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Protection from [quality]
Duels Protection symbol
Keyword Ability
Type Static
Introduced Alpha
Last used Evergreen
Reminder Text Protection from [quality] (This can't be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, enchanted, or equipped by anything [quality].)
Storm Scale 2[1]
Other Symbols
Duels Protection
Scryfall Search
keyword:"protection"

Protection from [quality] is an evergreen keyword ability that grants several different effects to the permanent or player it is affecting.[2]

The definition of protection, and the rules backing it, have changed over the course of the game's history.

Description[ | ]

This ability represents a magical resistance to certain types of magic, often a specific color.[3] It was introduced in Alpha and saw frequent use through Magic Origins. Protection was previously dropped from evergreen status to deciduous status but as of 2021 is officially back to evergreen status. It's an ability primary in white that can show up in other colors, usually with protection from something the color dislikes (an enemy color, artifacts for green, etc.).[4]

Protection is commonly misunderstood as complete exemption from permanents, and effects created by cards, with the specified quality. However, protection is defined by a relatively narrow set of rules, which are often communicated using the mnemonic acronym DEBT. The permanent or player with protection cannot be:

  • Damaged by sources with the specified quality. (All such damage is prevented.)
  • Enchanted, equipped, or fortified by permanents with the specified quality.
  • Blocked by creatures with the specified quality.
  • Targeted by spells with the specified quality, or by abilities from sources of that quality.

The current (as of Core Set 2020) reminder text for protection largely reflects this, reading “This [object] can't be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, enchanted, or equipped by anything [quality].”

History[ | ]

Despite intuitive expectations for the keyword, protection was recognized as potentially complicated even prior to the game's release. Early attempts to define protection led the Alpha designers to invent the fundamental concept of targeting.[5] However, even the original rulebook described it informally, offering only examples of things that protection would prevent.[6]

A creature with protection from one or more colors of magic cannot be affected by any magic of those colors. For example, a creature with protection from blue cannot be blocked by blue creatures, dealt damage by blue creatures, or enchanted, damaged, or otherwise affected by blue cards. Damage done by such a creature cannot be prevented using blue cards. Note that the creature does not have this ability until it is successfully summoned. If, for example, you are summoning a creature with protection from blue magic, your rival can still cast a blue interrupt that affects the summoning spell.

Protection was excluded from core sets beginning with Sixth Edition and returned to them in Ninth Edition, reflecting concerns about its complexity for newer players. With the release of Magic Origins, protection was demoted from evergreen to deciduous, relegating it to only occasional use.[7][8] In the three blocks following that decision, it was used only once: on Emrakul, the Promised End.

Later, it reappeared in Modern Horizons.[9] It also returned in Core Set 2020, where it was back to evergreen on a probationary status.[2][10][11] Although it doesn't show up in every set, protection became officially evergreen again in 2021.[12][13]

Players can also gain protection, the first instance of which was Seht's Tiger in the Futureshifted category of Future Sight. Naturally, the blocking text is not relevant, nor is the equipped text. Only six cards give protection to a player, of varying usefulness. In contrast, True-Name Nemesis is the first to give protection from a player, which was a maligned card for its impact on Legacy. For two-player games, this gave it hexproof and general unblockability, making it an uninteractable threat. Protection from a player has only shown up once after on Eon Frolicker.

Two white cards have a condensed version of Protection: Sungold Sentinel and Skrelv, Defector Mite. Both have an activated ability that grants hexproof from a color and prevent blocking by creatures of that color, making up about half of protection's text and most of its gameplay. As with many gameplay design choices, the "prevent damage" aspect is left out as to avoid the "infinite blocking" scenario.

Rules[ | ]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Protection
A keyword ability that provides a range of benefits against objects with a specific quality. See rule 702.16, “Protection.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 702.16. Protection
    • 702.16a Protection is a static ability, written “Protection from [quality].” This quality is usually a color (as in “protection from black”) but can be any characteristic value or information. If the quality happens to be a card name, it is treated as such only if the protection ability specifies that the quality is a name. If the quality is a card type, subtype, or supertype, the ability applies to sources that are permanents with that card type, subtype, or supertype and to any sources not on the battlefield that are of that card type, subtype, or supertype. This is an exception to rule 109.2.
    • 702.16b A permanent or player with protection can’t be targeted by spells with the stated quality and can’t be targeted by abilities from a source with the stated quality.
    • 702.16c A permanent or player with protection can’t be enchanted by Auras that have the stated quality. Such Auras attached to the permanent or player with protection will be put into their owners’ graveyards as a state-based action. (See rule 704, “State-Based Actions.”)
    • 702.16d A permanent with protection can’t be equipped by Equipment that have the stated quality or fortified by Fortifications that have the stated quality. Such Equipment or Fortifications become unattached from that permanent as a state-based action, but remain on the battlefield. (See rule 704, “State-Based Actions.”)
    • 702.16e Any damage that would be dealt by sources that have the stated quality to a permanent or player with protection is prevented.
    • 702.16f Attacking creatures with protection can’t be blocked by creatures that have the stated quality.
    • 702.16g “Protection from [quality A] and from [quality B]” is shorthand for “protection from [quality A]” and “protection from [quality B]”; it behaves as two separate protection abilities.
    • 702.16h “Protection from each [characteristic]” is shorthand for “protection from [quality A],” “protection from [quality B],” and so on for each possible quality the listed characteristic could have; it behaves as multiple separate protection abilities.
    • 702.16i “Protection from each [set of characteristics, qualities, or players]” is shorthand for “protection from [A],” “protection from [B],” and so on for each characteristic, quality, or player in the set. It behaves as multiple separate protection abilities.
    • 702.16j “Protection from everything” is a variant of the protection ability. A permanent or player with protection from everything has protection from each object regardless of that object’s characteristic values. Such a permanent or player can’t be targeted by spells or abilities and can’t be enchanted by Auras. Such a permanent can’t be equipped by Equipment, fortified by Fortifications, or blocked by creatures. All damage that would be dealt to such a permanent or player is prevented.
    • 702.16k “Protection from [a player]” is a variant of the protection ability. A permanent or player with protection from a specific player has protection from each object that player controls and protection from each object that player owns not controlled by another player, regardless of that object’s characteristic values. Such a permanent or player can’t be targeted by spells or abilities the specified player controls and can’t be enchanted by Auras that player controls. Such a permanent can’t be equipped by Equipment that player controls, fortified by Fortifications that player controls, or blocked by creatures that player controls. All damage that would be dealt to such a permanent or player by sources controlled by the specified player or owned by that player but not controlled by another player is prevented.
    • 702.16m Multiple instances of protection from the same quality on the same permanent or player are redundant.
    • 702.16n Some Auras both give the enchanted creature protection from a quality and say “this effect doesn’t remove” either that specific Aura or all Auras. This means that the specified Auras aren’t put into their owners’ graveyards as a state-based action. If the creature has other instances of protection from the same quality, those instances affect Auras as normal.
    • 702.16p One Aura (Benevolent Blessing) gives the enchanted creature protection from a quality and says the effect doesn’t remove certain permanents that are “already attached to” that creature. This means that, when the protection effect starts to apply, any objects with the stated quality that are already attached to that creature (including the Aura giving that creature protection) will not be put into their owners’ graveyards as a state-based action. Other permanents with the stated quality can’t become attached to the creature. If the creature has other instances of protection from the same quality, those instances affect attached permanents as normal.

Variants[ | ]

Protection is written in the form "protection from...", followed by one or more qualities or characteristics. The first examples of protection are from colors, but many other variants have been printed.

Last Updated for Lord of the Rings Commander

Protection type Set in which first appeared Cards on which first appeared
Protection from [color] Alpha Black Knight, Black Ward, Blue Ward, Green Ward, Red Ward, White Knight, White Ward
Protection from [chosen color] Mirage Prismatic Boon, Ward of Lights
Protection from artifacts Urza's Legacy Angelic Curator, Yavimaya Scion
Protection from [creature type] Invasion Shoreline Raider, Tsabo Tavoc[a]
Protection from legendary creatures Invasion Tsabo Tavoc[a]
Protection from all colors Odyssey Iridescent Angel
Protection from creatures Odyssey Beloved Chaplain
Protection from enchantments Odyssey Tattoo Ward
Protection from instants Odyssey Devoted Caretaker
Protection from its colors Odyssey Earnest Fellowship
Protection from sorceries Odyssey Devoted Caretaker
Protection from [chosen type] Mirrodin Mirror Golem
Protection from [artist] Unhinged Fascist Art Director
Protection from wordy Unhinged Frazzled Editor
Protection from [spell type] Champions of Kamigawa Kitsune Riftwalker
protection from monocolored Dissension Guardian of the Guildpact
Protection from multicolored Dissension Enemy of the Guildpact
Protection from snow Coldsnap Ronom Hulk
Protection from [specified mana value] Future Sight Mistmeadow Skulk
Protection from [chosen card] Shadowmoor Runed Halo
Protection from everything Conflux Progenitus
Protection from lands Worldwake Horizon Drake
Protection from colored spells Rise of the Eldrazi Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Protection from [a chosen] player Commander 2013 True-Name Nemesis
Protection from die rolls Unstable Proper Laboratory Attire
Protection from black borders Unstable Knight of the Kitchen Sink
Protection from even collector numbers Unstable Knight of the Kitchen Sink
Protection from loose lips Unstable Knight of the Kitchen Sink
Protection from odd collector numbers Unstable Knight of the Kitchen Sink
Protection from two-word names Unstable Knight of the Kitchen Sink
Protection from watermarks Unstable Knight of the Kitchen Sink
Protection from enemy-colored multicolored Mystery Booster Frenemy of the Guildpact
Protection from modified creatures Mystery Booster Louvaq, the Aberrant
Protection from even/odd mana value Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Lavabrink Venturer
Protection from planeswalkers Core Set 2021 Sparkhunter Masticore
Protection from colors not in your Commander's color identity Commander Legends Commander's Plate
Protection from [rarity] Heroes of the Realm Collectigull
Protection from ring-bearers The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Commander Lord of the Nazgûl
Protection from spells and from permanents cast this turn. Modern Horizons 3 Emrakul, the World Anew
  1. a b Tsabo Tavoc originally had “protection from Legends”, but this was errataed to “protection from legendary creatures” when “Legend” ceased to be a creature subtype.

Examples[ | ]

Example

White Knight {W}{W}
Creature — Human Knight
2/2
First strike (This creature deals combat damage before creatures without first strike.)
Protection from black (This creature can't be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, or enchanted by anything black.)

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (March 28, 2022). "Deciduous". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. a b Mark Rosewater (June 18, 2019). "Did R&D change their mind on protection being removed from evergreen?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (May 29, 2019). "If a creature has protection from a color will that protection prevent effects such as Infest?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Brady Dommermuth (June 01, 2009). "Mechanically Inclined". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. John Carter (December 25, 2004). "The Original Magic Rulebook". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (June 8, 2015). "Evergreen Eggs & Ham". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (August 06, 2017). "I noticed that there have been very few cards with "Protection" in recent sets.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Matt Tabak (May 31, 2019). "Modern Horizons Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (June 18, 2019). "Protection is back? i mean, i love that, but how come?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (June 24, 2019). "Core Than Meets The Eye". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (March 28, 2022). "Deciduous". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]

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