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Text … unless (someone) pays (cost).
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Rhystic is the unofficial name of a mechanic utilized on cards from the Prophecy expansion that have some effect unless a player pays to keep the effect from happening.


For example Withdraw is an instant that reads, "Return target creature to its owner's hand. Then return another target creature to its owner's hand unless its controller pays {1}." When Withdraw resolves, the targeted creature's controller may pay {1} to stop the second part of Withdraw's effect from happening.

As with all spells and abilities, most choices (other than targets) are made on resolution, not when the spell or ability is played. For rhystic spells and abilities, this includes the choice of whether to pay the cost to stop the "unless" part of the effect.

While the mechanic looks and plays badly nowadays, the Limited format of Prophecy revolved around sacrificing lands and being penalized for having untapped lands, which meant that the average game had much fewer spare lands than normal and maneuvering into a spot where opponents couldn't pay the Rhystic tax was a realistic option.


Flavorwise, rhystic spells are fast, cheap, reckless spells that can be easily disrupted if there is too much mana around. They were invented by Alexi, Zephyr Mage and other Jamuraan spellshapers. Alexi aided the forces of Barrin and Teferi in the Kipamu League against the invading Keldons.

The expansion symbol of Prophecy depicts crystals. These are meant to evoke the rhystic magic.[1]


Mark Rosewater has stated that it is not likely that rhystic will be coming back anytime soon, if ever.[2] It is considered a 9 on the Storm Scale.[3]


The following cards have the Rhystic mechanic:

Associated cards
Similar effects (pre-/post-Prophecy)
Counterspells (pre-/post-Prophecy)


  1. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (April 14, 2012). "Thoughts on the rhystic mechanic?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (April 30, 2016). "How was the 'Rhystic' mechanic received? Storm scale?". Blogatog. Tumblr.