12, Oct, 23

MTG: What is Ward?

Article at a Glance

As an Evergreen mechanic in MTG, Ward has the potential to be included in every single MTG set. For better or worse, this isn’t always the case, however, Ward is nevertheless incredibly prevalent. As a result, it’s best to know the ins and outs of this mechanic so you don’t get caught out!

First introduced in Strixhaven: School of Magic, Ward appears on many current MTG cards. This makes it a rather popular ability, that’s especially useful at protecting creatures. Due to its design potential, MTG players should expect to see a lot of cards featuring this mechanic going forward.

If you’ve not heard of this mechanic before, you might be asking how it works right about now. Thankfully, we’re here to help! Without any further ado, let’s go through everything you need to know about Ward in MTG!

What is Ward in Magic: The Gathering?

Ward is a mechanic that adds an additional layer of protection to a card, regardless of what type of card it is. The mechanic forces the opposing player to pay an additional cost to target the creature with effects. Generally, this means you need to pay something extra to remove the creature with a targeted spell. Sometimes this cost is extra mana but it may also be life or the discarding of a card.

The Ward cost must be paid when targeting the permanent with the ability. If you decide not to, your spell will be countered by the Ward ability.

If your spell is countered or otherwise dealt with after paying the Ward cost, the additional cost is not refunded. As a result, you may have to think carefully about how and where you use your removal.

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While this may seem straightforward, it’s important to note the Ward cost is not counted when casting a spell. Instead, Ward is a triggered effect that only arises once the creature is targeted. Subsequently, on MTG Arena, it may seem you’re able to target a creature with Ward, despite not having enough mana.

Alongside this digital quirk, on paper, it can be easy to lose track of Ward. Subsequently, it’s important to pay attention to permanents with this ability, lest you get caught out. Fortunately, on Arena, players can reconsider and back out of actions when an additional cost is required to cast a spell.

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Ward Requirements are Getting More Complex

Thanks to Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, Ward costs are becoming a bit more complex. This is primarily thanks to the new inclusions Saruman of Many Colors and Sauron, the Dark Lord.

For the first time, we have Ward costs that are not easy to pay on most board states. Players should generally be able to pay some additional mana or discard some cards a majority of the time, but players aren’t necessarily going to have a Legendary Artifact or Creature lying around. This can make Sauron very difficult to target with spells.

For reference, if you cannot pay the Ward cost of this card, your spell that triggered Ward will be countered. This may simply mean you cannot target a card like Sauron for quite some time.

Getting Around Ward

Wizards of the Coast

Notably, uncounterable spells do not have to worry about Ward costs. All Ward does when a player fails to pay the Ward cost is counter the spell that triggered the Ward effect. If you have Lier, Disciple of the Drowned in play, there’s no need to pay Ward effects. Since all spells cannot be countered, feel free not to pay the Ward cost. Nothing will happen.

Otherwise, using nontargeting effects like board wipes is a great way to avoid Ward. Ward only cares about effects opponents cast that target the card with Ward.

At the end of the day, Ward is a very powerful mechanic that can be especially devasting in Limited environments. Thankfully, since it’s an evergreen mechanic, this mechanic isn’t likely not to be overused in a single MTG set. That being said, however, it’s nevertheless worth paying attention to so you don’t fizzle your own spells.

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