As you learn the rules of Magic: The Gathering, there’s plenty of game terminology you have to learn, too. Creatures have all kinds of abilities – but what do they do, and how do they interact with one another? We’re here to break it all down for you on the CK Blog!
Today, we’re covering trample – an ability designed to capture the feeling of being… well, trampled by a much larger creature.
What is Trample?
Normally, when a creature attacks a player and another creature blocks it, the blocking creature absorbs all the damage and the defending player takes none. But, when an attacking creature has trample, any creatures that block it can only absorb damage equal to their toughness. The defending player takes the rest of the damage.
Let’s look at a quick example. Your opponent is attacking you with an 11/11 Titanoth Rex and you just have a lowly Sanctuary Cat to block with. The Titanoth Rex will deal two damage to the Sanctuary Cat, but you’ll have to take the other nine. That’s a huge chunk of your life total!
Trample doesn’t just apply to defending players – it applies to Planeswalkers, too! If you attack a Planeswalker with a creature with trample and your opponent’s creatures cannot block all the damage, the Planeswalker will take the remainder.
Trample and Deathtouch
Of course, you can deal even more damage to your opponents if you combine trample with other abilities. Deathtouch – an ability that makes any amount of damage lethal to creatures – is a great one.
Let’s say you’ve managed to put a deathtouch counter on your Titanoth Rex. If your opponent blocks with their Sanctuary Cat, deathtouch allows you to assign just one point of damage to the Sanctuary Cat instead of two. Your opponent takes ten damage as a result.
Trample and Double Strike
Trample also works well with double strike – an ability that allows creatures to deal twice as much damage during combat. Creatures with double strike deal damage during the first strike damage step and the regular damage step. If blocking creatures can’t absorb all that damage, it’ll reduce your life total.
Swiftblade Vindicator is one example of a creature with both double strike and trample. This creature is an especially good target for the mentor ability – as it gets larger, it can deal even more damage!
Dealing with Trample
So, now you know how good it feels to attack with a creature that has trample. What can you do as the defending player to protect your life total?
Blocking the Creature
One thing to keep in mind is that you can always block with multiple creatures. This is usually a sound strategy in Limited – a format defined by creature combat. Just keep in mind that your opponent may be able to increase the power and toughness of their creature with trample and make your blocks accordingly.
If you don’t have enough creatures to block with, a good removal spell will do the trick. Even the mightiest beasts will fall to a catch-all removal spell like Murder or Banishing Light. If you cast a removal spell on a creature before it deals damage to you, you won’t take any damage, even if it has trample.
Popular Creatures with Trample
Here are a few examples of creatures with trample that you might run into on MTG Arena.
This giant jellyfish has plenty of good qualities. It flies, it allows you to draw cards and gain life even if it gets countered, and its size scales well throughout the game. But, if you find yourself facing a Hydroid Krasis in combat, don’t forget that it also has trample!
Stonecoil Serpent is another creature with a ton of useful keyword abilities, including trample. It’s also immune to multicolored blockers and removal spells, so approach this stony snake with caution.
Some creatures don’t natively have trample, but can gain trample via activated abilities. Shifting Ceratops is one of the most popular examples of this in current Standard. While it’s most notable for its ability to evade blue Planeswalkers like Teferi, Time Raveler, Shifting Ceratops’ trample ability should not be underestimated.
Kenrith, the Returned King
Like Shifting Ceratops, Kenrith can gain trample via an activated ability – and grant trample to the rest of your creatures! Kenrith often saw play alongside Cavalier of Flame in Fires of Invention decks, where the two creatures’ combined abilities could increase creatures’ power and allow them to get through for more damage.
Few creatures in Standard can end a game quite like End-Raze Forerunners. This big pig can make your entire army of creatures bigger and give them all trample!
Find Your Footing
There are tons of cards in Magic’s history that feature the trample mechanic. You can browse them all using Card Kingdom’s Advanced Search and narrow your search to find the ones that best fit your deck.
If you’re looking for more information on Magic’s keyword mechanics, check out the “What Is…” series on our YouTube channel, and stay tuned for more informative articles here on the CK Blog!