Magic The Gathering Arena: What Is Perpetual?

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  • What Is Perpetual?
  • How To Use Perpetual?
  • What Colour Is Perpetual?

Through the new Alchemy format and September's Jumpstart: Historic Horizons, Magic the Gathering Arena is hoping to position itself as a new, digital-exclusive offshoot of Magic to compete with the likes of Legends of Runeterra and Gwent. Full of new digital mechanics that make use of Arena's AI, it's one of the biggest things to hit Arena since launch.

One of those new mechanics is Perpetual. Fundamentally changing how the game treats cards, Perpetual is something that would have been a pain to do elsewhere, but works well digitally. Here is everything you need to know about the Perpetual mechanic in Magic the Gathering Arena.

What Is Perpetual?

To call Perpetual a 'mechanic' is kind of stretching the definition of a mechanic in Magic. It isn't a keyword ability like Seek or Proliferate, and it isn't an alternative casting cost like Mutate or Foretell. It's just… Perpetual.

Perpetual traits are modifiers that affect a card and follow it from zone to zone. Usually, a permanent loses all knowledge of its past when it moves to a different zone, from the battlefield to the graveyard or into exile. As far as it's concerned, it's a brand new, freshly-cast permanent, entirely unconnected for what it might have been doing in other zones.

Perpetual changes that, and effectively rewrites that card for the rest of the game. For example, Davriel's Withering perpetually gives an opponent's creature -1/-2. Even if that creature is killed, blinked, exiled, or bounced, it will always have that -1/-2 modifier added to its base toughness.

Perpetual only tracks any cards it directly affected. Say you had four Gloom Pangolins and one of them was perpetually given lifelink by an Ethereal Escort; the other three Gloom Pangolin cards don't have lifelink, but that one you targeted does. All of them could be shuffled back into your library, and you'd still have that one lifelinking Pangolin hanging out in your deck.

It isn't only permanents that can have Perpetual effects applied to them. Some cards, like Discover the Formula or Absorb Energy can perpetually reduce the casting cost of other types to, including instants and sorceries.

The Perpetual mechanic doesn't override later modifications to a card, despite the name. If you first perpetually give a creature -1/-2 with Davriel's Withering, and then an opponent targets it in their hand with a Sap Vitality which grants it +3/+0, the total stat change will be +2/-2.

As a digital-exclusive mechanic, Perpetual can only be used in Magic Arena's Alchemy, Historic, and Historic Brawl formats. It can't be used in paper play (primarily because there's no printed card with it on), and can't be used in formats like Standard, Modern, or Commander.

How To Use Perpetual?

Perpetual is both a powerful tool and a massive hindrance for certain kinds of decks, especially ones that regularly move cards from zone to zone.

Graveyard decks can make great use of Perpetual, as you can buff up your creatures and retain those boosts as it moves in and out of your graveyard. On the other hand, you also can't just sacrifice a creature and bring it back to get rid of a Perpetual negative effect, meaning your opponents can also scupper your plans even more.

Even if you're not running a graveyard deck that benefits from the persistence across zones, Perpetual can be a significant blow to your opponents. There are lots of uses for Perpetual that aren't using the graveyard in some way: targeting somebody's creature with an Ethereal Grasp can effectively lock it down for the rest of the game, or you can use a Fearsome Whelp to gradually make the dragons in your hand a lot cheaper to cast.

A good thing about Perpetual is that the stat changes can be gradually built up in a way the usual temporary buffs can't. You can pay two generic and one red mana to perpetually give a Scion of Shiv +1/+0 – repeat this every turn, and it could be getting massive with a relatively small mana investment, in a way that's difficult for your opponent to handle.

What Colour Is Perpetual?

Perpetual is one of the most popular exclusive-to-digital mechanics introduced so far. Appearing on 42 cards, it's among the most common.

There is a frustratingly close-to-even split among the colours, with white, blue, black, and red each having eight cards with Perpetual each. Green, unfortunately, only has seven (two of which are Planeswalkers, more than any other colour). There is one colourless card, Ominous Traveler, and two multicoloured cards.

Both multicolour cards are green, one being Selesnya (white/green) and the other being Golgari (black/green).

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