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Keyword Action
Introduced Alpha (mechanic)
Revised Edition (keyword)
Last used Evergreen
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Sacrifice, often shortened to sac, is a keyword action. It means to move a permanent you control to its owner's graveyard.

Description[ | ]

Sacrificing or saccing is purposely or forcibly removing a permanent from play. This can be due to an effect on the card itself, the effect of another permanent already in play, coming into or leaving play or a spell such as an instant or sorcery. A sacrificed permanent cannot be regenerated. Even though the card Sacrifice was in Alpha, the keyword action of sacrifice didn't show up until Revised Edition.[1]

Strategy[ | ]

Sacrifice decks leverage the fact that spells that require a sacrifice tend to be cheap to compensate for the card advantage loss, which when coupled with expendable fodder let the deck accelerate through multiple spells every turn. One of the popular tricks is to use red's temporary control effects (which are often cheap as their standard use case only produces damage) to steal their opponent's creatures for sacrifice fuel. As one-mana spells improve and token-making design expand, sacrifice decks have been infamous for both their intricate lines of play and slow gameplay experiences as a result.

One of the first competitive combo sacrifice decks is among the most famous in its history: Prosperous Bloom by way of Squandered Resources.[2]

Rules[ | ]

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

To move a permanent you control to its owner’s graveyard. See rule 701.17, “Sacrifice.”

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

  • 701.17. Sacrifice
    • 701.17a To sacrifice a permanent, its controller moves it from the battlefield directly to its owner’s graveyard. A player can’t sacrifice something that isn’t a permanent, or something that’s a permanent they don’t control. Sacrificing a permanent doesn’t destroy it, so regeneration or other effects that replace destruction can’t affect this action.

Examples[ | ]

Example 1

Arms Dealer {2}{R}
Creature — Goblin
{1}{R}, Sacrifice a Goblin: Arms Dealer deals 4 damage to target creature.

Example 2

Cruel Edict {1}{B}
Target opponent sacrifices a creature.

Example 3

Krark-Clan Ironworks {4}
Sacrifice an artifact: Add {C}{C}.

Sacrifice as a resource[ | ]

Sacrifice an artifact[ | ]

Black and red are the most likely to sacrifice artifacts to generate an effect.[3]

Sacrifice a creature[ | ]

Black and red are also the two most likely colors to sacrifice creatures. This is often part of a draft archetype.[3]

Sacrifice an enchantment[ | ]

Red and green are the two colors that most often sacrifice enchantments. This only tends to get used in sets with enchantment themes.[3]

Sacrifice a land[ | ]

Red is the color most likely to sacrifice lands.[3]

Sacrifice a permanent[ | ]

Red is the color most likely to sacrifice any permanent as it's the color that can individually sacrifice them all. R&D are letting black do this a little more.[3]

Forced sacrifice[ | ]

  • Sacrifice a creature (target/each player sacrifices a creature) is primary in black.[4]
  • Sacrifice an artifact (target/each player sacrifices an artifact) is primary in red.[4]
  • Sacrifice a permanent (target/each player sacrifices a permanent) is also primary in red.[4]

Cards that can't be sacrificed[ | ]

Cards that prevent/prohibit sacrificing[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (June 8, 2015). "Evergreen Eggs & Ham". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Adam Styborski (July 28, 2020). "What Would You Sacrifice To Win?". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. a b c d e Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. a b c Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". Wizards of the Coast.