MTG Keywords Explained: Fear and Intimidate

Card Kingdom Strategy

There are all kinds of creatures in Magic‘s Multiverse. Big creatures, small creatures; creatures you’d want to adopt as pets, and creatures you’d never want to cross on an interplanar journey.

Some creatures in Magic are just downright frightening and intimidating. And, as with all things in Magic, there are ways the game expresses those qualities through mechanics. Today, we’re going to take a look at two MTG keywords that capture the essence of scary creatures: fear and intimidate.

What Are Fear and Intimidate?

Fear is one of Magic‘s oldest keywords; in fact, it’s been around since the original Alpha set. Fear mostly appears on black creatures (with some notable exceptions), and creatures with the ability can only be blocked by black creatures or artifact creatures. Thematically, this is because black creatures are supposed to be “scary,” while artifact creatures don’t feel a sense of fear.

You may have come across a few creatures with fear in your time playing Magic. Avatar of Woe, Shriekmaw, and Shadowmage Infiltrator are all popular examples you’ll find in many Commander decks and Cubes, and they’ve each been reprinted several times.

In Zendikar, Wizards debuted a new twist on fear called intimidate. A creature with intimidate can only be blocked by artifact creatures or creatures that share a color with it.

Intimidate has been printed on creature cards of all colors, but black and red creatures tend to get it the most. You’ll usually see creatures with intimidate while you’re playing Limited, but a handful of creatures with the ability see Constructed play. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Lifebane Zombie, and Vela the Night-Clad are all powerful creatures with intimidate.

Finer Details

A few additional tips to keep in mind when playing with intimidate or fear:

  • Colorless creatures that are not artifacts cannot block a creature with fear or intimidate at all, including other colorless creatures.
  • An artifact creature that has a color can still block a creature with intimidate, even if it’s a different color.
  • A creature only needs to share one color with a multicolored creature with intimidate in order to block it; you don’t need to have an exact color match. Once blockers have been declared, changing the colors of either creature won’t matter; the creature with intimidate will still be blocked.

LEARN MORE!

Check out the rest of our MTG keyword ability primers:

Banding
Cascade
Changeling
Companion
Crew
Cycling
Deathtouch
Defender
Enchant
Encore
Epic
Equip
Fading & Vanishing
First Strike & Double Strike
Flash
Flying & Reach
Haste
Hexproof
Indestructible
Kicker
Lifelink
Menace
Mill
Mutate
Partner
Phasing
Prowess
Prowl
Ripple
Storm
Suspend
Trample
Vigilance