(emphasis mine)

308.: Tribals

308.1.: Each tribal card has another card type. Casting and resolving a tribal card follows the rules for casting and resolving a card of the other card type.

308.2.: Tribal subtypes are always a single word and are listed after a long dash: "Tribal Enchantment - Merfolk." The set of tribal subtypes is the same as the set of creature subtypes; these subtypes are called creature types. Tribals may have multiple subtypes. See rule 205.3m for the complete list of creature types.

Creature Type: A subtype that's correlated to the creature card type and the tribal card type. See rule 302, "Creatures," and rule 308, "Tribals." See rule 205.3m for the list of creature types.

Tribal: A card type. Whether or not a tribal is a permanent depends on its other card type. See rule 308, "Tribals."

Following these rules, I don't know how to interpret the Tribal card type. So it's not always a permanent (in contrast to creatures). What does the Tribal add to a card as information regarding game mechanics? It comes across as a flavor of cards that doesn't have mechanical connotations, but that strikes me as odd—knowing the wording of MTG (so far in my experience). What am I missing here?


Let's take Eldrazi Conscription, which is a

Tribal Enchantment - Eldrazi Aura

and compare it to Archetype of Aggression, which is an

Enchantment Creature - Human Warrior

So in this case, both cards are a permanent because they're enchantments (in contrast to All Is Dust). The Tribal type confuses me. It does mention Eldrazi, which is a creature, but the card type doesn't say it is a creature. My intuition tells me that an Eldrazi Aura can only enchant Eldrazi creatures, but the card simply states

Enchant creature

so that means my intuition it wrong.

Does the Tribal card type have inherent mechanical implications, other than not always being a permanent?

  • 4
    To directly answer the question (since none of the questions do): No, Eldrazi Conscription is not a Creature. It can't attack, for example. The Tribal type is simply a hack that allows non-Creature objects to have a Creature subtype.
    – ikegami
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 5:07

3 Answers 3


Tribal came about because of this rule

205.3d An object can’t gain a subtype that doesn’t correspond to one of that object’s types.

Which meant that when Wizards wanted to make instants, sorceries, enchantments, etc. with creature subtypes, they couldn't. At least, not easily. Tribal was a work around. By adding the Tribal type, it allowed Wizards to do an end run around their rules without having to rewrite their rules (I can only imagine what weird edge cases would crop up if any card type were allowed to have creature subtypes).

For reference, there are only certain subtypes a card with a certain type is allowed to have.

205.3. Subtypes

205.3a A card can have one or more subtypes printed on its type line.

205.3b Subtypes of each card type except plane are always single words and are listed after a long dash. Each word after the dash is a separate subtype; such objects may have multiple types. Subtypes of planes are also listed after a long dash, but may be multiple words; all words after the dash are, collectively, a single subtype. Example: “Basic Land — Mountain” means the card is a land with the subtype Mountain. “Creature — Goblin Wizard” means the card is a creature with the subtypes Goblin and Wizard. “Artifact — Equipment” means the card is an artifact with the subtype Equipment.

205.3c If a card with multiple card types has one or more subtypes, each subtype is correlated to its appropriate card type. Example: Dryad Arbor’s type line says “Land Creature — Forest Dryad.” Forest is a land type, and Dryad is a creature type.

205.3d An object can’t gain a subtype that doesn’t correspond to one of that object’s types.

205.3e If an effect instructs a player to choose a subtype, that player must choose one, and only one, existing subtype, and the subtype must be for the appropriate card type. For example, the player can’t choose a land type if an instruction requires choosing a creature type. Example: When choosing a creature type, “Merfolk” or “Wizard” is acceptable, but “Merfolk Wizard” is not. Words like “artifact,” “opponent,” “Swamp,” or “truck” can’t be chosen because they aren’t creature types.

205.3f Many cards were printed with subtypes that are now obsolete. Many cards have retroactively received subtypes. Use the Oracle card reference to determine what a card’s subtypes are. (See rule 108.1.)

205.3g Artifacts have their own unique set of subtypes; these subtypes are called artifact types. The artifact types are Clue, Contraption, Equipment (see rule 301.5), Fortification (see rule 301.6), Treasure, and Vehicle (see rule 301.7).

205.3h Enchantments have their own unique set of subtypes; these subtypes are called enchantment types. The enchantment types are Aura (see rule 303.4), Cartouche, Curse, Saga (see rule 714), and Shrine.

205.3i Lands have their own unique set of subtypes; these subtypes are called land types. The land types are Desert, Forest, Gate, Island, Lair, Locus, Mine, Mountain, Plains, Power-Plant, Swamp, Tower, and Urza’s. Of that list, Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, and Swamp are the basic land types. See rule 305.6.

205.3j Planeswalkers have their own unique set of subtypes; these subtypes are called planeswalker types. The planeswalker types are Ajani, Aminatou, Angrath, Arlinn, Ashiok, Bolas, Chandra, Dack, Daretti, Davriel, Domri, Dovin, Elspeth, Estrid, Freyalise, Garruk, Gideon, Huatli, Jace, Jaya, Karn, Kasmina, Kaya, Kiora, Koth, Liliana, Nahiri, Narset, Nissa, Nixilis, Ral, Rowan, Saheeli, Samut, Sarkhan, Serra, Sorin, Tamiyo, Teferi, Teyo, Tezzeret, Tibalt, Ugin, Venser, Vivien, Vraska, Will, Windgrace, Wrenn, Xenagos, Yanggu, and Yanling.

205.3k Instants and sorceries share their lists of subtypes; these subtypes are called spell types. The spell types are Arcane and Trap.

205.3m Creatures and tribals share their lists of subtypes; these subtypes are called creature types. The creature types are Advisor, Aetherborn, Ally, Angel, Antelope, Ape, Archer, Archon, Army, Artificer, Assassin, Assembly-Worker, Atog, Aurochs, Avatar, Azra, Badger, Barbarian, Basilisk, Bat, Bear, Beast, Beeble, Berserker, Bird, Blinkmoth, Boar, Bringer, Brushwagg, Camarid, Camel, Caribou, Carrier, Cat, Centaur, Cephalid, Chimera, Citizen, Cleric, Cockatrice, Construct, Coward, Crab, Crocodile, Cyclops, Dauthi, Demon, Deserter, Devil, Dinosaur, Djinn, Dragon, Drake, Dreadnought, Drone, Druid, Dryad, Dwarf, Efreet, Egg, Elder, Eldrazi, Elemental, Elephant, Elf, Elk, Eye, Faerie, Ferret, Fish, Flagbearer, Fox, Frog, Fungus, Gargoyle, Germ, Giant, Gnome, Goat, Goblin, God, Golem, Gorgon, Graveborn, Gremlin, Griffin, Hag, Harpy, Hellion, Hippo, Hippogriff, Homarid, Homunculus, Horror, Horse, Hound, Human, Hydra, Hyena, Illusion, Imp, Incarnation, Insect, Jackal, Jellyfish, Juggernaut, Kavu, Kirin, Kithkin, Knight, Kobold, Kor, Kraken, Lamia, Lammasu, Leech, Leviathan, Lhurgoyf, Licid, Lizard, Manticore, Masticore, Mercenary, Merfolk, Metathran, Minion, Minotaur, Mole, Monger, Mongoose, Monk, Monkey, Moonfolk, Mutant, Myr, Mystic, Naga, Nautilus, Nephilim, Nightmare, Nightstalker, Ninja, Noggle, Nomad, Nymph, Octopus, Ogre, Ooze, Orb, Orc, Orgg, Ouphe, Ox, Oyster, Pangolin, Pegasus, Pentavite, Pest, Phelddagrif, Phoenix, Pilot, Pincher, Pirate, Plant, Praetor, Prism, Processor, Rabbit, Rat, Rebel, Reflection, Rhino, Rigger, Rogue, Sable, Salamander, Samurai, Sand, Saproling, Satyr, Scarecrow, Scion, Scorpion, Scout, Sculpture, Serf, Serpent, Servo, Shade, Shaman, Shapeshifter, Sheep, Siren, Skeleton, Slith, Sliver, Slug, Snake, Soldier, Soltari, Spawn, Specter, Spellshaper, Sphinx, Spider, Spike, Spirit, Splinter, Sponge, Squid, Squirrel, Starfish, Surrakar, Survivor, Tetravite, Thalakos, Thopter, Thrull, Treefolk, Trilobite, Triskelavite, Troll, Turtle, Unicorn, Vampire, Vedalken, Viashino, Volver, Wall, Warrior, Weird, Werewolf, Whale, Wizard, Wolf, Wolverine, Wombat, Worm, Wraith, Wurm, Yeti, Zombie, and Zubera.

205.3n Planes have their own unique set of subtypes; these subtypes are called planar types. The planar types are Alara, Arkhos, Azgol, Belenon, Bolas’s Meditation Realm, Dominaria, Equilor, Ergamon, Fabacin, Innistrad, Iquatana, Ir, Kaldheim, Kamigawa, Karsus, Kephalai, Kinshala, Kolbahan, Kyneth, Lorwyn, Luvion, Mercadia, Mirrodin, Moag, Mongseng, Muraganda, New Phyrexia, Phyrexia, Pyrulea, Rabiah, Rath, Ravnica, Regatha, Segovia, Serra’s Realm, Shadowmoor, Shandalar, Ulgrotha, Valla, Vryn, Wildfire, Xerex, and Zendikar.

205.3p Phenomenon cards, scheme cards, vanguard cards, and conspiracy cards have no subtypes.

As far as actual mechanics Tribal adds, the answer is it doesn't. It was a work around for a very large set of cards and rules that prevented having to change one of the game's most fundamental rules.

(The only thing that it does affect is the stuff pointed out in @erik's answer.)

  • On its face, the wording of "gain a subtype" doesn't seem to prevent them from printing cards that don't obey that rule (it would just exist, not "gain" the subtype?) but that would probably induce other, strange, consequences.
    – mbrig
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 18:58

In addition to the other answers I like to add, that the mere fact that it is a card type, and not a subtype or supertype for example, makes it count for cards like Tarmogoyf

And some other neat combo that you can do because of tribals is to keep on casting Nameless Inversion from your graveyard as many times as you have mana for it when Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is on the battlefield under your control


Some cards care about creature types on cards, e.g. Vanquisher's Banner (but that one only cares about creature spells). Door of Destinies on the other hand cares only about the type - it doesn't have to be a creature spell. So if you say Eldrazi as Door of Destinies enters the battlefield, and later cast All is Dust, you put a charge counter on Door of Destinies.

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  • 3
    This has nothing to do with the Tribal type directly, only indirectly as non-creature spells with creature subtypes also always have the Tribal card type on them.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 9:30

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