Magic: The Gathering It has undergone many changes since its inception in August 1993, and many mechanics and keywords have come and gone. There are no longer creatures using raids or rampage, and even ground tours and regeneration have been removed in favor of new keywords. But one keyword has persisted since the days of grunge music: protection.

Not many creatures or other permanents have protection, but a select handful of them do. In most expansion sets and almost all two- or three-set blocks, there will be at least one or two cards that say something like “protection from red” or “protection from elves.” But what does that mean?

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Protection: protected from (almost) all damage

Usually, it’s the creatures that have the protection effect, and it should be noted that while the protection is very effective in protecting the creature from certain effects, the protection is not absolute. Wizards of the Coast makes a clear effort to prevent any card or deck from being totally infallible; that is, no matter how defensive or powerful a card is, there is Some way to defeat him. Protection has gaps in its armor, but not many.

As long as a creature has protection, the text will always specify from that the creature has protection. In theory, this can be anything in the game, but normally, the creatures will be protected by certain colors. Some creatures can have protection against more than one color, and some specifically have protection against multi-colored or mono-colored cards. It is also possible to have protection against artifacts, enchantments, or even against cards that have a sufficiently high or low converted mana cost. Other creatures may have protection against a certain type of creature.

A creature with protection is fairly evasive, as it can’t be blocked by any defending creature that has the specified attribute. For example, Stormbreath Dragon, a mythical bomb from the original Theros block, has protection against white. Therefore, no white creature can be assigned to block it, even if that creature is multicolored and has other colors as well. A huge blue-white creature can’t stand in the way of the Strombreath Dragon, period.

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Additionally, a creature cannot have permanents of the specified type attached to it, such as Aura enchantments or Equipment cards. A creature with artifact protection, for example, cannot equip itself, and Stormbreath Dragon cannot have Arrest (a white enchantment Aura) attached to it. If a creature can be enchanted and gains protection from that enchantment in some way, then the enchantment will drop immediately and will likely go to its owner’s graveyard. Enchantments and equipment cannot escape protection like that.

Protection also means that the creature can’t be the target of any spell or ability of the specified type. For example, someone using a modern burn platform cannot even try target Master of Waves with Lightning Bolt, let alone solve it. The game will not allow the burned out player to even put Lightning Bolt on the stack with Master of Waves as the target. This is different than countering a spell that would target Master of Waves. Similarly, Oblivion Ring, a white enchantment, cannot target Stormbreath Dragon with its ETB effect, and a red creature cannot use an ability (activated or triggered) and target Master of Waves.

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On top of that, a creature can’t take damage from a protected-type source. If the Stormbreath Dragon blocked a 5/5 white Angel, the Dragon would not take any damage. If a player casts Blasphemous Act to deal 13 damage to all creatures, Master of Waves will have all damage prevented and survive.

Please note that normal sweepers, regardless of color, can avoid protection. If an Esper Control player casts Supreme Verdict (a blue-white spell) and resolves it, the Storm Breath Dragon will also be destroyed. Since this is a “destroy” effect rather than damage, it is a different case than the Master of Waves and Blasphemous Act.

Famous cards with protection effects

mtg protection

Both Stormbreath Dragon and Master of Waves were popular during their day, as Return to Ravnica/Theros Standard, but there is more out there. Akroma, Angel of Wrath is a famous 6/6 angel with the “kitchen sink” effect, meaning it combines many minor keywords to create a powerful creature. In addition to everything else, Akroma has protection against red and black, so he’s immune to the Doom Blade, for example, and a red dragon can’t hope to block him.

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Animate, Soul of Elements is a notorious Temur-colored Commander card that came in its own starting deck. It is protected from black and white, the two missing colors. This saves you from cards like Oblivion Ring, Terminate, Path to Exile, and Detention Sphere. Because of that and its other effects, Animate is expensive and highly sought after.

Progenitus, a mythical rare from the Shards of Alara Block, he’s in a league of his own. Not only is this legendary five-color Hydra Avatar a colossal 10/10 whisk, it literally has protection against all: the five colors, colorless, all types of creatures, artifacts, enchantments, creatures in general, planeswalkers and even lands. Nothing will touch this Hydra except some effects like Supreme Vedict or Cyclonic Rift.

Finally, True-Name Nemesis is a 3/1 merman in Legacy with a creative twist on protection – he can have protection from a chosen player. Once the caster names his opponent, True-Name Nemesis has full protection; it can attack and block with impunity.

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