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Fight in MTG – Rules, Best Cards & Decks!

Fight is a keyword action in Magic: The Gathering. When two creatures fight, they damage each other equal to their power – but it’s a separate mechanic to combat. This article dives into how fight works in MTG, the best fight cards, how to build fight into a deck, and how to play against fight and win!

Ezuri’s Predation MTG fight card illustration. Image: Wizards of the Coast. Artist: Svetlin Velinov.

MTG Fight rules

What do the MTG fight rules say?

When two creatures fight, each deals damage equal to its power to the other.

See Rule 701.12 for more information.

Fight is a keyword action that forces two creatures to damage each other equal to their power. Creatures fight because of spells or abilities. Combat does not count as fighting, and damage dealt during a fight is not combat damage.

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The fight mechanic was introduced with the Arena land, which was a promotional giveaway card bundled with the HarperPrism Arena novel. However, it took until Innistrad for the fight mechanic to be made into a keyword action.

Since being made into a keyword mechanic, fight has always been evergreen. You can expect fight cards to appear in every set, typically in green or red. They have the theme of a duel, altercation, or ambush. Green uses fight and similar mechanics as creature removal.

Although fight is now a keyword action, not all cards that use this style of mechanic use the fight keyword. Also, because this mechanic has very specific wording, certain older cards with similar functionality have not received errata to use fight instead.

Fight vs Attack

Fighting is not attacking. A creature does not tap to fight, and fighting can occur outside of the combat phase. Similarly, a creature fighting does not trigger its combat abilities, such as vigilance or first strike. Creatures deal damage to each other simultaneously when they fight.

Unlike attacking, only two creatures can fight at one time. The opponent can’t choose to block a fighting creature either. Instead, the creature selected by the fight spell or ability has to fight. It can’t be substituted for another creature.

MTG cards Blood Feud and Dissension in the Ranks. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Blood Feud and Dissension in the Ranks. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Certain cards can also force two creatures that are controlled by the same player to fight, such as Blood Feud or Dissension in the Ranks. This mechanic is entirely unlike attacking since a creature cannot attack its controller.

Fight and Tapped Creatures

Because fighting has nothing to do with combat, tapped creatures can fight. Fighting involves two creatures dealing damage equal to their power to each other. There is no attacking or blocking, so it doesn’t matter if a creature is tapped.

MTG cards Celestial Unicorn, Duel for Dominance and Blizzard Brawl. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Celestial Unicorn, Duel for Dominance and Blizzard Brawl. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

So, for example, if my Celestial Unicorn attacks and then becomes tapped, it can still become the target of a fight card, like Duel for Dominance or Blizzard Brawl. Similarly, I can target an opponent’s tapped creature with the spell too.

Fighting does not cause creatures to tap either, so a creature can fight and then attack or block in the same turn. So, if Celestial Unicorn fights the next turn when it is untapped, I can then use it to block.

Fight and Double Strike

MTG card Blink Dog. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Blink Dog. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Double strike does not have an effect in a fight, as it only applies in combat. So, if a creature with double strike like Blink Dog fights, it will only deal damage equal to its power once, not twice. 

Fight vs Hexproof

If a creature has hexproof, it can still fight. However, I cannot target an opponent’s hexproof creature with a spell or ability to make it fight. Similarly, my opponent cannot target my hexproof creatures to fight.

MTG cards Cragplate Baloth and Tovolar's Packleader. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Cragplate Baloth and Tovolar’s Packleader. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

For instance, suppose my opponent controls Cragplate Baloth, which has hexproof. In that case, I cannot target it with any of my spells or abilities, which includes fighting. So, suppose I activate Tovolar’s Packleader’s ability to have an opponent’s creature fight another of my wolves or werewolves. In that case, I cannot choose Cragplate Baloth as a target. 

 

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Fight vs Indestructible

MTG cards Koma, Cosmos Serpent and Daemogoth Woe-Eater. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Koma, Cosmos Serpent and Daemogoth Woe-Eater. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Indestructible creatures can be very effective in fights since they can take riskier engagements. For example, imagine if my 6/6 Koma, Cosmos Serpent fights the 7/6 Daemogoth Woe-Eater. Despite taking 7 damage, Koma will survive the fight since it’s indestructible. Not only that, but it’ll also kill the other creature.

Fight and Deathtouch

Any damage a deathtouch creature deals to a creature is enough to destroy it, which makes fighting deathtouch creatures particularly dangerous. Even if they have power lower than the other creature’s toughness, it can still destroy it. 

MTG cards Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade and Ageless Guardian. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade and Ageless Guardian. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

For instance, if my 2/2 Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade fights the 1/4 Ageless Guardian, that creature will still be destroyed. Even though my creature only has 2 power, it also has deathtouch. Therefore, Ageless Guardian dies.

Fight and Trample

MTG cards Cinderheart Giant, Candlelit Cavalry and Zalto, Fire Giant Duke. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Cinderheart Giant, Candlelit Cavalry and Zalto, Fire Giant Duke. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Fighting does not count as combat damage. Even if a creature with trample deals with excess damage in a fight, that excess damage will not be dealt to the opponent. Suppose if Cinderheart Giant, which has trample and 7 power, fights the 5/5 Candlelit Cavalry. When that happens, Cinderheart Giant will not deal the 2 excess damage to the opponent.

As mentioned earlier, fighting isn’t attacking or blocking either, so even if both creatures have trample, no excess damage will be dealt to either player. So, when Cinderheart Giant fights Zalto, Fire Giant Duke, neither player will take the excess damage.

Best MTG Fight Cards 

Kogla, the Titan Ape (Fight – Green Creature)

MTG card Kogla, the Titan Ape. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Kogla, the Titan Ape. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Kogla, the Titan Ape is everything you want in a giant green creature. As well as destroying an artifact or enchantment whenever it attacks, Kogla fights a creature when it enters the battlefield. This way, in addition to your 7/6 beater, you also get some removal.

However, what makes Kogla so great is that it can also protect itself. By paying two mana and returning a human you control to its owner’s hand, Kogla gains indestructible until the end of turn. Now nobody can stop your monkey business.

Arena (Fight – Land)

MTG card Arena. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Arena. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

The first fight card is still one of the best. For only three mana, you can tap Arena to have a creature you control fight a creature an opponent controls of their choice. Not only is this good removal, but it also taps down both creatures. With that ability, you can also use Arena to prevent annoying creatures from attacking or activating abilities.

Arena is also such a powerful card because it’s a land. That means there isn’t much opportunity cost to running it in your deck. Especially in Commander, where you have 99 cards to play with, Arena can quickly take over the game.

Golden Guardian // Gold-Forge Garrison (Fight – Artifact Creature // Land)

MTG card Golden Guardian. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Golden Guardian. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

On its own, Golden Guardian is an unremarkable card. It’s a 4/4 for four mana, with defender and an ability that lets it fight other creatures you control. However, you can return it to the battlefield transformed when it dies after it fought a creature.

Golden Guardian transforms into Gold-Forge Garrison, which is one surprisingly good land. In addition to tapping for two mana of any color, Gold-Forge Garrison can also tap to make a 4/4 golem creature token. Essentially, with it out, you can constantly make more Golden Guardians to attack the opponent.

Dromoka’s Command (Fight – Green/White Instant)

MTG card Dromoka's Command. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Dromoka’s Command. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Dromoka’s Command lets you choose two of the following: Prevent all damage a spell would deal, have an opponent sacrifice an enchantment, give one of your creatures a +1/+1 counter, or even have one of your creatures fight. These are all extraordinary abilities.

Not only is buffing up a creature before having it fight an opponent’s creature a potent trick, but you can play it at instant speed. This way, your opponent will never see it coming. Because Dromoka’s Command is so cheap at only two mana, you’ll always have mana open to play it also.

Ezuri’s Predation (Fight – Green Sorcery)

MTG card Ezuri's Predation. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Ezuri’s Predation. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

With Ezuri’s Predation, green finally gets access to a great board wipe. This sorcery gives you a 4/4 Phyrexian Beast token for each creature your opponents control. Those tokens then each fight a different creature your opponent controls.

It is easy to see why this card is so good. Ezuri’s Predation can instantly rebuild your board, as well as eradicate everything with 4 or less toughness your opponent controls. And it gets better the more opponents you have too.

Kiora, Master of the Depths (Fight – Green/Blue Planeswalker)

MTG card Kiora, Master of the Depths. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Kiora, Master of the Depths. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Kiora, Master of the Depths, is a planeswalker as strong as she is versatile. Not only does Kiora untap your creatures and ramp you as a +1, but she can also draw cards and filter through your library with her -2. 

Her ultimate gives you three 8/8 octopus tokens, plus an emblem that lets your creatures fight any target when they enter the battlefield. Essentially, Kiora’s -8 can take out the most significant threats on your opponent’s board and give you an army of massive creatures.

MTG Fight Decks 

The fight keyword action is primary in green and secondary in red. Because of that, you can buy the red and green theme boosters to get some fight cards reliably. However, since there are only a handful of fight cards printed for each set, it’s a better idea to trade for the ones you want or buy them online.

Building around the fight keyword action is possible, although challenging. The issue is that fight cards don’t synergize well with each other. Furthermore, fighting doesn’t win the game on its own. It can only remove your opponent’s creatures. You still need to attack.

Because of these restrictions, it is best to limit fight to just a subtheme in your deck. Put in a few fight cards to let your creatures remove your opponent’s blockers or significant threats, and then attack unhindered to win the game. This way, you can still play fight without having to worry about a win condition.

Since you’re playing red/green, your creatures will have high stats anyway. Not only that, but these colors also give you access to great combat tricks and burn spells, which makes winning fights a breeze.

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde – Fight Commander

MTG card Ulrich of the Krallenhorde. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Ulrich of the Krallenhorde. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde is an excellent choice for a red/green commander. Not only does Ulrich buff your creatures whenever it enters the battlefield or transforms, but its night side is easily one of the best werewolves.

Whenever your commander transforms into Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha, you can have it fight any non-werewolf you don’t control. With this ability, you’ll always have guaranteed removal and a reward for following the werewolf playstyle.

Building around Ulrich is relatively simple too. Play all the good wolves, werewolves, and tribal support. These cards alone can make a formidable deck, as both Midnight Hunt Standard and Historic show. However, since this is a Commander deck, feel free to add all your favorite red/green threats too.

How to play against Fight

One of the best counters to fight is to ensure your creatures are better than your opponent’s. However, this isn’t always possible since your opponent will be playing green and red if they’re using fight cards. Still, when you have the chance, get out creatures with high stats as soon as possible to ensure your board can’t get picked apart.

Also, to play against the fight keyword action, make sure to use removal on your opponent’s creatures. They can’t fight your creatures without a battlefield of their own. Make sure to destroy it. A well-timed kill spell can easily interrupt a fight. After all, if you kill your opponent’s creature, the fight spell or ability loses its targets and can’t resolve.

Next, remember that you can counter the fight spells and abilities themselves. Use counterspells, hand attacks, or even mana tax strategies to contain the threat. If you have these cards, make sure to sideboard them in.

What also works against fight is using combat tricks. Boosting your creature’s power and toughness or giving it abilities like lifelink or deathtouch can quickly turn the fight in your favor. Similarly, burn spells can finish off the opponent’s creature.

Certain planeswalkers can also make creatures fight. These are especially dangerous since they also have other abilities that can ruin your game. Because of this, focus down fight planeswalkers when you see them before they get out of control.

Lastly, keep in mind that fighting doesn’t win the game. Even though your opponent might remove some of your creatures, they still need to deal damage to win. Prioritize actual combat first and fighting second. Make sure to hold some creatures back in case your opponent fights one of your blockers too.

Fight FAQs 

Does Fight with Fire Count as Fight?

Although it has the word fight in the name, Fight with Fire does not use the fight mechanic. Instead, it is sorcery from Dominaria that functions as creature removal. However, if you kick it, Fight with Fire can deal it 10 damage divided as you choose among any number of targets, including players and planeswalkers. Kicker gives this spell a use late game.

Can a Creature with Flying Fight a Creature without Flying?

Abilities don’t matter when creatures fight, so a creature without flying can fight a creature with flying. When fighting, creatures deal damage equal to their power to one another. There are no attackers or blockers, so abilities like flying have no effect.

A note: Fight in MTG

In summary, fight is keyword action that forces two creatures to damage each other equal to their power. It works separately to combat.

Combat does not count as fighting, and damage dealt during a fight is not combat damage.

Fight is primary in green and secondary in red. It’s best to use it as a sub-theme in your deck to help you deal with specific threats.

Fight is a fun action that can take your opponent by surprise. Add some fight cards into your next deck and have fun forcing your opponent’s hand!

More Magic: The Gathering Keyword articles

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