As more and more cards are being previewed, and the playability of them becomes more realistic, the more the necessity of a blog that covers all of the mechanics and abiliites is necessary. That’s why, instead of waiting until the end, like originally planned, I’m going to lay out all of the mechanics right now. Obviously, you could consider these in their rough draft form, but for all intents and purposes, they are pretty much final. As this expansion is as large as an entire block, the number of mechanics or keywords is really high. Roughly in the thirties, for that matter. So I’m going to detail half of them in this post, and the rest of them in the next post, that will be soon to come. The ones we’re covering today will be 25 mechanics that are associated with each of the Kuo civilizations. The second part will cover the keyword changes and mechanics or other notable rulings that encompass all of the colors. So let’s begin!
Table of Contents:
Part 3: The 10 tri=colored civilizations of Kuo (Coming Soon)
Part 4: The 15 mono-colored and dual-colored civilizations of Corsia (Coming Soon)
Legends: (Coming Soon)
Part 1: Kuo Legends and Locales
Part 2: Corsian Legends and Locales
Part 3: The Quest Lands – Lotus’ Journey
Part 5: Planeswalkers, part 2
Mechanics and Abilities
Part 1: The 25 Kuo Keywords (YOU ARE HERE)
Part 2: All Color Keywords and other abilities (Coming Soon)
Full Spoiler (Coming Later)
MTG Variant – Walking the Planes (Coming Last)
Oiara (White) – Rigid
Rigid – Whenever a permanent your opponent controls becomes tapped, this creature gets +0/+1 until end of turn.
Oiara is a civilization about survival and weathering storms or opposition. Rigid is a toughness only ability that pumps as your opponent starts tapping away at their cards. This basically represents Oiara’s creatures knack of becoming even stronger in the face of a mass of attacking creatures. Combines with the synergy of Oiara’s constant use of tapping creatures and you have the ultimate combat defense.
Nerath (Blue) – Condescend
Condescend – If you have more cards in your hand than your opponent, then ______.
Nerath is the most knowledgeable empire in Kuo, and they don’t bother hiding it. Condescend takes literal advantage of the situation where you have more cards “knowledge” than your opponent. Condescend is an ability that grants additional effects if you happen to have more cards in your hand at the time. Sometimes it could just be a bonus of drawing an extra card, other times it could be an ultimate effect. Nerath already synergizing with having a small board state, but a good set of options in your hand, so the potential of Condescend is definitely fair.
Fiotte (Black) – Revenge
Revenge – Whenever a creature you control that shares a creature type with this card dies, you may untap this creature and put a -1/-1 counter on it. If you do, you may use it’s Revenge effect”
Revenge can be driven purely out of the love of your companions. This ability triggers upon seeing one of your own blood fall, and the unknown power inside you taking over. Also, revenge is a two-edged sword, much like black’s playstyle. The ability itself merely triggers upon a creature of the same type dying. First, the creature untaps. This represents the increase in stamina and adrenaline fueled by that creature’s vengeance. Then, it gets a -1/-1 counter. That’s right, the creature gets weaker by the metaphorical “poison” revenge has on your mind. The final part will trigger a small effect. The biggest thing is that creatures with revenge will typically have an activated ability that requires tapping that would be able to be triggered again when Revenge resolves. The theme of revenge is very strong in the Fiottian lore because it’s used to be an ancient city ruled by dragons, that were all slayed by humans. It’s basically a trigger that Revenge tends to be on dragons exclusively but there are a few non-dragon creatures that will have it as well. For the sake of this exact expansion, it’s pretty much a dragon ability.
Aurima (Red) – Fervor
Fervor – If all of your lands are tapped when this creature attacks, add one mana of any of that creature’s colors to your mana pool. This mana doesnt empty until the end of your turn.
Fervor is an ability that will always trigger when you swing with all of your lands tapped. Red typically doesn’t do this because of how many combat tricks they play, but thanks to fervor, red players can cast things during the first main phase, and use this “fervor” mana during combat or main phase two. It’s mana-acceleration through combat which is what Aurima is all about. Aurimians generate mana from more than just lands. They have learned to harvest the very essence of battle into mana as well.
Trimensa (Green) – Metamorph
Metamorph – At the beginning of your first main phase each turn, you may turn this card face down. It becomes a 2/2 colorless creature. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may turn it face up. If you do, put +1/+1 counters on it equal to its toughness.
This one’s a bit more wordy, but the mechanic is simple enough. Basically, at the beginning of your first main phase, you can flip the card face down. I chose this timing requirement to prevent haste-metamorphing. If you play a creature, you can’t metamorph it the same turn because it’s no longer the beginning of that main phase, unless you manage to flash the creature in somehow. Then once you start your next turn, (if it can stay alive that long) if will flip up and it’ll be even stronger. The best thing about Metamorph is that it’s completely free. Both turning face down and face up costs no mana. It’s just sacrificing the vulnerability of being colorless with no abilities that makes it risky. The +1/+1 counters still effect the face-down form so the second time you go to metamorph it, it’ll be more than just a 2/2. This is an ability that represents what Trimensa is all about. Massive growth, and just being the dominant creature on the field.
Ovedin (White/Blue) – Oversee
Oversee – Whenever this creature blocks a creature without flying, draw a card.
Ovedin is the civilization in the sky, and as such it’s biggest advantage is the emphasis on flying. Flying has been a magic staple and a key offensive ability, but on the defensive side, it has always just been a boring situation of, flying blocks flying. There needed to be some edge to having flying as a defensive ability, and that’s when the design of Oversee came into effect. Now, by blocking the poor creatures who can’t fly up in the air, you gain more insight into combat. And insight always translates to DRAWING CARDS! Oversee is basically flying’s gift for having an advantage on the defensive side over creatures without flying.
Blackmoon (Blue/Black) – Preserve
Preserve – If this card is exiled from your graveyard, hand or library, you may return it to your graveyard at the end of turn.
Preserve is the graveyard-matter’s saving grace. Preserve will not let your creature get exiled from outside the battlefield, no matter what. As long as it’s in your hand, graveyard, or library, it will end up in your graveyard upon exiling. Obviously, forward thinkers can synergize by exiling their own preserve card themselves to get it into their graveyard. That’s what mechanics are all about. Exploit them. While it doesn’t effect the creature’s ability or power in any way, it simply keeps the card available as an option at all times. Blackmoon is the civilization where Kuo may go to speak with the dead. They understand the concept of tethering things to this world that should naturally fade away.
Sikha (Black/Red) – Horde
Horde – Each spell that is played this turn reduces the cost of this card by 1 or one mana of the spell’s colors.
Horde is the hand dropper. Similar to Hellbent with Rakdos, black/red is still about dropping your hand. But this time, it’s about trying to do it all in one turn. Dropping your whole hand as a “horde” is the point to this weird offspring of Magic’s Convoke and Storm. By having the right cards in your hand, you can potentially drop every card for free, or extremely cheap, It’s just the gamble of having turns where you do nothing to gain that advantage. Sikha is a collective of combat oriented civilians so this represents their nature of being grouped together well enough.
Mosscliff (Red/Green) – Escalate
Escalate – Whenever this creature attacks, gain an additional combat phase after this one, and this creature can’t attack for the rest of the turn
A keyword that’s so simple requires a lot of explanation. So you know the newbie mistake all players make when they first start playing magic? Where they’ll attack with one creature, you declare your blocker, then they’ll attack with more. Well, now that’s an actual thing. Escalate raises the element of combat to having multiple combat phases. One for each creature with Escalate that you choose to attack with. This turns combat into more a chess match of who to attack with first, and seeing your opponent’s blocking choices one creature at a time. Or you can just swing all, and then find a way to untap your creatures, to which they can just swing again. Mosscliff learned of this methodical combat by being the peaceful observers they normally are. They only respond to violence with violence, and they have learned how to respond well.
Diisima (Green/White) – Conscript
Conscript X – When you cast this spell, look at the top X cards of your library. You may choose and reveal a creature card from among them and put it into your hand. Then put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
Conscript themes off of the highly militaristic lifestyle of Diisima, the impregnable civilization. Conscript is basically “drafting” the creature into the army by putting it into your hand from the library. As far as card advantage goes, it let’s you play creatures without losing that advantage. Conscript definitely shines when you’re top-decking if your deck is full of them. You could chain into a creature every turn basically. This represents Diisima’s nature of letting defeated enemy soldiers join their ranks instead of dying as well.
Ghintu (White/Black) – Aspire
Aspire – At the end of each turn, if you have more life than you did at the beginning of that turn, you may put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.
Ghintu is a very spiritual place where having the right morals and values on life will literally change how strong you are in this place. Because of that, Aspire became the mechanic to represent this. By having “hope” creatures will get stronger upon seeing their master get stronger. Black and white has always had an essence of leeching, so if you play to that strength, then your creatures will become stronger with you. Keep in mind, this says “each turn,” so if you can time your life gains across you and your opponent’s turns, then you are using Aspire to its full efficiency.
Dawntree (Blue/Red) – Surge
Surge – Whenever you cast a spell with X in it’s mana cost, if X is more than this cards converted mana cost, you may cast it without paying it’s mana cost.
Surge is a little two-for-one treat these izzet tricksters get to play with. Dawntree is themed off of experimental spells, chief among them being X spells. Surge spells can be anything from creatures to other instants and sorceries. The X variable is pretty wide. If you cast an X creature, you could play a cheap surge “instant.” Just like cascade, the Surge spell will resolve before the original spell. Also, like cascade, if you counter the original spell, Surge will still happen.
Levyr (Black/Green) – Lore
Lore – Legendary creatures you control enter the battlefield with one additional +1/+1 counter on them. Planeswalkers you control enter the battlefield with one additional loyalty counter on them.
Levyr is the land of the legends. It’s inhabitants worship legendary creatures and the folktales they leave behind. So much so that they use their black magic to try to bring them back to life. Nothing makes a legend what it is more than lore. Lore is a keyword that represents the storytellers. By exaggerating the story, the legends “seem” greater than they really are. And thanks to those +1/+1 counters and loyalty counters, they literally are greater than they are supposed to be. By casting cards with Lore first, you then set up to having your legends and planeswalkers becoming even stronger right out of the gate. Lore stacks, so that means if you have two creatures with Lore on the field, then you’re legends are getting two extra counters.
Fourdin (Red/White) – Callous
Callous – If you control no planeswalkers, then whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, it deals that much damage to each planeswalker that player controls.
Callous represents Fourdins strict stubborness on not adapting to the emergence of the walkers. Fourdin houses no Planeswalkers, and they know the secrets to taking them down. A creature with Callous is meant to only swing at the opponent, it’s ability will take care of the planeswalkers. If you swing directly at a planeswalker, Callous won’t trigger. This means you can just focus on one target with your combat, and take the planeswalker out regardless. However, the drawback is that you as a player can’t have any planeswalkers on the battlefield either. (This last rule is subject to change on a debate between lore/playability)
Faustia (Green/Blue) – Flourish
Flourish – During extra turns, or if you had more than one land enter the battlefield under your control this turn, then ____
Flourish is a means of showing off your wealth. It’s gloating. And it’s an ability that triggers changes to the card during times of unnatural prosperity. During the entirety of your extra turns, cards you control with flourish will become even stronger. During the remaining of any turn where you have a second land enter the battlefield, those cards will enjoy the same bonus. Faustia is the most prosperous civilization, but also the most selfish. Flourish is designed to mimic that.
Brallais (White/Blue/Black) – Permanence
Permanence – This card can’t leave the battlefield unless it dies.
Permanence is the new indestructible. Brallais, the civilization most associated with sending souls on trips through ethereal realms discovered it. Permanence literally shuts down bounce spells and exile spells which was indestructible’s weakness. Permanence does have weaknesses though, which was indestructible’s strengths, and those are burn spells and kill spells still work just the same. Permanence is more of a new general keyword, but in Kuo, it’s almost exclusively with Brallais.
Deirdore (Blue/Black/Red) – Anew
Anew – If this card enters the battlefield from anywhere besides your hand, then ______
Anew is an ability that triggers upon bringing the creature into play through less conventional means. Deirdore is the civilization that recycles and reprocesses their resources into other means of energy and they have become so efficient at it that they started reaping their own benefits. That’s what Anew represents. Deirdore’s play style is full of playing cards from your library and graveyard so anew should have plenty of opportunities to trigger.
Krast (Black/Red/Green) – Ruin
Ruin – This card gets ______ equal to X where X is the number of land cards in all graveyards.
(Text Change: Ruin effect only grants benefits to creatures you control)
Krast is a land that has suffered horrible geographical atrocities and magical warfare. Because of that, denizens of Krast are very familiar with the destruction of lands, the biggest taboo in magic. Black/Red/Green is always the target of much hate, and that’s not going to change. Ruin is probably the most versatile ability out of the mechanics and abilities we have in this expansion. It could be something as simple as getting a P/T bonus when it attacks equal to the number of lands in all graveyards, or it could be something as drastic as creating copy tokens of a creature equal to the number of lands in all graveyards. Ruin is only as strong or weak as the ability that scales with the Ruin count.
Uinnah (Red/Green/White) – Withstand
Withstand – If your opponent attacked you this turn, and you received no combat damage then _______.
Withstand is an ability that triggers upon successfully defending against all combat damage your opponents throw at you. Normally this doesn’t seem too great considering your opponent probably wont’ attack unless he’s sure he can do combat damage. Lucky then that Uinnah not only sports terrific defensive cards, but is also a master at baiting combat, even if your opponents don’t want to attack. Uinnah sports an enchantment-themed playstyle that thrives off of fending off invaders. They like the challenge, and learn new things because of this combat. They are still different from Diisima in that they don’t let outsiders join so easily. But you could safely say that Diisima and Uinnah are the two most defensive civilizations.
Aeges (Green/White/Blue) – Comradery
Comradery – Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, you may copy that spell for each creature you control with Comradery, targeting those creatures.
Comradery represents the harmony and cooperation of the people of the Aeges civilization. Whenever any spell, including your opponents, targets a creature you control with comradery, you can apply that spell to all of your comrades. Luckily there are cards that let you reselect targets to potentially steal and amplify an opponents pump spell. The possibilities are very high with this mechanic which is essentially Soulbond mixed with Heroic, and a little bit of power.
Mhounen (White/Black/Red) – Memoriam
Memoriam – Whenever a non-token creature you control dies, you may exile this card from your hand. If you do, then _______ and return the card to your hand at the end of your turn.
Honor. Remembering the dead. Taking on the responsibilities of those that fall before you. Mhounen’s samurai inhabited society upholds all of those values. This ability harbors those same traits. When a creature dies, your other creatures in your hand will step out to pay tribute before they are called out to the battlefield themselves. You could almost consider the process of Memoriam a funeral service…on the stack. Anyways, obviously this ability will trigger for each card that has Memoriam in your hand off of one death. Due to that, it’s restricted to non-token creatures. Sorry guys. You have no honor.
Daravais (Blue/Red/Green) – Mystical
Mystical – If an effect ever targets this card at random, then ______.
Intrigue and wonder are at the forefront of one of the most mysterious civilizations in Kuo. One thing that governs the playstyle of Daravais is heavy, heavy gambling. Mystical triggers from any part of the game. (Your hand, graveyard or battlefield.) But the catch is that it has to be chosen…at random. A large portion of their abilities select their target at random. To keep the riskiness of this to a minimum, running multiple cards with Mystical will give you a high chance of getting a really large effect. Controlling the state of every aspect of the board, such as the battlefield, graveyard, and your hand is a top priority for this civilization.
Drakko (White/Black/Green) – Essence
Essence – At the beginning of your upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature for each card attached to it.
Voltron players rejoice because this is the mechanic for you. Equipment and auras are now working together to fuel this put-everything-on-one-creature playstyle. Drakko is the least civilized area in Kuo. It’s more of a land that you explore yourself and discover whatever treasures and mysteries lie within. It’s denizens are simply long-term explorers and Essence is designed to show that they sustain perfectly fine on their own. Obviously the more cards you pile up onto one creature with Essence is the best way to maximize this ability’s efficiency, but you still have to be careful of losing so many cards when the creature dies. Luckily there are synergy cards to help with that.
Pristinia (White/Blue/Red) – Fearless
Fearless – Whenever this creature is indestructible, it gains ________
Probably the easiest ability, and seemingly the rarest to trigger is the indestructible-themed, Fearless. Pristinia is a land full of indestructible things. That’s it’s main draw. Because of this, it’s citizens have adopted a foolhardy mentality that makes them go a bit overboard. Luckily, since they are nearly impossible to destroy, this manic behavoir does only help them. Fearless is a static ability that is simply active as long as the creature is indestructible. Normally this ability is quite rare, but in Pristinian playstyle, there is much more indestructibility to go around.
Shauvra (Blue/Black/Green) – Abyssal
Abyssal – When this creature dies, you may exile it to add mana to your mana pool equal to it’s mana cost. This mana doesn’t empty as turns and phases ends.
(Change: Rarity is basic rare)
Shauvra is a frightening place. A floating civilization that has been touched by the Abyss. Because of that, things don’t quite “end” the way they are supposed to. Abyssal represents this by having a creature’s mana cost never truly fade. Shauvran magic is all about harnessing energy and carrying it throughout multiple forms and state changes. This mechanic starts with the core of this magic, the mana. In a way, creatures with Abyssal are ultimately free to cast because you get your mana back. And this mana is even better because it doesn’t fizzle. So what kind of synergy works with the Abyss? Well you might find a few creatures in Shauvran’s repertoire that can do things even from exile. Magic did it first, not me.
And that’s all 25 Kuo Mechanics. Corsian civilizations don’t really have defining mechanics as much as a play focus so this only leaves mechanics and abilities that stretch across all five colors of mana. That, as well as common abilities in magic that I’ve keyworded just for the sake of this expansion. I’m still working on the Civilizations Parts 3 and 4 as well so those will be up soon. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read through my posts about this project.