Magic: The Gathering – What Is Kicker?

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  • What Is Kicker?
  • How To Use Kicker
  • What Colour Is Kicker

One of Magic: The Gathering’s most popular mechanics ever is kicker. Lauded for being simply to understand and highly flexible, kicker is often held up as the golden standard for Magic design, and very few mechanics have ever managed to come close to its popularity.

There have been numerous variants of it over the years, but regardless of whether you’re kicking in Dominaria or Zendikar, or even helping Chun-Li with multikicker, there’s a lot to learn about this deceptively simply keyword.

What Is Kicker?

Kicker is a keyword that grants the card it is on an additional casting cost. When you cast a spell with kicker, you have the choice of either paying its basic mana cost for one effect, or paying both the mana and kicker costs for another, often larger effect.

For example, if you have the Gnarlid Colony in your hand, when you cast it, you could pay two different costs. You could just pay the base mana cost of one generic and one green for a 2/2 beast. However, if you instead pay the one generic and one green, and also the kicker cost of two generic and one green, you will have kicked Gnarlid Colony, and its additional ability of entering with four +1/+1 counters comes into effect.

Keep in mind that kicker costs must be paid while the spell is being cast, at the same time as you pay the rest of your mana. You cannot kick a permanent that is already on the battlefield.

While you could easily hop into a game of Magic with just this knowledge and do absolutely fine, kicker has been presented in many different ways over its long history. Gnarlid Colony is an example of kicker at its most basic, but there are numerous different costs cards may as you to pay. Everything from sacrificing lands (Bog Down) or creatures (Primal Growth) can serve as kicker costs if needed.

One rarely-used mechanic that returned in 2022’s Dominaria United was the idea of ‘and/or’ kicking that gives you different effects depending on what colours you paid and in what quantity. Cards with ‘and/or’ in their kicker cost are, in effect, telling you they can be kicked up to two times, with a different cost for each kick. For instance, Archangel of Wrath can be kicked for one black and/or one red, with you dealing two damage to any target for each time you kick it – for a maximum of four.

The third kind of kicker is multikicker. Like the and/or kicks, you can pay more mana into these for more effects, but for multikicker there is no upper limit to how often they can be kicked other than your own resources. As an example, pay one black for each time you want to kick Bloodhusk Ritualist, and your opponent will discard that many cards.

As one final note, despite “all mechanics being kicker” being a meme in the Magic: The Gathering community, something can only be kicked if it has an associated kicker cost on it. This means mechanics like overload, cleave, and mutate may feel similar to kicker, but ae not and have their own rules associated with them.

How To Use Kicker

Kicker is a massively flexible mechanic, thanks to it allowing you to get use out of cards no matter when you draw them.

The big win of kicker is how it prevents a common problem of cards sitting dead in your hand, either too expensive to cast in the early stages, or too weak to play neat the end. Kicker cards stay viable for much longer, thanks to them filling the role of both a splashy late-game play and a cheaper opening one on a single card.

There are plenty of synergies with kicker you can make use of as well. This is especially true in sets based on the plane of Zendikar, where kicker is a primary mechanical hallmark. For instant, throw in a few Roost of Drakes and Vine Geckos, and kicker goes from an extra benefit to the heart of your deck.

Multikicker can serve as a powerful win condition, assuming you can produce enough of the resource you need to pay for it. 15 red mana is likely enough to take out an opponent with a Deathforge Shaman, while infinite white mana turns Lightkeeper of Emeria into an infinite life engine. Though infinite mana in any format tends to be a game over with enough time, multikicker helps speed the process up massively.

In Commander, it’s important not to forget that kicker costs contribute to the card’s colour identity. For example, as Archangel of Wrath is a white creature that can be kicked for black and red mana, its overall colour identity is Mardu (white/black/red), and can only be used in Commander decks that allow white, red, and black cards.

What Colour Is Kicker

Kicker is a very ‘splashy’ mechanic, meaning it often incorporates multiple colours onto a single card. This makes tracking the colour of every card with kicker difficult. As colour is most important to the Commander format, we will be counting cards by their overall colour identity, rather than the colour of their mana cost.

We will also be including cards that both have kicker or multikicker, and cards that care about kicker without having it themselves, such as Risen Riptide and Lullmage’s Familiar.

In total, there are 239 kicker, multikicker, or kicker-adjacent cards in the game, as of Dominaria United. The most common colours for it are green, blue, and red.

ColourNumber of Cards
Azorius (White/Blue)8
Dimir (Blue/Black)7
Gruul (Red/Green)7
Rakdos (Black/Red)6
Selesnya (Green/White)6
Izzet (Blue/Red)6
Golgari (Black/Green)6
Boros (Red/White)6
Orzhov (White/Black)5
Sultai (Blue/Black/Green)3
Abzan (Green/White/Black)2
Jeskai (White/Blue/Red)2
Mardu (Black/Red/White)2
Temur (Red/Green/Blue)2
Esper (White/Blue/Black)1
Grixis (Blue/Black/Red)1
Jund (Black/Red/Green)1
Naya (Red/Green/White)1
Bant (Green/White/Blue)1

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