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Magic the Gathering has comprehensive rules that aren’t always easy to understand clearly without having first-hand experience with the game. One such rule is whether or not creatures count as spells.
Read on below and explore the in-depth explanation!
Are Creatures Spells?
In MTG, creature cards are spells only during the main phase that you cast them from your hand onto the battlefield.
Once you pay the mana cost(by tapping the right amount of basic lands – as well as any additional payments to spell requires) and lay the creature spell on the table, it is affected by summoning sickness, a condition due to the card having been played from your hand and placed on the spell “stack”.
However, once the final end phase of your current turn arrives the creature card isn’t on the spell stack anymore and thus loses its spell status and becomes an authentic creature.
Once they are full-fledged creatures, cards are ready to attack or block during the next combat phase.
So, are creatures spells? Yes, and no: creature cards are only spells until they are cast onto the battlefield and are removed from the stack. Afterward, they lose spell type status and become ready to attack, block, or use their other mechanics and abilities as soon as their summoning sickness wears off.
Creatures vs Spells
Any card type with a mana cost, played from your hand, counts as a spell once it hits the stack on the table. After being removed from the stack, cards are no longer spells and therefore become their true type.
For example, an Enchantment or Artifact Creature card are spells directly after casting them. But, in practically the next moment, they take their true place on the battlefield and assume their real card type and aspects such as triggered ability come into play.
Magic comprehensive rules can be hard to follow for the inexperienced player. That’s why we’ve included several examples. Below, we list some of the most popular card types, all of which count as spells when they hit the stack:
The Sunscorch Regent is a Flying 4/3 white Dragon creature type that costs four colorless lands and two plains to cast. The main advantage is its really great ability that targets an opponent’s casting spells.
The card is great as both an attacker and a blocker. In a mono-white deck, it is one of the only cards that makes a good replacement for Serra Angel.
That said, this card, and all other cards, lose spell status and become whatever their card type line states the moment they leave the stack and take their place on the battlefield.
Triggered abilities on cards like this one are fun to play with, as it gives you two things for the price of one. Further, each time an opponent plays a spell, your creature’s attacks and blocks become even more powerful.
In Garruk’s Wake
Sorceries and Instants are often mistakenly referred to as spells by both rookies and veterans alike. The reason being? Cards like In Garruk’s Wake dissolve after they leave the spell stack.
In other words, once you pay for a Sorcery or Instant card(the cost is visible in the upper right corner of each card), and cast it as a spell, its effects take place immediately and then the card goes straight to the graveyard.
Other permanents and MTG cards, like a land, creature, artifact, or equipment go from the stack to the field, but Sorceries and Instants never move further than the stack. In most MTG decks, these spells are a priority second only to a creature that deals severe amounts of damage.
As mentioned above, Instants are one of two card types most frequently thought of or referred to as MTG spells. When you draw Crypt Incursion, you know you’re about to gain some life.
This one is pure black and allows you to exile all creatures from a target opponent’s graveyard stack. Each card that is exiled from an owner’s graveyard in this manner grants you 3 life points.
The most effective way to use this card is once the game is well under way and plenty of attackers and blocks are in graveyards. That way you gain the most amount of life possible as well as prevent other players from returning cards back to the field.
Brave the Sands
Braves the Sands is a classic white card that loses spell status once its activated ability is in action(which is the moment it leaves the stack).
This particular card grants your creatures the Vigilance ability, so they don’t need to tap to attack(as most creatures do). You’ll still be tapping lands to pay for each creature you bring into play, but this card makes it feel like you might as well have been casting Serra Angel each time.
In addition, each of your creatures may block an extra creature if they have the toughness or power to do so.
Dakkon, Shadow Slayer
Planeswalkers are another type of card that only counts as a spell while it remains on the spell stack temporarily after paying its mana cost and casting it into the game.
Dakkon, Shadow Slayer has several planeswalker abilities, as do the majority of Planeswalkers or both legendary and nonlegendary status.
His second ability, pay -3 loyalty counters, and “Exile target creature” directly affect creatures, though it is not a spell, nor are the creatures it affects.
This Uncommon card is an Aura-type card. Once the mana cost is paid, and the activated ability kicks in, it’s no longer a white spell, but an Aura card.
When Spirit Loop is put into the graveyard from the battlefield, the activated ability allows you to return the card to your hand.
Further, when the creature the Arua is attached to deals damage to something, you gain life equal to the amount of damage dealt.
Brave the Sands (again – surprise, surprise!)
This spell is colorless and becomes an Artifact-type card once it is cast and removed from the stack.
Aetherspehere Harvester has the flying mechanic, is classified as a Vehicle, has Lifelink and other abilities, and has power and toughness of 3/5.
The card is, effectively, an Artifact creature in all but name.
Types of Creatures in MTG
There are tons of different creature spells and types in Magic the Gathering. The list below is a smattering of the most popular ones:
Multi-Colored / Colorless
The number of creature types grows from time to time as new core sets and expansions sets release additional creature types now and then. There are currently well over 250 individual types of creature spells in MTG.
In addition, there are numerous mixed creature spell types to choose from such as Zombie Knights, Angel Clerics, and Human Wizards.
Another consideration to take into account is that for each of the countless creature types, there are legendary and mythic rare creature spells, which are much more potent than any basic creature spell of the same type.
Types of Spells in MTG
As with creature types in MTG, the number of spell types also increases now and then when new sets come out.
When it comes to casting cards, there are also mixed spell types such as Enchanted Auras and Artifact Equipment to consider as well.
In addition, for each spell type in MTG, there are legendary cards as well. Legendary cards work the same way as the same type, though they are usually much stronger than non-legendary cards of the rarest status.
Do Spells Affect Creatures?
Spells may affect creatures in a plethora of manners, in MTG. For each entry on the shortlist above, of MTG spell types, there are dozens of various effects that may impact creatures.
Below, we discuss some of the most common card types and how they affect creatures:
Enchantments and Auras
These two popular card types may be attached to creatures. The primary purpose and effect are to either boost the card’s power and toughness or grant it some sort of protection, ability, or other advantages.
Auras and Enchantments may also be used for the opposite, so these effects may be good or bad for creatures, depending on the nature of the card and who cast it.
Sorceries and Instants
Out of all MTG card types, with the possible exception of creature cards themselves, Sorceries and Instants are among the most likely to directly affect creatures.
Many spells such as Sorceries and Instants are designed specifically to destroy, or otherwise remove from the game or somehow seriously hamper creatures controlled by opponents.
Artifacts and Equipment
Though not as popular as other card types, perhaps due to the level of playing skill and luck it requires to use them properly, Equipment and Artifact cards are another couple of types that often affect creatures.
The Equipment type is most similar to Enchantments and Auras, as they are typically require being attached by/to a creature. Artifacts on the other hand are stand-alone cards, that are usually tapped like creatures or lands, with unique abilities that often target creatures or players.
One of the later archetype card types to be released from Wizards of the Coast was the infamous Planeswalker. These cards often affect creatures, depending on their particular abilities. That said, many Planeswalkers may add buffers to creatures, destroy creatures, or exile creatures.
Can Creatures Affect Spells?
In certain cases, a creature may affect spells, though the vast majority of standard creatures do no such thing. That said, many Uncommon, Rare, Legendary, and Mythic Rare creatures have abilities that do indeed directly affect spells.
For example, a Legendary Human Wizard may have the ability to tap and counter a player from casting spells of a certain type. Likewise, some Dragons or Gods may have very similar abilities when it comes to countering or otherwise impacting spells cast by opponents.
Are Creatures Better than Spells?
The answer to whether a creature is better than other spells depends on your playing style, deck, strategy, hand, and much more. Honestly, there is no right or wrong answer here.
That said, there are both incredibly powerful creature spells and other types of spells in MTG to choose from. In our example below, we give a more detailed explanation of this question.
A standard Ogre-type creature card has a toughness of 3 and a power of 3. It is capable of dealing three damage to a creature or player each time it attacks. The creature is also able to block up to three damage from another creature.
Another classic red Instant spell, Lightning Strike, deals 3 damage directly to a target creature or player. The spell may be countered by a spell or ability, otherwise, the target player or creature must take the damage automatically.
Which One is Better?
The 3/3 creature also deals 3 damage to creatures and players but may do so turn after turn unless it is otherwise blocked, destroyed, exiled, or removed from the game somehow.
The Instant only deals its damage once, but can not be blocked. That said, both cards cost the same amount to summon or cast.
So, which one is actually better then? The creature or the spell? Only you can be the judge.
FAQs About Are Creatures Spells
MTG is a game full of types, rules, counters, dice, cards, and more. Keeping up with all the facts isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Below, we discuss some of the most frequently asked questions and answers that help shed like on the MTG are creatures spells questions:
Do Creatures Count as Spells in MTG?
The creature technically counts as a spell in MTG, but only while it is in your hand, and while casting them. Once the mana cost of a creature spell is paid for and the creature card is cast onto the battlefield, it is not a spell anymore and counts only as a creature.
Is a Creature’s Ability a Spell?
A creature spell is not an ability, though a creature card may have spell-like activated abilities that cost extra mana to use. These abilities do not count as a spell, as only cards that you play from your hand are technically counted as spells.
What Qualifies as a Spell in MTG?
While they are still held in your hand or are stacked in your deck, every card but lands counts as spells. Once cast, and a turn passes, the spell resolves and the card takes on its real form.
A creature spell resolves into a creature. Likewise, Enchantments, Auras, Equipment, and other spells work the same way.
What’s More Powerful, Creatures or Spells?
The creature and spell cards both have their pros and cons, making both extremely powerful, yet having real drawbacks at the same time.
A creature may be killed by direct damage, combat damage, or remove from the battlefield in various ways. Spells on the other hand may typically be played one time, last for a single turn, and may not be re-used.
A creature counts as a spell when it’s still in your hand or deck. They are technically spells until the following turn after you cast them and their summoning sickness wears off. Afterward, they simply count as a creature and are no longer classified as spells.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully, our article clears up all your questions related to whether or not a creature is counted as a spell in MTG.
Creatures, planeswalkers, enchantments, and artifacts are also spells as you're casting them, but not once they're on the battlefield. Permanent: Once they're on the battlefield, they're instead called permanents. A permanent is any card (or token) on the battlefield.Is a creature a permanent spell? ›
Simply put, a permanent card is a spell that stays on the battlefield when it's cast. That's in contrast to non-permanent spells, which are limited to instants and sorceries. There are five permanent types in MTG: planeswalker, creature, enchantment, artifact, and land.What is considered a creature spell? ›
a creature spell is a card with the card type “creature” as it is being cast. Once the spell resolves, it ceases to be a spell and becomes a creature permanent.Are creature spells instant? ›
Do Creature Abilities Count as Instants? No. They aren't instant spells, so can't be interacted with by things that care about instants like Dispel.What all counts as a spell in MTG? ›
A spell is either a card that has been cast and thus placed on the stack, or a copy of another spell. A card is only a spell when it is on the stack; in most other zones it is simply a card, or a permanent when on the battlefield.Are adventures creature spells? ›
While a card with an adventure spell on it is in the graveyard, it's not an instant or a sorcery. It maintains the characteristics of the main spell, which is a creature.Can you counterspell a creature spell? ›
Counterspell targets a creature casting a spell, no matter the source of the spell (the creature, an item, etc.).Can spells destroy indestructible creature? ›
Indestructible objects can be targeted by spells and abilities that would destroy. Permanents that have the indestructible ability cannot be destroyed by effects that would destroy them or, if the permanent is a creature, by receiving lethal damage. However that does not make indestructible objects illegal targets.Do spells end when a creature dies? ›
Being incapacitated or killed.
So of the basic types of spell durations, only spells that require concentration will end on death. That said, spells can have their own rules. If a spell specifies a condition that will end it in its description, that condition will end it.
When your planeswalker spell resolves, it enters the battlefield under your control. Planeswalkers are not creatures. Spells and abilities that affect creatures won't affect them. They can become creatures by spells or abilities, though, such as Sarkhan the Masterless' ability.
A mutating creature spell is a creature spell, even if it won't enter the battlefield as a creature. As a mutating creature spell begins to resolve, check whether its target is still legal.What happens when you counter a creature spell? ›
A spell that is countered is put into the graveyard instead of doing its effect. It is essentially negated. Counterspells or permission spells may or may not have conditions, such as forcing a player to pay an additional amount of mana.What happens when you copy a creature spell? ›
What Happens if you Copy a Creature Spell? If the creature is a “spell,” meaning it's on the stack, yours will go on the stack above the original and will resolve first. If it's copying a permanent already on the battlefield, it just enters as a copy of it like a Clone.Can you use a creature ability if it is tapped? ›
What About While It's Tapped? As long as you can pay the costs, you can activate a creature's abilities even if it's tapped.What is not a spell MTG? ›
Of all the card types, the only one that isn't a spell are lands. "Counter target spell" can counter sorceries, instants, enchantments, artifacts, creatures, and planeswalkers.What is Rule 601.2 F? ›
601.2f The player determines the total cost of the spell. Usually this is just the mana cost. Some spells have additional or alternative costs. Some effects may increase or reduce the cost to pay, or may provide other alternative costs.Are tokens creature spells? ›
Creature tokens represent permanents, but they are not spells; thus, they are never cast, never go onto the stack and cannot be in any zone of the game except for the battlefield itself.Are Gods creature spells MTG? ›
Even though the god is a creature spell on the stack and will be a creature AFTER it enters, the game doesn't treat it as a creature entering the battlefield.Is God a creature type MTG? ›
To make it simple: a god card could be an enchantment or an enchantment creature when it's on the battlefield. Everywhere else, it's just a creature.Does adventure count as casting spell? ›
Casting a card as an adventure isn't considered casting as an alternative cost. Effects that enable you to cast a spell for an alternative cost without paying its mana cost may allow you to apply those to an adventure. The adventure card is a creature card in every zone except the stack.
Yes, you can counter a hexproof creature.
A creature spell on the stack counts as a spell and not as a permanent. Hexproof is an ability that affects the card as long as it's a permanent, so you can absolutely counter it.
“A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target's person. The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.” Yes, you can counterspell.Can you counterspell a wand of fireball? ›
Using your own example, when you take the Use an Object action to activate the Wand of Fireballs you are casting a spell, so it can be Counterspelled.Does Deathtouch beat indestructible? ›
Indestructible creatures also ignore deathtouch. Normally, a creature is destroyed if it takes damage from a creature with deathtouch. But since indestructible creatures can't be destroyed, they're immune.What happens if you give a planeswalker indestructible? ›
Planeswalkers with indestructible will still have loyalty counters removed from them as they are dealt damage. If a planeswalker with indestructible has no loyalty counters, it will still be put into its owner's graveyard, as the rule that does this doesn't destroy the planeswalker.Does trample go through indestructible? ›
Yes, at least in the sense that the additional damage does successfully trample over a blocking creature. An indestructible creature can't be destroyed by combat damage, but you only need to assign lethal-equivalent damage to that creature and then the excess damage can be assigned to the blocking player.Do enchantments go away when a creature dies MTG? ›
An enchantment goes to the graveyard when the creature it is enchanting leaves play. Equipment stays in play, and can be equipped to a new creature for its equip cost. Note that you can only pay equip costs when you are allowed to cast sorceries.Can spells do non lethal? ›
Can You Do Nonlethal Damage With Spells in 5e? Yes, they can but only if the spell inflicts melee damage.Does sacrificing a creature count as it dying? ›
Yes. Assuming the sacrificed creature is a Zombie, Diregraf Captain's ability will cause target opponent to lose 1 life. This is because "dies" simply means "goes to the graveyard from the battlefield". 700.6.Does Deathtouch work on planeswalkers? ›
Accepted answer #1. Simply, it doesn't. A creature with deathtouch will destroy any CREATURE it deals damage to. Planeswalkers are not creatures, so they take damage like they normally do, i.e. a Deadly Recluse will still only remove 1 counter from a planeswalker if it damages it.
You can tap creatures once the attack phase is entered, but before attackers are declared, however.Can you play two planeswalkers with the same name? ›
As we mentioned, even though you can't have two planeswalkers with the same name in play, you can have more than one of the same type of planeswalker in play as long as they have different names.What is casting a creature spell MTG? ›
To cast a spell is to take a card from where it is (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. 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.When you cast a creature spell draw a card MTG? ›
Whenever you cast a creature spell, draw a card, then you may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield. : Return target creature you control to its owner's hand. When Citanul Woodreaders enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, draw two cards.When can you cast creature spells MTG? ›
Most spells can be cast either during the first main phase of your turn (which is before combat), or during the second main phase (which is after combat). This includes creature spells, sorcery spells, enchantment spells, artifact spells, and planeswalker spells.Does mutate count as a permanent spell? ›
Creatures that are merged count as one creature and can include tokens. If a merged creature's top card is a token, then it's a token creature. On the flipside, a mutated creature is a non-token permanent if the top card is a non-token permanent regardless of if a token is in the pile.Is mutate still a creature spell? ›
Yes, a creature card cast for its mutate cost is still a creature spell. Mutate appears on some creature cards. It represents a static ability that functions while the spell with mutate is on the stack.Can you counter a mutate? ›
While it's on the stack, a mutating creature spell is still a spell, so it can be countered. If it's countered, it heads to the graveyard as you'd expect.What is Rule 704 in Magic The Gathering? ›
704.5g If a creature has toughness greater than 0, it has damage marked on it, and the total damage marked on it is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event.Does a creature have summoning sickness if you take control of it? ›
Yes, a creature gets summoning sickness after taking control of it. 302.6.: A creature's activated ability with the tap symbol or the untap symbol in its activation cost can't be activated unless the creature has been under its controller's control continuously since their most recent turn began.
Plain artifacts don't have summoning sickness. Like planeswalkers, they aren't creatures. They're things. You can just use them without any worry, even if they have tap abilities.What is Rule 706.10 MTG? ›
706.10a If a copy of a spell is in a zone other than the stack, it ceases to exist. If a copy of a card is in any zone other than the stack or the battlefield, it ceases to exist. These are state-based actions. See rule 704.Can you copy a legendary spell? ›
Can You Copy a Legendary Sorcery? Absolutely. Since legendary sorceries aren't permanents, they're not subject to the legend rule. What makes legendary sorceries different from other sorceries is that you must control a legendary permanent in order to cast them.Can you kick a copied spell? ›
If a kicked spell is copied, the copy is also kicked.Does haste remove summoning sickness? ›
Creatures that have Haste do not suffer from the effects of summoning sickness and can be attackers as soon as they are cast onto the battlefield.Does summoning sickness prevent blocking? ›
Summoning sickness means a creature cannot attack or use an ability requiring it to be tapped or untapped. Blocking is not covered here so creatures with summoning sickness can block.Can you goad a tapped creature? ›
Rulings. Goaded is a designation a permanent can have. Goaded creatures are forced to attack and to attack a player other than the player that caused it to be goaded. If a goaded creature is tapped, it can't attack.Do equip monsters count as spell cards? ›
Monsters that are equipped turn into Equip Spell Cards and are moved to a Spell & Trap Card Zone. They cannot be destroyed by effects that destroy monsters, but they can be destroyed by effects that destroy Spells/Traps. If they are destroyed while equipped, they return to being Monster cards in the Graveyard.Is A planeswalker considered a spell? ›
You can cast one at any time you could cast a sorcery. When your planeswalker spell resolves, it enters the battlefield under your control. Planeswalkers are not creatures. Spells and abilities that affect creatures won't affect them.Are enchantment creatures creature spells? ›
Is an Enchantment Creature a Noncreature Spell? No, enchantment creatures are creatures. While they contain the “enchantment” type as well, having the creature type supersedes that. The exception is if you cast a bestow creature for its bestow cost, it's no longer a creature spell.
No, it doesn't count as casting a spell. (Activating an ability and casting a spell are two different things.) Trying to equip a creature will trigger things like Angelic Protector and Phantasmal Dragon, but it won't trigger heroic abilities.Are equip spells destroyed when the monster leaves the field? ›
You need to wait until the monster is face-up on the field. Equip Spell Cards only have their effect as long as they remain face-up on the field. If an Equip Spell Card is destroyed or is removed from the field in another way, then its effects disappear.Are pendulum monsters considered spell cards? ›
Pendulum Zone and Pendulum Effect
Although a Pendulum Monster is treated as a Spell while in the Pendulum Zone, it is not considered a Normal, Continuous, Field, Equip, Quick-Play, or Ritual Spell Card.
There's no limit to the number of planeswalker permanents you can have in play! It may hurt your head trying to manage 100 passive and loyalty abilities, but that's completely fair game. The only restriction is that you can't have two copies of the exact same planeswalker card in play.What is Rule 303.4 F MTG? ›
303.4f If an Aura is entering the battlefield under a player's control by any means other than by resolving as an Aura spell, and the effect putting it onto the battlefield doesn't specify the object or player the Aura will enchant, that player chooses what it will enchant as the Aura enters the battlefield.Is an artifact creature a creature spell? ›
'Artifact' is a type, not a subtype. When an effect has you choose a subtype, like a creature subtype, you cannot choose artifact. This also applies to effects that depend on or apply to specific creature subtypes.