An intrinsic ability is an ability granted by the card type or subtype of an object rather than being printed on a card, being copied, or being granted by some other effect. There are only two cases of intrinsic abilities described in the game rules:
- Lands with one of the five basic land types have the activated mana ability corresponding to that land type.
- Planeswalkers have a static ability to enter play with the appropriate amount of Loyalty counters.
The land abilities are core to Land mechanics. They give mana abilities to the basic lands themselves, and some dual lands (although the earliest editions of the game did print the abilities on the cards). A land that loses a basic land type loses its ability to produce mana of that color, and inversely, gaining a type means it may produce a new color of mana. Cards like Glaciers exploit this mechanic.
The Planeswalker ability is not activated, and therefore is less obvious that it functions as an intrinsic ability. There are no prominent effects that would cause a permanent to gain or lose the Planeswalker type as it enters play. Overall it behaves similarly to numerous other rules affecting specific card types without being intrinsic abilities, such as Sagas or the Legend rule.
The Wall creature subtype formerly was affected by a rule that was reworked into the Defender ability in 2005. However, this rule was not considered an ability at all, and was therefore not an intrinsic ability.