Champions of Kamigawa (keyword)
|Reminder Text||Defender (This creature can't attack.)|
20.5% 23.6% 9.1% 12.2% 13.7% 1.1% 0.4% 0.4% 1.1% 0.4% 1.1% 0.4% 16%
- This article is about the ability Defender. For the player, see Defending player.
Defender is a static ability that renders a creature unable to attack.
The keyword was introduced as a replacement for the baggage that the creature type Wall carried. Walls could not attack. Much later, the decision was made to keyword the "cannot attack" ability and make sure that all Walls had defender so that functionality wouldn't change. Defender was introduced with Champions of Kamigawa and was retroactively added to all Walls. Ninth Edition was the first core set after that change was made. Once the keyword existed, it allowed the ability to be put on non-Wall creatures.
While most defenders are still toughness-oriented, blue defenders with higher stats that can attack in certain contexts have become more common.
- A keyword ability that prohibits a creature from attacking. See rule 702.3, “Defender.”
- 702.3. Defender
- 702.3a Defender is a static ability.
- 702.3b A creature with defender can’t attack.
- 702.3c Multiple instances of defender on the same creature are redundant.
Walls and Defender
Before defender was introduced all Walls were unable to attack as a definition of their creature type. Now creatures with Defender can potentially lose the ability and attack - this would have been a rules-hassle before. However, Defender has introduced some confusion as well because not all cards that refer to Walls or non-Walls have been changed.
Erhnam Djinn has the text: "At the beginning of your upkeep, target non-Wall creature an opponent controls gains forestwalk until your next upkeep."
- It is perfectly legal to choose a non-Wall creature with Defender, such as Carven Caryatid, even though that was not the original intent.
Norritt has the text: ": Target non-Wall creature attacks this turn if able. If that creature doesn't attack, destroy it at end of turn unless it came under its controller's control this turn. Play this ability only during that creature's controller's turn before the declare attackers step."
- This ability is clearly designed to work on non-Defenders, but that is not the case. It is legal for Norritt to target any non-Wall creatures with Defender, such as Carven Caryatid.
- Changing a creature's type no longer affects whether it can attack. A Wall that becomes a non-Wall will still have the defender ability. Likewise, a non-Wall that becomes a Wall won't have the defender ability.
Wall of Stone
Creature — Wall
Defender (This creature can't attack.)
Cards that grant defender
- Deep Freeze (Aura, also becomes a 0/4 blue Wall and loses other abilities)
- Gelid Shackles ( to grant defender until end of turn)
- Guard Duty (Aura)
- Guardian Zendikon (Land becomes a 2/6 wall with defender)
- Sky Tether (Aura, also removes flying)
- Dormant Sliver (all Sliver creatures)
- Dragon Throne of Tarkir (equip , also gains ability to pump your creatures)
- Peregrine Mask (equip , also grants flying and first strike)
Cards that circumvent defender
- Animate Wall (Aura)
- Arcades, the Strategist (Creature)
- Assault Formation (Enchantment, per defender)
- Guardians of Oboro (Creature; if defenders are modified)
- High Alert (Enchantment)
- Rolling Stones (Enchantment)
- Teyo, Aegis Adept (+1: one target creature, perpetually)
- Wakestone Gargoyle (Creature, per turn)
- Warmonger's Chariot (Equipped creature; equip , also gets +2/+2)
Creatures with defender that may be able to attack
- Ageless Sentinels (after it blocks)
- Colossus of Akros (if it's monstrous)
- Dark Maze (: exiled at end of turn)
- Drowsing Tyrannodon (if you control a creature with 4 power or greater)
- Elder Land Wurm (after it blocks)
- Faithbound Judge (three judgement counters, gains one per upkeep)
- Gargoyle Sentinel (: until end of turn, also gains flying)
- Geist of the Lonely Vigil (with delirium)
- Glade Watcher (: until end of turn if creatures you control total 8 power or greater)
- Grozoth (: until end of turn)
- Guardians of Oboro (if modified)
- Guardian of the Ages (after you're attacked; also gains trample)
- Hightide Hermit (: until end of turn)
- Loyal Gyrfalcon (until end of turn, when you cast a white spell)
- Manor Gargoyle (: until end of turn, also gains flying)
- Mirror Wall (: this turn)
- Mistform Wall (: until end of turn, also becomes some non-Wall creature type)
- Mobile Fort (: until end of turn, also gets +3/-1)
- Nivix Cyclops (until end of turn when you cast an instant or sorcery, also gets +3/+0)
- Novice Knight (if it's equipped or enchanted)
- Ogre Jailbreaker (if you control a Gate)
- Pillar of War (if it's enchanted)
- Piston-Fist Cyclops (if you cast an instant or sorcery spell this turn)
- Prismari Pledgemage (Magecraft)
- Prison Barricade (if it was kicked for , also gets a +1/+1 counter)
- Returned Phalanx (: until end of turn)
- Roving Keep , (: until end of turn, also gets +2/+0 and trample)
- Scuttlegator (if it has a +1/+1 counter on it)
- Sentry Oak (until end of turn if you win a clash with an opponent, also gets +2/+0)
- Shoal Serpent (until end of turn when a land enters the battlefield under your control)
- Skyclave Sentinel (with a +1/+1 counter)
- Skyclave Squid (landfall, until end of turn)
- Slithering Shade (if your hand is empty)
- Spire Serpent (if you control 3 or more artifacts, also gets +2/+2)
- Steelclad Spirit (when an enchantment enters under your control until end of turn)
- Thoughtbound Phantasm (if it has 3 or more +1/+1 counters on it)
- Tidewater Minion (: until end of turn)
- Torpid Moloch (sacrifice 3 lands: until end of turn)
- Vodalian War Machine (tap a Merfolk creature you control: until end of turn)
- Wakestone Gargoyle (: all your defenders until end of turn)
- Walking Wall (: until end of turn, also gets +3/-1)
- Wall of One Thousand Cuts (: until end of turn)
- Wall of Wonder (: until end of turn, also gets +4/-4)
- Wishful Merfolk (: until end of turn, also becomes Human)
- Woolly Razorback (if it blocks enough to remove its counters)
Creatures with defender and haste
For Future Sight, R&D explored the idea of putting haste on blue creatures with defender and 0 power, where the haste was about using the activated ability right away rather than attacking (Bonded Fetch). After 16 years of floating this idea, the second blue haster with defender was printed in Streets of New Capenna with Errant, Street Artist.
- Mark Rosewater (October 04, 2004). "Change For the Better". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (June 8, 2015). "Evergreen Eggs & Ham". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (May 17, 2021). "Future Sight Design Handoff Document". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- A Planeswalker's Primer for Magic 2010: Defender (Video). Magic: The Gathering. YouTube.