Players of Magic the Gathering Tactics should already know how to play the traditional Magic the Gathering card game. There are several guides, videos, and demos on the subject.

This wiki focuses on the specifics of Magic the Gathering Tactics and, in comparison, how the Tactics game differs from the traditional Magic card game.

The best way to learn the mechanics is to jump right in. There are 5 basic color starting decks and a booster pack for free that can be immediately used to play the free campaign and make multi-color decks with. The free campaign shows the basic mechanics of the game and the controls are intuitive.

The following sections give specific points and tips for reference as well as a base knowledge for beginners.


Standard point and click mouse controls give an intuitive feel to the game, as well as the scroll wheel for zoom.

Holding down the right mouse button allows changing POV (point of view) through tilting and rotating the screen and the arrow buttons will move POV across the game board.

The left mouse button is the selection/action and is used to move, attack, and select any icons on the screen, including cards for casting, mana for casting, and the options icon.

Move by selecting a green square to move to.

Attacking is done by selecting a figure to attack and a square to attack from at the same time. The game automatically does this and the square selection is made by rotating around the target figure.

  • POV is important while moving/attacking. A bad POV can result in a unintended action.

Right clicking a figure or its turn icon will give a detailed description of that figure.

  • It is best to do this during a stable POV. (i.e. During a figures turn that is under your control)

The ESC (escape) key will cancel a spell, taking back any mana selected, and will give the option to leave the game, if there is no spell to cancel.

The in-game chat box can be moved out of view by dragging with the left mouse button.

  • Be careful not to move a figure while moving the chat box (keep the pointer away from green squares).

Turns and movement

Magic the Gathering Tactics is a turn based tactical game. This gives a new dimension to the basic mechanics of how the traditional Magic card game works. Figures have an initiative rating and a turn bar shows the order in which each figure will have an action. Figures also have a movement rating.

An attack can be made on any enemy figure on the board, as long as it's within a figures movement. This is another dimension introduced to the Tactics game, since in traditional Magic, creatures can only attack enemy planeswalkers. Moving, attacking or both ends a figures turn.

Planeswalkers also have movement, initiative, power rating, and can attack any figure within movement on the board (including enemy planeswalkers). In this respect, planeswalkers now can become a useful fighting force instead of just a tally of health. A planeswalker must cast spells prior to moving, attacking, or both.

  • Note: When the Tactics games came out, a planeswalker was the name of the opponents that creatures attacked.{{Verify}}

Summoning shield

Creatures do not have summoning sickness in Magic the Gathering Tactics. Instead, they are allocated a turn, on the turn bar, when summoned. They do, however, have a summoning shield{{Verify}} until their first turn. The summoning shield protects the creature from enemy melee and ranged attacks, although spells and abilities{{Verify}} can target and destroy them as normal. This gives players a chance to summon and change the board with creatures, instead of the creature being summoned and attacked right away.

Zones of control

Every figure in Magic the Gathering Tactics exerts a zone of control on the board to any adjacent square. The enemy zones of control are denoted by red diamonds when a enemy is highlighted with the mouse.{{Verify}}

Any enemy moving into a figures zone of control must end its movement on that square. The enemy can still attack from that square as normal. This gives rise to the tactical placement of figures to hinder enemy movement. Zones of control, combined with turn order, can prevent enemies from reaching venerable targets, including planeswalkers.

  • Note that your figures may be the enemy in the above description as well.

Any ranged figure starting its turn in an enemy zone of control can't make a ranged attack and must either make a melee attack or move away from the zone of control. This gives rise to tactical placement of figures to hinder enemy ranged creatures. Planeswalkers can cast spells as normal when starting in an enemy zone of control, although their movement is affected as normal.

  • Ranged figures do half damage in melee attacks/counterattacks.

A flying figure ignores zones of control from enemy figures that can't melee attack them. Furthermore, flying figures exert zones of control as normal on all enemy figures. This gives flying creatures unsurpassed ability to control the board against figures without flying.

Some creatures exert no zone of control. This is a replacement for creatures which can't block{{Verify}} found in the traditional Magic card game. It is used to justify creatures with lower mana cost than they should have, giving a negative ability for the lower cost.

Ranged attacks

Every figure in Magic the Gathering Tactics has a ranged rating. Figures without ranged attacks have a ranged rating of 1.

The ranged rating denotes the number of squares a ranged figure can do a full power ranged attack, however, ranged attacks can be made on any figure (including flying figures) within line of sight.{{Verify}}

  • Except in the above zone of control issues.

Ranged figures do half damage in a melee attacks/counterattacks and to figures outside its ranged rating. A half power ranged attack is denoted by a broken arrow when choosing a target, while a full power ranged attack is denoted by a unbroken arrow on the target.


Figures can counterattack the first melee attack that doesn't destroy them. The attacker goes first, while the counterattack takes place after, unless the figure counterattacking has first strike. Each figure gets only one counterattack on the first attack against it, after its turn, unless the figure has vigilance.

Each turn a figure has "resets" its counterattack ability and the above applies again. This can make its initiative rating important, giving the figure more turns, not only in attacking but also in counterattacking ability.

Critical hits

Critical hits do an extra 10 damage.

Any figure that attacks has a 20% chance{{Verify}} to critically hit. A figure that makes a flanking attack (below) will automatically critically hit.

Large creatures do a "crushing blow" instead of critical hits and do an extra 20 damage.

A counterattack never does a critical hit even if the enemy is flanked.

Spells that increase critical hit or flanking damage stack on top of the normal critical hit bonus. Example: A creature that has the enchantment Forceful Rending or Deadly Flank will do +50 damage for a critical hit/flank attack and +60 damage for a crushing blow/flank attack.

Critical hits can make certain creatures more powerful, such as Ornithopter, in the tactics game.

Flanking attacks

A creature that melee attacks an enemy with an ally on the direct opposite square does a flank attack. A flank attack is an automatic critical hit or crushing blow.

Large creatures, having 4 squares occupied, can have more than one square beside an enemy and any of these squares can count as a flank for the creature or any ally.
This means that a large creature can have 2 squares on the opposite side in which to flank, giving more flanking choices and opportunities.

Mana generation

Magic the Gathering Tactics generates mana differently than in the traditional Magic card game. Instead of including land cards in the deck, mana is generated automatically by the game.

Mana is generated randomly according to the ratio of colors of the deck in use. A single color deck will only produce 1 color (100%). A multi-color deck has ratios. Ex. A green/red deck with a 60/40 ratio will have a 60% chance of producing green and a 40% chance of producing red each time mana is produced.

Ratios can be checked from the top menu when a deck is loaded or being edited, in the collection option from the main page.

This makes several differences to traditional Magic:

First of all, the decks have a minimum limit of 40 cards, since land cards are not included. Secondly, players start with 5 cards instead of 7 to make up for the lack of land cards in a starting hand. Thirdly, cards that "reset" all hands, such as Wheel of Fate, will only draw 5 cards instead of 7. Fourthly, each draw phase is not wasted on a land card, so every time mana is automatically generated in the game, all players receive extra tempo (this is only curved by starting with 5 cards). Fifthly, only multi-color decks run the risk of being "mana screwed", which can be curved by adding appropriate talents.

Special Abilities

Special abilities can be very different, both in the mechanics and practical application, than in the traditional Magic card game. See Special Abilities for more details.

Ending a turn

Moving, attacking or both will automatically end a figures turn. Any ability that ends a turn, denoted by the hourglass icon, takes the place of moving, attacking or both. This is especially important to the planeswalker figures, since many skills and artifacts have the hourglass icon attached to their abilities (see below).

The tactical board

The tactical board makes certain spells behave differently than in the traditional Magic card game. Since there is no area of play for cards, there are no traditional permanent artifacts/enchantments. Instead, artifacts or enchantments that would normally be considered a permanent (with no target) in the traditional Magic card game are targeted and played directly on a planeswalker and are attached to that planeswalker.

This gives the planeswalker less choices when using talents/artifacts with the hourglass icon, since only one such ability can be used in a turn and the planeswalker must give up moving/attacking to do so.

For example, in order to activate an Icy Manipulator, a planeswalker must end its turn before moving/attacking. Furthermore, no other ability with an hourglass icon can be played that turn (including another Icy Manipulator). This can weaken a artifacts power level compared to the traditional Magic card game.

Creature enchantments

Although creature enchantments are played the same way as the traditional Magic card game (on a creature), the turn order can change the practical application of creature enchantments.

For example, Holy Strength can be used on a creature that is next in the turn order, which would have a practical application of an instant since the creature would have immediate benefits from Holy Strength.


Instants are only practical during a turn from a figure under your control. There is no stopping an enemy figures turn like in the traditional Magic card game in order to play an instant.

Therefore, practical application of instants are like sorceries unless a player can rely on a ally creatures turn in which to play them. Creatures also can be destroyed before they get to take a turn, making instants even more like sorceries.

Instants can be used, whenever they can be played, to get rid of extra mana that will not be re-generated. Ex. If your planeswalker has 2 unused mana, casting an instant will get rid of it while keeping it will not benefit whenever mana is generated.


Sorceries are play the same way as the traditional Magic card game, however, the practical application of creature control sorceries can be much different. Taking out a creature that is blocking a figures way can change the board drastically.

Tactical turn considerations can be important as well, since you can chose to "ignore" creatures farther up in the turn order, giving your creatures a "bump" in the turn order by taking out creatures before them.

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