What is Cleave in Magic: The Gathering?

It's like Kicker, but not really.

MTG Shadows Over Innistrad Forest
Image via WotC

New to Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming set Crimson Vow, Cleave is a new alternate cost mechanic that gives players more flexibility with how they use cards.

While all cards have a traditional cost associated with them, some cards in Crimson Vow have what is called a “Cleave” cost. This means that a player can pay that cost instead of the card’s traditional cost, making the spell do something slightly different.

“You may cast this spell for its Cleave cost,” the mechanic’s rules text reads. “If you do, remove the words in square brackets.”

Assuming you play a Cleave card for its traditional cost, it will act in a manner that includes words that are bracketed on the card. But playing the card for its Cleave cost will result in a slightly different outcome.

Dig Up
Image via WotC

The new Green card Dig Up, for example, allows a player to search for a basic land and reveal it if they were to pay its traditional cost of one Green. But if you pay Dig Up’s Cleave cost of one generic, two Black, and one Green, you can search your library for any card and you don’t have to show it to your opponent.

While the Cleave cost for Dig Up, in particular, serves almost as a Kicker effect, other cards have Cleave costs that differ in such a way that Kicker wouldn’t be a suitable replacement.

Crimson Vow has 20 cards in total with Cleave. Ten of them are Uncommon and Ten are Common.