Prototype is mechanic from The Brothers’ War that appears on artifact creatures. Cards with Protoype have a special Prototype section of their text box, which, if you’re casting the card normally, can be cheerfully ignored. However, you can also choose to cast the card for its Prototype cost. If you do, you pay the cost listed in the special box, and the creature then has that mana cost, power, and toughness, while retaining any other text in its normal text box.
So in essence, you pay a lower total cost to get a scaled-down version of the creature. For the current crop of cards with the mechanic, that lower cost will have colored mana in it while the normal cost is entirely colorless, so the prototype versions are a little less flexible than the normal ones.
Simple idea right? Oh hey look rules notes:
- A card cast for its Prototype cost has its prototype characteristics (mana cost, power and toughness) on the stack and on the battlefield. Anywhere else, they have their normal characteristics.
- If a Prototyped card gets flickered (leaves the battlefield and returns), it will enter as its normal non-prototype version with all its normal characteristics.
- If you make a copy of a prototyped spell or permanent, the copy will have the Prototype characteristics.
- The card has the color identity of any colors that appear on it. The creature itself is only the colors in its current mana cost, so a prototyped creature will have the color of its prototype cost, where an unprototyped creature will be colorless.
Prototype is the Magic mechanic equivalent of “you get what you pay for.” It allows for your creatures to scale with whatever phase of the game you find yourself in, turning the cards into semi-modal creatures. It’s flavored for artifact heavy sets, so it’s not likely to appear all the time, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up again in the future.
If you want to get to Prototyping some decks of your own, head on over to cardkingdom.com!