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Magic The Gathering: Flavor And Story Tropes
This page is for tropes that are represented in the flavor, art, and backstory of Magic: The Gathering (as opposed to tropes that appear in its gameplay).

See also Magic: the Gathering Novels.

  • Abnormal Ammo: Akki Coalflinger, Fodder Launch, Mogg Cannon... the examples are endless (and mostly goblin-based). Deadapult is a zombie-based version that's no less hilarious.
  • Aborted Arc: The prerevision comics were leading up to the Planeswalker War, but the comic line was cancelled before it could be published. Some of the characters involved, like Freyalise, Taysir and Tevesh Szat have turned up later in modern storylines, but details on what actually went down are extraordinarily vague.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Those in the city-world of Ravnica (they're Ravnica's swamps/black mana sources). They're so vast, they're called the "Undercity".
  • Actually a Doombot:
  • After the End: Several times. There's the downfall of the Thran, the sylex blast that started the Ice Age, the Apocalypse set, the coming of Karona, and finally, Time Spiral block, which is the closest to the trope. (Of course, it's Time Spiral, so it's before, after, and three seconds to the left of the end.)
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Memnarch, a golem left behind by the creator of Mirrodin to guard the plane, goes insane and tries to become a planeswalker itself.
  • Alien Invasion: Phyrexia is another plane rather than another planet, but Alien Invaders is a spot-on description of its role in the Invasion and Scars of Mirrodin blocks. They even have giant spaceships with laser beams and everything (seen fighting Urza's Powered Armor on Searing Rays, for example).
  • Alien Sky:
    • Mirrodin has four (later five) moons — which shine, and thus are also interchangeably called suns. There's no indication that it has any normal suns, either...
    • Also, Dominaria has two moons (although one of them got blown up), and Esper's night sky is covered in a grid, making it appear like a huge star chart.
    • Esper gets even screwier when it rejoins the other 4 shards. Many cards from Alara Reborn feature skies with visible boundaries from what was once one plane and what was another.
  • Alternate Universe: Planar Chaos, which shows a hundred alternate Dominarias, such as one where bad guy Braids, Cabal Minion becomes helpful Braids, Conjurer Adept. Some of these cards were genuine "What If?" questions, others were "This card is functionally identical to a classic of a different color, and given the colors' general traits should/could have been printed in this color from the start." (And in the case of the aforelinked Pyromancer, would eventually be printed in the new color.)
  • Alternative Calendar: Dominaria has one—denoted as AR, for "Agrivian Reckoning," with year 1 being the birth of Urza and Mishra.
  • Always Night: Shadowmoor and Grixis.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Ertai and the Prodigal Sorceror got a lot of this joke in InQuest Gamer.
  • American Gothic Couple: Orcish Settlers
  • Anachronism Stew: Various minor examples. Any given expansion encompasses some length of time, so sometimes you have cards in the same set representing notably distant points in the time line.
  • Ancient Grome: Almost averted in Theros, where the set's designers consciously decided to focus on Greek rather than Roman influences. A few Roman influences have slipped through however, e.g. Raised by Wolves.
  • And Man Grew Proud: In the Zendikar expansion, the Eldrazi once terrorized the plane, but were sealed away long ago. Now, they're remembered only in scraps of legends, and their true nature has been forgotten. Many believe them to be ancient gods who created the plane. Of course, in Rise of the Eldrazi, they get unsealed...
  • Animal Battle Aura: Rise of the Eldrazi's Totem Armor auras.
  • Another Dimension: The multiverse is full of them.
  • Anti-Villain: Apparently, the Red Phyrexians of New Phyrexia. They are hardly good or kind people, but the influence of red mana remains strong, rendering them capable of independent thought, creativity, and even mercy and compassion. They even seem opposed to what they see as cruelty, which would include a lot of the actions other New Phyrexian factions have taken.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Tezzeret was never given a name by his father. Growing up in the slums, his peers gave him the nickname "Tezzeret", meaning 'a concealed, improvised weapon' after he won a fight with a bully by shivving him. The name stuck.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • Spirit patrons raging over the kidnapping of one of their own? Kamigawa. A reconverting of five mini-planes into one singular plane? Shards of Alara. An unraveling of the strands of time? Time Spiral. How about the world changing every fifty or so years to a "dark" version? Lorwyn turns into Shadowmoor. Eldritch Abominations emerge from their prisons into a living world that hates their alien magic? Zendikar. A relentless evil that is essentially The Corruption personified and has been growing and festering in the core of the Plane ever since its creation finally amasses enough military power to launch a full-scale invasion headed by the twisted, corrupted husks of the Plane's own legendary heroes from ages past up to and including the Plane's creator himself? Scars of Mirrodin. Humans being exterminated en masse by zombies, werewolves, vampires, demons, possessed trees, and other unspeakable horrors of the night? Innistrad. Ten Guilds being forced to run a a maze in an attempt to either bring peace or destroy them all? Return To Ravnica.
    • Old-style planeswalkers who create their own artificial planes will eventually see their planes collapse and be utterly erased. It ultimately happened to Serra's realm, as well as Rath. No word on Argentum/Mirrodin yet...
      • Mirrodin hasn't collapsed, per se, but it has been compleated and transmogrified into New Phyrexia. Nothing remains of Mirrodin but the moons.
  • Arabian Nights Days: The very first expansion was called "Arabian Nights."
  • Arc Welding: No matter how isolated a particular storyline may seem... it will be tied into all the rest.
  • Arrows on Fire: Occasionally seen in artwork, e.g. Fire at Will.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Braids takes up petty extortion as a hobby.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Mirari, an artifact of vast power that warps and mutates reality around itself and drives the wielder to insanity.
  • Artificial Human:
  • Artificial Limbs: Commonly seen in both Esper and Phyrexia. Notably, the planeswalker Tezzeret's right arm.
  • Art Initiates Life: They don't call Ixidor "Reality Sculptor" for nothing.
  • Ascended Meme: The legend of a player who shredded their (now-expensive, but then worth maybe a dollar) Chaos Orb card to win a game (it destroys any card it touches when dropped onto the field) eventually got acknowledged in the Unglued set as Chaos Confetti, which instructs the player to shred the card for the same effect.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Planeswalkers start off mortal, and some traumatic or life-changing event causes them to ascend to planeswalkerdom.
  • Atlantis: The original Merfolk lord was Lord of Atlantis. Later, "Atlantis" was Retconned to be a human corruption of the proper Merfolk name, "Etlan Shiis".
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Rather frequently used. [1]
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Common result of green pump spells, e.g. Might of Oaks's giant squirrel.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
  • Badass:
    • Toshiro Umezawa, of Kamigawa block; a rare black-aligned protagonist. (This block also featured a white-aligned antagonist; this is perhaps made more understandable still when you consider Kamigawa is based loosely on the Japanese Shinto religion, and East Asian cultures tend to view white as the color of death.)
    • Dakkon Blackblade. The comics in particular focused on his exploits.
  • Badass Crew: The crew of the Skyship Weatherlight.
  • Badass Family:
  • Badass Normal: Yawgmoth started out as one of these.
  • Badass Preacher: Most white creatures of the Cleric subtype (black Clerics fall under Sinister Minister). In particular, the priests of Innistrad join the fight against the dark forces.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Phyrexian Guys Win in the Scars of Mirrodin block. Mirrodin is now New Phyrexia.
  • Bad Moon Rising:
  • Bald Women:
  • Baleful Polymorph: Seen on a variety of cards, typically blue. Examples include Snakeform, Pongify, Ovinize, and Fowl Play, among others. The Ovinomancer is a wizard that does this to other creatures.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Gathans are the result of a super soldier program gone awry upon the Keldon Barbarian tribes, resulting in a group of batshit barely sentient marauding murder machines.
  • Barrier Maiden:
  • Bash Brothers:
  • Batman Gambit: In his mission to destroy Phyrexia, Urza deliberately included Tevesh Szat, a Token Evil Teammate, in his group because he correctly predicted that said teammate would betray them. Urza had invented a way to turn a soul into a Fantastic Nuke, but in order to use it, he would need to destroy the soul of a fellow planeswalker, and Tevesh Szat's inevitable betrayal would give Urza an excuse to kill him and power the bomb.
  • Bat out of Hell: Vampire Bats, among others.
  • Battering Ram: Battering Ram
  • Battle Boomerang: Somewhat underwhelming unfortunately.
  • Battle Couple: Tibor and Lumia, the Izzet Champions
  • Battle Cry: Used by the Mirrans in Mirrodin Besieged. They have a surprisingly deep variety of battle cries—Doug Beyer discusses it in great detail in his weekly column.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre:
  • Beam-O-War: Seen in the art of Double Negative and Mages' Contest.
  • The Beastmaster: Garruk Wildspeaker is the most prominent example, although there are others, usually one-of green rares like Master of the Wild Hunt, Keeper of the Beasts, or Beastbreaker of Bala Ged.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: If Lorwyn's elves are to be believed...
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Judgment's cycle of Wish cards, the flavour text of each of which is a variant on the following: "He wished for X, but not for the Y to [Verb that means use effectively] it." Future Sight adds one more.
  • Bee Bee Gun: Hornet Cannon.
  • Bee People:
  • Berserker Tears: Tears of Rage. Also, they're on fire.
  • BFS:
  • Big Bad: There are two big contenders and several others:
    • The mechanical demon-god Yawgmoth in pretty much all of the storylines from Antiquities to the end of the Weatherlight saga was arguably the most powerful being in The Multiverse. And even long after his death, his creation, Phyrexia, lives on, and is now infecting Mirrodin.
    • Much later, during the Alara storyline, the elder dragon Nicol Bolas (a character from the game's early days) stepped in as the foremost threat to Dominia's stability.
    • There have been a few other, smaller Big Bads in between, including the vampire overlord Baron Sengir in Homelands, the golem wizard Memnarch in Mirrodin (himself a victim of the Phyrexian taint), and the corrupt human king Daimyo Konda in Kamigawa.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Giant bugs are a staple creature type, especially in green and black.
  • Bigger Bad: Yawgmoth is the Bigger Bad to Volrath's Big Bad in the Rath saga.
  • Big Good: On Innistrad, humans looked to the archangel Avacyn, Angel of Hope for deliverance from the horrors of their plane...but she's not the Big Good. That would be her creator...Sorin Markov?!
  • Bio-Augmentation:
    • The primary goal and identity of the Simic guild of Ravnica is artificially engineering superior life-forms. Their guild mechanic is "Graft", which is flavored as attaching cytoplast modifications to creatures.
    • And in the Gatecrash set, Simic's new shtick is the "evolve" mechanic, in which their creatures augment themselves, ostensibly by mimicking the favorable traits of other creatures they spend enough time around.
    • In an odd example, Phyrexia biologically augments non-biological creatures.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending to the Godsend novel is a pretty cruel one. Xenagos is slain and order returned to Theros, but Elspeth is killed, Heliod gets away with everything, and Elspeth's sacrifice turns out to be senseless as it condemns a Returned Daxos to a shadow of life searching endlessly for her.
  • Bizarro World: Lorwyn and Shadowmoor, to each other.
  • Black Cloak: Warlocks and wraiths are no strangers to dramatic cowls, and Magic's specters are literally nothing but black cloaks. And there's lots more.
  • The Blank:
  • Blinded by the Light: Blinding Mage, Blinding Angel, etc.
  • Blind Obedience: The Orzhov Syndicate expects this of its followers. Exemplified in the card of the same name.
  • Blood Lust:
  • Blood Magic:
  • Blow You Away: Wind spells are common in both green and blue.
  • Body Horror:
    • What many mage-created Chimeras and Phyrexians endure.
    • Some of the card art features really gruesome stuff, particularly on black cards.
    • The Mirari does this to the peoples of the Otarian continent.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: A stock white spell. Divine Retribution invokes it by name, but there's lots.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Certain spell cards do this to creatures.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Used in several card flavors, such as Markov Patrician.
  • Breath Weapon: Comes in standard Firebreathing enchantment as well as Dragon Breath. Naturally many dragons already come stocked with Firebreathing.
  • Broken Angel:
  • Cain and Abel: Urza and Mishra.
  • Call Back: The art of Thespian's Stage depicts a battle between actors portraying Agrus Kos and Szadek—they're performing a play about the plot of the original Ravnica Cycle!
  • Canis Major: Hollowborn Barghest is a very big dog. That's not dry grass it's standing in—those are trees.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • The Viashino were originally introduced in the Tie-In Novel The Prodigal Sorcerer by Mark Sumner. The designers of the game liked them so much that they worked them into the game.
    • Jodah was created for Jeff Grubb's novelizations of The Dark and Ice Age cycles. He'd eventually return for Time Spiral block and get his own Avenger.
    • Gideon Jura was created for the story The Purifying Flame, and, like the Viashino, was well-liked by the developers enough to make him into a card.
  • The Captain: Gerrard Capashen; although Sisay was the actual skipper of the Weatherlight, Gerrard filled the trope.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Serrated Biskelion is a Type I Screamer.
  • Cat Folk: A number of cat races, including the cat warriors
  • Celestial Body: The Gods of Theros and their servants.
  • Chain Lightning: Is a card.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Seen in some of the art. Hero of Bladehold is the most recent example.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Ghostfire. Colorless damage basically got the reaction "hmm, interesting..." but it didn't become important until the Zendikar block, where it turned out Ghostfire was part of the key to the lock holding in the Eldrazi.
    • Subverted by the same block's Steamflogger Boss, which it was openly admitted was created solely as a joke—there are no riggers besides this (and those changelings that count as every creature type), "assemble" has no in-game meaning, and there are no Contraptions note , and there supposedly never will be. (Admittedly, this is a bit hard to take seriously when one takes into account The Unreveal below and "Whenever a goblin with goblin goblins, etc.")
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Urza. The man spent 5,000 years influencing global politics in anticipation of a demonic invasion. In the end, Yawgmoth did him in, but he managed to save the world anyway.
    • Yawgmoth himself was a skillful chessmaster, even managing to Out Gambit Urza's original plan.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Starke of Rath.
  • Citadel City: The Shadowmoor block has Kithkin settlements built like these.
  • City in a Bottle:
  • City Planet: Ravnica.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Baron Sengir
  • Clingy Costume: Some cards, such as Living Armor, feature this.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Nicol Bolas's many minions in the Alara block surreptitiously working to spread paranoia and anarchy throughout their worlds — the xenophobic Knights of the Skyward Eye from Bant, expansionist Seekers of Carmot from Esper, corrupt merchant Gwafa Hazid, and barbarian shaman Rakka Mar. As of Mirrodin Besieged, he's got Tezzeret helping him out in Mirrodin.
  • Cool Shades: Sunglasses of Urza. Style and utility combined.
  • Corpse Land: The plane of Grixis is inhabited by dead things, undead things, demons, and the occasional desperate necromancer. Due to a lack of green or white mana it's incapable of producing new life.
  • Corrupt Church: The Orzhov guild.
  • The Corruption: Phyrexia. This is especially played up in the Scars of Mirrodin storyline.
  • Creative Sterility: Tezzeret, by his own admission, is lousy at coming up with his own plans and inventions. He prefers to adapt and improve on others' designs.
  • Creepy Doll: Creepy Doll. It's creepy. And a doll.
  • Curbstomp Battle: In the trailer for Duels Of The Planeswalkers 2012, Gideon Jura exposits that he picked a fight with Nicol Bolas...the planeswalker Nicol Bolas. He gets summarily crushed.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: While Black often tends to produce villains, it has at least a few protagonists under it who don't fit on the worse levels of anti-hero, like Toshiro Umezawa and Xantcha. Some other protagonists are also half Black, half any other colour, like Teysa Karlov (Black/White).
  • Dark World: Lorwyn is based on the idyllic, fairy tails of the British Isles. Shadowmoor is its dark reflection and takes more after the Brothers Grimm...
  • Dating Catwoman: Ashnod and Tawnos are in love, despite being generals on the opposing sides of the Brothers' War.
  • Death World:
    • Zendikar, even before Eldritch Abominations started coming out of the woodwork.
    • Grixis, quite literally, due to the abundance of black mana (and the absence of green and white) making more life impossible, and death (and undeath) the only option.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Appears to be how every organization in the High City of Paliano works. Small wonder that King Brago arranged to continue his reign as a spirit.
  • Demonic Possession:
  • Diary: Venser has one.
  • Die or Fly: Severe physical or emotional trauma is the catalyst to a Planeswalker igniting their latent spark.
    • Old school, demi-God Planeswalker examples:
      • Nicol Bolas ascended as he fought the other four Elder Dragons, allowing him to win their war and become the last surviving one.
      • Sorin Markov's grandfather Edgar turned him into a vampire (the second one to ever exist in Innistrad with Edgar being the first) with a Blood Magic fuelled demonic pact. The ritual was so traumatizing that it ignited Sorin's spark.
      • Urza Planeswalker, at the climax of the Brothers War, sets off the Golgothian Sylex, which sends all of Dominaria into a centuries-long ice age. His latent spark activated, allowing him to survive the blast.
      • Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, while studying mind magic at the Tolarian Academy, fell into a bubble of slow time that was filled with fire and got trapped there. The intense damage activated his spark half-way, so that he was able to survive until another student could get him out with water from a different slow-time bubble. She became his favorite companion (in the Doctor Who sense) when they found out that, because of the two different slow-time bubbles, she aged at a dramatically slower rate than a normal human, causing her to fall under the rules of Really 700 Years Old.
    • Post-mending ascensions:
      • Chandra Nalaar: Set fire to her village in a fit of rage after learning of her Arranged Marriage, and ran and hid. A local Knight Templar organization noticed, and not believing the villager's claims that the destruction was caused by a single child, rounded up the villagers and sealed them into the burning huts, punishment for harboring pyromancers. Chandra returns just in time to hear her family dying, and is quickly subdued by the soldiers. Just as they are about to behead her, her Spark ignites at the last possible second.
      • Sarkhan Vol was born onto a plane that had been a haven for dragons, which had been hunted to extinction by the local warlords, much to the dismay of the local shamans that worshiped them as the ultimate predators. Drifting back and forth between tribes and armies, searching for a purpose, making a name for himself in the process as a powerful warrior, Sarkhan enters into a trance after slaying an opposing commander, where he encounters the spirit of a dragon. So, inspired by the beast's majesty, he ascends killing his and the opposite army in the process.
      • Tezzeret, after being repeatedly denied entry into the Seekers of Carmot, breaks into their vault to prove his worth by crafting his own Etherium. He discovers the vault to be empty and that the Seekers' claims of the ability to craft new Etherium was a lie. Their plane is depleted, and they are merely recycling old Etherium. Caught in the act by the guards, they catch him and beat him half to death. The thought of his entire life's work being for naught was so harrowing that he ascended on the spot.
      • Ajani Goldmane's spark ignited when he discovered his brother Jazal had been murdered.
      • Elspeth Tirel's spark ignited when she was just thirteen under unknown circumstances. In a Phyrexian death camp.
  • Don't Think. Feel: A core principle of red and green philosophy, and the main reason why they both hate blue.
  • The Dragon: Gix to Yawgmoth, Greven il-Vec to Volrath and later Crovax, Ertai and Tsabo Tavoc to Crovax, Phage (before Cabal Patriarch died), Malil to Memnarch, Malfegor to Nicol Bolas (literally in the last case).
  • Dragon Hoard: A handful of dragons are based on this trope, including Covetous Dragon, Hoarding Dragon, Hellkite Tyrant, and Hoard-Smelter Dragon.
  • Dragon Rider: Kargan Dragonlord
  • Dream Stealer: Lorwyn's Faeries harvest the dreams of the plane's other residents on behalf of their Queen.
  • Dressed to Plunder: Ramirez DePietro has the standard eyepatch.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Poor Ertai. First he was our resident smug snarker, and then the plot for Nemesis turned him into a more heroic character and even put him into a tragic love story... and then immediately turned him into a horrible bad guy and later killed him off in the most embarrassing way possible. Granted, his original personality did lend itself to a Face-Heel Turn, but the way it came about and the extremes it went to were just weird.
  • Durable Deathtrap: Zendikar being the adventure world, there's tons of this.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Barrin knows how to leave an impression.
  • Easter Egg: Many, many different cards, but especially in comedy sets like Unglued and nostalgia sets like Time Spiral. See also Alternate Universe, above.
  • Eldritch Abomination
  • The Emperor: Daimyo Konda of Kamigawa.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: Seen on Snakeform.
  • Endless Daytime: There are several places where this is the case.
    • The plane of Mirrodin has five suns. There is night time, but it's brief and exaggerated. Basically the only reason this is worth mentioning is the flavor text on Grasp of Darkness.
    • The plane of Serra is bathed in the light of a perpetual sunrise.
    • In Lorwyn "the sun never quite dips below the horizon".
  • The End of the World as We Know It: A particularly common trope. At one point, after several sets revolving around ever-bigger wars and cataclysms, the designers moved the action to Lorwyn, a new, rural-themed setting that scaled down the conflict: tribes battling neighboring tribes over land and prestige. Months later, yup, the whole world was wrecked. As in, the sun stopped shining (and few remember that it ever did!). So much for that.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Phage the Untouchable. And we do mean all. Any organic material she touches instantly rots away, save for silk. She wears only silk clothing and sleeps on a bed of stone.
  • Enemy Civil War: There are some major tensions growing between and even within the five Phyrexian factions that conquered Mirrodin, and the liberation of Karn might just be the spark needed to ignite a full-out war among the New Phyrexians.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The coming of the Eldrazi has all the races and even the land of Zendikar uniting to fight a common threat.
    • Likewise with the races of Dominaria during the Phyrexian invasion.
    • Geth joining Glissa against Memnarch in the first Mirrodin cycle. They go back to hating each other in New Phyrexia.
  • Enemy Within:
    • Karn and the Phyrexian corruption in the Scars of Mirrodin block. His inner struggles are depicted on Distant Memories.
    • The Weaver King is an Enemy Within for Venser in Planar Chaos.
  • Energy Being: The malevolent Weaver King in Planar Chaos.
  • Engagement Challenge: In The Brothers' War, the Warlord of Kroog, searching for a powerful warrior to wed his daughter, decrees that whoever can move a giant jade statue from one end of the palace courtyard to the other will win the hand of Princess Kayla. Urza completes the challenge by building an automaton to lift the statue.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: The expansion Portal: Three Kingdoms has a card called Corrupt Eunuchs.
  • Even Antiheroism Has Standards: One of Urza's first picks for his strike team of Planeswalkers to go to Phyrexia was a Planeswalker named Parcher. Urza rejected him for being insane.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs:
  • Everything Trying to Kill You:
    • Jund (from Shards of Alara).
    • Kamigawa is a battle fought between humans and kami, who, due to the nature of Shinto, live in everything.
    • And taken Up to Eleven in Zendikar, where the "Roil" dramatically changes the landscape every few months, weird gravity wells cause floating islands of grassy plain that can drop at any moment, and the creatures that are not killed by the landscape are as hard as your average video game mid-boss. Rise of the Eldrazi then kicked that eleven up to twelve, because the usually unpleasant wildlife is being supplanted by Eldritch Abominations.
    • In Scars of Mirrodin, the entire plane is being taken over by the Phyrexian Glistening Oil. Metal becomes flesh, flesh becomes metal, and havoc and chaos ensue.
    • In Innistrad, humanity is the bottom of the food chain. Werewolves and vampires see humans as tasty snacks, ghoulcallers and stichers raise the dead for kicks, giests torment humans out of rage (or because they don't know any better), monsters lurk in the woods to snatch up the unwary, and demons lurk in the shadows, corrupting humanity to gain a foothold into their world.
  • Evil Chancellor: In Time Streams, Radiant's war minister turns out to be a Phyrexian spy, secretly working to subvert and corrupt Serra's Realm.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • All over the place; look at White Knight versus Black Knight, for example. The entire Shadowmoor set, as a dark mirror of the earlier Lorwyn set, features many opposite counterparts to specific cards from the Lorwyn block.
    • To go with its theme of Mirrodin vs Phyrexia, Mirrodin Besieged has evil counterparts within the same set (Mirran Crusader and Phyrexian Crusader, Peace Strider and Pierce Strider), and also evil counterparts to cards from the last time we went to Mirrodin (Darksteel Colossus to Blightsteel Colossus).
    • The Northern Paladin and Southern Paladin have the Western Paladin and Eastern Paladin.
    • The Predator can be considered this to the Weatherlight.
    • One of the terminologies of the game is "Mirrored Pair". These tend to be two cards who are polar opposites of eachother. Generally they tend to be this trope (although certain examples, like Hero of the Bladehold and Hero of Oxidda Ridge who are both "good", are exceptions).
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Good dog.
  • Evil Twin: The card Evil Twin, naturally. With the explicit ability to kill the good twin.
  • Evil Sorcerer:
    • Lim-Dul, Heidar of Rimewind, Lord Dralnu, Memnarch, the Cabal Patriarch. Zur the Enchanter was definitely dangerous, but only self-absorbed, not outright evil.
    • Lesser Evil Sorcs include the Disciple of the Vault, one of the clerics who makes the Ravager Affinity deck into a fast-killing machine.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Yawgmoth while he was mortal and Momir Vig.
  • Exotic Entree: Feast of the Unicorn.
  • Expansion Pack World:
    • Since the story details a different plane almost every block, the addition of new planes could be considered this to Dominia. Then again, in a theoretically infinite multiverse, it's justified.
    • Dominaria was also subject to this. While nowadays, the story just focuses on a new plane when a new theme for the setting is needed, as early as Fallen Empires and as recent as Odyssey while new continents would just be added to Dominaria to fit this purpose. This leads to Dominaria being so diverse - while most other planes are only themed around a single culture or gimmick, Dominaria has typical Medieval European Fantasy fare in Terisiare, Aerona, and Corondor; Reniassance-era technology in Caliman; wartorn Vestigial Empires in Sarpadia; Conan-esque Heroic Fantasy in Otaria; a Western Africa analogue in Jamuraa; and a Wutai in Madara, among others. And that isn't taking into consideration the areas from Rath that were fused with Dominaria in the Overlay.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Very frequently. Kozilek and his lineage are the kings of this trope.
  • Eye Scream: Just look at the art on Deathmark.
  • The Fair Folk: Lorwyn's Fae are nasty little trolls who delight in making mischief and playing mean-spirited tricks on the plane's other races and harvest their dreams.
  • Fantastic Nuke:
    • The Golgothian Sylex was, functionally, a nuclear weapon. Its detonation ended the Brothers' War, vaporized Argoth, caused the Ice Age, and tore a literal hole in reality.
    • Yawgmoth repeatedly dropped "stonecharger" bombs on his enemies in The Thran which not only resembled nuclear weapons in their destruction, but also caused the same sort of horror real nukes inspire in at least one of the characters.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Kamigawa is feudal Japan. Naya is Mayincatec. The Ice Age block is Vikings. Jamuraa is Africa. Rabiah is Arabia. Innistrad is Renaissance Germany and Eastern Europe. Theros is Ancient Grome.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: With some 11,000 different cards, it's hard to think of any fantasy concepts that aren't represented.
  • Female Angel, Male Demon:
    • Nearly all of Magic's angels are visibly female. The overwhelming majority of Magic's demons are so freakish looking that the idea of having a gender seems a moot point. Though the gender of either is largely a moot point, as, being magically created avatars of their respective colors, neither reproduce in the traditional manner.
    • Razia and Serra play this trope straight, although with reason; Serra was a human female Planeswalker who created her own plane, and all Boros Angels were basically clones of Razia herself, who was female.
  • A Fête Worse than Death: The signature of the Rakdos Cultists of Ravnica, as seen in the Flavor Text of Slaughterhouse Bouncer.
  • Fiery Redhead: Chandra Nalaar. Literally.
  • Flaming Sword:
  • Floating Platforms: Seen in both Zendikar and Serra's Realm.
  • Fog of Doom:
    • In the Apocalypse novel, when Yawgmoth himself appears on Dominaria, he takes the form of a giant black cloud that kills anything it touches.
    • Yawgmoth has a habit of making killer fog; in The Thran, his stonecharger bombs leave behind clouds of mist that that kill anything they touch.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The storyline of Coldsnap, released years after Ice Age and Alliances to give that block a "proper" block format (and conclusion). The press release teaser info explicitly said, "We know the Ice Age ended... but how?"
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Volrath, villain of the Tempest block, was once Gerrard's adoptive brother before they bitterly parted ways in their youth.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Old-generation planeswalker are also shapeshifters, capable of changing their appearances at will. Most of them generally opt to stay in the form they look like just before their ascension though.
  • For the Evulz: Nicol Bolas, apparently.
  • Frankenstein's Monster:
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • Zendikar is a Death World in Zendikar. Then it ramps up in Worldwake. By Rise of the Eldrazi, the whole plane is under attack by Planet Eater Eldritch Abominations.
    • Innistrad's Gothic Horror setting was scary to begin with; when the guardian angel Avacyn mysteriously disappeared, the monsters got more powerful.
  • From a Single Cell: Phyrexia is able to rebuild itself from just a single drop of oil, as seen in the tragic fate of Mirrodin. This is Lampshaded with Phyrexian Rebirth.
  • Funny Animal/Petting Zoo People: From the more conventional Nacatl (cat people) and Leonin (lion people) to the somewhat more creative Loxodon (elephant people) and Rhox (rhino people). So, in other words, Magic has them in droves.
  • Fur Bikini:
  • Furry Confusion: Ajani (a sentient lion man) gets this is spades when he travels to Bant where the pack animal of choice are Leotau (very large lions with hooves).
  • Fusion Dance:
    • In the Onslaught storyline, Phage and Akroma merge to become Karona the False God, a living embodiment of Dominaria's mana.
    • Dracoplasm fuses multiple creatures together to form a giant dragon.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Magic has had its share of artificers.
    • Jhoira, depicted here in all her Tinkering glory.
    • Venser, although best-known now for his teleportation abilities, was originally an artificer, salvaging scrap from the swamps of Urborg and building machines.
    • Urza, the Chessmaster himself, was famous for his gadgets.
    • As was his brother, Mishra.
    • Urza's protege, Tawnos.
    • Slobad is remarkable as he is not merely smart by Goblin standards (which is hardly an accomplishment), but smart. Period.
    • Tezzeret's entire shtick. He sympathizes more with machines than people.
    • Arcum Dagsson
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Typical green schtick, seen in Invasion, Worldwake, and so on. There's also cards like Gaea's Avenger, Gaea's Revenge, Avenger of Zendikar, etc.
  • Garden Garment: Dryads.
  • Gargle Blaster: No thanks.
  • Gambit Pileup: Occurs during the original Ravnica trilogy when it turns out that all of the guilds are trying to conquer the plane.
  • Gambit Roulette: Nicol Bolas' ploy to free the Eldrazi certainly counts. To release the Eldrazi, he required the presence of three different planeswalkers at the Eye of Ugin, as well as having one of them use Ghostfire to trigger the failsafe mechanism. He could only be certain that his own minion (Vol) would be there, but to lure the other two, he combined elements of his own meticulous planning, as well as a simple stroke of luck. He even said so himself!
    Bolas: I didn't send you to ensure no one entered the Eye. I sent you to ensure they did. Do you think it a coincidence that two planeswalkers arrived there when they did?
    Vol: You sent me to fester? As a helpless proxy? You knew they would come?
    Bolas: I knew the girl would come. The other-I had to play the odds.
  • Gentle Giant: Karn, a huge golem made of pure silver who dedicated himself to pacifism. And not technical pacifism, either. Many green creatures can also be considered gentle unless you offend them or their controllers.
  • Genre Savvy: Ludevic realized he had to make something to feed on all those torch wielding mobs.
  • Genre Shift: The first two sets of the Zendikar block are about adventure and survival on a Death World. The last set turns it into a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Giant Crab (stepping on a boat), Fortress Crab (cottage-sized) and especially Wormfang Crab (walking over mountains). They're all defense.
  • Giant Flyer: All kinds.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Many sets could be described as this.
    • After Arabian Nights, Antiquities attempted to tell an original story.
    • The "pseudo-block" of Legends, The Dark, and Fallen Empires. Legends was awesome, but neither The Dark nor Fallen Empires continued its mechanics, or its storyline, and were instead sequels to Antiquities.
    • Homelands is between Ice Age and Alliances, both with an Ice Age theme. Homelands, as far as we can tell, is about fairies and paladins vs. vampires. Homelands also didn't have Ice Age's mechanics, and is generally considered the worst set ever.
    • Weatherlight kicked off a five-year story arc.
    • Portal: Three Kingdoms introduced a lot of new mechanics, referred to flying as horsemanship, is incompatible with other Portal sets, and...was actually enjoyable.
    • The Urza's Block, while high in power and storyline, was a prequel, leaving you wondering what happened to the crew of the Weatherlight.
    • Nemesis introduced a new ability out of nowhere (Fading) and focused on Rath. Actually, every Masques block set focused on a different set. Mercadia seemed to come out of nowhere too.
    • Apocalypse is the only set in the Invasion block to focus entirely on enemy colors (white/black, white/red, blue/red, blue/green, black/green).
  • Giant Spider: The smallest spiders tend to be large enough to win a fight with an average goblin. Medium-sized spiders can tangle with elephants. The biggest ones can eat dragons for breakfast.
  • A God Am I: Several of them. Some are just delusional about their supposed godhood, and some are very much not delusional about their actual godhood...and are total jerks about it.
  • A God Is You: Flavor-wise, the players take the roles of planeswalkers.
  • God of Evil: Yawgmoth.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Gods of Theros have strength directly tied to the number of worshipers the god has. In an example of Gameplay and Story Integration, the Gods cease to be creaturesnote  when their controller does not have enough devotion to that god's color(-s)note 
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Averted; all five colors of mana have had heroes and villains.
  • Gothic Horror: Innistrad was a top-down design based around this. Zombies, Werewolves, and Vampires are all vying for control against the last bastions of humanity.
  • Got The Whole World In My Hand: This artwork for New Phyrexia shows Mirrodin in the clutches of Phyrexia.
  • Got Volunteered: Played for Laughs when groups of goblins need a volunteer, as seen in the flavor text of Goblin Hero and Skirk Drill Sergeant.
  • I Got Bigger: Garruk Wildspeaker then. Garruk Wildspeaker now.
  • I Just Want to be a Normal Planeswalker: Elspeth didn't ask to be a hero. She's often made one anyway: First on her adopted homeworld of Bant, then on Mirrodin/New Phyrexia, and soon again on Theros.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The elves from the Lorwyn set. Their caste system runs on how beautiful they are and they will often hunt other species that they deem uglier than they.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: the Vizzerdrix card. Probably related to Kezzerdrix.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Seen on some art, including Vengeance and Burn the Impure.
  • Hammerspace: Sash and Waistcoat, the two un-men and Those Two Guys from the Onslaught storyline, were designed by Ixidor to be living embodiments of Hammerspace. They're essentially living portals. There's several gags where they store things like pianos inside themselves.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Blinding Powder.
  • I Have Your Wife: Volrath kidnaps Starke's daughter.
  • Headless Horseman:
  • Heel Realization: After Darigaaz awakens the other four Primeval dragons in Planeshift, he realizes that the five of them would destroy Dominaria themselves. His Redemption Equals Death Heroic Sacrifice to break their five-way bond is depicted on Terminate.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: The philosophy behind the conflict that pits Red/Green against White/Blue.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: White creatures that sacrifice themselves for an effect usually have this flavor. And then there's Shock Troops...
  • High Priest: Mikaeus the Lunarch.
  • Hollywood Cyborg:
    • Phyrexians, extra-dimensional, bio-mechanical nasties whose machine parts are grafted onto them upon birth.
    • Esper, one of the Shards of Alara, has this, as well. It's less grotesque than the Phyrexians, and is basically a way to transcend nature.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: White has plenty of this. Loads of priests, religions, angels, miracles and so on that all focus on cutting a swath of destruction. Half the time, even the "nice" life-gain and protection spells are there to enable that planeswalker to do something terrible to you with the next card.
  • Horse of a Different Color: All sorts.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Szadek, founder of the Dimir Guild is a ten-thousand plus year old and the last surviving member of his species, who are essentially psychic vampires. The name of his species? The Eldritch. Make of that what you will.
  • Humans Are Average: Enforced.
    From the behind-the-scenes point of view, the prevalence and variety of humans does a couple of good things for the game. First, it lets us put a human face on every color of Magic. That helps the look and feel of all the colors stay appealing to a wide variety of players. Our market research shows that we have a lot of human beings among our consumers, and having human beings in the art gives those players a familiar face that they can identify with. [...]

    Second, humans play an important role as a point of comparison in every color. You get to see how tall or tough or magic-inclined goblins are compared to humans, for example, since you get to see them next to red-aligned humans that live in similar environments and have similar color values. You get to see what role griffins or pterons or leonin play in a given setting, because you get to see white-aligned humans riding them or hunting them or making alliances with them. We can afford to get more exotic with our nonhuman races, in part because there are plenty of examples of humans next to whom you can see similarities and differences—and we like that.
    —Doug Beyer, creative team member, in his weekly column.
  • Human Resources: Ravnica's Golgari Guild is responsible for corpse disposal and food production throughout the city. These two tasks are not unrelated. Soylent Green/Black is made of people!
  • Humongous Mecha: Darksteel Colossus.
  • Hybrid Monster: Quite a few; most are of the Undead variety, but there are some like mutant elves.
  • An Ice Person: Heidar, Rimewind Master
  • The Igor: Seen in Innistrad with Oglor (a mad scientist's assistant represented on Stitcher's Apprentice and in the flavor text of Rooftop Storm) and Garl (the Deranged Assistant).
  • Incendiary Exponent: Things on fire are often stronger or faster than things not-on-fire. For example, Fiery Mantle.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: The Changelings from Lorwyn block reflexively take the form of whatever else is nearby.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Invoked by name in the flavor text of Steady Progress, Feeling of Dread and Bump in the Night.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Civilized Scholar/Homicidal Brute, inspired directly by the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Jidai Geki/Medieval Japan: A combination of these, plus elements of traditional Japanese fantasy and Shinto are the basis of the Kamigawa block.
  • Kangaroo Court: The card Twisted Justice is styled after creating such a situation, and the flavor text is from the perspective of the judge as he's being manipulated to send an innocent man to his death.
  • Kill 'em All: The Weatherlight saga had an extraordinarily high body count, especially among named protagonists.
    • Rofellos died fighting demons quite early on.
    • Mirri made a Heroic Sacrifice to save Gerrard from Crovax.
    • Belbe, despite ultimately turning good, was killed by Eladamri for being made of parts of his daughter.
    • Crovax and Ertai both fell to Phyrexia and died in its service.
    • Starke was killed by Volrath.
    • Hanna contracted the Phyrexian plague and died during the invasion proper.
    • Lin Sivvi and Eladamri both killed themselves rather than be consumed by Yawgmoth's death cloud.
    • Gerrard and Urza were both consumed in the completion of the Legacy weapon.
    • Squee was killed by the fallen Ertai. A lot. However, he kept getting better because Ertai had made Squee immortal so he could torture and kill him repeatedly.
    • In the same storyline, a similar thing happens with the Nine Titans, Urza's team of planeswalkers leading the attack on Phyrexia:
      • Daria and Kristina were killed by Tevesh Szat.
      • Tevesh Szat was killed when Urza made his soul into a bomb, as he had been included on the team for this purpose all along.
      • Taysir attempted to knock some sense into Urza after he joined Yawgmoth's side, only for Urza to kill him in self defense.
      • Bo Levar and Commodore Guff were absorbed by Yawgmoth.
      • Urza was consumed in the completion of the Legacy Weapon.
      • Freyalise and Lord Windgrace manage to survive the Phyrexian Invasion...only to later perform Heroic Sacrifices in order to seal the time rifts.
  • Knight Errant: Elspeth, literally. Though Gideon Jura is the one with the messiah complex.
  • Knight in Shining Armor:
    • The Cathars of Innistrad.
    • Elspeth.
    • Lots of various cards with the Knight creature type evoke this trope.
  • Language Equals Thought: A recurrent theme in flavor text (usually in red, for some reason). Some examples:
    • Bloodrock Cyclops:
      "There are only fifty words in the cyclops language, and ten of them mean 'kill.'"
    • Goblin Striker:
      There's no word in the goblin language for "strategy." Then again, there's no word in the goblin language for "word."
    • Ogre Resister:
      He didn't have a word for "home," but he knew it was something to be defended.
  • Last Stand: The forces of the Coalition make a Last Stand in Apocalypse, as depicted on the card (of course) Last Stand.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The in-game flavor of your deck is that of your memories, and a number of cards have the ability to search opponent's decks for cards and remove them from the game.
  • Legions Of Phyrexia: The Invasion block storyline has Dominaria defending itself against the invading forces of Yawgmoth.
  • Light Is Not Good: While White has several protagonists, it has occasionally proved to be oppressive, tyrannical and horribly misguided:
    • Takeshi Konda is the primary example of a White Big Bad.
    • Also from Kamigawa is the Myojin of Cleansing Fire, another White villain. Although he doesn't get much "screen time", he is clearly fighting on the side of the kami, and is implied he destroyed his own mortal followers with his sacred flames.
    • Another evil White kami is Kataki, who, according to this side story, is pretty much insane.
    • In Dissension, Augustin IV of the Azorius (a guild of blue-white Obstructive Bureaucrats) is the bad guy.
    • As Phyrexia shows (more specifically, Elesh Norn and her servants), White can be quite scary too...
    • Pretty much the entire point of the White cards in The Dark.
    • According to Mark Rosewater and Serra (as well as some of his guises and spells), Urza is White/Blue. He also caused countless cataclysms, devised an eugenics program (and was a general social darwinist), manipulated his own allies against themselves and ultimately joined Phyrexia.
    • In the Theros Block, Heliod is the Bigger Bad, having provoked the conflicts in the pantheon and ultimately murdering Elspeth in cold blood.
  • Living Shadow: This is generally the flavor of the 'Shade' creature type.
  • Living Ship: The Weatherlight. Also, Living Airship.
  • Lizard Folk: The Viashino.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Literally thousands, made more confusing by the fact that many of them have the same or similar names.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: There are roughly a bajillion different known sapient species in the Multiverse. Aside from Humans there are Amphin, Angels, Aven, Bird-Maidens, Centaurs, antelope Centaurs, deer Centaurs, Cephalids, Changelings, Cyclopes, Dauthi, Demons, Devils, Djinn, Dragons, Dwarves, Dryads, Efreet, sentient Elementals, Elves, Eumidians, Faeries, Flamekin, Giants, Goblins, sapient Golems, Gorgons, sapient Gorillas, Hags, Homarids, Iquati, Kami and other sentient Spirit races, Kithkin, Kitsune, Kor, Lammasu, Leonin, Loxodon, fishtailed Merfolk, Merfolk with legs, flying Elf-Merfolk, Metathran, Minotaurs, Mistfolk, Mycoids, Myr, Nantuko, Nezumi, Nightstalkers, Noggles, Ogres, Orcs, Orochi, Ouphes, Phyrexians, Puca, Rhox, Sangrazuls, Selkies, Serpent people, Slivers, Soltari, Soratami, Sphinxes, Surrakar, Thalakos, Thrulls, Treefolk, Trolls, Vampires, Vedalken, Viashino, Werewolves, Wolfir, the talking Wolves of Tel-Jilad...

    And that's not even counting sub-races. Just among goblins there are common Dominarian Goblins (of at least three different breeds), Kobolds, Rathi Moggs, Mercadian Kyren, Mirran Krark-Clan, Kamigawan Akki, Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Boggarts, Redcaps, Hobgoblins, and Spriggans, ratlike Jund Dragon Fodder, Zendikari Guide-Thieves, and Phyrexian Squealstokes.
  • Long Game: Nicol Bolas works this way all the time.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The original Sengir Vampire art draws from this. The current depiction even more so, aside from the fact that he has hair.
  • Loose Canon: The game's original dozen spin-off novels were published by HarperPrism. When the Weatherlight saga began and Wizards of the Coast started its own novel line, the continuity was revised (This is commonly referred to as "The Revision"). Any material in the old novels is considered Canon unless new material directly contradicts it.
  • Losing Your Head: Urza in Apocalypse. His severed head was last seen relaxing in a hot tub with the missing creature from AWOL.
  • Lost Technology: Thran technology in the Brothers' War.
  • Love It or Hate It: Invoked with Schismotivate, which works by inciting strong positive and negative emotions in two target creatures. The happy creature gets powered up; the sad creature gets powered down.
  • Love Redeems: Belbe, in Nemesis, leading to Redemption Equals Death. Spoiled somewhat by the romance being with Ertai, who went over to the side Belbe abandoned...before her body had actually cooled.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Braids.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Volrath was Gerrard's adoptive brother, Vuel. This was never a huge secret, though.
  • Lunacy: All over the place in Innistrad block; both the church and the werewolves seem to draw power from Innistrad's silver Moon.
  • MacGuffin Girl: In Saviors of Kamigawa, That Which Was Taken (the MacGuffin that started the spirit war) takes the form of a girl.
  • Machete Mayhem: Trusty Machete
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
  • Magically-Binding Contract: The Guildpact in Ravnica block.
  • Magic Carpet: Magic Carpet. Also seen on Flying Men.
  • Magic Meteor: See Macross Missile Massacre above. Also this.
  • Making a Splash: Stock blue ability, although it's occasionally appeared in other colors as well.
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • Yawgmoth behind Volrath, and in general Phyrexia for Rath.
    • Phyrexia would be this to Memnarch as well, but it's a complicated case: Memnarch was curtailing the mycosynth, the first signs of Phyrexian infection. When he was removed, the mycosynth could grow unchecked.
  • Mary Sue: A rare in-universe example; Akroma was created by Ixidor, a mage that could turn his fantasies into reality, as an idealized homage to his dead lover, and existed primarily to lay waste to his enemies. Her card reflects the concept, with its over-the-top amount of abilities.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Glissa Sunseeker discovered (as far as the surface races are concerned) not only Mirrodin's fifth sun, which she also named, but also the mana core at the heart of the plane, meaning she's essentially found two suns.
    • Nicol Bolas. See Names to Run Away From Really Fast.
    • Gideon Jura. Gideon translates to 'Powerful Warrior' and he is consistently portrayed as this, being one of the only planeswalkers who isn't a straight mage; he's more of a paladin instead. One of his card abilities also turns him into a 6/6 human soldier temporarily, making him quite powerful indeed.
    • Garruk Wildspeaker's specialty is that once he defeats a wild animal, he can commune with it and summon it to his aid at a moment's notice.
    • Ajani Goldmane was born with a rare genetic defect that gave him startlingly pale fur.
    • Rafiq means "friend" in Arabic. He is the most decorated paladin on his plane, and renders his services as a peacekeeper and mediator of sorts, trying to solve would be duels with both participating parties leaving satisfied.
    • Very literally on the plane of Lorwyn. The local giants live large in every conceivable way, including how they sleep, sometimes decades at a time. During this sleep, which they call the 'namesleep' they have any number of dreams where they imagine themselves in some sort of epic poem all most. They take this as a sign, and when they wake up they take on that persona and name themselves appropriately. Such as a wandering drifter named Rosheen Meanderer, or a peacekeeping arbiter named Galanda Feudkiller.
    • "Pyrexia" is a medical term for a fever. The Phyrexians, in addition to not being a very pleasant lot, use genetically engineered plagues. In fact, Yawgmoth started out making such plagues. Their name is also derived from the Greek letter Phi, which is commonly used to represent the "perfect" golden ratio (and is itself commonly used as their sigil), reflecting their collective superiority complex.
  • Meat Moss:
    • The ground itself is Meat Moss'd in Grixis.
    • The interior of the compleated Lumengrid in New Phyrexia is covered in organic tissue.
  • Mechanical Horse: Bronze Horse, Clockwork Steed, Workhorse, and Chrome Steed. Hero of Bladehold and Hero of Oxid Ridge can be seen riding Chrome Steeds as well.
  • Mechanical Evolution: Phyrexia. Kind of.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The greater part of Mirrodin block falls under this, as does the world of Esper from Shards of Alara, the metal demons of Phyrexia, and various artifact creatures.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Tocasia, Urza and Mishra's teacher in their youth, falls victim to this trope.
  • Mercy Kill: In the Invasion block, Agnate to Thaddeus, and later, Grizzlegom to Agnate.
  • Me's a Crowd: Biovisionary, who you're expected to play with a bunch of cards that clone creatures.
  • Messianic Archetype: Though very far from an All-Loving Hero, Urza went through a whole lot of awful things to destroy Phyrexia.
  • Meta Guy: Commodore Guff. Didn't work out.
  • Mind-Control Device: The Mindslaver
  • Mind Rape: The flavor behind Discard spells suggests they do this to your opponent.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Inverted with Lich's Mirror.
  • Mirror Universe:
    • Lorwyn becomes its own Mirror Universe in the Shadowmoor block.
    • And there is an actual card called Mirror Universe, which allows you to swap Hit Point totals with your opponent.
    • Mirrodin is being corrupted into its reflection.
  • Monster Lord: Zendikar vampires and their nulls.
  • Monster Shaped Mountain: The card Hamletback Goliath is given to be this. The card art depicts a couple of goblins living on the Goliath's back, and plant growth that makes it look like a mountain.
  • Mordor: Grixis.
  • Morphic Resonance: The werewolves of Innistrad all have distinctive visual cues to make it clear that the wolf and the human are the same creature. When this isn't done through a repetition of the settingnote , it's done with Morphic Resonance, copying a physical detail on both sides. For example, Reckless Waif's distinctive pink hair, or Mondronen Shaman's single glowing eye.
  • Mugging the Monster: Tormented Pariah.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: Seen occasionally on card-drawing spells like Mind Unbound. In some cases it crosses over to the game mechanics, forcing the affected player to discard cards or take damage.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
  • Nature Hero: Various green-aligned characters, but especially Kamahl post-transformation.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Lorwyn's Elves believe that anything that is ugly is an affront to nature. Naturally, they believe this gives them the right to systematically hunt down and murder ugly lesser races.
  • Nephilim: Gargantuan Beasts Of The Apocalypse created by the gods just to put mortals in their place.
  • Negative Planar Wedgie: Either the cause of, or caused by, a large amount of the plot.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In the novel for the Nemesis set, the Phyrexian Belbe was deliberately sabotaging the plans for Rath to overlay Dominaria. Until Eladamri killed her because she was constructed from his daughter's body.
    • In the Ravnica series, the Dissension novel has the Azorius Guildmaster explaining that things have gotten a lot worse because the main characters arrested the first book's Big Bad, who was put on trial and killed. How is this a bad thing? The magically-enforced government of Ravnica demands that group/entity exist, for the sole purpose of doing Big Bad things. Because it could no longer act as an opposing force, the magic of the Guildpact was weakened and could no longer protect the city.
    • Another one happened in In The Teeth of Akoum, Zendikar's novel. Upon reaching the eponymous location, Sorin Markov, a vampire planeswalker, tries to activate a strange device. Nissa, his unwilling partner, is a Zendikar native elf who hates vampires. When Nissa notices the device reacting to Sorin's ritual, she promptly uses a spell to destroy it. Unfortunately for her, and Zendikar, that device is the final lock which holds the Eldrazi, and with no more lock to hold them, they break free. Sorin, annoyed, leaves afterwards.
    • Earlier, in another example, Jace's, Chandra's and Sarkhan's shenanigans some time prior weakens the rest of the locks keeping the Eldrazi imprisoned, just as Nicol Bolas wanted.
    • Memnarch might not have been a nice guy, but he was fighting back the mycosynth corruption in Mirrodin's Core and preventing Phyrexia from taking hold there. When Glissa and her friends defeated him, the mycosynth grew unchecked and Phyrexia could grow unimpeded, dooming the plane.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Mistform Ultimus which has every creature type, such as Ninja, Pirate, Zombie, Construct, Mutant, Ninja, and Turtle. Years later, Lorwyn block introduced nineteen more creatures like this, as well as several non-creature cards.
    • Every time a new set comes out, Wizards of the Coast publishes a Mistform Ultimus Watch article on the Daily MTG, that documents every single creature type that it becomes.
  • Not So Different: Urza and Mishra.
  • Obake: Kamigawa has oni and kitsune; indeed, the entire Kamigawa block is one big Obake-fest, its setting heavily inspired by Japanese folklore and mythology.
  • Oculothorax: There are two.
  • Older than They Look/Really 700 Years Old/Time Abyss: Old generation planeswalkers are generally immortal; Urza, as an example, lived for at least 5000 years, while Nicol Bolas is even older. That's before counting some people who live long despite being otherwise mortal: Jodah aged slowly because he fell into a fountain of youth in his youth; Jhoira, unlike her planeswalker boyfriend Teferi, used slow-aging potions; Liliana Vess made a contract with demons (in her case, despite being a planeswalker, she is not normally immortal due to the Mending) and so on.
  • One Steve Limit: Enforced for gameplay reasons — all planeswalkers which appear or may appear on cards are required to have different names.
  • Orifice Evacuation: This is how Dark Hatchling kills its victims.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves are basically all blacksmiths and miners with large beards. If they're warriors, they wield axes. Even in Shadowmoor, whose Duergar dwarves have a radically different appearance, they're still primarily miners.
  • Our Elves Are Better: There are many different elf tribes in the setting, but the recent Lorwyn elves are a sharp departure from the previously base-green elves into green/black to show their arrogant destructiveness. (Shadowmoor flipped it so they became the plane's only protagonists, with even white turning paranoid, insular, and Hive Mind-ish.)
    • Lorwyn. In a nutshell, if you aren't as beautiful as them, you don't deserve to live. And nobody's as beautiful as them. And some of Lorwyn's inhabitants are just deliberately being ugly at them. They call these unfortunate souls "eyeblights," and they actively hunt them down and kill them.
    • In Magic's debut set, elves were portrayed as feral and vicious, in startling contrast to the conventional concept (although those showed up in most other sets).
    • Also, the Elves of Deep Shadow of the classic set The Dark, later reprinted as part of the Golgari guild in Ravnica: City of Guilds, were green but produced black mana instead of green when tapped, and dealt damage to their controller each time they did.
    • Mirrodin's elves are basically cyborg elves. Mind you, everything on Mirrodin has a high metal content one way or another.
  • Ouroboros: This card. Some say the expansion symbol for Torment is also meant to be this.
  • Outscare the Enemy: The Exodus version of Raging Goblin has as its flavor text: "Volrath has bred them to fear only him. Are they charging to battle or merely fleeing his wrath?"
  • Organic Technology: Phyrexia. They invoke this trope, subvert it, divert it, avert it, deconstruct it, reconstruct it, and ask it out for dinner. Their entire purpose is to blur the line between 'organic' and 'technology' to the point of irrelevance. In the most nightmarish ways possible.
  • Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous: Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, a Planeswalker and Humanoid Abomination who specializes in bringing people's worst nightmares to life. Ashiok is confirmed by Word of God to be of Ambiguous Gender.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Very, very common, especially in later blocks.
    • The Lorwyn block is a smorgasboard of this trope, featuring philosopher giants, Nazi elves, badass halflings, and monstrous-looking faeries.
    • The Shadowmoor block, a Bizarro Lorwyn, carries on with this trope, as the kithkin/halflings become paranoid castle-dwellers and merfolk become murderous fish-faced monsters.
    • Most of the races in Shadowmoor became personifications of their worst qualities: the giants become so lazy and mindless that they are mistaken for landmass, the goblins have degenerated from being impish tricksters to being wild animals, the treefolk have become utterly apathetic to the other races, and the cinders lost all of their passion and fire, and now want to make all the other races suffer like they do. The two exceptions are the elves, who have been humbled into nobility by being hunted and persecuted, and the faeries, who are protected by Oona's magic.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Each setting that has vampires that are quite recognizable as vampires, as with other typical fantasy species, they tend to make subtle little differences between one plane's vampires from another plane's:
      • Ravnica has psychic vampires like Szadek, some of which look extremely feral.
      • Zendikar's vampires have a very strong 'venomous' motif and had fang-like protrusions from most of their joints.
      • Rath's vampires are basically giant bats, and the villainous Evincar has a pack of vampire dogs as pets.
      • Mirrodin's vampires have their fangs in their fingers, which are basically foot long syringes, and their bowels are visible from the outside.
      • Innistrad's vampires come in both black and red. The red vampires tend to be more feral, but overall they mostly fit the Classical Movie Vampire trope.
    • A major plot point in the Zendikar block novel In the Teeth of Akoum. The elf protagonist, Nissa Revane, doesn't realize one of her traveling companions, Sorin Markov, is a vampire until very late in the novel. This is due to the fact that since he's from Innistrad and not Zendikar, he has none of the staple characteristics of her world's vampires. This is unintentionally hilarious, as when the character was first teased by Wizards of the Coast, quite literally, the first thing the fan base learned about him was that he was a vampire.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Includes werebears, wererats, and werewolves.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Pretty much all of the major variations of zombie show up on one plane or another. Innistrad even combines two different kinds, as it has mad science monsters in blue coexisting with Romero-style hordes of the flesh eating dead in black.
  • Outside-Context Villain:
    • The Eldrazi.
    • Phyrexia in the Scars of Mirrodin storyline:
      "Their forces are unknown to us. The Moriok or the nim that emerge from the necrogen bogs—those we understand. These horrors which pour out of the canyons use weapons, tactics and magic that are alien to even our most capable generals and seasoned warriors. Our armies are scattered. We have no choice but to hide and survive."
      —Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, "A Planeswalker's Guide to New Phyrexia"
  • Overly-Long Tongue: Yep
  • Over-the-Shoulder Murder Shot: Desecrator Hag from Shadowmoor.
  • Parental Bonus: For a very brief time, Goblin Piker was going to be reprinted with the following flavor text: "Pike her? I barely even know her!"
  • Passion Is Evil: In it's early days, it pitied the wise, intellectual Blue colour with the passionate and excessively agressive Red. Nowadays, while Red still suffers from depictions as a bully, it is definitely by far depicted more heroically thanks to positive emotions like empathy, while Blue's sociopathic and deceptive side is played up.
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: Golems and undead.
  • Perpetual Storm: Immersturm, on the plane of Valla, whose name translates into "always storm." Its magical storms cause its inhabitants to continuously wage war with one another.
    Listen to the roar! Feel the thunder! The Immersturm shouts its approval with every bolt of lightning!" (from the card Warstorm Surge.)
  • Pipe Maze: The third sphere of Phyrexia is described as an "impenetrable tangle of metal pipes".
  • Playing with Fire: Jaya Ballard, Chandra Nalaar
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The goblins almost always fill this role—though they're also usually Screaming Warriors.
  • Pooled Funds: Greed (all versions).
  • Power Born of Madness: The main idea of hellbent, dredge, and...um...Madness decks, all of which allow you to gain some bonus from negatively affecting your current state of mind.
  • Power Copy: Leshrac attempts this in Future Sight, using the Mask of Night's Reach to steal Jeska's dormant ability to corrupt anything she touches and Nicol Bolas's ability to cause madness with a touch. An epic duel with Nicol Bolas results.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: A lot of Blue, Red and Black cards will mutate, disfigure or change creatures to make them stronger.
  • Power of the Void: Getting sucked into a Door to Nothingness is an automatic loss condition.
  • Prayer of Malice: As the leader of the theocratical white Phyrexian faction, Elesh Norn delivers friendly sermons like "May our blessings sever the tongues of the forsaken".
  • Prestigious Player Title: You are a "Planeswalker".
  • Proud Scholar Race Guy: Most races or tribes representing blue in any given setting skew towards this.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: All the damn time. Usually one per setting. Always red or green.
  • Psychic Link: Hive Mind, Psychic Possession, and Shared Fate, among others.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: Electric Eel, which shocks you when you activate its pump ability.
  • Punny Name: Yule Ooze
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Karn in Planar Chaos. While sealing the time rift over Tolaria, he senses a corruption in himself taking hold and flees to an undisclosed location. He doesn't reappear in the storyline for another four years.
    • Likewise, Nicol Bolas in Future Sight. He was, apparently, too awesome to kill off like everyone else, so instead he just left, giving him the opportunity to come back again later. (Which, in Alara block, he did.)
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Most of Urza's various battles against Phyrexia.
      • The sylex blast at the end of the Brothers' War prevented Gix from gaining a foothold in Dominaria and sealed Dominaria away from the rest of the multiverse, but it also leveled most of the Terisian continent and completely vaporized Argoth.
      • The battle for Serra's Realm. Urza's forces defeat the Phyrexians, but the fighting causes the entire plane to collapse.
      • Basically the whole campaign in the Invasion saga. The coalition wins, but Dominaria becomes a postapocalyptic wasteland.
    • The Thran managed to defeat the Phyrexians, but afterwards, their civilization was too weak to survive, and collapsed.
    • In the Time Spiral block, every time Teferi's team manages to close a time rift, they stabilize that area at the cost of a planeswalker's power and/or life.
    • Pyyrric Revival does this against death.
    • Barren Glory turns it into a win condition.
  • Razor Wings: Bladed Pinions from Scars of Mirrodin.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sidar Jabari from the Mirage storyline, King Darien from the Ice Age saga, Commander Eesha in the Odyssey arc (but only in comparison to her two predecessors).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Urza and Mishra.
    • Jace and Chandra.
  • Religion of Evil: Phyrexia, particularly the White-aligned "Machine Orthodoxy" of New Phyrexia.
  • Retcon: In addition to the game changes mentioned above, there have been changes to the game's story and background:
    • Summoned creatures were originally presented as being actual creatures from another universe, pulled across and enslaved by the caster; now, they're essentially magical copies.
    • The story of Coldsnap, essentially an entire set retconned onto the end of Ice Age block.
    • Then there's the "Revision". In the early days of Magic, the novels and comics where done by outside companies. Eventually (around the time of the Weatherlight Saga), Wizards of the Coast decided to publish their own books. They took this point to clear up and change some aspects of the canon, and said that, henceforth, the pre-revision books would be canon unless a post-revision book contradicted them.
    • Since it was a continuity and nostalgia heavy block, the Scars of Mirrodin saga retconned several parts of the original Mirrodin books and a few parts of the Weatherlight Saga, causing many headaches to fans.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: During the Dissension tie-in novel, Ravnica is attacked by giant monsters. First there's some Nephilim that grow giant-sized and start smashing things, then the Izzet's dragon guildmaster Niv-Mizzet flies in to fight them off, and eventually Experiment Kraj and Rakdos the Defiler join the fray as a result of a Gambit Pileup. Widespread destruction ensues.
  • Revisiting The Roots: Magic: The Gathering's 2009 core set, Magic 2010, marked a return to the flavor-driven design sensibility of the original Alpha and Beta releases.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter:
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: The "Canyon Minotaur" card references this.
    "We'll scale these cliffs, traverse Brittle Bridge, and then fight our way down the volcanic slopes on the other side."
    "Isn't the shortest route through the canyon?"
    "Yes."
    "So shouldn't we—"
    "No."
  • Rodents of Unusual Size:
    • This.
    • Kamigawa has a race of human sized sentient rats.
  • Rolling Attack: Myr Battlesphere and Armadillo Cloak are prominent examples.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Lord Konda, the mad king of Kamigawa. To gain immortality, he abducts an entity from the Spirit World, instigating a devastating war between mortals and spirits.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Urza ascends into (or even dies and is resurrected into, depending on your point of view) becoming a divinely powerful planeswalker after using the Golgothian Sylex. Golgotha, also known as Calvary, was in The Bible the place where Jesus Christ was crucified. To add to this, he bleeds into the chalice (which somewhat bears a resemblance to the Holy Grail) from a forehead wound. He'll then go on to be the primary opponent of a God of Evil who lives in Dante's Inferno-esque Hell-like realm.
  • Sand Worm: Wurms, which are essentially giant serpentine dragons, come in all shapes and sizes - including some that tunnel through solid ice.
  • Savage Wolves: Most Wolves in Magic fall under this category. This one is 50% scarier than most.
  • Sapient Ship: The Skyship Weatherlight gains sapience towards the end of its storyline.
  • Scenery Gorn:
    • Magic frequently visits settings that could easily described as hell on Earth, but they always make a point to have the cards showing off the landscape look incredible, even if that landscape is oh say, MADE OF DEAD PEOPLE.
    • Definitely the case in New Phyrexia. Some of the land art was based on what happened to the art in Scars block after Phyrexia got involved.
  • Schizo Tech:
  • Science Destroys Magic: Yawgmoth's hope.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Nevinyrral's Disk.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The Innistrad storyline features this. The Helvault, a giant silver mass, imprisons the legendary angel Avacyn, along with the demon she was fighting at the time, Griselbrand, and a whole host of other angels and demons. Needless to say, the Helvault eventually gets broken, in the expansion called Avacyn Restored.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The angel Avacyn was dragged into the Helvault she made to seal away unkillable demons. Based on the mechanics of the Helvault card getting her out means freeing everything else inside.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: There are three different selkie cards; all of them are green/blue merfolk.
  • Shadowland: Shadowmoor, the dark reflection of Lorwyn, is a literal example.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Flowstone Blade
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing:
    • Snakeform shows a snake slithering out of a pile of clothes that was once a mage.
    • Turn to Frog uses the same basic concept in its art, where "Target creature loses all abilities and becomes a 1/1 blue Frog until end of turn.".
    • As does Ovinize, which depicts a sheep among weapons and armor, whose name is similar to the Latin, Ovis aries.
  • Shock and Awe: Much less so than one would expect, most red elemental magic tends to use fire. Though there are plenty of shocking cards, such as the original damage spell.
  • Shoot the Dog: Pretty much Urza's whole hat. He does awful things in the name of protecting Dominaria from Phyrexia and Yawgmoth. At the end of the story, Dominaria ends up in shambles, but ultimately in better shape than Phyrexia. A pity that, however slowly, Phyrexia can regrow from a single drop of Glistening Oil.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: During the Mirran-Phyrexian war, Venser, Koth, and Elspeth try to free Karn from Phyrexian influence. They even manage to free him from the taint via Venser's Heroic Sacrifice. And then Karn leaves Mirrodin and the Phyrexians win anyway.
  • Sinister Minister: Almost any black creature of the Cleric subtype falls under this trope.
  • Sinister Scythe: Several.
  • Slave Brand: The Orzhov Syndicate from Ravnica; slaves (debtors to Orzhov's higher-ups) bear the guild seal as tattoos.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Yep
  • Smash The Symbol:
  • Snakes Are Sexy: This is the art for a card named "Deadly Allure".
  • Soul Jar: Any artifact in the game can become this for Phylactery Lich.
  • Spell Book:
    • The cards themselves represent pages in your Spell Book. Certain artifacts, such as Jalum Tome, give you access to more spells (that is, let you draw more cards) each turn.
    • And the actual card Spellbook removes the 7-card limit on your hand, letting you hold as many cards as you can... hold.
  • Spike Shooter: Various creatures are shown or implied to have this ability.
  • Staking the Loved One: In the Dissension novel, when one of the protagonists' friends is converted into a Ragamuffyn zombie.
  • Start of Darkness: The Thran, for Yawgmoth.
  • Stealth Pun: The M13 set's Mark of the Vampire. Markov, the vampire.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table:
    • The Vedalken Anatomist is depicted with a goblin victim in the background.
    • In the Invasion block, Metathran general Thaddeus is captured by the sadistic Tsabo Tavoc and is strapped down and vivisected before his twin brother Agnate arrives to deliver a Mercy Kill.
    • Venser and Koth, when they're captured by Phyrexians in the "Scarred" comic. (They get away.)
    • The Innistrad version of Curiosity features a werewolf strapped to an operating table as a human sorcerer prepares to do magical research on it.
  • Squee: But not that kind.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Arguably the Great Aurora that changed the fairy-tale land of Lorwyn into the dark, bleak Shadowmoor.
  • Sugar Bowl: Lorwyn, except for the arrogant, beautiful, evil elves and arguably the short-lived, insectoid, tricksy fae.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ertai's entire schtick. Even after his transformation:
    Altered by Phyrexian science, corrupted by black mana, and twisted by rage, Ertai still looked in the mirror and saw only glory.
  • Tele-Frag: In Time Streams, this is how Urza kills K'rrik/Kerrick, by Planeswalking into him thanks to some advice from Multani.
  • Telepathy: A standard blue ability. Cards that invoke it typically involve revealing hidden information, such as the aptly-named Telepathy card.
  • Temporal Paradox:
    • It's more than possible to have multiple versions of the same specific thing from various points in the storyline in play at once; for example, there's nothing stopping you having both the Tolarian Academy and its ruins in play together.
    • When they created planeswalkers, they planned ahead that these storyline characters would get several cards and decided that two planeswalkers of the same type (usually their first name) cannot be in play together. However, Nicol Bolas, Venser of Urborg and Karn the silver golemall exist both as a legendary creature and a planeswalker, and can be in play under both their identities.
    • It's also possible to send mana into the past to play certain spells from the Future Sight expansion. If you fail to send mana into the past on your next turn, you cease to exist. Clock Roaches indeed.
  • That Satisfying Crunch: Frequently mentioned on cards that destroy artifacts.
  • Thieving Magpie: Thieving Magpie card.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: The ending of Alara block's storyline is this. Ajani Goldmane (a lionman, yes, but possessing tiger stripes) driven by rage and revenge, fights against Nicol Bolas, a time-tempered Dragon of renowned patience and planning.
  • Time Travel: How Vodalia wound up surviving at least to the time of the Phyrexian invasion, when every other Sarpadian empire got obliterated by this or that crisis.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Gideon has a Heroic BSOD over this when Chandra reveals that the supposedly good organization he was a part of executed her entire village for harboring a pyromancer when she was a child.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    "You slew the gorgon? Show me."
    —King Igalus, last words
  • Too Many Mouths: The All-Devouring Oni in the Kamigawa storyline was this taken to its logical extreme: a swarming cloud of mouths with dagger-like teeth.
  • Torches and Pitchforks:
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Phyrexian Newts.
  • The Thunderdome: The Grand Coliseum in the Onslaught block.
  • Trapped in Another World: Toshiro Umezawa's punishment from the Myojin of Night's Reach. And she took his eyesight.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Typical for Planeswalkers.
  • Treasure Room: Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Greed, etc.
  • Überwald: Innistrad, the Gothic Horror-themed plane, home of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, mad scientists, demons, and all kinds of traditional horror tropes.
  • Uncanny Valley: The trope is discussed In-Universe in Fleshmad Steed's flavor text:
    More disturbing than the unknown is a distortion of the familiar.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Urza. Destroying large landmasses, starting wars, and conducting a vast eugenics program just to breed a few warriors, for example.
  • Unwanted Rescue: After Starke sabotaged Vuel's coming-of-age ritual, Gerrard saved Vuel from death. Vuel resents him for it, for death would have been preferable to him after his failure. Starke stokes Vuel's hatred to make him Volrath, evincar of Rath.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Urza's wife, Kayla. He won her hand in marriage by winning a contest of strength with an automaton he built. He was more interested in the relics in her father's vault than her.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: The skyships Weatherlight (the heroes) and Predator (the villains). When the two battle in Rath, the Weatherlight is outgunned and the heroes only escape through dumb luck. By the time of the Rathi Overlay in the Planeshift storyline, however, the Weatherlight had a more experienced crew and upgraded weaponry, and when the two skyships battled again, the Predator was thoroughly trounced.
  • Villainous Rescue: Geth rescues Glissa and Slobad in the first Mirrodin Cycle by dropping a huge swarm of nim zombies on Memnarch's head. Literally.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Karn was an actual pacifist for most of the time he spent with the Weatherlight and its crew, to such a point that the way Volrath tortured him was by locking him in a flowstone prison cell with a few dozen goblinoids and shifting the ground to make him kill them with nothing but his bulk. The trope appears in Invasion when Karn realizes that he remaining pacifist in the face of the Phyrexian invasion could cost him everyone he cares about, resulting in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    "Enough! If I must kill the guilty to save the innocent, then I will kill!"
  • The Virus: Phyrexia in Scars of Mirrodin.
  • Volcanic Veins: Koth of the Hammer, and the Vulshok in general.
  • Voodoo Shark: The explanation for how the Phyrexians managed to gain a foothold on Mirrodin... and indeed, how Mirrodin was even populated since the plane was emptied at the end of the first story.
  • Walking Wasteland: The Eldrazi, whose mere presence warps and destroys everything around them (the flavor of their "Annihilate" ability). This is illustrated nicely in Disaster Radius and All Is Dust.
  • War Elephants: There are a decent number of elephant and mammoth cards, mostly midsized green creatures with Trample.
  • Warrior Monk: Most of Magic's monks fit this. For example: Pancake Flipper
  • Was Once a Man: The werewolves, vampires, undead, and spirits of Innistrad were all once human.
  • Water Source Tampering: Poison the Well and Tainted Well, which can mess with your opponent's lands.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Heidar, Rimewind Master; Momir Vig, visionary Evilutionary Biologist; also Yawgmoth started out as this. Urza is an anti-heroic example.
  • Wham Episode: Oh no, the Phyrexians are back and they're attacking Mirrodin! Surely this invasion will be fought off - there's no way the story team would allow the good guys to make such a catastrophic failure! Right? Right?
  • Wham Line:
    Sorin Markov: Avacyn, my angel...what has befallen you?
  • What Could Have Been: The Planar Chaos expansion is an in-universe example.
  • Whatevermancy: Magic has more than its share of -mancers, both of the classical divination kind and the modern "control whatever it is" kind (some, like Retromancer, are a bit shaky on what their name actually is supposed to mean). Matt Cavotta Discusses Magic's -mancers here.
  • Wheel of Pain: Distinctly, it causes mental pain rather than physical pain: [2]
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity:
    • Many Planeswalkers go mad when they first awaken to their true potential. In more mortal matters, many mages in Dominaria's history have gone on rampages while drunk on their newly-developed creations or power sources.
    • Urza started slipping into this in his plans to defeat Phyrexia.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Not always, but surprisingly often, and more so since the story got into the habit of moving on to a new world as soon as the current one stops being doomed.
    • In the Time Spiral block, the near-apocalypse that was the main storyline of the block was caused by so many near-apocalypses on the same world that time, space and magic were unraveling. When a planeswalker who sat out part of a previous interdimensional war returns to Dominaria, he tries to bring with him two continents that he had taken to another dimension with him.
  • World Half Empty:
    • Shadowmoor. It's the Mirror Universe of Lorwyn, and where that world represented a fairytale land, Shadowmoor represents the dark side of those tales. The fiery Flamekin have guttered into Cinders, the helpful Merfolk have become cruel pirates, and the tight-knit families of the Kithkin have become insular and xenophobic.
    • Grixis, one of the Shards of Alara, is a dark world, filled with undead and demons and slowly falling apart. Most of the magic in the plane is dependent on draining the life, blood, and memories from the living, and there isn't quite enough left... Arguably, all the Shards are this, as two of the colors of magic are gone from each, but Grixis is the most dystopian.
    • Rath, a plane created by Phyrexia to eventually be superimposed on Dominaria. The World Half Empty aspect was highlighted in Nemesis.
    • There's also an obscure factoid that one of the 1001 Rabiahs is just as bad as Phyrexia.
  • World of Badass: Zendikar. See Everything Trying to Kill You, above. Wimpy planeswalkers strongly advised to keep out.
  • World of Pun:
    • Such as ''He exercises his right to bear arms''.
    • There are also the cards "Crashing Boars" and "Apes of Rath".
    • "Over-Soul'd Cemetery".
    • "Wheel and Deal". See, it makes your opponents get the effects of "Wheel of Fortune" and gives you a card draw...
    • Unglued and Unhinged are about 50% puns (the other half is a mixture of cardpaper and in-jokes that only players of the game will get).
      • Unhinged had Donkey Folk, which only existed to make puns on "ass". There was Smart Ass, Dumb Ass, Fat Ass, Cheap Ass, Bad Ass, and City of Ass.
      • There are also the Clay Pigeon (a 1/1 flying bird that had an effect when thrown), the Rock Lobster (it wasn't a rock, and many take it for granite), the Paper Tiger (who burns bright and folds easily), and the Scissors Lizard (who has a lot of shear power).
      • Fowl Play turns things into chickens.
    • The Man of Measure is better at offense or defense depending on whether you're measured as taller or shorter than an opponent.
    • The Standing Army doesn't tap when it attacks, because they're always standing... but only as long as you are too.
  • World Sundering:
    • Zendikar's Hat is that of adventure, this is caused in large part by 'The Roil' which reshapes the landscape of even entire continents on a regular, though unpredictable basis. Making maps nigh useless, and permanent settlements few and far between.
    • Sunder.
    • Sundering Titan.
    • Maelstrom Pulse.
    • Soulquake.
    • Worldpurge.
    • Fault Line. You get the point. There's a lot of these, with a number of different flavor applications.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: The Eldrazi cause these for Zendikar, as seen in All Is Dust.
  • Wrench Wench: Hanna
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: In the novel Time Streams, a temporal explosion results in a group of Phyrexians getting stuck in a pocket of this kind of temporal anomaly, which makes them a much more dangerous threat to Urza and his allies and results in plenty of unusual strategies from both sides.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Ravnica's Boros Legion (red/white), Golgari Swarm (black/green), Orzhov Syndicate (white/black), Izzet League (blue/red) and Simic Combine (green/blue).
  • Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: Seen in the flavor text of Synapse Sliver.
    "Species XR17 feeds upon the mental energies of its victims. This explains why the goblins remain unaffected."
    —Riptide Project researcher
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Essentially the core conflict in The Purifying Fire. The Order of Heliud values order above all else and views the pyromancers of Keral Keep as dangerous uncontrollable individuals.
  • Your Universe or Mine?: After ascending, Elspeth wanders the Blind Eternities looking for a new home. She finds it in Bant, which is everything she could have ever hoped for. When the inevitable apocalypse comes to Bant, she decides to leave the plane thinking that it's for the best if they learn to fend for themselves rather than rely on her considerable power.
  • You Sexy Beast: Played with in Innistrad, in regards to the vampires.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • Grixis. Given that there are a good chunk of zombies on the plane, and everything is going to hell, it certainly fits the end trope. A bit more Romero in that the zombies aren't the source of the plane being messed up, but that magic is out of balance so that Black Magic overtakes everything and regrowth is no longer an option.
    • Invoked in the Archenemy deck Bring About the Undead Apocalypse
    • Zombie Apocalypse is a card in Dark Ascension.

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