MTG Keywords Explained: Cleave

Card Kingdom Strategy

Innistrad: Crimson Vow is out now, and we’re here to break down the set’s new mechanics. This new keyword may seem complex, but once you get it down, you’ll appreciate the flexibility.

What is Cleave?

All cleave cards have an amount of rules text that appears in square brackets. If you pay the normal mana cost for the spell, you follow the rules text as normal. If you cast it for its cleave cost, you cast it as if the words in the square brackets didn’t exist.

A few notes:

  • The card’s total mana value and color are determined by the normal mana cost.
  • For Commander purposes, color identity can be affected by whatever the cleave cost includes. But no matter how you cast a spell with cleave, the mana value and color remain unchanged.

Cleave has essentially created a new type of modal card. These cards give you a certain effect for a smaller cost, or a different but related effect for a bigger cost. Check out all the cards with this mechanic at Card Kingdom!