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M20 Soldier token

Current token frame (Core Set 2020)

A token is a permanent that is not represented by a regular card, and generally has no mana cost.[1][2] They are created by the effects of many different spells and abilities, rather than being cast from a zone (such as the hand) like normal cards.

Description[ | ]

Tokens are most often creatures, but artifacts have become increasingly common, and any permanent type is possible. Once on the battlefield, tokens operate just like any other permanent in almost all ways. Some abilities limit their effects to only tokens or only non-tokens. Beginners must be sure not to confuse tokens, which are permanents, with counters, which are placed on permanents or given to players.

Normally tokens can exist only on the battlefield. If a token leaves the battlefield and goes to another game zone, it can't change zones again, and it will be there only briefly before a state-based action makes it cease to exist. This concept no longer applies to phased out tokens - tokens phase out and back in just like other permanents. Similarly, tokens can have any status such as tapped or even face down.

Some creatures and artifacts subtypes only appear on tokens. Nine kinds of artifact tokens, one creature token, and eight enchantment tokens have predefined characteristics in the game rules so that cards can create them very concisely. These subtypes may exist on non-token cards, but when they do they act as a normal subtype. They do not have any special rules associated with them when not used to create a token.

Color[ | ]

All colors can create creature tokens. White and green, as the two primary creature colors, do it most often.[3] White tends to make smaller creature tokens; these usually are 1/1s, while green tends to make larger ones, from 3/3 and up. White often will make multiple tokens at once since they're smaller. Black most often makes 2/2 Zombies. Red most often makes 1/1 Goblins. Sometimes red's token creatures are a little bigger and get exiled at end of turn.

The effect to increase the number of tokens as they're being made, or making more after they've already been made, is also primary in blue and green (e.g. Doubling Season).[3] White is secondary.[3]

Representation[ | ]

Tokens may be represented in the game by any physical object that's convenient to place on the playing surface and suitable for gameplay interactions, especially tapping. Official token cards are typically released with each set in the modern era, but these are not required; players can use other cards (often basic lands) with crossed-out text, scraps of paper, or even dice or figurines. Official tokens are mostly made of different cardstock than regular cards - they don't have the opaque layer in the middle.[4][5] Exceptions are tokens included in preconstructed theme decks, which are printed on the same print sheet.

Because Magic Online needs to represent all the tokens in the game, art needs to be created for even the most insignificant tokens. And for some of that art, Magic Online is the only place it appears.[6][7]

History[ | ]

The Hive[ | ]

Richard Garfield created tokens for Alpha, as opposed to counters, to make The Hive possible.[8][9][10] Token terminology was not set in stone initially: the two cards which created tokens in Arabian Nights simply said a creature comes into play and to use a "counter" to represent it, while the single Antiquities token creator had the player move counters off the card to "become" token creatures.[a] Legends settled the terminology, with five cards that created tokens using phrasing similar to current usage.[b]

All these early tokens were creatures, although some were artifact creatures. Interestingly, all tokens before Legends had flying. They had a variety of colors, abilities and stats. Dance of Many (The Dark) created the first token that was a copy of something else.

Official physical tokens[ | ]

There were so many cards in Fallen Empires that produced tokens (8 cards) and/or required counters (25 cards) that Wizards of the Coast issued a cardboard sheet of them in Duelist #4.[11] Saprolings began their dominance among token creature types, with four cards producing them in this set.

Citadel Gaming released a series of "Magic Tokens" starting in 1995 made of a plastic material.

The first token cards[ | ]

Special token cards were first printed for Unglued in 1998.[12] Mark Rosewater has written that these cards were inspired by unofficial accessory cards used by Japanese players.[13] Unglued's tokens proved so popular they spawned the new tokens given away in the Magic Player Rewards program.[14][15]

Like for regular cards, the card frame for token cards was updated with Eighth Edition in 2003. "Token" now appeared in the type line, though it never became an official card type, and was not printed from 2007 to 2014.[16] "Token" reappeared again with Magic 2015 tokens, which also began denoting token rarity with a T in the Information below the text box.[17]

Distribution in booster packs[ | ]

Since Tenth Edition (2007) token cards appear as marketing cards in booster packs. Unlike earlier versions, they don't have a regular card back, but feature advertisements instead.

For Battle for Zendikar (2015), the ratio between token cards and other marketing cards was shifted heavily in favor of tokens, with the new ratio approximately 9:10 for tokens. Tokens’ rarity is based upon the rarity of the cards that make them.[18][19] Tokens generated by common cards have to have a higher as-fan.[20]

Enchantment tokens[ | ]

The first non-creature token was the enchantment token copy of Imperial Mask that can be given to your teammates. This appeared in Future Sight in 2007.

Estrid, the Masked (Commander 2018) is the first card to make an aura enchantment token.[21] Roles are the first mechanic to utilize aura tokens, and multiple different auras are generated through it.

Enchantment tokens returned in the Mystery Booster set in 2019, where the test card Celestine Cave Witch lets you sacrifice insects to create curse enchantment tokens, and Domesticated Mammoth arrives on the battlefield with an aura token of Pacifism on it.

2021's Kaldheim introduced the predefined Shard tokens, which are used exclusively for the abilities of Niko Aris.

The Role tokens of the 2023 set Wilds of Eldraine opened the door on a new resource - aura tokens.[22][23]

Double-sided token cards[ | ]

The first token card with a token shown on each side was released as a special FNM card during the Innistrad block on April 6, 2012 (which featured a full moon). It fittingly represented a 1/1 human on one side, and a 2/2 wolf on the other.[24] The Avacyn Restored prerelease Helvault kit followed up with double-sided Angel/Demon tokens.[25]

The next chance for double-sided token cards came when the developers of Commander 2014 didn't have to share the tokens in that set with the brand team, and the production constraints that mandated Magic backs on the Duel Decks' tokens didn't apply. They created double-sided token cards which featured a different, unrelated, token on each side of the card.[26]

Double-sided token cards made another appearance in pre-release packs for Eldritch Moon. These tokens are a 2/2 Zombie on either face and are foil. From 2017 on, double-sided token cards were made available as prizes for the Magic League.[27]

The Bundle for Amonkhet contained a pack of double-sided token cards that comprise a complete set of every token in the expansion.

While these tokens have two faces, they are not double-faced cards and can't be transformed. Nor can turning the token face down cause the back side to be used. The first real double-faced token card, where the front face can transform into the back face, is the Incubator token introduced in March of the Machine.

Artifact tokens[ | ]

Artifact tokens were introduced in 2013 (Theros block) with Gold. Since then, Food (Throne of Eldraine), Clues (Shadows over Innistrad), Treasure (Ixalan block), Blood (Innistrad: Crimson Vow), Powerstone (Dominaria United), Incubator (March of the Machine), Map (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan) and Junk (Fallout) tokens have been added.[28] Of these, Treasure has had the most returns of noncreature tokens, and these artifacts led to several rules changes in the context of creating tokens (name and type baggage).

Gold tokens from the Theros block could be sacrificed without tapping, and this allowed a player to tap the artifact to pay other costs, such as Improvise, before sacrificing the Gold itself. Later artifact tokens added the tapping to prevent similar actions, most evident with Treasure being the same function of adding mana.

Third party token products[ | ]

MTG Creature Forge tokens

WizKids Creature Forge tokens

In March 2018, Ultra Pro begin producing a series of Magic: the Gathering tokens in durable hard plastic called Relic Tokens. These can double as life counters.

In September 2018, WizKids released a miniature line focusing on token creatures called Magic: The Gathering - Creature Forge.

Predefined and full art tokens[ | ]

Throne of Eldraine (2019) introduced the concept of predefined tokens, redefining how Treasure tokens are referenced on cards and creating the new Food token type. In the next few rules updates, Gold and Clue tokens would be retroactively made predefined tokens as well.

Core Set 2020 introduced full-art token cards.[29]

Change in token naming[ | ]

With the release of Innistrad: Crimson Vow in 2021 came a change to how tokens are named. Prior to the change, a token's name, when not specified, was simply its subtype(s). Due to the game rules using the English name of cards, it was possible to name the "Blood" half of Flesh // Blood with Pithing Needle's ability and disable all Blood tokens.[30] From the change forward, if a spell or ability is creating a token without specifying its name, the name will be the same as its subtypes plus the word "Token." For example, a "Goblin Scout creature token" is named "Goblin Scout Token." Similarly, the name of a Blood token created in the game is "Blood Token" and choosing the name "Blood" (as in Flesh // Blood) for an effect will not cause that effect to apply to Blood tokens.[31]

While this change occurred in the rules, the officially printed tokens produced by Wizards of the Coast continue to use just the token subtypes as the token name — leaving off the "Token" part of the name.

Double-faced token cards[ | ]

March of the Machine introduced double-faced tokens in 2023 in the form of Incubator tokens, a new predefined token type. Unlike previous double-sided tokens, the game rules treat these tokens as double-faced and allow them to transform, mimicking the behavior of transforming double-faced cards. Corresponding double-faced token cards were released with the set.[32]

As a consequence of their introduction, the rules around creating token copies of permanents and spells were updated to allow the resulting token to be a true double-faced permanent.[33] Tokens made this way can be transformed and function in the same manner as their original card version. This rule change does not apply to clones of permanents.[34]

Double-faced tokens come with some production issues, so they're not something expected to be used all the time, but it's a design tool that sets have access to if needed.[35]

Tokens with mana cost[ | ]

Modern Horizons 3 tokens of existing cards created by Tarmogoyf Nest / Disa the Restless (Tarmogoyf) and Ral and the Implicit Maze (Spellgorger Weird) notably have the mana cost of the original card. They also do not articulate the abilities of the cards in question. This is in contrast to cards such as Roxanne, Starfall Savant (Meteorite), Ajani, Strength of the Pride (Ajani's Pridemate) or Sparkspitter (Spark Elemental), that all articulate their token's abilities but do not grant mana costs. Comparable is Garth One-Eye, which casts copies that are created and enter as tokens if the copy is of a permanent card.

The Oracle changes for that set added the following rule: "If an effect instructs a player to create a token by name, doesn’t define any other characteristics for that token, and the name is not one of the types in the list of predefined tokens above, that player uses the card with that name in the Oracle card reference to determine the characteristics of that token."

Rules[ | ]

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

A marker used to represent any permanent that isn’t represented by a card. See rule 111, “Tokens.”

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

  • 111. Tokens
    • 111.1. Some effects put tokens onto the battlefield. A token is a marker used to represent any permanent that isn’t represented by a card.
    • 111.2. The player who creates a token is its owner. The token enters the battlefield under that player’s control.
    • 111.3. The spell or ability that creates a token may define the values of any number of characteristics for the token. This becomes the token’s “text.” The characteristic values defined this way are functionally equivalent to the characteristic values that are printed on a card; for example, they define the token’s copiable values. A token doesn’t have any characteristics not defined by the spell or ability that created it.

      Example: Jade Mage has the ability “{2}{G}: Create a 1/1 green Saproling creature token.” The resulting token has no mana cost, supertypes, rules text, or abilities.

    • 111.4. A spell or ability that creates a token sets both its name and its subtype(s). If the spell or ability doesn’t specify the name of the token, its name is the same as its subtype(s) plus the word “Token.” Once a token is on the battlefield, changing its name doesn’t change its subtype(s), and vice versa.

      Example: Dwarven Reinforcements is a sorcery that says, in part, “Create two 2/1 red Dwarf Berserker creature tokens.” The tokens created as it resolves are each named Dwarf Berserker Token and each have the creature types Dwarf and Berserker.

      Example: Minsc, Beloved Ranger says, in part, “When Minsc, Beloved Ranger enters the battlefield, create Boo, a legendary 1/1 red Hamster creature token with trample and haste.” That token’s subtype is Hamster, but because Minsc specifies that the token’s name is Boo, neither “Hamster” nor “Token” are part of its name.

      Example: Spitting Image is a sorcery that says, in part, “Create a token that’s a copy of target creature.” All of that token’s characteristics will match the copiable characteristics of the creature targeted by that spell. If Spitting Image targets Doomed Dissenter, a Human creature, the name of the token the spell creates will be Doomed Dissenter, not Human Token or Doomed Dissenter Token.

    • 111.5. If a spell or ability would create a token, but a rule or effect states that a permanent with one or more of that token’s characteristics can’t enter the battlefield, the token is not created. Similarly, if an effect would create a token that is a copy of an instant or sorcery card, no token is created.
    • 111.6. A token is subject to anything that affects permanents in general or that affects the token’s card type or subtype. A token isn’t a card (even if represented by a card that has a Magic back or that came from a Magic booster pack).
    • 111.7. A token that’s in a zone other than the battlefield ceases to exist. This is a state-based action; see rule 704. (Note that if a token changes zones, applicable triggered abilities will trigger before the token ceases to exist.)
    • 111.8. A token that has left the battlefield can’t move to another zone or come back onto the battlefield. If such a token would change zones, it remains in its current zone instead. It ceases to exist the next time state-based actions are checked; see rule 704.
    • 111.9. Some effects instruct a player to create a legendary token. These may be written “create [name], a . . .” and list characteristics for the token. This is the same as an instruction to create a token with the listed characteristics that has the given name.
    • 111.10. Some effects instruct a player to create a predefined token. These effects use the definition below to determine the characteristics the token is created with. The effect that creates a predefined token may also modify or add to the predefined characteristics.
      • 111.10a A Treasure token is a colorless Treasure artifact token with “{T}, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.”
      • 111.10b A Food token is a colorless Food artifact token with “{2}, {T}, Sacrifice this artifact: You gain 3 life.”
      • 111.10c A Gold token is a colorless Gold artifact token with “Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.”
      • 111.10d A Walker token is a 2/2 black Zombie creature token named Walker.
      • 111.10e A Shard token is a colorless Shard enchantment token with “{2}, Sacrifice this enchantment: Scry 1, then draw a card.”
      • 111.10f A Clue token is a colorless Clue artifact token with “{2}, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.”
      • 111.10g A Blood token is a colorless Blood artifact token with “{1}, {T}, Discard a card, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.”
      • 111.10h A Powerstone token is a colorless Powerstone artifact token with “{T}: Add {C}. This mana can’t be spent to cast a nonartifact spell.”
      • 111.10i An Incubator token is a transforming double-faced token. Its front face is a colorless Incubator artifact with “{2}: Transform this artifact.” Its back face is a 0/0 colorless Phyrexian artifact creature named Phyrexian Token.
      • 111.10j A Cursed Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Cursed with enchant creature and “Enchanted creature has base power and toughness 1/1.”
      • 111.10k A Monster Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Monster with enchant creature and “Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has trample.”
      • 111.10m A Royal Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Royal with enchant creature and “Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has ward {1}.”
      • 111.10n A Sorcerer Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Sorcerer with enchant creature and “Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has ‘Whenever this creature attacks, scry 1.’”
      • 111.10p A Virtuous Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Virtuous with enchant creature and “Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each enchantment you control.”
      • 111.10q A Wicked Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Wicked with enchant creature, “Enchanted creature gets +1/+1,” and “When this Aura is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, each opponent loses 1 life.”
      • 111.10r A Young Hero Role token is a colorless Aura Role enchantment token named Young Hero with enchant creature and “Enchanted creature has ‘Whenever this creature attacks, if its toughness is 3 or less, put a +1/+1 counter on it.’”
      • 111.10s A Map token is a colorless Map artifact token with “{1}, {T}, Sacrifice this artifact: Target creature you control explores. Activate only as a sorcery.” See rule 701.40, “Explore.”
      • 111.10t A Junk token is a colorless Junk artifact token with “{T}, Sacrifice this artifact: Exile the top card of your library. You may play that card this turn. Activate only as a sorcery.”
    • 111.11. If an effect instructs a player to create a token by name, doesn’t define any other characteristics for that token, and the name is not one of the types in the list of predefined tokens above, that player uses the card with that name in the Oracle card reference to determine the characteristics of that token.

      Example: Disa the Restless has the ability “Whenever one or more creatures you control deal combat damage to a player, create a Tarmogoyf token.” As that ability resolves, its controller creates a token with the same characteristics as the card named Tarmogoyf, as determined by the Oracle card reference.

    • 111.12. If an effect instructs a player to create a token that is a copy of a nonexistent object, no token is created (see rule 707, “Copying Objects”). This does not apply to an effect that would use the last known information of an object.

      Example: Mimic Vat has a triggered ability whose effect gives you the option to exile a card and an activated ability that says “Create a token that’s a copy of a card exiled with Mimic Vat. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.” If no card has been exiled with Mimic Vat’s triggered ability, no token is created.

    • 111.13. A copy of a permanent spell becomes a token as it resolves. The token has the characteristics of the spell that became that token. The token is not “created” for the purposes of any replacement effects or triggered abilities that refer to creating a token.

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

  • 108.2b Tokens aren’t considered cards—even a card-sized game supplement that represents a token isn’t considered a card for rules purposes.

Examples[ | ]

Example 1

Teysa, Orzhov Scion has the ability: "Whenever another black creature you control dies, put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield." "Dies" means precisely "is put into a graveyard from the battlefield" (rule 700.4). If you have a black creature token that gets destroyed, it will go to the graveyard, trigger Teysa's ability, then disappear, and finally, the ability will be put on the stack. However, the token cannot be the target of spells or abilities whilst in the graveyard.

Example 2

Momentary Blink reads in part: "Exile target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under its owner's control." If this spell is used on a creature token, it will be exiled, but it cannot come back to the battlefield and so stays in the exile zone. It will cease to exist when state-based effects are next checked.

Trivia[ | ]

Gallery[ | ]

Notes[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (May 27, 2002). "Tokens of My Affection". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (May 27, 2013). "Token of Appreciation". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. a b c Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Eventide Token and Tips
  5. Mark Rosewater (September 26, 2017). "Why not just swap out a single token for a DFC?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  6. Magic Arcana (July 30, 2002). "Unseen tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Magic Arcana (May 03, 2005). "Oyobi Spirit Token Art". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (September 26, 2005). "+1/+1 For the Road". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (June 1, 2020). "My Favorite Things". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (February 6, 2023). "Mission Compleat, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Magic Arcana (May 31, 2002). "Fallen Empires tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Magic Arcana (May 27, 2003). "Soldier Tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (August 16, 2004). "Putting the Un in Fun". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (April 5, 2004). "Unhinged or No?". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Wizards of the Coast (May 27, 2002). "Player Rewards tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Wizards of the Coast (September 24, 2003). "The new look of tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Blake Rasmussen (July 2, 2014). "Magic 2015 tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2015). "Are some tokens rarer than others?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  19. Token Rarity in DOM, M19, GRN, BBD, UMA (Reddit)
  20. Mark Rosewater (September 28, 2023). "If/when different rarities for tokens?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  21. Mark Rosewater (March 13, 2020). "Can I have an obscure trivia about Estrid or enchantments matters?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  22. Matt Tabak (August 15, 2023). "Wilds of Eldraine Mechanics". Archived from the original on August 15, 2023.
  23. Mark Rosewater (October 7, 2023). "Role tokens in WoE are a lot of fun and an interesting design!". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  24. Monty Ashley (March 28, 2012). "The Double-Faced Token". Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Monty Ashley (May 02, 2012). "The Helvault Experience". Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Ethan Fleischer and Ian Duke (October 24, 2014). "A Love Letter to Vorthos". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Wizards of the Coast. (October 7, 2016.) "Playtest League and Earn Foil Tokens", Wizards Play Network.
  28. Mark Rosewater (October 28, 2021). "Is there a word for these ever-changing kinda-generic artifact tokens?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  29. Chris Gleeson (June 20, 2019). "The Tokens of Core Set 2020". Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Mark Rosewater (November 2, 2021). "There has been a change to how token naming works.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  31. Jess Dunks (November 10, 2021). "Innistrad: Crimson Vow Comprehensive Rules Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Matt Tabak (Mar 29, 2023). "March of the Machine Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Matt Tabak (March 29, 2023). "March of the Machine Mechanics". Archived from the original on July 4, 2023.
  34. Jess Dunks, Eric Levine, and Matt Tabak (April 7, 2023). "March of the Machine Release Notes". Archived from the original on July 4, 2023.
  35. Mark Rosewater (November 20, 2023). "Odds & Ends: 2023, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Paige, The Untouchable (June 8, 2023). "That typeline!! **TOLKIEN** CREATURE - HALFLING!!". Twitter.

External links[ | ]