Keywords like trample are central to playing Magic: The Gathering. I’m sure you’ve blocked some attackers before only to learn that somehow you’re taking the damage anyway! This article explains how trample works in MTG covering rules, examples of how it can be used, the best trample cards, trample decks and frequently asked questions about trample.
MTG Trample Rules
This creature can deal excess combat damage to the player or planeswalker it’s attacking.Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules 702.19. “Trample”.
Trample means that if your creature with trample has power greater than the toughness of the creature that’s blocking it, the excess power is dealt as damage to the defending player.
Trample is an evergreen keyword, so you can expect it to appear in every set. It’s a staple of Magic, being used in almost every set since the first MTG printing and for a good reason. Trample allows you to take full advantage of your creatures’ power and closeout games where otherwise you’d be bogged down with chump blockers.
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For example, suppose Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, a trampler with 6 power, is blocked by Prismari Apprentice, a creature with only 2 toughness. In that case, Vorinclex will destroy its blocker. Then the leftover 4 damage will be dealt as combat damage to the defending player.
In this example, my opponent attacks me with the 6/6 Thorn Mammoth which has trample (as you’d expect from a mammoth)! I block the Thorn Mammoth with Floodhound, which is a 1/2. Floodhound is assigned 2 damage which destroys it. I’m then assigned a hefty 4 damage, which could be the end for me too depending on the circumstances!
Secondly, let’s say I attack with Cleaving Reaper, which is 5/3. They block with the 7/7 Demon of Loathing. In this case, there is no excess damage because Cleaving Reaper’s power is less than Demon of Loathing’s toughness. My attacker is also destroyed, which makes this a dumb move in hindsight.
In our third example, it’s my turn to use the Demon of Loathing, which is still 7/7. I attack the defending player with it and they block with both Guardian Kirin and Healer’s Flock. The blockers are respectively 2/3 and 3/3. Demon of Loathing destroys both of them and deals the 1 excess damage to my opponent. Because of its ability, they sacrifice another creature too. Nice.
Lastly, suppose I attack my opponent’s planeswalker Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate with Gilded Assault Cart, which is 5/1. My opponent blocks with Thunderous Orator, which is 2/2. Here, both creatures deal lethal damage to each other. The Gilded Assault Cart, however, only needs to assign 2 damage to its one blocker. The remaining 3 damage is assigned to Vivien as a result.
How Does Trample Work with Blocking?
Apart from assigning excess damage to a player or planeswalker, the trample keyword doesn’t give additional rules for blocking. The defending player can assign blockers normally even against tramplers. Likewise, the attacking player assigns the trampler’s combat damage to the blockers as they want to.
For instance, I attack the defending player with Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider while they only control two 3/3 Centaur creature tokens and three 0/1 Kobold creature tokens. The defending player blocks Vorinclex with both Centaurs and two of the Kobolds, keeping one back for later. Vorinclex takes 6 damage, which is exactly his toughness. Bye-bye, Vorinclex!
Simultaneously, I assign Vorinclex’s 6 damage as follows: 3 damage to the Centaurs, as they are the largest threats. Both Centaurs die, while the pair of Kobolds survive. For now. So, even though our friend Vorinclex has trample, I there’s no excess damage to assign because the blockers soaked it all up.
What If the Blocker Itself Has Trample Though?
If you’re blocking an opponent’s creature with trample with your own creature that also has trample, they don’t cancel each other out. If the attacker’s creature has more power than your blocker, trample still applies and you will take the excess damage.
If you are using your creature with trample as a blocker, after it has received and dealt damage to its attacker, any excess damage is not then dealt to your opponent because your creature is blocking, not attacking. Trample only applies to creatures attacking the defending player or planeswalker.
What About Trample vs Indestructible?
Trample is an excellent solution to indestructible creatures. Even though your trampler can’t kill the creature itself, it only needs to assign what needs to be lethal damage before assigning the excess to the defending player.
What About Trample vs Protection?
Trample works badly against protection, which includes protection from both type, subtype, and colour. For example, Baneslayer Angel has protection from Demons. So even though your Doom Whisperer might have trample, the angel will absorb all the damage this Demon trampler can put out.
Best MTG Trample Cards
Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Legendary Black Trample Creature
Razaketh is a tutor with legs. And wings. And trample. And an 8/8 body! Not only does this legendary creature tutor you precisely what you need to put that combo together, it’s also a severe threat that can end a game without any help. In fact, Razaketh’s huge size lets you focus on tutoring for the answers. He’s got you covered on the battlefield.
Embercleave, Red Trample Equipment
What do you get if you combine a combat trick with some truly brutal Equipment? Throne of Eldraine has the answer, and it is Embercleave. This Artifact enters with instant speed at a low cost and immediately boosts one of your attackers with both double strike and trample.
Overrun, Green Trample Sorcery
A classic card, Overrun is still famed for its ability to turn around a game even today. This Commander staple gives all your creatures +3/+3 and then trample to make sure that damage hits home and the game is yours. Genuinely fantastic sorcery.
Ride Down, White/Red Trample Instant
Another ridiculous combat trick, Ride Down destroys one of those pesky blockers that stands between you and victory. It then gives your attacker(s) trample to hit the opponent for some serious damage! It was a playset in Standard back in the day and it sees play in Voltron Commander decks too.
Yavimaya’s Embrace, Blue/Green Trample Enchantment Aura
This card is always annoying to play against, and it is hilarious to play. You steal your opponent’s best creature and then trample over their remaining blockers! Blue doesn’t often get trample, but when it does, it is evidently a game-changer.
Kessig Wolf Run, Red/Green Land with Trample ability
Play Kessig Wolf Run if you have the mana and at least one creature. This unassuming land turns literally anything that can attack into a major threat by pumping up its power and giving it trample for the rest of the turn too.
MTG Trample Decks
Trample is most common in Green and Red, although any colour can have it on a large enough creature. As such, if playing huge creatures and trampling over everything appeals to you, my best advice is to play Gruul.
Keep in mind that your creatures still need support. Although Red/Green has fantastic creatures overall, don’t neglect their potent buff spells and burn. Selecting cards that create a mana ramp might help you get these big creatures out sooner. Finally, both colours can destroy your opponent’s lands too.
Rumti recently made a spectacular mono-Green stompy deck for Arena Standard. He even got to Mythic on day one with it! The deck’s strength lies in its strong creature selection, highlighted by Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and Old-Growth Troll. Together these cards turn off your opponent’s planeswalkers and Sagas, buff yours and your lands, and trample over all the opposition.
If you want a constructed deck with some good tramplers, check out the Witherbloom Witchcraft Commander deck (Amazon link). It’s a great starter if you want a Black/Green Commander, plus it includes a Legendary trampler with some interesting abilities, namely Gyome, Master Chef.
How to Play Against Trample
Block with Multiple Creatures
Now that we know what trample is, the first way of dealing with tramplers is simple. Just block the trampler with multiple creatures so that their cumulative toughness soaks up any damage you’d otherwise take as a player. That way, hopefully, you’ll defeat the attacking trampler too!
Tramplers are Destroyed to Removal
Of course, tramplers are destroyed to removal too. So, why waste the lives of your precious creatures blocking the attacker when you can simply destroy it? Instead, use your burn, counterspells, killspells, or even a creature with deathtouch to handle the trampler.
MTG is a game all about counterplay, and I’m not just talking about counterspells, but watch out for those too. A clever opponent might try and bait out your removal with the trampler to play a more significant threat later on. Make sure to prioritize.
Take the Damage Yourself
The last option is to just take the damage head-on. Rather than losing blockers for minimal effect, you can simply refuse to block. This is often a good strategy if you want to play aggressively or have life to spare. Remember, you have 20 life or 40 in Commander, and you can keep going until it is at 0.
Even if you lose the first game, there’s still hope for the rest of the match. Remember that trample is most prominent in Red and Green and both often struggle against counterspells, so add those in if you’ve got any. Similarly, sideboard in more removal and hand attacks to deal with them, too.
If you’re playing Green against trample creatures, remember to sideboard in your fogs. These cards can prevent all combat damage for a single turn, which can save both you and your creatures. White and Blue can fog occasionally as well and can tap down enemy creatures too.
MTG Trample FAQs
Can I Give My Creatures Trample?
It’s easy to give your creatures trample. All card types can give a creature trample in the right circumstances, as I’ve shown above in this article. Some cards from the set Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths place trample counters on creatures, which give that creature trample as long as the counter remains on it.
How Does Trample Work with Double Strike?
Double strike is a keyword that has excellent synergy with trample. Often, you’ll find that a double striker will destroy all its blockers before they have a chance to deal damage. Giving your double striker the trample ability is a great way to avert this. With this combo, all the creature’s excess damage can be dealt directly to the defending player.
Like other keywords, however, double strike can also counter trample when its on the blocker. A blocker with double strike might successfully destroy an attacking trampler before the rest of the combat damage is dealt. If so, no excess damage will be dealt even if your trampler has higher power than the blocker’s toughness because your trampler is destroyed.
Does Trample Synergize with Deathtouch?
Trample actually has a great combo with Deathtouch. As the trampler only needs to assign what would be lethal damage to each blocker before assigning the excess to the defending player, giving your trampler deathtouch is very helpful. This way, you only need to assign 1 damage to each blocking creature before directing the excess to their controller.
Remember however that your tramplers are vulnerable to deathtouch too. Most creatures with trample don’t have protection or indestructible so, even though they might destroy a deathtouch blocker and succeed in dealing excess damage, they will die doing so.
Does Trample Go Through If My Creature Dies?
If your creature dies in combat, the excess damage is still dealt to the defending player. However, if it is destroyed another way before it has dealt combat damage to the blocking creatures, no damage can be dealt at all.
Can I Choose Not to Trample?
You can choose not to deal the excess damage from trample if you don’t want to. This works because trample is an optional keyword ability. Additionally, you can simply assign all the trampler’s damage to the blocking creature even if it is over lethal damage.
Is Trample Combat Damage?
Trample always counts as combat damage. This is because it is literally damage dealt by a creature during combat. Keep this in mind, as its important for a lot of other ability triggers.
What If the Defending Player Has Hexproof?
Hexproof, as well as the older shroud keyword, prevents a permanent or a player being targeted by an opponent’s spells and card abilities. However, trample does not actually target the defending player, so it will still apply even if they have hexproof.
A note: MTG Trample
Trample is a keyword ability that lets an attacking creature deal excess damage to your opponent after destroying all of its blockers. This ability is most common in Green and Red, and it synergizes well with both deathtouch and double strike.
Although not without its weaknesses, trample is a potent keyword and a mainstay of MTG. A lot of fantastic cards have it and more will definitely be printed in the future. So, put a trampler in your deck today. You won’t regret it!
More Magic: The Gathering Keywords Explained
- 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 Reach
- MTG Regenerate
- MTG Sacrifice
- MTG Shroud
- MTG Tap and Untap
- MTG Vigilance
- MTG Ward