Making use of the ability Hexproof in Magic: The Gathering is a great way to protect your permanents. When used properly, your opponent can’t damage or destroy your most valuable creatures, artifacts, and more. On top of that, there’s even a way to protect yourself with Hexproof!
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What Is Hexproof?
Permanents that have the ability Hexproof in Magic: The Gathering cannot be the target of spells or abilities that your opponent controls. Specifically, by “spells,” the evergreen text for the keyword “Hexproof” is referring to your opponent’s sorceries, instants, and enchantments. Although you can target your own Hexproof cards with sorceries, instants, and enchantments.
Sometimes, a card grants Hexproof to other permanents you control instead of itself—or even grants it to others and itself! With that said, Hexproof only prevents targeting. If an opponent sorcery, instant, enchantment, or ability does not target something, it still works as usual.
An Example of How Hexproof Works
We’ll break down what does and doesn’t work on Hexproof permanents for maximum clarity. Let’s say you have a Sacred Wolf in play. Since it has Hexproof as an ability, it’s safe from most sorceries, instants, enchantments, and abilities…but not from all of them.
If your opponent casts a sorcery like Firebolt, they won’t be able to target your Scared Wolf. This is because Sacred Wolf’s Hexproof prevents it from being targeted by spells and abilities. Firebolt can only deal damage to anything it targets. If it can’t target anything, it can’t deal damage.
However, if your opponent plays a sorcery like Cleansing Nova (and chooses the “Destroy all creatures” effect), your Sacred Wolf—and all other creatures in play—get destroyed. Cleansing Nova does not target; it applies a blanket effect to all of something: creatures or artifacts and enchantments. Since there’s no targeting involved, Cleansing Nova works as it usually does.
How to Use Hexproof
Hexproof is mostly best used when trying to prevent your opponent from damaging or destroying your best permanents. Since it is a static ability (an ability that’s always active for free), you don’t need to worry about when to activate it or when to allocate mana to its usage.
Use cards with Hexproof as a way to attack your opponent with fewer risks. While Hexproof doesn’t make your creature indestructible, it certainly makes them harder to destroy. As such, you can afford to be a bit reckless with creatures that possess this ability.
Keep in mind that many creatures with Hexproof only grant the effect to themselves. This gives them innate spell protection from many threats—but not all. Hexproof can have a global effect across every color, though sometimes it may only grant spell protection against specific colors.
Creatures like Sacred Wolf (shown above) have a global Hexproof effect that protects them from an opponent’s targeting spells of all colors. There are other creatures, like Knight of Malice, which are only Hexproof from a certain color (in this case, Hexproof from white cards).
Also, there are cards that have Hexproof from other specific sources, such as Hexproof from monocolored (can’t be targeted by spells from any card that is only a single color), Hexproof from planeswalkers (can’t be targeted by the abilities of planeswalkers), and other variants.
Another great way to make use of Hexproof in Magic: The Gathering is to use cards that grant its effects to other permanents in play. This way, you protect more of your most valuable cards from your opponent’s spells and abilities. For example, you can put a card like Avabruck Caretaker/Hollowhenge Huntmaster into a green deck.
This can be especially helpful against decks that use a lot of sorceries and instants to damage and destroy permanents—such as many red and black aggro decks. Although this kind of tactic leaves you, as the player, vulnerable as a target option for offensive spell cards.
With specific cards, you can apply Hexproof to yourself as the player. This prevents your opponent from hitting you directly with sorceries and instants. There aren’t too many decks that focus on directly attacking a player; however, against spell-slinging decks, you shouldn’t put it past your foe to use such tactics.
How to Counter Hexproof
To get around Hexproof, use a way to damage and destroy permanents that don’t involve targeting. As mentioned above, cards that affect all of a type of card in play (sometimes referred to as a “Wrath” effect), aren’t impacted by Hexproof; they work normally.
You may need to be a bit sneaky to take down creatures and other permanents with Hexproof. For example, if an opponent’s creature with Hexproof attacks, you can block with a weaker creature and then buff your weaker creature’s power and toughness with an instant during the combat phase. Cards, like Defend the Celestus, can let you pull off such strategies easily.
Use Hexproof to protect your most valuable cards—and yourself—from your opponent’s spells and abilities. Against foes that use a lot of offensive sorceries, instants, and enchantments, this can be an ideal way to mess up their plans. Also, if your adversary has troublesome creature and planeswalker abilities, Hexproof nullifies these threats at no cost. Fear not the frenzied Firebolt ever again!