Sifting through Magic: the Gathering cards, at a rate of about one color per day, has me thinking about the rules and mechanics of the game, most recently of creature types and how the game makes use of them. There are tons of creature types in Magic, and not all of them are exactly consistent, nor are they equal.

There’s an enormous number of elves and goblins, for instance — maybe more than any other creature type (for green and red, respectively). Black has zombies, but I can’t say if blue or white have a predominant “race” type. Honestly, black’s zombies might share types with elves or goblins (and both zombie elves and goblins exist), which goes to show you that not all creature types exist on the same level.

You have “races,” like humans, thallids, thrulls, dwarves, slivers, and the above-mentioned elves and goblins. Then you have “template” creature types, that usually appear paired with other types but work just as well as standalone types — zombie is the only type that comes to mind at the moment. If you ask me, undead should be a super-type, like “snow,” “artifact,” or “legend,” which can be added to anything.

Then there are “class” types, not unlike character classes in Dungeons & Dragons. You have clerics, warriors, rogues, wizards, soldiers, barbarians, and so forth, which again can be added to any of the “racial” types. It’s possible, even, to have a zombie elf druid. Mostly, you have creatures affecting creatures of a similar type, but you occasionally get lands, spells, or artifacts that interact with creature types as well.

I’ve been playing since Ice Age, and I know there are a lot of creature types that haven’t been touched in years. What exactly do creature types mean to the development team? I wonder what we’re supposed to make of them.