One of the first things new Magic: The Gathering players learn is that creatures can’t attack the turn they come into play. This rule is commonly referred to as “summoning sickness,” and it afflicts all creatures, from the tiniest insects to the mightiest beasts.
Well, almost all creatures, that is! There’s one keyword ability in Magic that will allow your creatures to charge into the red zone the turn they hit the table. And if you like playing aggressive, creature-based decks, this ability will be one of our surest routes to victory.
What is Haste?
Haste allows creatures to attack – or tap/untap to activate any abilities – the turn they come into play under your control. It’s been around since the early days of Magic – it was first introduced in Alpha and officially keyworded in 6th Edition. It first appeared on the card Nether Shadow and is still a common ability for black creatures, though it’s become more popular in red and green.
Most new players find haste easy to understand, but you may be unsure whether haste is relevant in a few situations. Let’s go through a few quick examples.
If your creature has an activated ability to requires it to tap – like Llanowar Elves – you cannot tap it the turn it comes into play unless it has haste. However, if a creature has an activated ability that doesn’t require it to tap – like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose – you can still activate that ability the turn it comes into play, even if the creature doesn’t have haste.
Some abilities, such as convoke, allow you to tap untapped creatures to pay costs. In this case, haste doesn’t apply – you can tap the creatures to convoke the turn they come into play regardless.
Finally, if you gain control of an opponent’s creature and it doesn’t have haste, it can’t attack unless it has been under your control since your previous turn. You may notice that Act of Treason and similar effects specifically give the target creature haste – that way, you can attack with your opponent’s creature and hopefully win the game before you have to give it back.
Examples of Haste
Haste is a common ability, and odds are you’ve run into it at least a few times in your games. Here are a few notable cards with haste that you’ll want to look out for.
This giant beast is one of green players’ favorite win conditions. When Craterhoof Behemoth hits the field, it gives all your creatures +X/+X and trample – including itself! “Hoofie” has been known to mow down unsuspecting opponents, and with enough creatures in play, you can knock out several players in Commander.
Green beasts with haste come in all shapes and sizes, and Questing Beast is the one you’re most likely to run into in Standard. Its combined abilities allow it to deal damage to Planeswalkers right away while protecting your own life total from attackers.
Haste and flying can be a deadly combination. Your creatures can attack right away, and your opponent may not be able to block! If Rankle deals damage to your opponent, you’ll be able to pull any number of pranks: you can make them discard cards, sacrifice valuable creatures, or draw cards at a painful price.
Kiki-Jiki has haste, and it can create tokens with haste, too! Kiki has been a fixture in creature-based combo decks, where it can “go infinite” with cards like Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, and Restoration Angel.
Like most keyword abilities, haste can be granted to creatures via artifacts and enchantments. The most common of these is Akroma’s Memorial, a Commander staple that will give most creature-based decks a leg up in combat.
Check out the rest of our keyword ability primers: