MTG Keywords Explained: Banding

Card Kingdom Strategy

We’ve been producing keyword ability primers for a couple months now on the CK Blog and on our YouTube channel. Our goal with this series has been to educate new and returning Magic players about the mechanics they’re most likely to run into while playing the game. But every now and then, we get a request from our audience that we just can’t pass up!

Banding is one of Magic’s oldest mechanics, and it’s one that has had players scratching their heads for decades. In fact, it has a reputation as one of the most complicated mechanics in the game. But never fear – banding is an incredibly useful ability, and we’re here to help you get the most out of some of your old cards.

What is Banding?

Here’s a situation you’ve probably found yourself in before: Your opponent is attacking you with a big creature, and you have a bunch of small ones. Rather than take the damage or chump with just one creature, you decide it’s in your best interest to block with multiple creatures. Your opponent divides up the damage between your creatures, and their creature is out of your way. Hooray!

Banding is a similar concept: when your creatures form a band, they can all attack or block together. The good news is, when your creatures form a band, YOU get to assign any damage dealt to or dealt by the band. So, whether your band is attacking or blocking, you’re always in control of how damage is distributed, which makes combat math a nightmare for your opponent.

A few more things to keep in mind when you’re playing with banding:

  • “Bands With Other” is a version of banding that restricts which creatures can form a band. Otherwise, it works exactly the same way.
  • All creatures in a band must be attacking the same target. You can’t send half a band at a Planeswalker and the other half at a player.
  • If a creature is removed from combat, it’s also removed from its band.
  • Creatures in a band don’t share any other abilities. If one creature in a band has flying but the others don’t, non-flying-or-reach creatures can still block the band.
  • Once a band has been declared (either in the Declare Attackers or Declare Blockers step), that band will remain a band even if the creature with banding somehow loses banding.
  • Multiple instances of banding don’t give any extra effects.

See? Not so bad!

Learn More

Check out the rest of our keyword ability primers:

Companion
Cycling
Deathtouch
First Strike & Double Strike
Flash
Flying & Reach
Haste
Hexproof
Indestructible
Lifelink
Mutate
Phasing
Trample
Vigilance