How Magic Cards work
Dryad Arbor

Dryad Arbor Russian

Last Modified 17.04.2021

We have a rather unusual card today to look at. It is played as a land, not a spell, but behaves as a creature. Please welcome Dryad Arbor.

Dryad Arbor

Oracle Text:

Land Creature — Forest Dryad

Alright, Dryad Arbor is both a land and a creature. We have seen this before, but only as a temporary effect of animating lands. Dryad Arbor posesses both card types without any animations. This gives it the advantages and restrictions of both types.

Dryad Arbor is played as a land, so it isn’t a spell. Playing a land does not use the stack. It cannot be countered. It falls under the regular limitations of playing lands: under normal conditions you may only play one land per turn, only during your turn.

Chalice of the Void

It is quite imprudent to “Chalice for zero” and expect that Dryad Arbor will be countered, since Dryad Arbor is not a spell at all. It’s actually written in the reminder text on the card itself.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

If Dryad Arbor somehow gains Flash, you may cast it at any time you have priority, but only on your turn and only as long as you have not played another land this turn.

Windbrisk Heights

If you hide  Dryad Arbor away with Windbrisk Heights, you should have in mind the minutiae. The effect of Windbrisk Heights’ activated ability allows to play a land, but without any additional effects you may do so only if it’s your turn and if you haven’t played a land that turn. If you have, Windbrisk Heights ability resolves but does nothing, and Dryad Arbor remains there hidaway until the next resolution of the ability.

AEther Vial

You may activate AEther Vial’s ability while there are no counters on it and put Dryad Arbor into play as it resolves, because it is a creature card with mana value=0.

You may even do so in an opponent’s turn, and even in yours where you have already played a land. That is so because Dryad Arbor is put onto the battlefield, not cast.

As Dryad Arbor is a creature and doesn’t have haste, it is subject to “summoning sickness”: you cannot cast it and gain mana off it straight away (Dryad Arbor’s mana ability contains a tap symbol!). You may also not attack with it unless you have controlled it continuously since the beginning of your last turn.

This doesn’t prevent you in any way from tapping it as an ability cost spelling “tap a creature”.

Chord of Calling
Burn at the Stake

Thus, a “sick” Dryad Arbor may be tapped for convoke, or as an additional cost for Burn at the Stake.

Knight of the Reliquary

As Knight of the Reliquary’s activated ability resolves, you may find Dryad Arbor, since it is a land card.

Wooded Foothills

The effect of Wooded Foothills’ ability allows you to find a mountain or forest (land subtype). Since Dryad Arbor is a forest, it’s a perfect match.

Birthing Pod

You may gain mana off Dryad Arbor and then sacrifice it to pay the cost of Birthing Pod’s ability to search for a card with mana value=1.

Primeval Titan
Grafdigger’s Cage

Your cunning opponent controls a Grafdigger’s Cage. As Primeval Titan’s ability resolves you become oblivious and find Dryad Arbor.

You will have to shuffle it into your library. You may find it, it is legal, but you may not put it onto the battlefield from the library, as it is a creature card.

Let us try to destroy Dryad Arbor, and we won’t use something as trivial as Demolish or Doom Blade, but we'll recur to some weapons of mass destruction with a sophisticated effect. For the first two cases, we choose X=0.

Engineered Explosives

Engineered Explosives destroys nonland permanents, but Dryad Arbor is a land. It doesn’t fall under this effect.

Pernicious Deed

Dryad Arbor is a creature, so it will fall under the effect of Pernicious Deed and be destroyed.


Perish’s effect isn’t that complicated, but it still generates some questions. Dryad Arbor is a green creature, so it will perish valiantly.

Now let’s try to remove Dryad Arbor’s abilities in a number of ways:

Turn to Frog

Under the effect of Turn to Frog, Dryad Arbor becomes a blue Land Creature with sybtypes Frog Forest. It loses all abilities, so it cannot produce mana.

Blood Moon

Dryad Arbor is not a basic land (it doesn’t have the Basic supertype), so it falls under the effect of Blood Moon. We get a green Land Creature — Dryad Mountain with the mountain’s mana ability.

Spreading Seas

Dryad Arbor enchanted with Spreading Seas remains a green Land Creature and has subtypes Dryad Island with the island’s mana ability.

Here’s a sad story about our today’s focus of attention:

Sacred Ground
Dryad Arbor

You control Sacred Ground and Dryad Arbor. The cunning opponent casts Darkblast targeting Dryad Arbor. As Darkblast resolves, Dryad Arbor becomes a 0/0 creature, then hits the graveyard as SBA are performed. Sacred Ground’s triggered ability doesn’t go off because Dryad Arbor was moved to the graveyard not through Darkblast, but through the game engine itself.

Alright, we've had enough bullying the land creature, let’s look at some bright sides:

Awakener Druid

Dryad Arbor is a forest, so it may be the target of Awakener Druid’s activated ability. As a result, it becomes a 4/5 green Land Creature with subtypes Dryad Treefolk Forest. It will remain so until Awakener Druid leaves the battlefield, upon which it will be reverted to its original state.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Through the effect of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Dryad Arbor gains another land type — Swamp, and the related mana ability along with it. It means you may now get either green or black mana by choosing the mana ability to activate (but not both per activation).

Essence of the Wild

Dryad Arbor hits the battlefield under your control as a copy of Essence of the Wild.

If you have played it you may not play other lands this turn, unless there are special effects that allow you to do so. And if you have put Dryad Arbor onto the battlefield through an effect ( Knight of the Reliquary), then nothing stands in the way of playing a land.

  1. 202.3a The mana value of an object with no mana cost is 0, unless that object is the back face of a double-faced permanent or is a melded permanent.
  2. The Dryad subtype is preserved because Awakener Druid’s ability text contains the magical words “still a land”, which immediately refer us to the rule 205.1b.

Translated by Witas Spasovski