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.
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.
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).
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)
- 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”).