MTG Ward – Rules and Interactions Explained

Ward is a new MTG mechanic in Strixhaven: School of Mages. In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about this new mechanic, including:

  • How Ward works
  • Examples of Ward cards
  • MTG Ward FAQ
  • And more!

Let’s start.

How Does MTG Ward Work?

Ward is a triggered ability that appears on permanent cards. When a permanent you control with the Ward ability becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, that opponent has to pay the Ward cost specified on your card. If they don’t, their spell or ability gets countered. Hopefully, that doesn’t sound too complicated. Let’s look at some examples.

Ward Example

Owlin Shieldmage How does Ward work MTG?

One new MTG Strixhaven card with the Ward ability is Owlin Shieldmage. It is a 3/3 creature with flying that can be cast for five mana. While it is on the battlefield, it has the Ward ability. In the case of Owlin Shieldmage, the Ward ability requires your opponent to pay three life to resolve a spell or ability that targets it.

Here is one more example:

Waterfall Aerialist Ward Rules

Waterfall Aerialist is another new card with the MTG Ward ability. It costs four mana to and is a 3/1 creature with flying. While on the battlefield, it also has the Ward ability. However, for Waterfall Aerialist, the Ward ability requires your opponent to pay two mana if they want their spell or ability targeting it to resolve.

I hope that those examples have cleared up how the MTG Ward ability works. If you have any further questions, they will hopefully be cleared up in our FAQ section.

MTG Ward – FAQ

If I target something that has Ward with two spells, will I have to pay for Ward twice?

Yes. The Ward ability will trigger each time a card with Ward is targeted by a spell or ability an opponent controls.

For example, if a Sedgemoor Witch is targeted by two of your opponent’s Spikefield Hazard‘s, your opponent will have to pay six life in total. Three for each spell or ability targeting the Warded card.

Sedgemoor Witch

If I target something with Ward with a spell, do I still have to pay the spell’s mana cost?

Yes, the ward ability is an additional cost not a replacement cost.

For example, targeting your opponent’s Owlin Shieldmage with a Murder requires you to pay three mana and three life.

Do I have to pay the Ward cost for my spell/ ability to resolve if it can’t be countered?

No. If you cast an uncounterable spell or ability targeting a creature with Ward, you don’t need to pay the Ward cost.

This is because of the wording of the Ward ability. ‘Whenever this Creature becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays x.’ Since the spell or ability can’t be countered, the Ward ability has no effect.

Do you have any specific questions about Ward? Please ask us in the comments and we will answer as quickly as we can.

MTG Ward – Flavor

One thing that is important about Strixhaven university is a degree of privacy. You don’t want anyone stealing potions from your locker or copying your test. The Ward ability represents this, making sure that your enemies pay an extra price for trying to copy your test results, or in this case, targeting your Creature with their spells and abilities.

MTG Ward – Interesting Interactions

MTG Ward cards and Sphinx of the Final Word

Sphinx of the Final Word Ward Interactions

If your opponent is brining a deck full of Ward cards, one way to crush them is Sphinx of the Final Word. This card negates a large part of your opponent’s Ward effects, making Ward cards useless against Instant and Sorcery spells that you control.

As previously mentioned, this is due to the wording of Ward, which states that if the Ward cost is not payed, then the spell or ability will be countered. Since Sphinx of the Final Word makes your Instants and Sorceries uncounterable, the Ward ability will have no effect. (It will still affect abilities.)

MTG Ward cards and Strionic Resonator

Strionic Resonator

Another interesting interaction with the MTG Ward ability gives you the opportunity to make your Ward cards more impactful. Since Ward is a triggered ability, you can copy Ward abilities with Strionic Resonator. This can make your opponent pay double the price for targeting one of your Ward creatures with a removal spell.

Warding Off

Thanks for reading about the Ward ability. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how Ward works and how to use it to your advantage in game. If you still have questions about Ward that you’d like answered, make sure to ask them in the comment section.

If you’re looking for more articles to improve your MTG knowledge, maybe you’ll like some of the following ones:

Until next time, and keep protecting your creatures!

7 thoughts on “MTG Ward – Rules and Interactions Explained”

  1. Does multiple instances of ward on a single creature stack? For example, using a new card from modern Horizons 2, Svyelun, God of Sea and Sky equipped with Helm of the Host to create multiple non-legendary copies of it, since it says “Other merfolk you control have Ward 1” if you have 3 of this card, does the Ward ability mean that they each increase to Ward 2 (due to multiple cards giving ward) or do they each just have Ward 1 because it doesn’t stack?

    • Yes, there would be two instances of ward. So you’d have to pay two mana for the first instance and then one mana for the second instance.


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