There is a lot of slang used in Magic. I’ve heard all sorts of random terms used to describe common actions in the game. Here is a list of some of those terms with their definitions.
Note: This is a constant work in progress, and I appreciate all the suggestions and additions. Special thanks to posters on the MtgSalvation.com forums for additions and corrections.
Words Added/Edited: Combo Out (1/25)
187 – Based on the police code for a homicide, a creature that enters the battlefield and destroys another creature. Example: Nekrataal, or Shriekmaw.
Acceleration – see also Ramp; spells or abilities that let you play additional lands per turn or generate more mana than one more per turn. Example: Rampant Growth and Cultivate.
Action – cards that do stuff. “I really need to draw some action here so I’m not just sitting here getting attacked.”
Alpha Strike – to attack with all eligible creatures at once, usually resulting in victory for the attacking player.
Animate – Use a non-creature card’s ability that makes it become a creature. “In response to your Geth’s Verdict I’ll animate my Mutavault and sacrifice it instead of my other creature.”
Answer – A card that is better than a card or set of cards played by the opponent. Often times referring to a removal spell. “I’d better draw an answer to that Juggernaut or I lose.”
Bad beat – poker term used in Magic to describe a loss that the player telling the story is trying to shift the blame to bad luck rather than his own misplay.
Banhammer – the act of the DCI banning a card in a format. “Wizards slammed down the Banhammer on Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Standard last year.”
Bash/Beat – to attack. “I’ll bash with my Grizzly Bears for 2.”
Bear – reference to Grizzly Bears, generally used to describe a creature that costs roughly 2 mana and is a 2/2. For example, Meddling Mage, Qasali Pridemage, and Walking Corpse are all bears.
Bin – the graveyard.
Blow Your Load – the act of playing out one’s entire hand or the bulk of applicable threats, leaving him/her without further acts and quite vulnerable if the initial approach fails to win the game.
Board – two primary meanings: 1) noun referring to the play area during a game, “I wrathed his board, killing all of his creatures.” 2) referring to a sideboard. “He boarded out the removal for game three,” or “I’ve got a couple answers in my board for game 2.”
Bomb – In limited, any fantastic card that can win games on its own or has a devastating effect on the opponent. “I had so many bombs in my sealed pool, I don’t know how I can lose!”
Bounce – to return a card to its owner’s hand. “I’ll cast Unsummon and bounce your creature.”
Board Sweeper – Similar to wrath, eliminates all creatures or other specific type of permanent. Example: Wrath of God/Day of Judgment.
Break – The ability for a deck to be successful in a given format based on its ability to beat the most popular decks. “This deck is packed with so many answers to the metagame that it’s going to break the format.”
Broken– really, really good. “That card is so broken, it should be banned.”
Burn – doing damage by a spell or ability, most commonly with a red instant or sorcery.
Butt – the toughness of a creature. “That 1/5 doesn’t do any damage but it can certainly block well with its big butt.”
Cantrip – An effect that lets you draw a card when the card leaves play. Example: Nihil Spellbomb.
Card Advantage – getting more than one effect from a card, see also two-for-one. Ex.Divination is card advantage because you draw 2 cards by using only one card.
CC – abbreviation for casting cost
Chump Blocking – blocking a large non-trample creature with a significantly smaller creature.
Clock – Determining the number of turns a player has to find an answer to his opponent’s threat. “I put him on a 5 turn clock with my Invisible Stalker when I equipped it with the dagger.”
CMC – abbreviation for converted mana cost.
Color Screwed – like getting land screwed but missing colors of mana.
Combo Out – Event that occurs when a player assembles all the pieces of a combo as a win-condition (ex. “When he drew Splinter Twin he was finally able to combo out by playing it on Deceiver Exarch)
Crack – Verb meaning to use an activated ability that involves sacrificing the card and replacing it with another card, such as a land from your library. “I’m going to crack this fetch land and find a Mountain.” Can also mean to open booster packs.
Degenerate – Act of being unfair and thus not fun, similar to broken but only used with negative connotation. Common use: degenerate combo.
Go Deep – primarily used in drafting, to commit to a particular color or strategy.
Dome – to deal damage to an opponent directly with a spell. “I was ahead in the race until he drew Lava Axe and domed me.”
Durdle – Player in a tournament with a home-made deck that is not sleeved; usually children and new players. Often does not have dice or paper as well. May also refer to a below-average creature, generally unimpressive vanilla creatures.
Eat – to take damage when given the choice not to. “I could block your creature, but I’ll just eat the 4 damage.” Also means to block a creature so that the attacking creature dies and the blocking creature does not.
EDH – Short for Elder Dragon Highlander. What Wizards tries to make you call “Commander” but is wrong.
E.V. – Abbreviation for Expected Value, referring to an economic analysis of the possible outcomes of playing a particular Magic event. The analysis involves weighing the cost of entry, time required to play the event, and the odds and extent of prizes. Also applies to any action related to Magic, such as buying a booster pack or playing a particular card. For example, the E.V. of opening Homelands booster draft is low, since the set is worthless, compared to the EV of a booster draft involving Worldwake.
Evasion – term for any creature ability that allows it to subvert potential blockers. Example: flying, horsemanship, islandwalk.
to the Face – directing damage at a player instead of a creature. “I’ll Lightning Bolt you to the face.”
Fatty – A large creature, typically one that has more than 4 power.
First Pick – A card so good it would be your first selection in every booster draft. “That’s a first pick all day.” Can also refer specifically to the first card a player chooses in a booster draft.
Float – to add mana to your mana pool before a spell or ability resolves, to be used after it resolves. Most commonly used when a mana-producing permanent will be destroyed upon a spell/ability’s resolution. “In reponse to your Lightning Bolt I’ll tap Llanowar Elves and float a green mana.”
French Vanilla – a creature with an evergreen ability (ex. trample, flying, etc.) and nothing else. Example: Raging Goblin
Gas – anything that accelerates your ability to win a game once you put some effect of your strategy into play. “Primeval Titan adds gas to my deck because it lets me get Inkmoth Nexus out in play.”
Get/Got There – To have won the match, generally used in the context of barely winning. “Did you get there?” “Yeah.”
Godhand – an extremely powerful hand that establishes early dominance in the game. Often includes a perfect card curve allowing for a more powerful play each turn.
Going Infinite – On Magic Online, the ability to never pay out-of-pocket for an event entry fee because of winning packs or cards from another event. Example: winning an 8-4 draft gives you 8 packs, which will let you pay for 2 more drafts, so you’ve gone infinite for three drafts.
Goldfishing – Playing with your deck by yourself with no opposing player or deck with the goal of seeing how fast you can do 20 damage in an unblocked, uninterrupted scenario. “This deck wins on turn 4 goldfishing.”
Go Off – term for the point in which a combo-based deck assembles the combo in play. Also used to describe a massive turning point in a game where a player takes many actions and makes it impossible for the opponent to come back.
Grinder – someone who plays Magic relentlessly in an effort to get better and earn an invite to the Pro Tour. May also refer to someone who constantly plays Magic Online and very little paper Magic.
Hate – similar to hoser, refers to cards and strategies that target a specific color or strategy. Example:
Hate draft – in a booster draft, to take a card not in your draft colors just to prevent another player from acquiring the card. Different than a rare draft.
Hosed – similar to mana screwed and color screwed. “I got hosed on red and had a hand full of burn spells.”
Hoser – A card that specifically targets a color or strategy. Example: Choke against blue, or Tormod’s Crypt against graveyard strategies.
Ice/Icy – Act of using an ability that taps a permanent an opponent controls, in reference to the card Icy Manipulator. More recently used in connection with the tapping effects of Frost Titan, Ajani Vengeant and Crippling Chill.
Infinite – although Magic does not allow any number to be infinite, the term is still used to refer to a player’s ability to do something repeatable to an extremely high number.
Jank – cards that don’t appear to have any good use other than something to put in your bike spokes. “There’s no way I’m winning the draft tonight, my deck is full of jank.”
Jedi Mind Trick – reference to Star Wars, when a player “psychs out” his opponent through using double-speak, body language, and other psychological tricks, ultimately convincing the opponent to make a bad play.
Johnny – Designation given to players who focus on card combos and like to win with flair.
Land Drop – The hidden step during each turn where you play a land. Common usage – missing a land drop – signifying you didn’t have a land to play during the early turns of the game. “I missed my land drop on turn 3 which basically screwed me” (See land screwed above).
Land Flooded – When you draw too many lands and not enough spells. Also known as Mana Flooded
Land Screwed – When you draw too many spells and not enough land. Most common when you keep a hand with two land on the play, and almost ALWAYS happens when you keep a one land hand. Also known as Mana Screwed.
LGS – short for Local Game Store. The place where you play magic that isn’t somebody’s house.
Life Swing – total difference in life points when life is gained by one player and lost by another. For example, [mtg_card]Lightning Helix[/mtg_card] is a 6 point life swing (3 dmg + 3 life gained)
Lucksack – Used as a verb or a noun, but essentially a player who is extremely lucky, mostly in situations where the odds are tremendously against them. “He only had one out in his whole deck and he lucksacked into it.”
Magical Christmas Land -Scenarios that are extremely rare, but when they happen, are quite amazing. (rumored to be coined by StarCityGames’ Evan Erwin)
Mana Curve – A graph of the converted mana cost of every card in a deck. Usually visualized by simply sorting out each card based on its converted mana cost. “With so many 4 and 5 drops, my draft deck has a pretty high mana curve.”
Mana Dork – a creature that makes mana, generally a 1/1 for one mana that generally do nothing but give more more mana faster to cast bigger stuff. Llanowar Elves are the classic mana dorks.
Man Land – Any land with an activated ability that turns it into a creature. See also Animate. Examples: Treetop Village and Celestial Colonnade.
Metagame/Meta – set of commonly played decks in a given constructed format based on past events. “The Standard Metagame is very aggressive, with most decks putting you on some sort of clock.”
Mill – taking the top card of a library and putting it into the graveyard, origins from the card Millstone. “I’ll flashback Dream Twist and mill you for 3.”
Mise or Miser – Derived from the phrase “might as well,” used to describe a lucky draw.
Misclick – a misplay allegedly caused by a short lapse in concentration, derived from selecting a wrong option on Magic Online.
Misplay – an incorrect play choice when the player was capable of making the correct choice. “I misplayed there, I should have attacked the turn before instead of waiting to block.”
Net-Decking – Concept for a player playing a deck list posted on the Internet (like StarCityGames.com or TCGPlayer.com) without any changes. See also stock.
Next Level – coined by pro player Patrick Chapin through his book, “Next Level Magic”; to rise well above the common ability to do something; to be Next Level’d is to have been surprisingly defeated in some capacity, often through a Jedi Mind Trick. “Miracle cards are Next Level topdecking.”
Non-bo – the opposition of a combo, where two or more cards interact poorly with each other, but are played in the same deck or by the same player. Example: Playing graveyard hate cards in a deck that reanimates creatures from it.
Nuts – Poker term meaning the best possible hand, applied in Magic to mean a really, really awesome hand or draw. See also Godhand.
One of – playing a singular copy of a card in a deck, typically found in control-style decks with the ability to draw cards or tutor effect to find the card.
One Time Dealer – originally from casino table games, phrase used by players in a disadvantaged situation on their draw step, with the hopes of drawing the card that will turn the tables (or at least stop them from immediately losing the game). Often followed by a good-luck tapping of the library or table. “Come on, just one time dealer, give me that Doom Blade.”
O.P. – Overpowered. Used to describe something that is Broken or way too good. “Havengul Lich is O.P. in sealed, they never should have printed it.”
Overcommit – to play more cards than necessary to win, usually followed by a savage board sweep from a wrath effect.
Packed – when someone opens a booster pack and finds a good card inside. “I packed a Sorin in my prize packs last night.”
Ping – using a creature’s ability to do direct damage to something, often referring only to 1 damage. “Ping you for 1 with Goblin Fireslinger.”
Pitch – to discard
Pressure – game situation that forces an opponent to make unfavorable play decisions and blocking assignments.
Pro Play – When presented with a Skillcheck the player selects the advanced option that most often results in victory. “He made a pro play by choosing not to play the second Delver of Secrets, having deduced that his opponent had Pyroclasm in hand.”
Pull – to open a booster pack and find a certain card. “The only thing I pulled in that sealed event was Bonfire of the Damned.” See also Packed.
Pump – to activate an ability that makes something stronger, particularly creature abilities giving them a boost in toughness and/or power. “I’ll pay 2 life and pump Putrid Leech.”
Punt – to make a play mistake that loses an otherwise winnable game. “I punted that game when I had it in my grasp!”
Race – game situation where both players attempt to deplete each other’s life total at a near equal quantity per turn, usually with one player at a slight advantage over the other. “I tried to race his 5/5 with my 3/3 but I was too far behind.”
Railbird – a term used commonly in poker, meaning one spectates and/or kibitzes a game of Magic, usually tournament matches.
Ramp – see also Accelerate. From the card Rampant Growth, meaning to put more lands into play or have access to more mana than you would through other sources than you would by simply playing one land per turn.
Rare draft – in a booster draft, taking a card that is rare or mythic because you want it for your collection, not because it is good for your draft deck. Also often refers to taking a card only because it is a rare or mythic, not because it is a particularly good cards, usually done by noobs.
Raw Dog – act of playing a card without trying to exploit some of its better uses. Example: playing Gravedigger with an empty graveyard.
Red Deck Wins – A staple deck for any format, this deck consists of cheap creatures (usually with haste) and lots of burn spells. Almost always a very inexpensive deck to build, financially.
Red Zone – theoretical location in the play area where attackers and blockers are declared, named so for the playmats used at premiere events that contain an red colored area in the middle of play.
Rip – Draw a card, particularly used to describe a desperate or surprise situation. “I’ve gotta rip a removal spell or I’m dead.”
Robots – artifact creatures
RTFC – acronym for “Read The F*cking Card,” generally used to mock a friend who just misplayed because he/she didn’t actually read the card before playing it.
Rules Lawyer – One who argues with another over intricacies of the rules in order to get their way, often trampling over the other player’s intent. “When I played Esper Charm I said I’d target myself so I could draw, but my opponent was a Rules Lawyer so I had to discard instead.”
Sack – Sacrifice. “I’ll play Kuldotha Rebirth, sacking Mox Opal to it.”
Scoop – to concede, generally by picking up all your cards with both hands in one scoop. “I hardcasted Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and he scooped.”
Scrub – a bad player; also a verb to describe how bad you did. “I scrubbed out at an FNM and didn’t win a match.”
Send in the Team – to attack with all eligible attackers, similar to an Alpha Strike
Ship – Used in several contexts, but most commonly used to announce a mulligan. “My hand is pretty bad, I’m going to ship it.”
Shock – derived from the card Shock, regarding 2 damage dealt to a target. Commonly used in conjunction with the Ravnica block dual lands, known as the Shock Lands because of their “pay 2 life” ability.
Sick Rip – a lucky draw, usually turning the tides of a game.
Skillcheck – Point in a game where an option is presented to a player that includes a choice most players would pick (but was wrong) and a choice only advanced players would select.
Snap Keep – An opening hand so good you don’t think about mulligans for a second.
Snap – to make a decision almost instantaneously. See, for example Snap Keep.
Spike – Designation given to players who focus on cards with high power-levels and focus on winning by any means necessary.
Splash – In deckbuilding, including cards and lands of a non-dominant color, often only one or two cards or abilities of that minor color. “I drafted blue-white with a red splash just for Devil’s Play.”
Stock – Similar to net-decking, a decklist is considered stock when it is card-for-card the same as a list played by successful players.
Sweep – to destroy an entirety of something, usually the results of a Wrath of God effect. See also wipe.
Swing – to attack with a creature. “I’ll swing Chandra’s Phoenix at Jace, and swing Goblin Guide at you.”
Sum’ Good – short for “something good,” used to describe the card you just ripped or played that was way better than what I could play right now
Table – In a booster draft, occurs when a card you have seen in a particular pack is still in the pack when it has been passed by all drafters. “I can’t believe that card tabled back to me.” See also Wheel.
Tank – referring to a player thinking a long time before making a decision. “He put his cards on the table and went into the tank for several minutes before making a move.”
Tech – deck strategy or specific card(s) used specifically to give the player an advantage over a particular part of a metagame. Example: Using Leyline of Sanctity against a metagame heavy with mono red burn decks.
Tilt – The effect losing or misplaying has on a player where the negative stimulus causes the player to experience more negative instances. “After that misplay, I went on tilt and couldn’t focus enough to win the next game.”
Timmy – Designation given to players who focus on big, fat creatures, generally green; usually new or younger players
Topdeck – Drawing a relevant card while having no other options to resolve the current situation. Players who topdeck exactly the card they need to win are lucky as hell. “I was going to win until he topdeck’d that Wrath of God.”
Trollshroud – originally found as the long-worded ability on Troll Ascetic, this is now the Hexproof mechanic.
Turn Sideways – generally pertaining to a creature, to declare it as an attacker. “He’s going to turn sideways that beast token and knock 3 life off his opponent.”
Tutor – Searching your library for a card as an effect of an ability or spell. Origins from the old school tutor cards like Demonic Tutor. “I’ll -2 to Liliana and tutor up a card.”
Two-for-one’d (x-for-one’d) – When a player gets epic card advantage from a spell or ability by using one card to eliminate two or more cards of his opponent. “I got Two-for-one’d when my opponent Lightning Bolt’ed my Llanowar Elves when I tried to enchant it with Angelic Destiny.”
Type 2 or Type II – What old people call Standard. They also call Vintage Type 1, Legacy 1.5 and Extended 1.x. They’re wrong.
Ultimate – a Planeswalker card’s ability that requires removing a substantial number of counters in order to produce a typically game-winning effect. For example: the -12 ability on Jace, the Mind Sculptor or the -8 ability on Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.
Vanilla – a creature with no abilities. Example: Grizzly Bears
Vorthos – Designation given to players who focus on the art and flavor of cards rather than their abilities.
Weenie – a small creature, usually with 2 or less toughness.
Wheel – same as Table. In a booster draft, when a card makes it all the way around the table without being picked.
Windmill Slam – When someone packs an awesome card during a draft and pulls it from the pack by taking it high above his/her head and slamming it onto the table. May also be used to bluff opening a bomb. Recently developed as the preferred method to play a Miracle card.
Wipe – To destroy the entirety of something, usually applying to the results of a Wrath of God effect. “I wiped his board with Day of Judgment.” See also Sweep
Wrath – from the card Wrath of God, meaning an effect that destroys all creatures or some close variation. “My deck has six wraths in it,” or “He wrathed the board.”
X-0, X-1, etc. – Signifies win-loss record in a tournament, usually to indicate what record is needed to make a Top 8 after swiss rounds. X = maximum number of wins given the amount of rounds played minus number of losses and draws. Example: In a 7 round tournament, a player going X-1 had a record of 6-1.
YOLO – abbreviation for “You Only Live Once.” What young players say before making a terrible mistake, usually by attacking with all creatures into a stronger defense.
Zebra – DCI judge.
Zebra Herd – When all the DCI judges gather in one place prior to confer.