Learning how to use the Crew ability in Magic: The Gathering can be tricky at first—much like driving a car for the first time. Place a creature behind the wheel and get ready for a wild ride through one of MTG‘s most versatile mechanics.
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What Is Crew?
On every Vehicle, there is a Crew ability (it is an activated ability) that has a number next to it. This number represents the total amount of power from tapped creatures needed to activate the Crew ability of that Vehicle card. To activate the Crew ability of a Vehicle in Magic: The Gathering, you need to tap any number of creatures whose power(s) equals or is greater than the number next to the Crew ability. As such, you can’t simply stack your deck with vehicles—you need creatures as well.
After a Crew ability is activated, the Artifact Vehicle whose Crew ability was activated becomes an Artifact Creature until the end of the turn. While the permanent is an Artifact Vehicle, it cannot attack or block; it’s basically “just” an Artifact. Once it becomes an Artifact Creature, it can attack and block as any other Creature permanent can.
An Example of How Crew Works
Let’s say you control a Bomat Bazaar Barge and an Accorder Paladin. If you want to use Bomat Bazaar Barge as a Creature, you can tap Accorder Paladin to activate Bomat Bazaar Barge’s Crew ability since it is Crew 3.
After being crewed, Bomat Bazaar Barge can attack or block as you see fit for the rest of the turn during which its Crew ability is activated. Keep in mind that the Vehicle does not gain the abilities or any effects of creatures crewing it. The tapped Creature is the Vehicle’s “driver” and nothing more.
On top of that, if you were to attack with a Bomat Bazaar Barge crewed with an Accorder Paladin, the latter’s effect would not activate. In this case, Accorder Paladin is not attacking; Bomat Bazaar Barge is the only one that has been declared to be attacking. Accorder Paladin is tapped, and therefore cannot attack the turn during which it is crewing a Vehicle.
How to Use Crew
One of the best benefits of using an Artifact Vehicle is that it usually costs less mana than a Creature of similar power and toughness. What’s more, most Artifacts can be cast using any color of mana. There are times when such a permanent needs one or two colored mana—but these costs are easy to meet.
In Magic: The Gathering, you want to crew your Vehicles as much as possible to make use of their power, toughness, and battle-related effects. More often than not, your Vehicle permanents will have stronger abilities than the average non-Vehicle permanents of similar mana cost. Weigh the pros and cons of your creatures and vehicles to see which are more useful to you this turn.
Drive Your Vehicles Into Almost Any Deck
Due to it being easy to cast them, Vehicles can be a great addition to any deck that needs strong creatures. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what colors your deck is since you can use any color of mana to cast the majority of Artifacts in MTG. A prime example of this is the Artifact Vehicle Knight Paladin.
For five mana of any color, you can bring out this behemoth of a machine. You only need to crew it with a Creature possessing one power. Remember that Creature Tokens can be used to crew Vehicles. You can slide Knight Paladin into any deck that can generate Creature Tokens. This makes for an easy battlefield strength boost.
Thanks to Knight Paladin’s other excellent traits—Trample and its triggered ability that deals four damage to your opponent—it is an all-around solid card. Many other Vehicles fall into this same niche.
Attack and Block With Vehicles as Much as Possible
You can crew a Vehicle at a variety of different times. The most common instance is during your turn. However, since the Crew ability is an activated ability, you can use it during any player’s turn. This is the same as for any other activated ability; they all have pretty much the same timing as Instants.
With this in mind, you can crew your vehicles during your turn to attack, but also during your opponent’s turn to block. Conveniently, you can also crew a Vehicle with a Creature suffering from summoning sickness. What’s more, if you control a crewed Vehicle, since it’s a Creature, you can use that crewed Vehicle to crew another uncrewed Vehicle. Crewception!
Many vehicles have generally great battle abilities. Attack with your massive machines as often as you can! Thanks to their overall high power and toughness, you can make use of their battle abilities with relatively low risks.
How to Counter Crew
Although Vehicle cards have a lot of strengths, they also have a lot of weaknesses. There are multiple ways of efficiently countering the Crew ability in Magic: The Gathering, such as using Artifact destruction spells—and the ever-reliable method of tapping or destroying an opponent’s creatures. Which method you choose depends on your deck’s specialization. However, we should mention that Artifact destruction cards are frequently useful to have in your sideboard.
The Availability of Artifact Destruction Spells
Red, white, and green have tons of spells that can destroy an Artifact with low mana costs. Black doesn’t have too many spells that target Artifacts—but this color has lots of other options for destroying an opponent’s permanents. Unlike other colors, blue doesn’t have the best options for destroying Artifacts. It does, however, have plenty of tactics for countering the casting of cards, which is arguably better.
Since you can deal with vehicles fairly easily regardless of what colors your deck is running, the Crew ability won’t ever be that dangerous if you have a well-made deck.
If you’re an automotive enthusiast, the Crew ability in Magic: The Gathering is a fun mechanic to try. Mech-lovers will get some enjoyment out of this ability as well. In a flavorful sense, there’s also a lot of comedy potential—like crewing a Vehicle with a pig or a monkey. Through this manner, Crew resembles the abandoned Banding ability of the past…but is far better implemented.