MTG What Is an Activated Ability? (EXPLAINED)

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MTG What Is an Activated Ability

Cards with activated abilities in MTG are some of the most diverse and beneficial cards to have in your deck and to use against your opponents. Read on below and learn all about in MTG what is an activated ability!

MTG What Is an Activated Ability?

In Magic: The Gather, the card game, activated abilities are abilities that must be paid for (with mana, or otherwise) before they activate for the turn. Most cards with activated abilities have abilities that are able to be activated each turn. So long as you have the mana, or otherwise needed resources, to do so, you can activate an ability any time you could play an instant. Aside from mana, activated abilities may also demand paying life, tapping or sacrificing permanent cards, and more.

Take the legendary creature, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, for example:

Magic The Gathering - Mina and Denn, Wildborn (156/184) - Oath of The Gatewatch

The card has an activated ability that allows you to return a target land to its owner’s hand. It also gives one of your creatures trample until the end of the turn. This particular card also enables you to play an extra land card each turn, making it even more valuable.

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What’s the Difference Between Triggered and Activated Abilities MTG?

Triggered abilities are quite similar to activated abilities, in that they only activate under circumstances. Whether you plan on it or not, or whether you like it or not, when the trigger happens there is no option but to activate the card’s ability.

Activated abilities on the other hand are only activated if you knowingly and purposefully pay the mana costs, and any additional costs required, in order to activate the ability.

What is an Activated Mana Ability?

An activated mana ability in MTG is when a card has an activatable ability, to create additional mana. For example, a card that is equipped with “tap for 1 mana”. This card has an activated mana ability. There are also cards that have trigger-activated mana abilities. For example, when land is brought into play a card may grant 1 extra mana to your pool for the turn.

Are Abilities Considered Spells in Magic: The Gathering?

Activated abilities are not spells. They do not stack on the pile of other spells cast in the game. In addition, activated abilities can not be countered by cards that counter spells. Only in the case that you have a rare card that grants the ability to counter an ability, you’re just out of luck when it comes to countering an activated or even triggered ability in Magic: The Gathering.

What is not an Activated Ability?

If an ability does not have a colon between it and a mana cost prior to the details of the ability, it is not an activated ability. Mana cards have abilities that are automatically, or always, in effect. Only if a card has mana in front of the ability does it count as an activated ability.

Can You Counter Abiltities?

You can not typically counter activated abilities (because they are not spells, they are abilities). That said, if you happen to be packing a copy of Squelch, or some other card that specifically counters abilities, there’s nothing you can really do against activated abilities.