Absorb – MTG Keywords Explained

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Future Sight produced a lot of one-off mechanics, but you never know when one could crop up in Magic again. Join us today as we take a look at absorb, a mechanic that protects creatures from damage!

What is Absorb?

At time of writing, absorb has only appeared on one card: Lymph Sliver. Absorb, written as “absorb N,” prevents N damage to a creature from any source. Lymph Sliver has three toughness and absorb 1, which means you have to deal at least four damage to kill it with a single source. And if you can’t deal at least four damage at a time, you’ll need to use multiple sources: it takes two Lightning Bolts or four Shocks to destroy a Lymph Sliver.

Keep in mind, absorb prevents damage from each source that would deal damage to the creature. So blocking Lymph Sliver with four 1/1 tokens won’t deal any damage. Gross, right? Even grosser… Lymph Sliver gives all Slivers absorb 1, and that ability stacks if you have multiple copies of Lymph Sliver in play.

Understandably, this sort of mechanic can stall a game out really fast. On your side of the board, it’s a powerhouse, but facing it down from the other side is a nightmare. That could be why absorb has been relegated to a single card from Future Sight, but perhaps we’ll see a variation on it again someday.