Kids Like Kicker For What Kicker Has Got|
Moms Like Kicker For What Kicker Has Not
By Matt Hyra
There's a new ability on your Magic: The Gathering® horizon and it's called "kicker."
And this ability is like no other. It debuts in the Invasiontm expansion, and gives all cards that have it a swift kick in the butt. Kicker is the first special ability shared by creatures, instants, and sorceries. What? No artifacts or enchantments? Back to work R&D . . .
Here's a card with the kicker ability: Benalish Lancer
A 2/2 for 2W. Not so great. But pay the kicker cost of an additional 2W and you've got yourself a 4/4 creature with first strike. Now you're talking!
Kicker is a one-shot effect that you choose to pay (or not) when you cast the spell from your hand. So when you're playing a spell with kicker, you have to decide if you're going to pay the kicker cost right then. You don't have to splurge for the kicker if you don't want to, but you won't have the chance to go back and pay it later. You can't pay it more than once, either. (It says "You may pay an additional 2W," you big cheater.) Now even though you pay the spell's mana cost and kicker cost at the same time, they're two different things. Kicker doesn't change a spell's mana cost, so if someone played Spell Blast (an instant for XU that says, "Counter target spell with converted mana cost X") to counter the Lancer, it would cost 3U whether you paid the Lancer's kicker or not. However, since the mana cost and kicker costs are paid at the same time, you can't wait to see whether someone's going to counter your spell before deciding to kick it up a notch. First you pay it, then you play it. Finally, if you put the Lancer directly into play (when your opponent plays a Hunted Wumpus, perhaps), you don't get the chance to pay the kicker. If you don't pay the mana cost, you can't pay the kicker cost either.
Here's another card with the kicker ability: Benalish Emissary
This one seems trickier, right? The Emissary's kicker cost requires a different color than its mana cost.
You might be thinking that if you paid the kicker cost you'd turn the Emissary into a green and white creature. But you'd be wrong. Sheesh. It'd still be a white creature. A card's mana cost and color is determined only by what's in the upper right hand corner. A kicker cost doesn't necessarily involve mana, anyway. In fact, in future sets, you'll see kickers like [[[ CENSORED BY THE MAGIC TEAM ]]]
"But hang on, Matt," you ask. "How can I make this information work for me?"