When talking about which colors get which evergreen creature keywords, R&D tends to talk about a system called "primary/secondary/tertiary". In their quest to differentiate the colors in the color wheel, each should have strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, not every color gets every keyword.
- Primary — This is the color (or colors) the ability is seen most in as-fan. That means it shows up in the highest volume and usually at the lowest rarity that the type of effects get used at. The primary color will almost always get this effect in a set if it's an ability we do every set. It also tends to be the color that most often pushes the power level, if it's an effect we push the power level on. There's a wide range on what primary means, because different types of effects exist at different levels. A color secondary in flying can show up way more than a color primary in taking extra turns, for instance, because there are more flying cards than extra-turn cards.
- Secondary — This is the color (or colors) that an ability shows up in on a somewhat regular basis, but not as often as the primary and not always in as low of rarity as the primary. If the effect is something we do a lot of, the secondary color will usually get the ability in most sets. Sometimes a secondary color will have restrictions. For instance, red is secondary in flying, but only on Dragons and Phoenixes.
- Tertiary — This is the color (or colors) that get the ability occasionally. It's not every set. For some abilities, we could go years without seeing a tertiary color using it. Tertiary colors can often come with rules, meaning it's a very narrow subset that makes use of the mechanic. For example, black is tertiary in first strike and gets it primarily on Knights, most often when paired against a mirrored white Knight.
Current evergreen keywords
Former evergreen keywords
|Icon||Keyword||Type||Found in||First used in||First keyworded in||Last used in||Supplanted by|
|Ante||Action||Artifacts, black, red, green||Alpha||Alpha||Homelands||Nothing|
|Bury||Action||All colors||Revised Edition||Revised Edition||Fifth Edition||Destroy [something]. It can't be regenerated.|
|Fear||Static ability||Alpha||Onslaught||Alara Reborn||Intimidate|
|Shroud||Static ability||Legends||Future Sight||Mirrodin Besieged||Hexproof|
|Intimidate||Static ability||Zendikar||Zendikar||Commander 2014||Menace|
|Landwalk||Static ability|| (islandwalk)
|Alpha||Alpha||Khans of Tarkir||Nothing|
|Prowess||Triggered ability||Khans of Tarkir||Khans of Tarkir||Hour of Devastation||Nothing, but this mechanic is now deciduous.|
|Regenerate||Action||Alpha||Alpha||Oath of the Gatewatch||Indestructible (until end of turn)|
Evergreen keywords by color
|White||Defender, double strike, first strike, flying, indestructible, lifelink, vigilance||Scry||Flash, hexproof, reach, trample||Banding|
|Blue||Counter, flash, flying, hexproof, scry||Defender||Indestructible, trample||Landwalk, prowess, shroud|
|Black||Deathtouch, menace||Defender, flash, flying, indestructible, lifelink, scry||First strike, haste, hexproof, trample||Fear, intimidate, regenerate|
|Red||Double strike, first strike, haste||Defender, fight, menace, reach, scry, trample||Flash, flying, indestructible||Intimidate, prowess|
|Green||Fight, reach, trample||Deathtouch, defender, flash, haste, hexproof, indestructible, scry, vigilance||Flying, menace||Regenerate, shroud|
|First strike, double strike|
- Originally the creature type "Wall" carried the special rule that the creature couldn't attack. This was removed with the release of Champions of Kamigawa. Walls printed prior to that set have received errata giving them defender. Additionally, Wall of Junk, which used to be able to attack, was given defender and the Wall subtype.
- By errata as of Ninth Edition. Originally cards that now have the subtype Aura were "local enchantments", with a type including what it could enchant, such as "enchant creature" or "enchant land".
- Mark Rosewater (June 18, 2007). "Keyword Play". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (August 05, 2013). "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (November 6, 2015) "Primary/Secondary/Tertiary". Drive to Work # 276
- 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 (November 10, 2021). "What exactly does it mean for a color to be "primary in a mechanic?"". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (October 04, 2004). "Change For the Better". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (January 14, 2018). "Flash has been upgraded to secondary in black.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (December 09, 2018). "Is vengvine a bend in green having haste and all?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (April 03, 2016). "What was the thought process behind not giving Elusive Tormentor a blue activation cost?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 8, 2015). "Evergreen Eggs & Ham". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (2015-07-05). "How do you feel about the red Giant in orgins having reach?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (2017-04-14). "Is Reach in Red's pie now?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (2016-09-16). "Rush of Vitality?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (2015-09-10). "Could colours other than green have fight effects?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (February 17, 2019). "What are the color pairings’ evergreen mechanics?". Blogatog. Tumblr.