What does ETB mean in Magic: The Gathering?

Enters the battlefield

In the world of Magic: The Gathering (MTG), players often use the term ‘ETB’, which stands for “enters the battlefield”. This term is used to describe abilities that are activated when a creature or card comes into play.

Let’s take an example. The card Griselbrand has an ability that activates when it enters the battlefield. Players might say, “Griselbrand’s ETB gives you 7 life.” It’s important to note that ETB abilities trigger when the card hits the play area, not when it’s first cast.

If a card with an ETB ability is stopped or countered before it comes into play, its ETB does not activate. So, it’s the actual arrival of the card in the battlefield that matters, not the initial casting of the card.

Another game, Hearthstone, has a similar mechanic called Battlecry. Battlecry abilities only trigger when you play a card from your hand. This is slightly different from MTG’s ETB abilities, which activate any time a card enters the battlefield, regardless of how it got there.

Example for using ‘ETB’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see that new card in Magic: The Gathering?

Yeah, which one are you talking about?

The one with the ETB ability. It’s called Thragtusk.

Oh, I know what you mean! When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life, right?