Reach is an evergreen Magic: The Gathering ability. Creatures with reach can block creatures with flying. In this article, I look at how reach works in MTG by giving examples of reach vs other abilities, the best reach cards, how to play against reach, and ideas for building a deck with reach!
MTG Reach Rules
What do the MTG reach rules say?
This creature can block creatures with flying.Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules, 702.17. “Reach”.
Reach means that although the creature doesn’t have flying, it can block creatures with flying as though it did.
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The reach mechanic has been in the game since Alpha itself, where it appeared on Giant Spider. However, the reach keyword itself was only introduced in the Future Sight set. Since then, older cards with this ability have retroactively been given reach.
Since its introduction, reach has always been considered an evergreen keyword. You can expect it to appear in every set on at least a few creatures. Although it is most common in green (as green’s the anti-flying colour), certain red and white creatures also have reach.
Reach doesn’t count as flying though, so cards that check for flying won’t count reach. Similarly, if a card’s text literally says that only creatures with flying can block it, reach can’t block it.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths introduced reach counters, which work by giving a creature reach as long as the counter remains on them. This is the same for all other keyword counters, such as flying and trample.
MTG Reach Examples
Reach vs Flying
For example, let’s say my opponent attacks me with Concordia Pegasus, a creature with flying. I only control Gemrazer, which has reach, and Akoum Hellhound, which does not. As such, I can choose to block Concordia Pegasus with Gemrazer even though it doesn’t actually have flying.
Reach creatures can also block creatures without flying. Let’s imagine my opponent attacks me again, now with Angelheart Protector, which doesn’t have flying. I can block it with either Gemrazer or Akoum Hellhound, or even with both.
Reach doesn’t apply when a creature is attacking. So, if I attack with Gemrazer, a reach creature, my opponent doesn’t have to block it with a creature with flying or reach. They can block it with whatever they want.
If a creature loses reach after being assigned to block a flying creature, it still blocks the flier – but only for that combat. Suppose I equip Elven Bow to Axgard Cavalry so that it has reach. I then assign it to block Cosmos Charger, an attacking flying creature.
In response to my block, the opponent casts Disenchant, to destroy Elven Bow. Even though I’ve lost the artifact and Axgard Cavalry loses reach, it continues to block Cosmos Charger until combat is over. My creature can’t block flying in future until it regains reach, though.
Reach vs Hexproof, Protection or Ward
As such, if my opponent attacked me with Ascended Lawmage, which has both flying and hexproof, I can still block it with a reach creature. Hexproof doesn’t stop the attacker from being blocked whatsoever.
Reach + Hexproof
Reach plus hexproof is a powerful combination that creates a highly frustrating blocker!
A creature with both abilities will stop flying creatures and your opponent can’t get rid of it with spells or abilities! Sporeweb Weaver is such a card.
Reach + Vigilance
Giving your reach creatures vigilance is a good way to double their effectiveness. Now they can attack as well as protect you from flying attackers.
For instance, Elder Gargaroth has both reach and vigilance, which is why it’s such a great card. These abilities make it consistently threatening if it’s out in play. It also has trample and a host of versatile abilities that activate whenever it attacks or blocks.
Best MTG Reach Cards
Arachnogenesis (Reach – Green Instant)
Magic: The Gathering has a lot of fog cards, but Arachnogenesis is the best. For three mana, it prevents all combat that would be dealt that turn, except by spider creatures. And Arachnogenesis gives you a 1/2 spider creature token with reach for each creature in your graveyard.
It’s no surprise this Arachnogenesis sees heavy play in Commander. It’s effectively a removal spell too since you’ve suddenly got a bunch of temporarily indestructible spiders to block the meanest stuff that’s attacking you. You can then attack with them during your next turn!
Lolth, Spider Queen (Reach – Black Planeswalker)
Not only is she the goddess of the drow in Forgotten Realms lore, Lolth, Spider Queen is also a brutally strong planeswalker. Ticking up in loyalty whenever your creatures die, Lolth has good survivability and the chance to fire off an ultimate ability the turn it enters.
Lolth’s ultimate ensures your opponents always lose at least 8 life whenever your creatures deal combat damage to them. Furthermore, it also gives you card draw and an army of 1/2 spiders with menace and reach to make sure that combat damage goes through.
Crown of Skemfar (Reach – Green Enchantment)
Crown of Skemfar is an aura that turns the enchanted creature into Heedless One, giving them +1/+1 for each elf you control. It also gives them reach just to be sure. And when that creature is destroyed, you can pay three mana to return Crown of Skemfar to your hand from the graveyard for another buff later on.
Obviously, Crown of Skemfar is a fantastic addition to Elf Tribal decks, and it gives them an excellent answer to flying creatures too, something the green/black deck typically struggles with.
Robber of the Rich (Reach – Red Creature)
Coming in early and attacking the turn it enters, Robber of the Rich is annoying for your opponent to deal with! Whenever Robber of the Rich damages an opponent with more cards in hand than you, you can exile the top card of their library. But it gets better.
During any turn you attack again with a rogue, including Robber of the Rich, you can pay mana of any colour to cast that exiled card. This gives red some fantastic versatility and card advantage, as well as access to some of your opponent’s strongest cards.
Stonecoil Serpent (Reach – Artifact Creature)
X-cost creatures are typically significant threats, and Stonecoil Serpent is no exception. This useful artifact creature enters with +1/+1 counters on it equal to the amount of mana spent to cast it.
Of course, Stonecoil Serpent has some remarkable abilities too. In addition to making reach and trample available to all colours, it’s very survivable. To make up for being vulnerable to artifact removal, this card has protection from multicoloured. Enjoy blocking those dragons and angels!
Stirring Wildwood (Reach – Land)
Stirring Wildwood is a powerful manland. This versatile land can turn into a 3/4 reach creature whenever you need it and can also sit in the background to tap for green and white. It’s safe from most removal spells too, as those don’t target lands and your opponent won’t always have a killspell when Stirring Wildwood is a creature.
This card’s strength lies in its affordability. As well as being financially cheap, Stirring Wildwood only costs three mana to turn into a creature. Its relatively high toughness ensures it can survive multiple combats both attacking and blocking flying creatures.
MTG Reach Decks
Reach is most common in green. As such, buying green theme boosters is an excellent way to get reach cards. Zendikar Rising and Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths have great green theme boosters with several other strong cards.
However, because it’s a mechanic designed exclusively to counter flying, building a whole deck around reach isn’t a good idea. There’s a good chance your opponent won’t be playing enough flying creatures for you to get full value out of the deck.
However, if you are playing green already, you might as well sideboard some reach creatures just in case. Many reach creatures have additional abilities and high stat values, which makes them useful in general such as Gemrazer, are used in the Mono-Green Stompy challenger deck.
Ishkanah, Grafwidow Spider Tribal – Commander
If you really want to play a lot of reach creatures, you might consider playing Spider Tribal Commander with Ishkanah, Grafwidow. This is the best way to cram a lot of reach creatures into a 99-card deck and play a competitive commander with the keyword.
Ishkanah creates more spiders when it enters the battlefield, plus it continually has an opponent lose life equal to the number of spiders you control. Double whammy!
Ishkanah’s graveyard matters theme is also quite powerful, so adding additional options for graveyard play isn’t a bad idea. Similarly, its access to green/black’s ramp and reanimator packages allows you to get out game-ending threats quickly.
As such, an Ishkanah deck focuses on playing helpful spider creatures while filling up its graveyard with lots of cards to exploit Ishkanah’s delirium ability and make even more spiders. Then it reanimates powerful threats while using Ishkanah’s ability to drain the opponent’s life total for the win.
Cards used in Ishkanah, Grafwidow Spider Tribal include:
- Arasta of the Endless Web
- Silklash Spider
- Nyx Weaver
- Spider Spawning
- Stingerfling Spider
- Graverobber Spider
- Deadly Recluse
- Sweet-Gum Recluse
- Nim Deathmantle
- Kessig Cagebreakers
- Jarad, Golgari Lichlord
- Tooth and Nail
- Craterhoof Behemoth
- Emrakul, the Promised End
How to play against Reach
Use Removal on the Reach Creatures
As annoying as they are to play against, most creatures with reach don’t have hexproof, ward or protection. As such, they’re vulnerable to removal. So instead of using your burn to attack your opponent directly, instead use it to kill their reach creatures so your flying attackers can get through and finish the job.
Similarly, prepare your counterspells, killspells, and hand attacks. If your opponent is using creatures with reach, they’re playing green. Although green has some counterplay against control, it often won’t be enough to prevent you from taking out their blockers.
Combat tricks are also a good way to deal with reach creatures. After your flying creature gets blocked, play a combat trick to ensure that it kills the blocking reach creature.
Give Your Creatures Other Evasion Abilities
If you’re worried about reach, remember that it can only block flying creatures. Reach doesn’t work against other evasion abilities. Rather than flying, give your attackers abilities like protection, menace, or trample and play creatures that already have them.
Destroy the Card Giving the Creature Reach
Sometimes a creature doesn’t have reach inherently but is instead being given reach by another card. Usually, this is an aura or an instant. If you have the chance, destroy or counter whatever is giving reach if you can’t kill the creature directly.
MTG Reach FAQs
Do All Spiders Have Reach?
Almost all spiders have the reach ability, and it’s one of their major strengths. In fact, before it was made a keyword, reach was often referred to as the giant spider ability. Only two spiders don’t have it as they live underground in the lore: Giant Trap Door Spider and Root Spider.
Can Reach Attack Flying?
Reach cannot attack flying for two reasons.
Reach doesn’t apply when a creature is attacking, only when blocking.
Secondly, when you attack, you declare which creatures you are attacking with, but you can’t attack a specific opponent’s creature with one of your creatures. Instead, your opponent chooses which creatures they want to block with (if any). This can include flying creatures.
If you cast a spell that makes creatures fight, though, it won’t be an issue what abilities they have. As such, it makes no difference if they have flying, reach, or whatever. They’ll fight normally.
Do Giants Have Reach?
Does Reach Stack?
Multiple instances of reach do not stack. If you give a creature reach twice, this doesn’t make any difference. It can still block creatures with flying. Reach doesn’t do anything else.
Is There Reach Equipment?
However, since most equipment doesn’t cost coloured mana to play, if you want your creatures to block flying, it’s usually easier to give your creatures flying instead, that way, they’ll have evasion too.
Can a reach creature block a flying creature with vigilance?
If a flying creature with vigilance attacks, a reach creature can still block it.
A note: Reach MTG
In summary, reach is a valuable ability that allows your creatures to block flying. Reach is most common in green, and it will enable the colour to compete against flying-heavy decks.
A lot of reach creatures are spiders with useful graveyard synergies. As such, they work well in Ishkanah, Grafwidow Spider Tribal. Other reach cards are also versatile and see play in everything from Standard to Modern.
Because of all this, it is no surprise many decks use reach cards. They’re robust and reliable. I hope this article has helped you learn more about what reach does. Which reach creature will you put in your next deck?
More Magic: The Gathering Keyword Articles
- How to Build an MTG Deck
- How to Build a Commander Deck in MTG
- MTG Evergreen Keywords List
- MTG Counter
- MTG Counters (markers)
- MTG Deathtouch
- MTG Defender
- MTG Double Strike
- MTG Enchant
- MTG Equip
- MTG Fear
- MTG Fight
- MTG First Strike
- MTG Flash
- MTG Flying
- MTG Haste
- MTG Hexproof
- MTG Indestructible
- MTG Intimidate
- MTG Lifelink
- MTG Menace
- MTG Protection
- MTG Prowess
- MTG Regenerate
- MTG Sacrifice
- MTG Shroud
- MTG Tap and Untap
- MTG Trample
- MTG Vigilance
- MTG Ward