[edit] Overview

There are three kinds of Ability that can appear on Permanents. These are Static Abilities, Triggered Abilities and Activated Abilities.

[edit] Static Abilities

These are abilities that are always 'on' as soon as the permanent they're on comes into play. These Abilities can't be responded to. Examples of this Ability include Glorious Anthem and Mindlock Orb.

[edit] Triggered Abilities

Triggered Abilities are recognisable by always containing "When" or "Whenever". These types of abilities are put onto the Stack when the criteria is met. Instances of this ability include creatures with Comes into Play effects. When these are put onto the stack, they can be responded to. For example, Steppe Lynx's abiility "Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Steppe Lynx gets +2/+2 until end of turn." is a Triggered Ability. Before the ability resolves, it is possible to Shock the Steppe Lynx, killing it.

[edit] Activated Abilities

Activated Abilities are always in the format "Cost COLON Effect", or rather "Cost:Effect". You pay the cost of the ability, and then the effect goes onto the stack. If the cost would trigger a Triggered Ability, that goes onto the stack on top of the Activated Ability, resolving first. Tapping a Land for mana is an example of an Activated Ability as you are paying the cost of tapping the land in order to add a mana to your mana pool. Another example is the second ability of Knight of the Reliquary: "Tap, Sacrifice a Forest or Plains: Search your library for a land card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library." Here you can clearly see the Cost:Effect format. Activated Abilities, unless otherwise mentioned, can be played any time you could play an Instant. Those that can't will say something along the lines of "Play only as sorcery".

[edit] Keyword Abilities

Keyword abilities are abilities on cards that are one word often followed by Reminder Text. All Keyword Abilities on cards are the same as on any other card. For example, Flying is always Flying and Replicate is always Replicate (even if the cost to Replicate is different, they are the exact same ability).

[edit] Evergreen Keywords

Evergreen Keywords are Keywords that, outside of Core Sets, are unlikely to have Reminder Text. This includes Flying and Trample. Evergreen Keywords are also abilities now going to be present in every further Core Set.

[edit] Ability Words

Ability words are different to Keyword abilities because they are merely a prompt illustrating the kind of ability. Examples of Ability Words include Hellbent, Threshold and Landfall. The point of an Ability Word is to be able to group cards with a similar ability, but the abilities themselves can vary. This means that not every Landfall ability is the same, but they all care about the landfall trigger (playing a Land).