Magic jargon has been getting even more confusing than usual lately. Multiple errata, including the recent changes that came to light in Khans of Tarkir, have players questioning which terminology is even correct anymore. Even for us, it’s all very difficult to follow.
The biggest change in MTG jargon has potentially been Wizards of the Coast’s attempt to move away from the use of the word tribal. Not only did this term recently refer to a deck revolving around a certain type of MTG card (creature type, card type, or otherwise), but tribal was also a very rare card type. Take a look at Tarfire, for example.
Typal was first introduced as a shift away from the term, however, this didn’t solve everything. If anything, Typal just made things more confusing as it was unclear if this was a full errata or just a wording change within Wizards. Unfortunately, things got even worse as Kindred was introduced, as many players presumed it was the total replacement to all things tribal and Typal.
The thing is, Typal and Kindred are still active words in MTG. Kindred did not simply replace Typal. They actually mean different things. You don’t just have to take our word for it, that’s according to MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater.
So if you’re struggling with the difference between Kindred and Typal we’ve got you covered. Here’s all you need to know about MTG’s latest, and most confusing, terminology.
Back in June, Wizards of the Coast announced the first change to tribal. As we mentioned before, this was the introduction to Typal, which Wizards had begun using internally. At Wizards, Typal specifically refers to a deck’s theme. For example, an Elf-Typal deck will be all about MTG Elf creature type. Previously, this was known as an Elf Tribal deck.
This also means that Kindred is not supposed to be used for this term. A deck all about the Pirate creature type, for example, is a Pirate Typal deck, not a Kindred Pirate or Pirate Kindred deck.
Understanding players have been using the terminology tribal for literal decades, Wizards didn’t demand players change their tone. Instead, Wizards insisted this was simply their own terminology changing in order to be more inclusive and culturally appropriate. Following Wizards’ lead, you’ll also see us using Typal in all of our articles from now on.
After Typal had been used as a blanket term to replace the word tribal, Kindred was introduced by Wizards of the Coast. While Typal specifically refers to the use of tribal as a deck theme, Kindred specifically refers to the card type previously known as Tribal. This means that cards like Bitterblossom[tooltips] that was a Tribal enchantment is now a Kindred enchantment.
So, for example, Tarfire is now a Kindred Instant – Goblin, and basically functions as a [tooltips]Shock that some other Goblin payoffs can synergize with. Kindred cards count as a separate card type as well, granting cards like Tarmogoyf a small, additional buff. Atraxa, Grand Unifier can also make use of Kindred cards.
Alongside inclusivity being a factor for the change, as we mentioned, tribal used to mean two things. Through the introduction of Typal and Kindred, players can finally know whether they are talking about a deck theme or spells like Bitterblossom without the potential for a misunderstanding.
In case you’re still not following along, we can turn to the Lead Designer of Magic: The Gathering for the final answer. To clear up the confusion that was created by Wizards dual announcements, Mark Rosewater recently released an emphatic statement on Blogatog. Clearing up the situation once and for all, Rosewater gave players the following explanation:
“Tribal, the card type, is now Kindred.
Tribal, the adjective for “cares about card type” is typal.
Only the former appears on cards.”Mark Rosewater
One of the major reasons Wizards of the Coast moved away from tribal in the first place was to differentiate these terms from one another. Typal and Kindred, while somewhat confusing, do successfully do that. We’ve even got our wires crossed more than once.
More Errata Are Coming
Recently, alongside the Kindred change, some changes other changes were announced to come into play between November 8 and December 12. The latest of these were artistic changes to the upcoming digital re-release of Khans of Tarkir on MTG Arena. You can read more about those changes here.
Otherwise, some terminology for upcoming sets was also announced to be changing. These are as follows:
- “Umbra armor” will replace “totem armor” as a keyword ability.
- “Kindred” will replace “tribal” as a card type.
- “Snake” will replace “Naga” as a subtype.
As for when we will see these changes in more detail, we don’t have a concrete timeline for it just yet. The Naga change hasn’t been implemented quite yet, but we do know that it’s coming at some point in the future. Looking ahead at the calendar, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Snakes appear in Outlaws at Thunder Junction, or at least Bloomburrow in 2024.
Hopefully, it Doesn’t End Here
On the topic of MTG words that mean two different things, there are some other ones that still exist. Historic is one of the more annoying ones, meaning a format and a collection of card types at the same time. It is very easy to confuse the meaning of the two and can cause some common misunderstandings. Following all the Historic support (card type) that was released alongside the Doctor Who Universes Beyond collaboration, this became even more of a pressing problem.
Cards that share the name of an MTG expansion can also occasionally create issues, especially for card vendors. Rise of the Eldrazi, for example, is now both a card that got printed in the recent Eldrazi Unbound Commander deck and a full set of MTG cards wherein the first Eldrazi Titans appeared.
While Wizards of the Coast has not yet announced any more planned changes, we’re nevertheless hopeful for the future. After the precedent of Typal and Kindred, hopefully, Wizards can continue to improve the accessibility and legibility of MTG. When this happens, hopefully, any changes won’t require as much clarification as this one.