Interested in understanding how a card’s text works? This is the guide our game designers follow when designing and creating cards. This hasn’t always been the case, and we are in the process of streamlining card text, so you’ll notice that some cards have variations on the below. Cards from older sets that are locked off such as Genesis and Etherbots may have their text updated at a later time, so long as their utility stays the same.
If you find a card that doesn’t follow these rules, or a card with errors in its text, you can let us know using the form below.
When writing a card we must focus on the readability of the card. To do that we will follow the rules of American English. The main impact this will have immediately will be that capitalization will be restricted to proper nouns and not on things like keywords.
If we start capitalizing keywords then the cards get messy and the definition of a keyword/mechanic becomes extremely complex.
Let’s take a look at what how this works using the following example:
Note that “Olympian” is capitalized because it is a proper noun as they are named after Olympus.
Attack, void, and protected aren’t capitalized unless at the start of a sentence because they are not proper nouns, they are simply keywords.
The Oxford (or serial) comma is the final comma in a list of things. For example: lines 1 and 3 are correct as they use the Oxford Comma; lines 2 and 4 are incorrect as they do not.
Text on creature and relic cards fit into three categories: static keywords, dynamic rules text, and dynamic keywords.
Anagreos here has all three of these on his card.
“Godblitz” is a static keyword, providing the listed keyword rules (godblitz) to the card without any conditions. Static keywords are any keyword that isn’t followed by extra rules text.
“When this creature destroys…” is dynamic rules text – custom rules that don’t have a preceding keyword. Dynamic rules text is used for rules that don’t appear on many different cards, and are often unique.
“Roar: Deal 6 damage…” is a dynamic keyword – the text following roar can have different rules text on different cards. As another example, afterlife is a dynamic keyword that has custom rules text that follows it; burn is a dynamic keyword that has variable amounts of the effect following it.
The general order of these categories is as above:
Text on spell cards are, by their nature, all dynamic rules text. However, spell cards do have their own set of keywords such as destroy, transform, sleep.
Text ordering on spell cards is necessarily looser for design reasons. “Deal 3 damage to a creature. If it survives, destroy it.” and “Destroy a creature. If it survives, deal 3 damage to it.” have different results when interacting with the ward keyword, for instance. Generally, the card text on a spell should start with its spell keyword, if it has any, and prioritize putting the shorter sentence of the spell first if it has no design implications.
When a creature has a number of static keywords such as “Backline. Flank. Twin strike.” or the card mentions keywords, the keywords should be listed in alphabetical order.
Dynamic rules text, such as “When this creature destroys an enemy creature, obliterate it instead.” should be written as a separate sentence, ideally with its own line breaks separating it from other text types.
A dynamic keyword on a card is an effect like the mechanic burn. Burn is dynamic because it can increase and decrease when on a creature. This applies to many effects, such as regen, attack, and health.
When assigning the initial dynamic value of a creature card it should be written as “Burn 2.”, not “Burn +2.” The + symbol is only to be used when changing the dynamic value of a card. If you wanted a creature to have frontline and 2 burn the correct way to write it would be “Frontline. Burn 2.” not “Frontline. Burn +2.”
For instance if you had a card that said “Give a creature burn 4.” and intended it to increase the creature’s burn from 2 to 6, this would be incorrect. This effect would ignore whatever the creatures current burn is and set the creature to have burn 4. The correct way to write this would be “Give a creature burn +4.” Note in this instance the + symbol indicates addition and the exclusion of the + simply sets the creatures burn.
Dynamic keywords with custom text, such as roar and afterlife, should be at the bottom of the card. If a card has a roar and afterlife that is identical, it should be written:
Roar is listed first and not in alphabetic order like in static keywords due to the play order of the effects – roar will always happen first.
If the two are different effects, then the roar should precede the afterlife.
When writing card text that deals with numbers there are two rules:
This allows us to write more legible sentences, such as: “Deal 3 damage to three random creatures, give your creatures +1 strength and draw four cards.”
There is an exception for the word rule when the amount is dynamic, such as Demetrios’ Final Draft:
As Final Draft is upgraded, both the amount of damage and drawn cards increase in step. Aesthetically it is more pleasing to have two synced numbers increasing than a number and a word, thus the exception.
Full stops are used to seperate static keywords, different text types, and separate clauses.
Let’s look at examples of each:
Different text types:
Separate clauses with custom rules:
The separated clause for the roar ability means that even if the first clause – dealing 3 damage – is not possible due to the enemy having no creatures, the healing clause will still activate.
If the roar instead read: “Roar: Deal 3 damage to an enemy creature, then heal your god for 4.” Then the heal clause would not happen unless the damage clause did.
If an effect can target any creature, it is left unspecified.
This roar could target any valid creature. When referring to your creatures, we use the words “your” or “friendly”, depending on the context of the card. Generally, spell cards and dynamic rules text will use the word “your”, and dynamic keywords on creatures will use the word “friendly”. This rule is deliberately loose as forcing one or the other can make phrasing clunky, but it is heavily preferred that cards use “your” when referring to your controlled creatures.
Your opponent’s creatures are referred to as “enemy creature/s” or “your opponent’s creature/s”. As above, generally spell cards will use the phrasing “your opponent’s”, and dynamic keywords will use the word “enemy”.
A creature’s stats printed on its card before any modifications such as stat boosts from other card interactions are referred to as its base stats.
When writing triggered custom effects, avoid using different words for the same type of rule.
For example, these variations currently appear in the game:
To streamline the text, for triggered rules that are waiting for a condition, always use the first version which utilizes “after”, as in:
This also clarifies that this triggered rule happens after the initial action is resolved – In this case, the healing would have fully completed before the card is drawn.
If the text on a card does not apply to itself, it should be explicit. This is most common in roar effects that deal with friendly creatures. For example:
The first roar would include itself in the count, and the second would not.
Some cards have helper text, such as Inconspicuous Carriage:
Helper text is used in two instances:
Explaining mechanics on tutorial cards (special cards printed each set that have the mechanic explained on the card text) such as Planetar Acolyte which has the text explaining the keyword Blessed: “Blessed. (When summoned, delve 3 blessed effects and play one.)”
Explaining unique mechanics that the opponent would otherwise not be able to understand unless they had encountered the card before, such as Inconspicuous Carriage’s bombs.
And that’s it! Note that these rules may change and evolve as the game does, but having foundations such as these allows us to create a more consistent experience across the board.