MTG Wiki
Keyword Action
Introduced Amonkhet
Last Used Hour of Devastation
Reminder Text Exert (An exerted permanent won't untap during your next untap step.)
28 cards
{W} 32.1% {R} 32.1% {G} 28.6% {G/W} 3.6% {R/W} 3.6%
Scryfall Search

Exert is a keyword action introduced in Amonkhet.[1][2][3][4] Exert is focused in white, red and green.[5]


When a creature with the exert ability is exerted, then an ability is triggered and the creature doesn't untap at the beginning of its controller's next untap step.

Punch card with an "exerted" marker

For easy play, extra "exerted" markers were provided on punch cards in the Amonkhet set.

The flavor of this mechanic is that you have the ability to exert your power over the creatures, making them push themselves a little harder than they should. If the creature exerts, it means the creature is expending a large amount of effort, resulting in a bonus. As a result, the creature is then exhausted by the effort, and thus it doesn't untap in the next untap step.

In Hour of Devastation the mechanic was tweaked. Instead of being an attack trigger, these creatures exert themselves (aka choose to not untap on the next turn) when they use a specific activated ability.[6]


It was created when Jackie Lee suggested to change the sacrifice drawback of reckless to a less egregious one like not untapping next turn.[7] Exert counters were considered by R&D but eventually rejected.[8]


From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

A keyword action that stops a permanent from untapping during the next untap step of the player who exerted it. See rule 701.39, “Exert.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

  • 701.39. Exert
    • 701.39a To exert a permanent, you choose to have it not untap during your next untap step.
    • 701.39b A permanent can be exerted even if it’s not tapped or has already been exerted in a turn. If you exert a permanent more than once before your next untap step, each effect causing it not to untap expires during the same untap step.
    • 701.39c An object that isn’t on the battlefield can’t be exerted.
    • 701.39d “You may exert [this creature] as it attacks” is an optional cost to attack (see rule 508.1g). Some objects with this static ability have a triggered ability that triggers “when you do” printed in the same paragraph. These abilities are linked. (See rule 607.2h.)



Glory-Bound Initiate {1}{W}
Creature — Human Warrior
You may exert Glory-Bound Initiate as it attacks. When you do, it gets +1/+3 and gains lifelink until end of turn. (An exerted creature won't untap during your next untap step.)


  • All cards in the Amonkhet set that let you exert a creature let you do so as you declare it as an attacking creature.[9] You can't do so later in combat, and creatures put onto the battlefield attacking can't be exerted. Any abilities that trigger on exerting an attacking creature will resolve before blockers are declared.
  • Some cards in the Hour of Devastation set that let you exert a creature let you do so as a cost of an activated ability.[10]
  • If a creature has a targeted triggered ability that triggers when you exert it, you can exert it even if there isn't a legal target for that triggered ability.
  • Some cards have abilities that trigger whenever you exert any creature. These abilities trigger when you exert that creature or any other creature you control.
  • You can't exert a creature unless an effect allows you to do so. Similar effects that "tap and freeze" a creature (such as that of Decision Paralysis) don't exert that creature.
  • If an exerted creature is already untapped during your next untap step (most likely because it had vigilance or an effect untapped it), exert's effect preventing it from untapping expires without having done anything.
  • If you gain control of another player's non-exerted creature until end of turn and exert it, it will untap during that player's untap step.


  1. Blake Rasmussen (March 27, 2017). "So Much Amonkhet News". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Matt Tabak (April 3, 2017). "Amonkhet Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Ethan Fleischer (April 4, 2017). "Five Trials". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Gavin Verhey (April 6, 2017). "Greetings and Exertations". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Dave Humpherys (April 4, 2017). "Developing Amonkhet". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (June 19, 2017). "Darkest Hour, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (April 17, 2017). "Amonkhet Down to Business, Part 3". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (May 29, 2017). "Odds & Ends: Amonkhet, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Wizards of the Coast (February 9, 2017). "Amonkhet Release Notes". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Matt Tabak (June 17, 2017). "Hour of Devastation Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.