MTG Keywords Explained: Totem Armor

Card Kingdom Strategy

At it’s core, Totem Armor is a pretty simple mechanic. It appears on Auras, it it states that if the enchanted permanent would be destroyed, you remove all damage from it and destroy the Aura instead. Note that this isn’t you sacrificing the Aura – Totem Armor actually changes the effect of the spell or damage so that it destroys the Aura rather than the enchanted permanent.

And that’s it! Easy right?

Of course, as always, there’s a few…okay, a lot of notes:

  • The totem armor effect is mandatory, you can’t choose to have the creature die instead.
  • Totem armor only works with destroy effects, like damage or spells that say “destroy.” If the enchanted permanent gets sacrificed, exiled, bounced, or anything else, the aura doesn’t do anything special.
  • If multiple Totem Armors are on a creature that would be destroyed, only one aura goes away, the rest stay, and you get to choose which.
  • If the creature and the Aura would be destroyed at the same time (like if Planar Cleansing gets cast), the effect still applies and the creature will live.
  • If the Enchanted Permanent gains indestructible and would normally be destroyed, the Totem Armor sticks around. Also, if the aura itself gains Indestructible, that functionally makes the enchanted permanent indestructible as well, since the Armor would normally be destroyed but can’t be due to the indestructibility.

So yes, while the rules themselves are pretty simple, it turns out the way those rules interact with everything else can get a little involved sometimes. This still was a fairly popular mechanic, and while the design space for it isn’t huge, it could potentially still make a return.

If you need to stock up on some Totem Armor, head over to!