat-wise.
  • [Mana] fixing — any of the ways to get the desired color of mana in time, especially when splashing a third color in Limited.
  • Playset — four copies of a card, the default maximum allowed in a deck.
  • Pump — briefly buff power/toughness of a creature.
  • Race — a game position when both players go on offense, trying to finish the game faster than the opponent.
  • RDW — red deck wins, a recurring archetype of an aggro red deck, often focused on burn.
  • RTFC — someone needs to read their cards… finally? frantically? fabulously? In short, read the funny card already to get the answer you seek.
  • Scoop — concede the game and gather your cards.
  • Spike — a player archetype, those focused on effectiveness and competition.
  • Stompy — a deck archetype, primarily green, based on playing cheap but highly combat-effective creatures.
  • Table, also Wheel — in draft, about a card going full circle without being picked.
  • Timmy/Tammy — a player archetype; those who fancy big monsters and dealing a lot of damage.
  • Trick — an instant spell used to pump or debuff a creature in combat (thus often “combat trick”).