Magic: The Gathering is one of the best-known games in the world. This is in part because it’s been around since 1993 and in part, because it is a very good game. With such a breadth of time behind it though it is full of assumed knowledge and demands a lot from you if you want to play. To this end, we here at Prima are going to be doing a whole series of articles for those who want to brush up on it before playing.

While the mechanics are the same between both the digital version – Magic: The Gathering Arena – and the paper version there are some differences. The most obvious of which is that you can’t play a spell incorrectly in Arena. Well, you can play badly, but you can’t actually do anything wrong from a technical standpoint. In this article we’re gonna talk about card types and when they can be cast. This is the kind of knowledge that will let you up your game when deckbuilding, drafting, and competing.


These are spells that when played, stick around on the battlefield until removed. The wording here is important, I said played and not cast because you can’t Land cards. Generally speaking, these are the cards that you’ll be most interested in when you start playing MtG, because nothing is more satisfying than a gigantic creature. Permanents can generally only be played in your turn during a Main Phase.


Land cards are the bread and butter of any deck and the only reason you can play your spells. You can play one a turn and only in your turn. You can then tap them for mana depending on what kind of land they are. Basic lands are Forst, Island, Mountain, Plains, and Swamp and you can have as many of these in your deck as you like. However, you can only have a maximum of 4 non-basic lands like the Guildgates in your deck.


Creature cards are your units. They have a power and a toughness that dictates how much damage they can give and take. If their toughness is reduced to 0 or below in any way then they die and go to the graveyard. Lots of creatures have special abilities that are either described in detail on the card itself or use a keyword as an abbreviation like Lifelink. Creatures can’t attack or tap the turn they are played unless they have haste.


Artifacts tend to be colourless and can do a variety of different things. They have a lot of different sub-types that affect just what they do. For example, Equipment is an Artifact type that allows you to make a creature stronger or augment it in some way. There are also static Artifacts that have an effect that will be detailed on the card itself.


Enchantments are similar to Artifacts but tend to have at least one colour. Some Enchantments affect the board or the game itself, for example giving you an additional attack step, while others only affect a Creature, maybe by stopping it from blocking.


Planeswalkers come into play with a loyalty value, which basically serves as their health. They have abilities which add or subtract loyalty in order to have an effect.  They can be attacked as though they were a player and if they lose their loyalty then they die. They tend to be exceptionally powerful and are a staple in most formats.


These are spells which have a one time effect and then are put into the graveyard. They are a big part of Control decks and will either have targets or hit everything. While Sorcery spells tend to be more powerful, Instant spells are usually more versatile.


Instant spells can be used in reaction to nearly everything including in your opponent’s turn. This is what makes them so versatile. The classic instant spells; deal damage, let you draw cards or can stop spells from resolving.


Sorcery spells can only be played in your turn as though playing a permanent. They can do a wide array of things like making a creature stronger, making your opponent lose life, or just destroying every permanent in play.

Those are all of the general types of cards in Magic: The Gathering, while there are sub-types for many of these it is simpler to just look at the overall ones first. If you want to check out our other MtG content you can just click here for our Hub