Hello! Welcome to another article about our favourite TGC game; today’s topic is the MTG Hexproof keyword ability.
In this article I’ll go over the official rules, I’ll share what I consider the best cards with the Hexproof ability, the most useful cards that could help you raise your chances of victory, how to play against Hexproof in MTG and some general tips that you’ll find spread here and there throughout the article.
What follows are thoughts based on my personal experience of playing the game since the late ’90s, I hope you’ll find something useful!
- What does Hexproof mean in MTG?
- MTG Hexproof Rules
- MTG Hexproof Best Cards
- MTG Hexproof deck examples
- Useful cards with Hexproof in MTG
- How to deal with MTG Hexproof
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What does Hexproof mean in MTG?
The Hexproof ability is a static ability found in magic and literally means this permanent can’t be the target of spells or abilities controlled by your opponents.
Very strong ability and be careful not to confuse it with another similar ability in magic. The static ability shroud is very similar and it means “this permanent cannot be the target of spells or abilities“.
From these two keyword definitions, what can we notice? In the first case, hexproof, our opponent will not be able to target the permanent we possess; whereas in the case of the shroud ability no player, not even we who own it, can target it directly.
This mechanic has been present in magic since 1999, with the Portal Three Kingdoms expansion, the third addition to the Portal trilogy presented that year in Japan. The cards that possessed this ability were two creatures:
- Zuo Ci, the Mocking Sage
- Taoist Hermit
It was defined with a keyword many years later, in 2012 to be exact, with the release of the video game Duels of the planeswalkers 2012.
Also in that year, with the release of the m12 core set, it was officially introduced into the paper world of magic.
I’ve mentioned earlier in the article how much this ability bears a great resemblance to the shroud ability; in fact, hexproof is an enhancement of it, so this ability immediately replaced the other one.
Among all the abilities I’ve talked about so far, this is a very “problematic” one in Magic because it’s way too powerful and in some cases if the opposing players aren’t prepared they can find themselves in dire straits during the game.
With the expansion Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Wizards of the Coast introduced the mechanic of hexproof counters to be placed on a permanent, with the possibility of being removed by the opponent.
With the release of the Dominaria expansion in 2018, a variant of hexproof was introduced and it was called hexproof from [quality].
An example could be hexproof from [white], which literally means: this permanent can’t be the target of white spells your opponents’ control or abilities of white sources your opponents’ control.
Variants of [quality] that have appeared so far include:
- Hexproof from artifacts
- Hexproof from enchantments
- Hexproof from creatures
- Hexproof from planeswalkers
- Hexproof from monocoloured
Anti-hex is a static ability that a player can have as well, not just his permanents on the battlefield.
Take a look at the 2 cards below as an example:
The white enchantment and the artifact above give us the hexproof ability. The opposing player may not target us directly with spells or abilities.
I have briefly described what hexproof means but let’s have a look at what the official rules state:
MTG Hexproof Rules
702.11a Hexproof is a static ability. 702.11b “Hexproof” on a permanent means “This permanent can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.” 702.11c “Hexproof” on a player means “You can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.” 702.11d “Hexproof from [quality]” is a variant of the hexproof ability. “Hexproof from [quality]” on a permanent means “This permanent can’t be the target of [quality] spells your opponents control or abilities your opponents control from [quality] sources.” A “hexproof from [quality]” ability is a hexproof ability. 702.11e Any effect that causes an object to lose hexproof will cause an object to lose all “hexproof from [quality]” abilities. Any effect that allows a player to choose a creature with hexproof as a target as though it didn’t have hexproof will allow a player to choose a creature with a “hexproof from [quality]” ability. Any effect that looks for a card with hexproof will find a card with a “hexproof from [quality]” ability. 702.11f “Hexproof from [quality A] and from [quality B]” is shorthand for “hexproof from [quality A]” and “hexproof from [quality B]”; it behaves as two separate hexproof abilities. If an effect causes an object with such an ability to lose hexproof from [quality A], for example, that object would still have hexproof from [quality B]. 702.11g Multiple instances of the same hexproof ability on the same permanent or player are redundant.
MTG Hexproof Best Cards
Let’s quickly go over some of the best creatures that have the Hexproof ability.
Geist of Saint Traft
During the first Innistrad era every blue and white based deck, in the standard format, included it and won a large number of starts.
A 2/2 creature at 3 mana cost that was well protected thanks to its hexproof ability.
The big threat though was not the 2 damage, but the 4/4 flying Angel token creature that was created during the attack phase.
A double problem for the defending player.
Sigarda, Host of Herons
A powerful green and white 5/5 Angel. It has two very strong abilities, such as flying and hexproof.
His second ability can come in very handy against decks that make sacrifice their strategy.
It allows us to defend against cards such as Diabolic Edict, Liliana of the Veil‘s second ability, or creatures like Braids, Cabal Minion.
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
A blue/black dragon that costs 6 mana; not exactly cheap for being ‘only’ a 3/7.
This creature has flying and, of course, anti-hex abilities.
Its other ability is very strong if we have a deck that can support it, since it allows us to weaken all opposing creatures by -1/-1 until the end of the turn whenever a dragon creature attacks.
When combined with other attacking dragons in the deck, we can create many casualties among the opponent’s creatures.
Slippery Bogle & Gladecover Scout
We’ll look at these two creatures more specifically later when I’ll propose you a deck based on the hexproof ability.
They are among the best and most used among players using creatures with the hexproof ability.
I always like to be nostalgic in my articles, so even if a card isn’t currently among the strongest around I want to mention it for its personal sentimental value over time, without underestimating its importance when it came out.
Troll Ascetic is not a big deal, a 3/2 creature that costs 3 with hexproof; now they’ve definitely printed better cards, but with just two mana we can regenerate it.
This creature was a fundamental pillar of the old deck The Rock, the most solid green/black deck in 2003 in the old T2 format at the time.
MTG Hexproof deck examples
Hexproof is a great ability that allows us to defend our life points and permanents very well.
Can we use it to our advantage? Of course, we can! Let’s take a look at this deck used in the Modern format that gets some good results despite the passing years.
Bogles deck (Modern format)
- 3x All That Glitters
- 4x Daybreak Coronet
- 4x Ethereal Armor
- 2x Gryff’s Boon
- 4x Hyena Umbra
- 4x Rancor
- 4x Spider Umbra
- 1x Spirit Link
- 2x Spirit Mantle
- 1x Unflinching Courage
Bogles deck analysis:
The mana is a classic mana base for a white/green deck: 19 lands, 4 of which are fetches; we don’t need more as our deck has a very low curve.
As for creatures we only have 3 types, four of each, and 2 of these are our attacking creatures.
Slippery Bogle & Gladecover Scout
2 creatures that only cost 1 mana and therefore must absolutely enter the battlefield on turn 1, otherwise mulligan right away!
Both have the hexproof ability, which will defend them very well against your opponent’s removal cards.
The basic idea is that both of these two creatures will be boosted out of all proportion and thrown at our opponent.
This creature, on the other hand, does not possess hexproof but nothing prevents us from boosting it, making it very strong.
Its second ability, which has great synergy with our deck, allows us to speed up our game a lot by increasing the number of our draws.
I told you that our creatures will all be upgraded beyond measure. How? Simple, the other 29 spells introduced in this deck are all aura spells.
We’ve introduced all kinds of them to give all sorts of abilities and enhancements to our creatures.
All That Glitters & Ethereal Armor
These auras simulate Kor Spiritdancer’s first ability and enhance our creature with +1/+1 for each spell and/or artefact we control; in this deck, we have quite some of them.
Rancor & Unflinching Courage
These two spells, in addition to increasing the strength of the creature they are placed on, also allow us to give that creature the trample ability.
The large amount of damage from the trample ability combined with our opponent’s inability to target our creature can be lethal, especially if we are very quick to start and set up our attack strategy.
The spell that allows us to make our creature unblockable. Guaranteed damage with no possibility of blocking.
Spider Humbra & Hyena Umbra
They are our defence.
Thanks to the Totem Armor ability, should our creature be unfortunate enough to be destroyed we instantly remove all damage inflicted to it and destroy this spell. Double life for our creature.
Taking a look at this list, we realise the importance of the hexproof ability combined with all these spells.
We have to be very fast. Play one of the two creatures with this ability right away and try to play a good number of spells on it to increase the amount of damage inflicted to our opponent from the very first turns.
Useful cards with Hexproof in MTG
We have other ways of using this ability that we like so much.
For example, if we put other creatures we like in our deck, regardless of whether the hexproof ability or not, we can make them earn it in other ways.
Let’s take a look at other permanent and instant/sorcery cards that make us or our permanents gain this ability.
Veil of Summer
A green instant played in many decks. If played in response to a blue or black spell cast by an opponent it allows us to draw a card.
Our spells cannot be countered this turn and we and our permanents get hexproof from blue and black until the end of the turn.
It is one of those hexproof from [quality] cases we saw at the beginning of the article.
An equipment artifact used extensively in commander decks to protect the commander.
It remains on the battlefield even when unassigned and we can assign it to one of our creatures by spending 1 single colourless mana to make it gain hexproof and haste.
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
This white angel doesn’t have the hexproof ability, but it does have the ability to give it to every other creature and planeswalker we control, making us gain it as well.
A great total defence, and thanks to its second ability we can put a +1/+1 counter on every creature we control, including the angel itself.
Ranger’s Guile & Beaming Defiance
These two green and white instants are very similar and enhance the target creature with +1/+1 and +2/+2 as well as give that creature the hexproof ability until the end of the turn.
Blue aura enchantment we can use to enchant a permanent, give it the hexproof ability and defend it from possible threats.
Plus if it is a legendary permanent or an artifact or a saga, we draw two cards when it leaves the battlefield.
As far as our beloved lands, I would like to point out two of them:
- Lotus Field
- Lumbering Falls
Card land with anti-hex, unfortunately with double ‘duty’ to pay. It enters the battlefield tapped and on its entry we have to sacrifice two of our lands.
A fair trade-off for its mana ability. Like everyone’s favourite Black Lotus we add as many as three mana of any colour to our reserve.
The Simic version of the Zendikar-like animated lands.
Like the others, it also enters the battlefield capped. Characterised by the colours green and blue, we can add one or the other colour to our mana pool.
By spending 4 mana (2 colourless and one specifically blue and green) this land transforms into a 3/3 green and blue elemental creature with the hexproof ability until the end of the turn.
How to deal with MTG Hexproof
Seen like this it may seem like an ability we can only raise the white flag against, but let’s not despair.
We know magic gives balance in its complexity, so let’s brainstorm together and figure out how to damage creatures with hexproof or players who want to feel as safe as possible with this ability.
Hexproof is a static ability that doesn’t allow the permanent to be targeted by opposing spells or abilities; perfect, we won’t target the player directly, but we’ll use what we call generic spells.
Against the opponent’s creatures we can use the ultimate Magic symbol of mass destruction:
Wrath of God
All creatures in play are destroyed and they can’t be regenerated.
We target nothing. We destroy everything.
If we use a bleu colour deck and have no spells that can destroy creatures, this card could be helpful.
In this case, each creature will not be destroyed but will return to its owner’s hand, so any aura spell assigned to a creature will end up in the graveyard.
Archetype of Endurance & Arcane Lighthouse
The first is an enchantment creature, the second a land, and both give us the ability to make our opponent lose hexproof. Very useful!
A creature with anti-Moss Viper can be destroyed in combat if we have a creature like Moss Viper on our battlefield.
A very simple 1/1 with lethal touch, which if put on defence to block a creature like the Bogle seen above, complete with golden spells to make it even stronger and more threatening, could destroy it by inflicting a single point of damage in combat.