CR 701. Keyword Actions

  • 701.1 Most actions described in a card’s rules text use the standard English definitions of the verbs within, but some specialized verbs are used whose meanings may not be clear. These “keywords” are game terms; sometimes reminder text summarizes their meanings.
  • 701.2 Activate
    • 701.2a To activate an activated ability is to put it onto the stack and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. Only an object’s controller (or its owner, if it doesn’t have a controller) can activate its activated ability unless the object specifically says otherwise. A player may activate an ability if he or she has priority. See rule 602, “Activating Activated Abilities.”
  • 701.3 Attach
    • 701.3a To attach an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to an object means to take it from where it currently is and put it onto that object. If something is attached to a permanent on the battlefield, it’s customary to place it so that it’s physically touching the permanent. An Aura, Equipment, or Fortification can’t be attached to an object it couldn’t enchant, equip, or fortify, respectively.
    • 701.3b If an effect tries to attach an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to an object it can’t be attached to, the Aura, Equipment, or Fortification doesn’t move. If an effect tries to attach an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to the object it’s already attached to, the effect does nothing. If an effect tries to attach an object that isn’t an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to another object or player, the effect does nothing and the first object doesn’t move.
    • 701.3c Attaching an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification on the battlefield to a different object causes the Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to receive a new timestamp.
    • 701.3d To “unattach” an Equipment from a creature means to move it away from that creature so the Equipment is on the battlefield but is not equipping anything. It should no longer be physically touching any creature. If an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification that was attached to an object or player ceases to be attached to it, that counts as “becoming unattached [from that object or player]”; this includes if that Aura, Equipment, or Fortification leaves the battlefield, the object leaves the zone it was in, or that player leaves the game.
  • 701.4 Cast
    • 701.4a To cast a spell is to take it from the zone it’s in (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. A player may cast a spell if they have priority. See rule 601, “Casting Spells.”
    • 701.4b To cast a card is to cast it as a spell.
  • 701.5 Counter
    • 701.5a To counter a spell or ability means to cancel it, removing it from the stack. It doesn’t resolve and none of its effects occur. A countered spell is put into its owner’s graveyard.
    • 701.5b The player who cast a countered spell or activated a countered ability doesn’t get a “refund” of any costs that were paid.
  • 701.6 Create
    • 701.6a To create one or more tokens with certain characteristics, put the specified number of tokens with the specified characteristics onto the battlefield.
    • 701.6b If a replacement effect applies to a token being created, that effect applies before considering any continuous effects that will modify the characteristics of that token. If a replacement effect applies to a token entering the battlefield, that effect applies after considering any continuous effects that will modify the characteristics of that token.
    • 701.6c Previously, an effect that created tokens instructed a player to “put [those tokens] onto the battlefield.” Cards that were printed with that text have received errata in the Oracle card reference so they now “create” those tokens.
  • 701.7 Destroy
    • 701.7a To destroy a permanent, move it from the battlefield to its owner’s graveyard.
    • 701.7b The only ways a permanent can be destroyed are as a result of an effect that uses the word “destroy” or as a result of the state-based actions that check for lethal damage (see rule 704.5g) or damage from a source with deathtouch (see rule 704.5h). If a permanent is put into its owner’s graveyard for any other reason, it hasn’t been “destroyed.”
    • 701.7c A regeneration effect replaces a destruction event. See rule 701.14, “Regenerate.”
  • 701.8 Discard
    • 701.8a To discard a card, move it from its owner’s hand to that player’s graveyard.
    • 701.8b By default, effects that cause a player to discard a card allow the affected player to choose which card to discard. Some effects, however, require a random discard or allow another player to choose which card is discarded.
    • 701.8c If a card is discarded, but an effect causes it to be put into a hidden zone instead of into its owner’s graveyard without being revealed, all values of that card’s characteristics are considered to be undefined. If a card is discarded this way to pay a cost that specifies a characteristic about the discarded card, that cost payment is illegal; the game returns to the moment before the cost was paid (see rule 720, “Handling Illegal Actions”).
  • 701.9 Double
    • 701.9a Doubling a creature’s power and/or toughness creates a continuous effect. This effect modifies that creature’s power and/or toughness but doesn’t set those characteristics to a specific value. See rule 613.3c.
    • 701.9b To double a creature’s power, that creature gets +X/+0, where X is that creature’s power as the spell or ability that doubles its power resolves. Similarly, an effect that doubles a creature’s toughness gives it +0/+X, where X is that creature’s toughness. Doubling a creature’s power and toughness gives it +X/+Y, where X is its power and Y is its toughness.
    • 701.9c If a creature’s power is less than 0 when it’s doubled, doubling that creature’s power instead means that the creature gets -X/-0, where X is the difference between 0 and its power. Similarly, if its toughness is less than 0 when doubled, it gets -0/-X. If one characteristic’s value is negative but the other isn’t when both are doubled, it gets -X/+Y or +X/-Y, as appropriate.
    • 701.9d To double a player’s life total, the player gains or loses an amount of life such that their new life total is twice its current value.
    • 701.9e To double the number of a kind of counters on a player or permanent, give that player or permanent as many of those counters as that player or permanent already has.
    • 701.9f To double the amount of a type of mana in a player’s mana pool, that player adds an amount of mana of that type equal to the amount they already have.
  • 701.10 Exchange
    • 701.10a A spell or ability may instruct players to exchange something (for example, life totals or control of two permanents) as part of its resolution. When such a spell or ability resolves, if the entire exchange can’t be completed, no part of the exchange occurs.
    • 701.10b When control of two permanents is exchanged, if those permanents are controlled by different players, each of those players simultaneously gains control of the permanent that was controlled by the other player. If, on the other hand, those permanents are controlled by the same player, the exchange effect does nothing.
    • 701.10c When life totals are exchanged, each player gains or loses the amount of life necessary to equal the other player’s previous life total. Replacement effects may modify these gains and losses, and triggered abilities may trigger on them. A player who can’t gain life can’t be given a higher life total this way, and a player who can’t lose life can’t be given a lower life total this way (see rules 118.7 and 118.–8).
    • 701.10d Some spells or abilities may instruct a player to exchange cards in one zone with cards in a different zone (for example, exiled cards and cards in a player’s hand). These spells and abilities work the same as other “exchange” spells and abilities, except they can exchange the cards only if all the cards are owned by the same player, and they can exchange the cards even if one zone is empty.
    • 701.10e If a card in one zone is exchanged with a card in a different zone, and either of them is attached to an object, that card stops being attached to that object and the other card becomes attached to that object.
    • 701.10f If a spell or ability instructs a player to simply exchange two zones, and one of the zones is empty, the cards in the zones are still exchanged.
    • 701.10g A spell or ability may instruct a player to exchange two numerical values. In such an exchange, each value becomes equal to the previous value of the other. If either of those values is a life total, the affected player gains or loses the amount of life necessary to equal the other value. Replacement effects may modify this gain or loss, and triggered abilities may trigger on it. A player who can’t gain life can’t be given a higher life total this way, and a player who can’t lose life can’t be given a lower life total this way (see rules 118.7 and 118.–8). If either of those values is a power or toughness, a continuous effect is created setting that power or toughness to the other value (see rule 613.3b). This rule does not apply to spells and abilities that switch a creature’s power and toughness.
  • 701.11 Exile
    • 701.11a To exile an object, move it to the exile zone from wherever it is. See rule 406, “Exile.”
  • 701.12 Fight
    • 701.12a A spell or ability may instruct a creature to fight another creature or it may instruct two creatures to fight each other. Each of those creatures deals damage equal to its power to the other creature.
    • 701.12b If a creature instructed to fight is no longer on the battlefield or is no longer a creature, no damage is dealt. If a creature is an illegal target for a resolving spell or ability that instructs it to fight, no damage is dealt.
    • 701.12c If a creature fights itself, it deals damage to itself equal to twice its power.
    • 701.12d The damage dealt when a creature fights isn’t combat damage.
  • 701.13 Play
    • 701.13a To play a land means to put it onto the battlefield from the zone it’s in (usually the hand). A player may play a land if they have priority, it’s the main phase of their turn, the stack is empty, and they haven’t played a land this turn. Playing a land is a special action (see rule 115), so it doesn’t use the stack; it simply happens. Putting a land onto the battlefield as the result of a spell or ability isn’t the same as playing a land. See rule 305, “Lands.”
    • 701.13b To play a card means to play that card as a land or to cast that card as a spell, whichever is appropriate.
    • 701.13c Some effects instruct a player to “play” with a certain aspect of the game changed, such as “Play with the top card of your library revealed.” “Play” in this sense means to play the Magic game.
    • 701.13d Previously, the action of casting a spell, or casting a card as a spell, was referred to on cards as “playing” that spell or that card. Cards that were printed with that text have received errata in the Oracle card reference so they now refer to “casting” that spell or that card.
    • 701.13e Previously, the action of using an activated ability was referred to on cards as “playing” that ability. Cards that were printed with that text have received errata in the Oracle card reference so they now refer to “activating” that ability.
  • 701.14 Regenerate
    • 701.14a If the effect of a resolving spell or ability regenerates a permanent, it creates a replacement effect that protects the permanent the next time it would be destroyed this turn. In this case, “Regenerate [permanent]” means “The next time [permanent] would be destroyed this turn, instead remove all damage marked on it and tap it. If it’s an attacking or blocking creature, remove it from combat.”
    • 701.14b If the effect of a static ability regenerates a permanent, it replaces destruction with an alternate effect each time that permanent would be destroyed. In this case, “Regenerate [permanent]” means “Instead remove all damage marked on [permanent] and tap it. If it’s an attacking or blocking creature, remove it from combat.”
    • 701.14c Neither activating an ability that creates a regeneration shield nor casting a spell that creates a regeneration shield is the same as regenerating a permanent. Effects that say that a permanent can’t be regenerated don’t preclude such abilities from being activated or such spells from being cast; rather, they cause regeneration shields to not be applied.
  • 701.15 Reveal
    • 701.15a To reveal a card, show that card to all players for a brief time. If an effect causes a card to be revealed, it remains revealed for as long as necessary to complete the parts of the effect that card is relevant to. If the cost to cast a spell or activate an ability includes revealing a card, the card remains revealed from the time the spell or ability is announced until the time it leaves the stack.
    • 701.15b Revealing a card doesn’t cause it to leave the zone it’s in.
    • 701.15c If cards in a player’s library are shuffled or otherwise reordered, any revealed cards that are reordered stop being revealed and become new objects.
    • 701.15d Some effects instruct a player to look at one or more cards. Looking at a card follows the same rules as revealing a card, except that the card is shown only to the specified player.
  • 701.16 Sacrifice
    • 701.16a To sacrifice a permanent, its controller moves it from the battlefield directly to its owner’s graveyard. A player can’t sacrifice something that isn’t a permanent, or something that’s a permanent he or she doesn’t control. Sacrificing a permanent doesn’t destroy it, so regeneration or other effects that replace destruction can’t affect this action.
  • 701.17 Scry
    • 701.17a To “scry N” means to look at the top N cards of your library, then put any number of them on the bottom of your library in any order and the rest on top of your library in any order.
    • 701.17b If a player is instructed to scry 0, no scry event occurs. Abilities that trigger whenever a player scries won’t trigger.
    • 701.17c If multiple players scry at once, each of those players looks at the top cards of their library at the same time. Those players decide in APNAP order (see rule 101.4) where to put those cards, then those cards move at the same time.
  • 701.18 Search
    • 701.18a To search for a card in a zone, look at all cards in that zone (even if it’s a hidden zone) and find a card that matches the given description.
    • 701.18b If a player is searching a hidden zone for cards with a stated quality, such as a card with a certain card type or color, that player isn’t required to find some or all of those cards even if they’re present in that zone.
    • 701.18c If a player is instructed to search a hidden zone for cards that match an undefined quality, that player may still search that zone but can’t find any cards.
    • 701.18d If a player is searching a hidden zone simply for a quantity of cards, such as “a card” or “three cards,” that player must find that many cards (or as many as possible, if the zone doesn’t contain enough cards).
    • 701.18e If the effect that contains the search instruction doesn’t also contain instructions to reveal the found card(s), then they’re not revealed.
    • 701.18f If searching a zone is replaced with searching a portion of that zone, any other instructions that refer to searching the zone still apply. Any abilities that trigger on a library being searched will trigger.
    • 701.18g If an effect offers a player a choice to search a zone and take additional actions with the cards found, that player may choose to search even if the additional actions are illegal or impossible.
    • 701.18h If multiple players search at once, each of those players looks at the appropriate cards at the same time, then those players decide in APNAP order (see rule 101.4) which card to find.
  • 701.19 Shuffle
    • 701.19a To shuffle a library or a face-down pile of cards, randomize the cards within it so that no player knows their order.
    • 701.19b Some effects cause a player to search a library for a card or cards, shuffle that library, then put the found card or cards in a certain position in that library. Even though the found card or cards never leave that library, they aren’t included in the shuffle. Rather, all the cards in that library except those are shuffled. Abilities that trigger when a library is shuffled will still trigger. See also rule 401, “Library.”
    • 701.19c If an effect would cause a player to shuffle one or more specific objects into a library, that library is shuffled even if none of those objects are in the zone they’re expected to be in or an effect causes all of those objects to be moved to another zone or remain in their current zone.
    • 701.19d If an effect would cause a player to shuffle a set of objects into a library, that library is shuffled even if there are no objects in that set.
    • 701.19e If an effect causes a player to shuffle a library containing zero or one cards, abilities that trigger when a library is shuffled will still trigger.
    • 701.19f If two or more effects cause a library to be shuffled multiple times simultaneously, abilities that trigger when that library is shuffled will trigger that many times.
  • 701.20 Tap and Untap
    • 701.20a To tap a permanent, turn it sideways from an upright position. Only untapped permanents can be tapped.
    • 701.20b To untap a permanent, rotate it back to the upright position from a sideways position. Only tapped permanents can be untapped.
  • 701.21 Fateseal
    • 701.21a To “fateseal N” means to look at the top N cards of an opponent’s library, then put any number of them on the bottom of that library in any order and the rest on top of that library in any order.
  • 701.22 Clash
    • 701.22a To clash, a player reveals the top card of their library. That player may then put that card on the bottom of their library.
    • 701.22b “Clash with an opponent” means “Choose an opponent. You and that opponent each clash.”
    • 701.22c Each clashing player reveals the top card of their library at the same time. Then those players decide in APNAP order (see rule 101.4) where to put those cards, then those cards move at the same time.
    • 701.22d A player wins a clash if that player revealed a card with a higher converted mana cost than all other cards revealed in that clash.
  • 701.23 Planeswalk
    • 701.23a A player may planeswalk only during a Planechase game. Only the planar controller may planeswalk. See rule 901, “Planechase.”
    • 701.23b To planeswalk is to put each face-up plane card and phenomenon card on the bottom of its owner’s planar deck face down, then move the top card of your planar deck off that planar deck and turn it face up.
    • 701.23c A player may planeswalk as the result of the “planeswalking ability” (see rule 901.8), because the owner of a face-up plane card or phenomenon card leaves the game (see rule 901.10), or because a phenomenon’s triggered ability leaves the stack (see rule 704.5x). Abilities may also instruct a player to planeswalk.
    • 701.23d The plane card that’s turned face up is the plane the player planeswalks to. The plane card that’s turned face down or that leaves the game is the plane the player planeswalks away from. The same is true with respect to phenomena.
  • 701.24 Set in Motion
    • 701.24a Only a scheme card may be set in motion, and only during an Archenemy game. Only the archenemy may set a scheme card in motion. See rule 312, “Schemes,” and rule 904, “Archenemy.”
    • 701.24b To set a scheme in motion, move it off the top of your scheme deck and turn it face up.
    • 701.24c Schemes may only be set in motion one at a time. If a player is instructed to set multiple schemes in motion, that player sets a scheme in motion that many times.
  • 701.25 Abandon
    • 701.25a Only a face-up ongoing scheme card may be abandoned, and only during an Archenemy game. See rule 312, “Schemes,” and rule 904, “Archenemy.”
    • 701.25b To abandon a scheme, turn it face down and put it on the bottom of its owner’s scheme deck.
  • 701.26 Proliferate
    • 701.26a To proliferate means to choose any number of permanents and/or players that have a counter, then give each exactly one additional counter of a kind that permanent or player already has.
    • 701.26b If a permanent or player chosen this way has more than one kind of counter, the player who is proliferating chooses which kind of counter to add.
    • 701.26c In a Two-Headed Giant game, poison counters are shared by the team. If more than one player on a team is chosen this way, only one of those players can be given an additional poison counter. See rule 810, “Two-Headed Giant Variant.”
  • 701.27 Transform
    • 701.27a To transform a permanent, turn it over so that its other face is up. Only permanents represented by double-faced cards can transform. (See rule 711, “Double-Faced Cards.”)
    • 701.27b Although transforming a permanent uses the same physical action as turning a permanent face up or face down, they are different game actions. Abilities that trigger when a permanent is turned face down won’t trigger when that permanent transforms, and so on.
    • 701.27c If a spell or ability instructs a player to transform a permanent that isn’t represented by a double-faced card, nothing happens.
    • 701.27d If a spell or ability instructs a player to transform a permanent, and the face that permanent would transform into is represented by an instant or sorcery card face, nothing happens.
    • 701.27e Some triggered abilities trigger when an object “transforms into” an object with a specified characteristic. Such an ability triggers if the object transforms and has the specified characteristic immediately after it transforms.
    • 701.27f If an activated or triggered ability of a permanent that isn’t a delayed triggered ability of that permanent tries to transform it, the permanent transforms only if it hasn’t transformed since the ability was put onto the stack. If a delayed triggered ability of a permanent tries to transform that permanent, the permanent transforms only if it hasn’t transformed since that delayed triggered ability was created. In either case, if the permanent has already transformed, the instruction to transform is ignored.
  • 701.28 Detain
    • 701.28a Certain spells and abilities can detain a permanent. Until the next turn of the controller of that spell or ability, that permanent can’t attack or block and its activated abilities can’t be activated.
  • 701.29 Populate
    • 701.29a To populate means to choose a creature token you control and create a token that’s a copy of that creature token.
    • 701.29b If you control no creature tokens when instructed to populate, you won’t create a token.
  • 701.30 Monstrosity
    • 701.30a “Monstrosity N” means “If this permanent isn’t monstrous, put N +1/+1 counters on it and it becomes monstrous.”
    • 701.30b Monstrous is a designation that has no rules meaning other than to act as a marker that the monstrosity action and other spells and abilities can identify. Only permanents can be or become monstrous. Once a permanent becomes monstrous, it stays monstrous until it leaves the battlefield. Monstrous is neither an ability nor part of the permanent’s copiable values.
    • 701.30c If a permanent’s ability instructs a player to “monstrosity X,” other abilities of that permanent may also refer to X. The value of X in those abilities is equal to the value of X as that permanent became monstrous.
  • 701.31 Vote
    • 701.31a Some spells and abilities instruct players to vote for one choice from a list of options to determine some aspect of the effect of that spell or ability. To vote, each player, starting with a specified player and proceeding in turn order, chooses one of those choices.
    • 701.31b The listed choices may be objects, words with no rules meaning that are each connected to a different effect, or other variables relevant to the resolution of the spell or ability.
    • 701.31c If the text of a spell or ability refers to “voting,” it refers only to an actual vote, not to any spell or ability that involves the players making choices or decisions without using the word “vote.”
    • 701.31d If an effect gives a player multiple votes, those votes all happen at the same time the player would otherwise have voted.
  • 701.32 Bolster
    • 701.32a “Bolster N” means “Choose a creature you control with the least toughness or tied for least toughness among creatures you control. Put N +1/+1 counters on that creature.”
  • 701.33 Manifest
    • 701.33a To manifest a card, turn it face down. It becomes a 2/2 face-down creature card with no text, no name, no subtypes, and no mana cost. Put that card onto the battlefield face down. That permanent is a manifested permanent as long as it remains face down. The effect defining its characteristics works while the card is face down and ends when it’s turned face up.
    • 701.33b Any time you have priority, you may turn a manifested permanent you control face up. This is a special action that doesn’t use the stack (see rule 115.2b). To do this, show all players that the card representing that permanent is a creature card and what that card’s mana cost is, pay that cost, then turn the permanent face up. The effect defining its characteristics while it was face down ends, and it regains its normal characteristics. (If the card representing that permanent isn’t a creature card or it doesn’t have a mana cost, it can’t be turned face up this way.)
    • 701.33c If a card with morph is manifested, its controller may turn that card face up using either the procedure described in rule 702.36e to turn a face-down permanent with morph face up or the procedure described above to turn a manifested permanent face up.
    • 701.33d If an effect instructs a player to manifest multiple cards from their library, those cards are manifested one at a time.
    • 701.33e If an effect instructs a player to manifest a card and a rule or effect prohibits the face-down object from entering the battlefield, that card isn’t manifested. Its characteristics remain unmodified and it remains in its previous zone. If it was face up, it remains face up.
    • 701.33f If a manifested permanent that’s represented by an instant or sorcery card would turn face up, its controller reveals it and leaves it face down. Abilities that trigger whenever a permanent is turned face up won’t trigger.
    • 701.33g See rule 707, “Face-Down Spells and Permanents,” for more information.
  • 701.34 Support
    • 701.34a “Support N” on a permanent means “Put a +1/+1 counter on each of up to N other target creatures.” “Support N” on an instant or sorcery spell means “Put a +1/+1 counter on each of up to N target creatures.”
  • 701.35 Investigate
    • 701.35a “Investigate” means “Create a colorless Clue artifact token with ‘{2}, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.’”
  • 701.36 Meld
    • 701.36a Meld is a keyword action that appears in an ability on one card in a meld pair. (See rule 712, “Meld Cards.”) To meld the two cards in a meld pair, put them onto the battlefield with their back faces up and combined. The resulting permanent is a single object represented by two cards.
    • 701.36b Only two cards belonging to the same meld pair can be melded. Tokens, cards that aren’t meld cards, or meld cards that don’t form a meld pair can’t be melded.
    • 701.36c If an effect instructs a player to meld cards that can’t be melded, they stay in their current zone.
  • 701.37 Goad
    • 701.37a Certain spells and abilities can goad a creature. Until the next turn of the controller of that spell or ability, that creature attacks each combat if able and attacks a player other than that player if able.
  • 701.38 Exert
    • 701.38a To exert a permanent, you choose to have it not untap during your next untap step.
    • 701.38b A permanent can be exerted even if it’s not tapped or has already been exerted in a turn. If you exert a permanent more than once before your next untap step, each effect causing it not to untap expires during the same untap step.
    • 701.38c An object that isn’t on the battlefield can’t be exerted.
    • 701.38d “You may exert [this creature] as it attacks” is an optional cost to attack (See rule 508.1g). Some objects with this static ability have a triggered ability that triggers “when you do” printed in the same paragraph. These abilities are linked. (See rule 607.2g.)
  • 701.39 Explore
    • 701.39a Certain abilities instruct a permanent to explore. To do so, that permanent’s controller reveals the top card of their library. If a land card is revealed this way, that player puts that card into their hand. Otherwise, that player puts a +1/+1 counter on the exploring permanent and may put the revealed card into their graveyard.
    • 701.39b A permanent “explores” after the process described in rule 701.38a is complete, even if some or all of those actions were impossible.
    • 701.39c If a permanent changes zones before an effect causes it to explore, its last known information is used to determine which object explored and who controlled it.
  • 701.40 Assemble
    • 701.40a Outside of silver-bordered cards, one card (Steamflogger Boss) refers to assembling a Contraption. Assemble is a keyword action in the Unstable set that puts Contraptions onto the battlefield. Outside of silver-bordered cards, only one card (Steamflogger Boss) refers to assembling a Contraption. Cards and mechanics from the Unstable set aren’t included in these rules. See the Unstable FAQ for more information.
  • 701.41 Surveil
    • 701.41a To “surveil N” means to look at the top N cards of your library, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on top of your library in any order.
    • 701.41b If an effect allows you to look at additional cards while you surveil, those cards are included among the cards you may put into your graveyard and on top of your library in any order.