Menace – MTG Keywords Explained

Card KingdomStrategy

Creature combat is a fundamental part of Magic: The Gathering gameplay. It’s the most consistent way to win games, and well-planned attacks and blocks can make the difference in a game.

But there are some rules of Magic that make attacking and blocking slightly more complicated. Today, we’re going to discuss a keyword ability that will help ensure your creatures deal damage to your opponents.

What is Menace?

Spells that control how creatures can block in combat have been around since Magic‘s inception. In Fallen Empires, a card called Goblin War Drums required the defending player to block each attacking creature with at least two of their own. The ability was so useful that Wizards reprinted Goblin War Drums in Fifth Edition and Seventh Edition, and eventually the ability was keyworded as “menace.”

Menace is focused in red and black, and it provides a type of evasion that uniquely fits those colors. Black and red often want to deal quick bursts of damage with creatures and turn the tables on their opponents; what better way than to make your opponents spend twice as many resources on blocking than you did on attacking! If you have enough creatures on the board, and your opponent is at a low enough life total, they simply won’t have enough blockers to survive your attack.

Finer Details

Menace is a fairly straightforward ability that appears in many Magic Core Sets, but there are a few rules you should keep in mind.

  • Multiple instances of menace don’t have extra effects. You don’t need to throw more creatures in front of a creature that has menace twice; two will suffice.
  • If you have a creature that can block multiple creatures, you still need an additional creature to block a creature with menace.
  • If two creatures have already been declared to block a creature with menace and one of them is removed from combat, the  other creature is still blocking the menace creature and will deal damage as normal.
  • If a creature that can’t be blocked by more than one creature also has menace, that means it can’t be blocked at all! If you’re ever drafting Ikoria, try putting a menace counter on Bristling Boar.


Check out the rest of our keyword ability primers:

First Strike & Double Strike
Flying & Reach