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!
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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.