Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering, Explained

Overcome death with unrelenting resilience!
Card art from the green instant Regenerate from Magic: The Gathering.

Key Takeaway

If a permanent that has Regenerate activated in Magic: The Gathering would be destroyed this turn, instead, its damage counters get removed, it gets tapped, and it’s then removed from combat. You can use this powerful ability to attack and block without repercussions since it prevents destruction in most cases.

To counter cards that have Regenerate, use spells that have the text “it can’t be regenerated” along with a damaging or destructive effect.

To keep your best permanents in play, you can use the ability Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering. As opposed to many defensive abilities, Regenerate allows you to come back from the brink of death instead of preventing damage or harmful effects. It’s all about perseverance!

Table Of Contents

    What Is Regenerate?

    If a permanent with Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering would be destroyed, instead, its damage counters get removed, it gets tapped, and it’s then removed from combat. However, regardless of how you give a permanent this ability, it only lasts for the turn during which it is activated. Also, you must activate Regenerate by paying its ability cost to make use of its effects for this turn.

    Regenerate does not prevent damage, as a permanent with it still takes damage as usual. When such a creature’s toughness gets reduced to 0, or below, the effects of Regenerate trigger after the damage is received but before the card is destroyed. Think of such situations as being very close calls. In this way, Regenerate work inversely to a lot of defensive abilities which focus on prevention as opposed to resilience.

    Crucially, you need to keep in mind that getting “removed from combat” is very different from getting “removed from play.” When a card gets removed from combat, it stays where it is—but it simply cannot interact with anything else during that turn’s combat phase. This means such cards cannot attack or block for the remainder of that turn.

    With that said, the latter two effects of Regenerate are a bit redundant in most situations. Creatures that attack or block already get tapped, which means they can’t attack or block again regardless of whether Regenerate has been activated or not. Keep this in mind if you plan to cast an instant that untaps creatures.

    An Example of How Regenerate Works

    Let’s say that you have a Blight Mamba under your control and your opponent only controls a Spawning Kraken. You then trigger Blight Mamba’s Regenerate ability. Afterward, during the combat phase, you attack. In response, your opponent blocks with Spawning Kraken.

    On the left is a Blight Mamba, a green creature card with Regenerate, and, on the right, is Spawning Kraken, a blue creature card. Both are cards from Magic: The Gathering.

    During damage calculations, your Blight Mamba’s toughness (originally 1) gets reduced to -5 since Spawning Kraken’s power is 6. However, due to Regenerate’s activation, your Blight Mamba instead has all of those damage counters removed prior to its destruction. Additionally, Blight Mamba gets tapped and is removed from combat—though, at this point, neither of those latter factors makes any impact.

    As for Spawning Kraken, its toughness gets reduced from 6 to 5 thanks to Blight Mamba’s power of 1. However, Blight Mamba’s Infect ability causes other effects to occur (which we won’t get into too deeply).

    Infect is a decent way of crippling stronger creatures (or poisoning your opponent), and Blight Mamba’s Regenerate lets this creature do so fairly easily.

    Now, let’s flip things around to see how Regenerate works when blocking. We’ll use the two creatures above for this example as well. Your opponent attacks with Spawning Kraken and you block with Blight Mamba. Right before the damage calculations, you activate Regenerate. After damage calculations, the same result occurs as when you attacked with Blight Mamba and Spawning Kraken blocked it.

    In this manner, blocking with a creature that has the Regenerate ability activated is a great way to negate incoming damage. You stop a dangerous attack without losing a creature. Also, in this specific case, your Blight Mamba’s Infect ability activates after blocking—which is ideal.

    How to Use Regenerate

    You can use Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering to attack and block without repercussions since it prevents destruction. As such, you can be pretty reckless when using creatures that have Regenerate—as long as you make sure to trigger this ability beforehand. Remember to always keep enough mana to trigger Regenerate, otherwise, it won’t do you any good.

    It’s usually a good idea to boost the power and toughest of creatures with Regenerate, as you want to attack and block with them as much as possible.

    Using Regenerate on Creature Cards

    As we mention above, Regenerate allows you to attack and block with creatures that have this ability mostly without fearing destruction. This ability appears on green and black creature cards the most.

    With this in mind, a green and black deck would be a solid dual-color choice if you want to make the best use of Regenerate-related tactics. Furthermore, you can give Regenerate to creatures with certain enchantments, sorceries, and other cards. An example of this is Asceticism.

    A green enchantment card that gives creature cards Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering.

    If you’re a fan of aggro decks, a Regenerate-heavy green and black one would be a decent choice. You can assault your opponent with waves and waves of temporarily unkillable creatures! One factor we haven’t mentioned yet is that Regenerate is also useful to negate the effects of non-creature threats.

    If your opponent casts an instant or sorcery that would normally destroy a creature, an active Regenerate ability prevents its destruction (in most cases). Again, it’s vital to make sure you hang onto enough mana to activate Regenerate when it’s most needed.

    Build Up Your Mana Pool

    A solid strategy for making sure you have enough mana to activate Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering is to generate temporary mana. There are a number of permanents that can do this—including artifacts like Treasure tokens (tap and sacrifice to gain 1 mana of any color).

    If you want a specific example, consider Kessig Naturalist/Lord of the Ulvenwald. When this creature attacks (in either form) it allows you to add 1 red or 1 green mana to your mana pool until the end of your turn.

    A red and green daybound/nightbound creature card in Magic: The Gathering.

    How to Counter Regenerate

    Despite Regenerate in Magic: The Gathering having great potential, there are a lot of cards that negate its effects. Other than that, if you can stop a creature with Regenerate from attacking or blocking, that’s the next best tactic to use.

    Look for Cards That Prevent Regenerate

    Use cards that have the text “it can’t be regenerated” along with a damaging or destructive effect to get around Regenerate. For example, take a look at the instant Annihilate.

    A black instant card from Magic: The Gathering that destroys a nonblack creature and prevents it from regenerating.

    There is a fair number of black instants and sorceries that have such text. In cases like this, there’s nothing that the controller of a Regenerate creature can do besides countering instants and sorceries like Annihilate.

    Prevent Regenerating Creatures From Attacking and Blocking

    If you don’t have any cards that directly negate Regenerate, you can always stop creatures with this ability from acting. For the most part, opponents with Regenerate creatures will try to use them to attack and block with impunity. To disrupt strategies like this, cast cards that prevent attacking and blocking—such as Pacifism.

    A white enchantment card in Magic: The Gathering named Pacifism that prevents a target creature from attacking or blocking.

    When you do so, it doesn’t matter how much an opposing creature can Regenerate. It’ll become useless unless your opponent gets rid of Pacifism. Alternatively, you can use cards that tap opposing creatures. Most of the time, such effects aren’t permanent, so be wary of that.


    The Regenerate ability works well with other abilities too! For example, getting both Regenerate and Trample on a high-power creature makes it almost perfect for attacking. You can destroy a blocking creature and decrease your opponent’s life points without the fear of losing a valued creature! When it comes to offensive strategies, fortune favors the bold.