Heartache by the Numbers: The MTG Fallout set keyword mechanics, explained cover image

Heartache by the Numbers: The MTG Fallout set keyword mechanics, explained

Radiation? Garbage? This game has it all!

We're weeks away from the March 8 release date for Magic: The Gathering - Fallout, the newest Universes Beyond collab. And while I already have every Commander deck pre-ordered, one question remains. What MTG mechanics, both new and old, feature in the Fallout set? We've seen peeks and previews of the various cards, but Wizards of the Coast talked about the various MTG Fallout keyword mechanics today in a blog post.

In addition to some returning keywords such as Squad and Proliferate, the MTG Fallout set features three new mechanics keywords. Junk, Energy, and Rads all appear in Magic for the first time while bringing some of the most iconic aspects of Fallout into the game.

Let's look at each keyword, examples, and what they do.

What are the new MTG Fallout keyword mechanics?

If you're new to the world of Fallout then we'll also give you a lore breakdown of what each keyword is supposed to represent.

New MTG Fallout keyword: Junk

  • Junk Token: {T}, "Sacrifice this artifact: Exile the top card of your library. You may play that card this turn. Activate only as a sorcery."

You never know what you'll find out in The Wasteland. Useful trinket? Cool gun? Glue? Any and all things are possible. The Junk keyword in Fallout MTG represents a broken world full of potential for those willing to dig around in the dirt. In the case of our friend Dogmeat, he digs up helpful items around the area to keep your feet moving along the dusty trail.

New keyword: Rad Counter

  • Effect: At the beginning of your precombat main phase, you mill cards equal to the number of rad counters you have. For each nonland card you mill this way, you lose 1 life and a rad counter.

Being that I am from the part of Appalachia where the Mothman myth originates, this one is near and dear to my heart. In the case of Rad Counters, this MTG Fallout keyword mechanic represents the ever-present danger of nuclear fallout and radiation. Much like in the game, it can be removed, but your health bar is going to take a hit.

If you're familiar with Fallout 76 then you know that The Mothman is no joke, able to spread radiation while swooping and diving. That is, if he isn't just creepily staring at you from the trees. Seriously, someone get this guy some binoculars.

New Fallout MTG keyword mechanic: Energy

Freedom isn't free and democracy is non-negotiable! The third new mechanic to the Fallout MTG set represents the scarcity of electrical power and its awesome power in the face of the post-apocalypse. Energy counters are simply a resource attached to the player, used to activate a variety of cards and abilities. Also, yes: Energy counters can Proliferate.

Oh, and speaking of....

Returning keywords: Proliferate

  • Choose any number of permanents and/or players, then give each other counter of each kind already there.

Selesnya players, celebrate. Your favorite keyword returns! In the case of Fallout, Proliferate is the perfect keyword to represent the hordes of enemies and factions all growing in numbers. The Enclave, ghouls, synths, or even your own Energy Counters! Just don't forget to bring your Rad-Away or you might have a bad time.

Returning mechanics keyword: Squad

  • Squad [cost] (As an additional cost to cast this spell, you may pay [cost] any number of times. When this creature enters the battlefield, create that many tokens that are copies of it.

The most boring keyword of the group? Probably! But, hey, little guys like the Powder Gangers need to stick together. The Squad mechanic first appeared in the Warhammer 40K set, so it makes perfect sense to return in another video game-adjacent collab. In the case of Commander, Squad is a payable keyword that can quickly get out of hand. Just like that time I started a New Vegas game where I planned on killing every NPC I met. Goodsprings got quiet in a hurry, ya'll.

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