Intro to Card Game Terms and Phrases

Each subculture includes its own lexicon. In the world of CCGs/TCGs there are various phrases which are commonplace. Think of this like a dictionary for such terms. These definitions are meant to be a basic introduction to game "slang" and are by no means all encompassing in terms of in-game knowledge. Consider this a starting place:


Answer: Cards that negate or mitigate the effects of other cards.

Archetype: A type of deck. The general archetypes that describe decks are Aggro/Rush, Midrange, Combo, and Control. Lower levels of archetypes often refer to the faction(s) that the deck is made of.

Attack: When a player sends his creatures into battle against an opponent.

Bad Beats: Bad Luck.

Bear: A 2-mana creature with 2 health and 2 attack. (2/2 for 2)

Board: The cards in play for both players. Many times only refers to creatures.

Board Clear: 1. When a player removes all of the creatures on the opponent's board. 2. A card that specializes in killing multiple creatures See Sweeper.

Body: The amount of health and attack of the creature. E.g. Big Body (Large stat creature).

Bomb: Cards that have a large effect on the current Board.

Bounce: To return a card to a player's hand from the Board.

Broken: A card or combination of cards that is thought to be significantly overpowered in the current meta.

Buff: 1. When a player adds health or attack to a creature through use of another card's effects. 2. When the game developer increases a card's strength.

Bluff: A technique used with saved mana (see: Float) where a player pretends to have an Answer to be played on the opponent's turn.

Cantrip: A card that draws another card when played, usually with another minor effect included.

Card Advantage: Removal spells as well as draw effects that create a situation where one player has more playable cards on the Board or in the Hand.

Cheese: A strategy or tactic that is unusual and generally unreliable but effective at certain times.

Chump Block(er):  To use a creature to avoid damage to a player's health where that creature dies and the attacking creature doesn't.

Combat Trick: A card played during the attack/block phase of a game which gives creatures advantage against other creatures or causes them to be killed.

Combo: 1.Two or more cards that do something together (See Engine, Synergy), often game changing. 2. A deck archetype that heavily relies on a combo or combos to win the game.

Control: A deck type that focuses on effectively answering the opponent's strategy and winning later in the game. It is often effective against Midrange.

Constructed: A format where players create decks from a set cardpool before a match and face against players doing the same. Often restricted to lists of useable cards.

Curve: How a player uses their resources in the early turns, usually for proactive plays. Aggro decks try to maximize their curve in order to get into a favorable position.

Curve Out: To play the perfect selection of cards at each resource level i.e. at one mana, play a one mana creature, at 2 mana play a 2 mana spell, etc.

Deck: The cards which have not been drawn yet by the player, a finite resource.

Decking (out): Often a condition for losing, when a player or both players have no cards left to draw from their deck. 

Defend: To use creatures to stop attacking creatures from damaging a player's health or other creatures.

Direct Damage: Damage from a card which damages either a player or card directly, other than by attack or defense.

Draft: A format where players build decks "on the fly" by taking a card out of a pack and choosing one before passing it on until there are no cards left in packs.

Drops: To play a card which stays on the field. Often referred to by their mana cost. e.g. "1-drop"

Eat: 1. When a creature defeats another creature in combat without dying 2. When one card is sacrificed to another in order to gain a buff or other effect.

Engine: 1. Cards that generate resources multiple times.  2. Cards or combinations of cards that convert resources into other resources Also known as combos.

Face: The place where you deal damage i.e. your opponent's lifetotal. Going face means to attack your opponent's lifetotal, often in lieu of the opponent's creatures.

Faction/Color: A means of limiting deck construction, often going along with the resource system. Cards from different factions often have different playstyles and have different means to answer other cards. 

Fetch: A card effect that allows a player to search a deck for certain cards.

Finisher: A card who's purpose is to finish a game. 

Float: Mana left in the mana pool that is saved for action on the opposing player's turn.

Flood: 1. To have a large number of creatures on the field. 2. When the player's resource cards are in excess as compared to their utility.

Graveyard: Cards which have been discarded from the deck, hard or Board stay in another pile apart from the deck, also called the yard.

Hand: The cards a player currently holds.

Hate: Cards that counter the usefulness of certain cards or card types. See: Answer.

Hardcast: To play a card normally by spending resources and putting it on the board as opposed to an alternative method of getting it on the board.

Limited: A format where the cards in players decks are decided through a partially or fully random process.

Lockdown: An interaction of cards which make it difficult (Soft Lock) or impossible (Hard Lock) for an opponent to answer.

Manascrew: When a player does not draw enough resource cards to effectively battle an opponent.

Meta: The current state of the game, including popular decks, most used cards, etc.

Midrange: An archetype that uses a mix of size-based and value-based creatures and tends to work best in medium length games. These decks have a balance of proactive and reactive cards. Often beats Aggro/Rush.

Mill: To force a player or player to put cards from the deck into the graveyard.

Mulligan: To reshuffle cards in one's opening hand into the deck before the game starts.

Nerf: When the game developers reduce a card's strength.

Netdeck: Copying a deck from one posted on the internet.

Play-set: Having the most copies of a card that are allowed in a deck at one time.

Pump: To spend resources to temporarily increase a card's strength.

Ramp: A card who's effects increase the speed of acquiring resources.

Recursion: To pull cards from the graveyard to be re-used.

Removal: A card that takes an opponent's card off the Board.

Resource Advantage: Having more cards, mana, thresholds, etc. than an opponent.

Rogue: The opposite of a netdeck, one meant to counter and potentially upset the Meta.

Rush (aggro):  A deck style that attempts to win in the early game: often beats control.

Sacrifice (Sac): When a player moves one of their own cards off the board (may be forced or done intentionally as a cost) 

Scoop: To concede.

Shuffle: When a player is forced to randomize the position of the remaining cards in the deck.

Slow Play: 1. To hold onto cards instead of playing them immediately. 2. To play very slowly e.g. HallYall.

Splash: To add a small amount of cards from another color/faction to the deck.

Special Ability: An addition text box on a card describing an automatic or manually deployed effect.

Staples: Cards thought to be "auto-included" in a type of deck.

Starter Deck: A basic deck for beginning players to use when they are learning a game.

Sweeper: A card that specializes in killing multiple of the opponent's creatures, especially small ones.

Swing: To attack, often phrased as "swing for x" where x represents damage.

Synergy: When 2 or more cards interact with each other in a positive way. See: Tribal

Tech: 1. To include cards that will be useful in the current meta. See: Hate 2. Technique of playing a deck to its fullest potential.

Tempo: Initiative in the game. Tempo is usually decided by who has lower-costed cards, but higher-costed cards that answer multiple cards can out-tempo lower-costed cards

Threat: A card on the board, which left unanswered has the potential to win the game. See: Answer

Tier: A player or community's opinions on the relative strength of cards and decks as compared to others. See: meta.

Tilt: When a player allows negative thoughts to interfere with the ability to play well. 

Topdeck: When a finisher or answer is draw at the exact time it is needed of the top of the Deck.

Trade:  When a combination of cards answers another combination of cards. Usually refers to when the attacking and defending creature kill each other and move to the graveyard in combat.

Tribal: One type of synergy where a card's type positively influences other cards of the same type, usually referring to creatures. E.g. Elves.

Tutor: A card effect that allows a player to look into the deck for cards of his/her choosing See Fetch.

Utility: Flexible cards that have uses against many decks.

Vanilla:  A basic creature with no effects, abilities.

Wide: To have a large amount of creatures on the board.

Wipe: To clear one or both player's Board(s) of all creatures.

Win Condition: The way that a player wins a game, most often by getting the opponent's health to 0.


An AlbumComment