By: Gavin Verhey
[This classic MTGS article has been updated with new terms. Enjoy!]
Magic really is its own language. Most players don't think about it anymore, but to a person who doesn't play Magic, you may as well be speaking Alien as talking about the latest match. Heck, if you started talking to a begining Magic player after a game about what happened, and you replied with something "simple" like this: "I thought it was over when he played Necro, but then I played AK at EOT and drew a bounce spell. Then I bounced his Necro and tapped down his lands in his upkeep with Turnabout. I swung with my fatties and pumped them for the win," he or she would probably end up confused.
Magic terminology can be difficult to understand, and thats why I wrote this article. Below you will find some of the most common (And even some uncommon) phrases and slang used by Magic players, sorted in alphabetical order, and also by Card Nicknames, Tournament-Related Lingo, and Magic Lingo. I present to you, the Encyclopedia Magica!
Academy: A nickname for the card Tolarian Academy.
AK: A nickname for the card Accumulated Knowledge. The card got this nickname because it is a abbreviated version of the name, which can be quite a mouthful sometimes.
Birds/BoP: A nickname for Birds of Paradise.
Blinky: A nickname for the card Blinking Spirit.
Clamp: A nickname for the card Skullclamp.
CoP: A nickname for Circle of Protection.
Dr. Teeth/'Tog: A nickname for the card Psychatog.
Dual lands: A nickname for the 10 Beta "dual lands" (Underground Sea Taiga, Volcanic Island, Scrubland, etc.). They got this name because they are lands that can tap for dual colours of mana. Sometimes used to refer to the Ravnica "new dual" lands.
Elder/STE: A nickname for the card Sakura-Tribe Elder
Fat Moti: A nickname for the card Mahamoti Djinn.
Fat Pants: A nickname for the card Hero's Resolve, or any creature Enchantment that makes the creature larger.
Finkel: Def. 1: The person Jon Finkel. Jon Finkel is one of Magic's top players and has been playing in Pro Tours for over a decade. He has placed very high in several large tournaments, such as Nationals, Worlds, Various Pro Tours, and even won the Invitational once. He is a lock for the Magic Hall of Fame and is considered by many to be the best player who has ever played Magic. Def. 2 A nickname for Shadowmage Infiltrator. The card got this nickname because it was the last name of Jon Finkel, the person who won an Invitational and designed the card.
FTK: A nickname for the card Flametongue Kavu.
Gifts: A nickname for the card Gifts Ungiven.
Hippie: A nickname for the card Hypnotic Specter.
Jens: A nickname for the card Solemn Simulacrum. The card got this nickname because it was the first name of Jens Thorien, the person who won an Invitational and designed the card. Also see Sad Robot.
Jewelry: A nickname for Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Mox Emerald, Mox Pearl, and/or Black Lotus. For example, "How many pieces of Jewelry do you have?" Also see Power 9.
Jitte: A nickname for the card Umezawa's Jitte.
A nickname for the card Library of Alexandria. This card is so powerful, many call it the tenth card in the "Power 9."
Mox Monkey: A nickname for Gorilla Shaman. The card got this nickname due to its ability to kill mutiple Moxen very quickly.
Necro: Def. 1: Activating an ability that exchanges life for cards. For example, "I'll Necro for 3." Def. 2: A nickname for the card Necropotence.
Northside: A nickname for the card Kodama of the North Tree.
Paddle: A nickname for the card Honor-Worn Shaku
Painlands: A nickname for the Ice Age and Apocalypse "Painlands" (Shivan Reef, Adakar Wastes, Yavimaya Coast, Battlefield Forge, etc.). They got this name because they are lands that provide two colours, but you take a point of "pain" damage every time you tap them for a colour.
Power 9: The Power Nine are the nine most coveted cards in all of Magic due to their rarity and very high power level. They are Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Mox Emerald, Mox Pearl, Black Lotus, Timetwister, Time Walk and Ancestral Recall.
Pikula: A nickname for the card Meddling Mage. The card got this nickname because it was the last name of Chris Pikula, the person who won an Invitational and designed the card.
Ravager: A nickname for the card Arcbound Ravager.
RoP: A nickname for Rune of Protection.
Ritual/Rit: A nickname for the card Dark Ritual.
Sad Robot: A nickname for the card Solemn Simulacrum. The card got this nickname because Solemn means "Sad" or "Grieving" and Simulacrum is a type of robot. Also see Jens.
Slaver: A nickname for the card Mindslaver.
Stick: A nickname for the card Isochron Scepter.
Superman: A nickname for the card Morphling.
Survival/SotF: A nickname for the card Survival of the Fittest.
Swords/StP: A nickname for the card Swords to Plowshares.
Taplands: A nickname for the Invasion "Taplands" (Shivan Oasis, Elfhame Palace, Coastal Tower, Urborg Volcano, etc.). They got this name because they are made with a drawback of coming into play tapped.
Tim: A nickname for the card Prodigal Sorcerer. The card got this nickname because the artwork on the original Prodigal Sorcerer looked very close to Tim in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Tooth/TaN: A nickname for the card Tooth and Nail.
Prodigal Sorcerer or
legendary wizard Tim?
legendary wizard Tim?
Trike: A nickname for the card Triskelion.
Urzatron: The nickname for when you have Urza's Power Plant, Urza's Mine, and Urza's Tower all in play. For example, "He had the Urzatron in play."
Vault Ninja: A nickname for the card Disciple of the Vault
Welder: A nickname for the card Goblin Welder.
Wrath/WoG: A nickname for the card Wrath of God.
Banned: A card that you cannot play in the format(s) where it is banned. For example, "Aether Vial is banned in Extended."
Block: Def. 1: Three sets that have the same mechanics and setting. For example, "I like the Kamigawa block." Def. 2: A format where the only legal sets to play with are a single block.
Booster Draft: A format where usually 8 people sit around a table with three packs. Each player opens one of his or her packs and chooses a card in it, then passes the rest of the cards to the left. This process continues until there are no more cards undrafted in the first pack. Then the players continue the process with the next pack, going right, and finally the third pack, going left.
Bye: A bye is when you win your round automatically. You may recieve a bye if there is a odd number of people, or if you have one or more byes at a Grand Prix tournament. For example, "Last round I got the bye."
Cantrip: A card, usually one with a minor effect, that also draws you a card when it resolves.
Chump Block: When you block with a small creature against your opponent's creature with no intention of sending his creature to the graveyard. This is usually done to prevent it from damaging you. For example, "To prevent five damage, my Squirrel token chump blocked his Flamecore Elemental."
Coaching: When a player who isn't playing in the game gives advice to a player in the game. This is strictly forbidden in sanctioned tournaments. For example, "He coached my opponent."
Constructed: The name for any of several formats where you bring your own deck to the tournament instead of using cards you recieve at the tournament.
Cut: A player taking a portion of a deck and putting it on the top of the rest of the deck. Anything else, such as putting a portion on the bottom, is considered a shuffle.
DCI: The name for the body of people that record sanctioned tournaments (formerly short for Duelist's Convocation International, now no longer an acronym).
DCI Rating: Your DCI rating goes up or down after each sanctioned tournament you participate in. If it gets high enough, you may start earning byes or invitations to tournaments. For example, "My DCI rating is 1817."
DI: Slang for infinite. However, it often doesn't really mean infinite, just quite a few. For example, "I drew DI counterspells, so I won." Also see Inf/Infi.
Drop: The name for when you quit a tournament before all of its rounds are over. For example, "I was doing badly, so I dropped."
Extended: A constructed format where the only legal sets are the last 6-9 blocks and the last 2-3 core sets.
Friday Night Magic/FNM: Friday Night Magic is a weekly tournament held on Fridays (in the US) or other days (outside of the US) by card stores.
Grand Prix: A large tournament with a high cash prize where anybody can enter, but some people may have one or more byes.
Grand Prix Trial/GPT: A Grand-Prix Trial is a tournament where the winner recieves 3 byes to the Grand Prix that the trial was for.
Highlander: A format where you cannot play more then one of each card except basic lands. It got this name from the tagline "There can only be one" from the Highlander TV series and movies. Highlander is not a sanctioned format.
Inf/Infi: Slang for infinite. However, it often doesn't really mean infinite, just quite a few. For example, "He drew inf creatures, so I lost." Also see DI
The Invitational: The Invitational is a very exclusive tournament where less then 20 people play once a year for the ability to create and print their own Magic card.
Judge: Judges are the people who keep order at tournaments by giving answers to questions and running the event. For example, "When in doubt, always call a judge."
Junior Super Series/JSS: The Junior Super Series tournaments were tournaments where players 15 and under could play for money for college. The format for JSS tournaments was always Standard. This program was replaced by the Magic Scholarship Series in the US as of 2007 but continues in other countries.
Limited: The name for any format where you recieve your cards once the tournament starts, such as sealed deck or booster draft, instead of using a constructed deck.
Mana Screw: When a player draws very few mana sources during a game. The opposite is being mana flooded. For example, "That last game my opponent was really mana screwed."
Mana Flood: When a player continually draws mana source after mana source during a game. The opposite is being mana screwed. For example, "That last game I was really mana flooded."
Match: A match consists of the best of three games, or in the top 8 of large events, the best of five games. The first person to win two games in a best of three games match, or three games in a best of five games match, wins the match. Draws don't count towards these games.
MODO: An acronym that stands for "Magic Online Digital Objects". Since this is what the original Magic Online application was named, the name has stuck and it is commonly used to reference Magic: The Gathering Online.
Nationals: Nationals is an invitation-only tournament where some of the best players from that National's country play once a year for large cash prizes.
Prerelease: A type of tournament that uses the Sealed Deck format. At prereleases, the cards that you will recieve are mainly from a set that hasn't been released yet. Prereleases usually happen two weeks before the set they are for is released.
Pro Tour/PT: The Pro Tour is an invitation-only tournament where some of the best players play for large cash prizes.
Pro Tour Qualifier/PTQ: A Pro Tour Qualifier is a tournament where the winner recieves a flight to and an invitation to the Pro Tour that the qualifier was for.
Regionals: A tournament that anybody can play in where the top 4-8 competitors recieve an invitation to Nationals. The format for Regionals is always Standard.
Restricted: You may only have one copy of this card between your deck and sideboard. Cards are restricted only in Vintage. For example, "Chimney Imp should be restricted."
Round: One round in a tournament consists of one match. For example, "I won last round."
Sealed Deck: A format where you recieve one tournament pack and two or three booster packs to build a deck with instead of using your own constructed deck.
Sideboard: A predetermined selection of 15 cards that you can put into your deck after game one. In constructed, you must also take a card out when you sideboard one in.
Standard: A constructed format where the only legal sets are the most two recent blocks and the most recent core set.
States: A tournament that anybody can play in that happens right as a new block rotates into Standard. The format for States is always Standard.
Legacy: A constructed format where every non-Un-set is legal, with a large banned list. Also see Vintage.
Top 8: The single elimination finals of any tournament after all of the swiss rounds are done. Some events, especially Two-Headed Giant, may use a Top 4 instead.
Un-set: A set where the cards effects that wouldn't ever be printed in regular Magic sets. Un-sets are never legal in any tournament format. For example, "Unhinged is a Un-set."
Vintage: A constructed format where every set is legal, with a large restricted list. Also see Legacy.
Worlds: The World Championships is a invitation-only tournament where the best players in the world play for large cash prizes.
W: Shorthand for the color white or one white mana. For example, "Leonin Skyhunter costs WW to play."
U: Shorthand for the color blue or one blue mana. For example, "Counterspell costs UU to play."
B: Shorthand for the color black or one black mana. For example, "Sangrophage costs BB to play."
R: Shorthand for the color red or one red mana. For example, "Slith Firewalker costs RR to play."
G: Shorthand for the color green or one green mana. For example, "Nourish costs GG to play."
Activate: Usually referencing an activated ability. For example, "I'll activate Umezawa's Jitte to give your Crazed Goblin -1/-1."
Aggro: A deck that attempts to win quickly and usually has lots of creatures. For example, "His deck was an aggro deck that used Raging
Rorix Bladewing is officially a beatstick.
Alpha Strike: When a player attacks with several, and usually all, of his or her creatures in a attempt to deal enough damage to win.
Archetype: A type of deck. While usually used to discuss limited format color combinations, it can also apply to constructed decks. For example, "I think that the R/G archetype is really strong."
Barn[/card]: A person who hangs around a better known player and does them favors. Short for "barnacle". For example, "Jon Finkel is my barn."
[b]Beatstick: A creature that is very efficient at attacking. For example, "I'll attack with my beatstick." Also see fattie.
Bomb: Usually referencing a card in a limited event, a bomb is a card that is amazing and will probally win you the game if left unchecked.
Bounce: Returning a card to its owners hand. For example, "I'll play Boomerang to bounce your Swamp."
Broken: An overpowered card. For example, "Skullclamp is broken."
Burn: Def. 1: A spell that deals damage to a creature or player. For example, "I'll play Lava Dart to burn your Eager Cadet." Def. 2: To acknowledge that you will take mana burn. For example, "I tap for WU, play Ancestral Recall, burn for one."
Combo: A deck that tries to play a certain combination of cards that will usually allow it to win the game. For example, "I lost to that Erayo, Soratami Ascendant/Rule of Law combo deck."
Control: A deck that tries to control the game, usually by destroying, returning to its owner's hand, or countering its opponent's cards that could win the game. For example, "I am playing a control deck using counterspells."
Curve: A deck's mana curve. Also see curving out.
Curving Out: When you play a card that costs one on turn one, a card that costs two on turn two, etc. For example, "last game I curved out with Savannah Lions turn one, Glory Seeker turn two and Glorious Anthem turn 3."
Cut: Taking a card out of the decklist of a deck. For example, "I didn't like Secretkeeper, so I cut it."
Decked: The act of losing because your library has no cards in it when you try and draw one. For example, "I decked him with Stroke of Genious."
Drop: The act of a player playing a permanent. For example, "I'll drop my Honor Guard."
EOT: A quick way of writing End of Turn. For example, "I'll destroy your Chittering Rats at EOT."
Fattie: A creature with a high power and/or toughness. For example, "I'll attack with my fattie." Also see Beatstick.
Fizzle: Countered on resolution due to targets becoming illegal or nonexistent. For example, "Your Magma Jet fizzles."
Jank: A card or deck that isn't very good or doesn't look very good. For example, "Barbed Lightning is jank."
Jedi Mind Trick: When you trick your opponent into making an incorrect play or falling for a bluff. Also see Mind Tricks.
Jump the Curve: When a creature is larger than normal for a creature of its cost. For example, "Iwamori of the Open Fist jumps the curve."
Lock: A combination of cards that makes it so that your opponent can't play any cards or attack. For example, "He got out his lock on me." Also see Combo.
Lucksack: A player who just got extremely lucky. For example, "He just won the coin flip. What a Lucksack."
Metagame: The popular decks in the current format or in your area. For example, "My Dragonstorm deck is a bad choice to play because discard is so popular in my metagame."
Mill: Def. 1: The act of putting cards from a players library into his or her graveyard. It was named this after Millstone, the first widely used card that put cards from an opponents library into their graveyard. For example, "I'll mill your top three cards." Def. 2: A deck that tries to win by making its opponents lose from not being able to draw a card. For example, "He was playing a mill deck."
Mirror: A deck with roughly the same decklist and idea as yours. For example, "My mono-red deck loses in the mirror."
Mise: Getting lucky right when you need it, usually by drawing a card right when you need it. For example, "I need to mise a Circle of Protection: Red." Also see Topdeck.
Necro: Activating an ability that exchanges life for cards. For example, "I'll Necro for 3 using Greed."
Net Deck: A deck or decklist that is widely known and several decklists circulate mass media sources such as the internet. The opposite of a net deck is a rogue deck. For example, "this net decked Dragonstorm decklist I got off of MTGSalvation.com isn't very good."
Ping: An effect that deals one damage to a creature or player. For example, "I'll tap my Vulshok Sorcerer to Ping you." Also see Poke, Tim, and Zap.
Pitch: Def. 1: The act of discarding cards. For example, "I'll pitch this card." Def. 2: A card that you can play for free for an alternate cost of removing one or more cards in your hand from the game. Def. 3: The act of removing cards from your hand to pay the cost in definition 2.
Poke: An effect that deals one damage to a creature or player. For example, "I'll tap my Prodigal Sorcerer to Poke you." Also see Ping, Tim and Zap.
Ponza: A red deck that expends its resources quickly to defeat its opponent as fast as it can. Ponza usually plays a lot of Land Destruction spells as well, to hinder its opponents while you damage them. Also see Sligh.
Pump: An effect which increases a creature's power and/or toughness. For example, "I'll use Giant Growth to pump my creature."
Ravager: An Affinity deck which uses Arcbound Ravager. For example, "he beat me with his Ravager deck." Sometimes known as Raffinity.
Recur: An effect that brings a card from your graveyard into your hand or into play. For example, "I'll recur my Nether Spirit."
RFG: The act of removing a card from the game. For example, "I'll RFG your Intruder Alarm with Legacy Weapon."
Rogue Deck: A deck or decklist that isn't mainstream or isn't very heavily known about. The opposite of a rogue deck is a net deck. For example, "my rogue Locket of Yesterdays and Coal Stoker combo deck is awesome!"
Sack/Sac: The sacrifice of a permanent. For example, "I'll sack my Kami of the Tended Garden."
Scoop: When a player concedes the game. For example, "I was winning so he scooped."
Sligh: A red deck that expends its cards fast to try and deal 20 damage as quickly as possible. The cards and exact strategies to do this have greatly changed over the years, although usually it uses cards that deal damage to an opponent and small, quick creatures to accomplish its goal. Also see Ponza.
Tap Down: An effect that taps an opposing card. For example, "I'll tap down your Kird Ape with Glare of Subdual."
Tap Out: When a player spends all of their mana or other resources. For example, "I had six lands, so I had to tap out to play my Nightsoil Kami."
Tech: A card or deck that isn't widely known.
Tier 1: A tier 1 deck is one of the best decks to play in that format. For example, "Tooth and Nail is tier 1 in Standard."
Tier 2: A tier 2 deck is a good deck to play in that format, although it will probally win less then a tier 1 deck. For example, "White Weenie is tier 2 in Standard."
Tier 3: A tier 3 deck is usually a bad and/or unplayable deck in that format that usually won't win many games. For example, "Phage Reanimator is tier 3."
Tim: An effect that deals one damage to a creature or player. For example, "I'll tap my Anaba Shaman to Tim you." Also see Poke, Zap and Ping.
Topdeck: Drawing a card right when you need it. For example, "I need to topdeck a creature." Also see Mise.
Topdeck Mode: A played in topdeck mode doesn't have anything to do in his or her hand and needs to draw a strong card to win. See topdeck.
Tutor: The nickname card that searches your library for a card and either puts it into your hand or on top of your library. Cards that do this got their name based off of the card Demonic Tutor. For example, "I tutored for my Oxidize."
Wrath: An effect that destroys all creatures in play. For example, "He wrathed my creatures with Winds of Rath."
WW: The deck archtype White Weenie, a deck that uses small cheap white creatures to try and quickly overwhelm its opponents.
Zap: An effect that deals one damage to a creature or player. For example, "I'll cast Lava Dart and Zap you." Also see Poke, Tim, and Ping.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand some Magic lingo and words that you didn't know before. One of the most important things to remember is that often groups of friends will come up with their own phrases, so be ready to figure out what "I'll knock down your mad kitty" means on the fly.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this article.