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For other uses, see Draw (disambiguation).

Card draw is a regular part of a player's draw step. It is also a mechanic that may lead to card advantage.[1][2][3][4][5]

Description[ | ]

A player draws a card by putting the top card of their library into their hand. Card drawing may also be done as part of a cost or effect of a spell or ability. If an effect moves cards from a player’s library to that player’s hand without using the word “draw”, the player has not drawn those cards. This makes a difference for abilities that trigger on drawing cards or that replace card draws, as well as if the player’s library is empty. The colors of the color pie make different use of card drawing. The mechanic is primary in blue, secondary in black and green, and tertiary in white and red.[6]

Rules[ | ]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Draw
1. To put the top card of a player’s library into their hand as a turn-based action or as the result of an effect that uses the word “draw.” See rule 121, “Drawing a Card.”
2. The result of a game in which neither player wins or loses. See rule 104.4.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 121. Drawing a Card
    • 121.1. A player draws a card by putting the top card of their library into their hand. This is done as a turn-based action during each player’s draw step. It may also be done as part of a cost or effect of a spell or ability.
    • 121.2. Cards may only be drawn one at a time. If a player is instructed to draw multiple cards, that player performs that many individual card draws.
      • 121.2a An instruction to draw multiple cards can be modified by replacement effects that refer to the number of cards drawn. This modification occurs before considering any of the individual card draws. See rule 616.1g.
      • 121.2b Some effects say that a player can’t draw more than one card each turn. Such an effect applies to individual card draws. Instructions to draw multiple cards may still be partially carried out. However, if an effect offers the player a choice to draw multiple cards, the affected player can’t choose to do so. Similarly, the player can’t pay a cost that includes drawing multiple cards.
      • 121.2c If more than one player is instructed to draw cards, the active player performs all of their draws first, then each other player in turn order does the same.
      • 121.2d If more than one player is instructed to draw cards in a game that’s using the shared team turns option (such as a Two-Headed Giant game), first each player on the active team, in whatever order that team likes, performs their draws, then each player on each nonactive team in turn order does the same.
    • 121.3. If there are no cards in a player’s library and an effect offers that player the choice to draw a card, that player can choose to do so. However, if an effect says that a player can’t draw cards and another effect offers that player the choice to draw a card, that player can’t choose to do so.
      • 121.3a The same principles apply if the player who’s making the choice is not the player who would draw the card. If the latter player has no cards in their library, the choice can be taken. If an effect says that the latter player can’t draw a card, the choice can’t be taken.
    • 121.4. A player who attempts to draw a card from a library with no cards in it loses the game the next time a player would receive priority. (This is a state-based action. See rule 704.)
    • 121.5. If an effect moves cards from a player’s library to that player’s hand without using the word “draw,” the player has not drawn those cards. This makes a difference for abilities that trigger on drawing cards and effects that replace card draws, as well as if the player’s library is empty.
    • 121.6. Some effects replace card draws.
      • 121.6a An effect that replaces a card draw is applied even if no cards could be drawn because there are no cards in the affected player’s library.
      • 121.6b If an effect replaces a draw within a sequence of card draws, the replacement effect is completed before resuming the sequence.
      • 121.6c Some effects perform additional actions on a card after it’s drawn. If the draw is replaced, the additional action is not performed on any cards that are drawn as a result of that replacement effect or any subsequent replacement effects.
    • 121.7. Some replacement effects and prevention effects result in one or more card draws. In such a case, if there are any parts of the original event that haven’t been replaced, those parts occur first, then the card draws happen one at a time.
    • 121.8. If a spell or ability causes a card to be drawn while another spell is being cast, the drawn card is kept face down until that spell becomes cast (see rule 601.2i) or until the casting process is reversed (see rule 730, “Handling Illegal Actions”). The same is true with relation to another ability being activated. If an effect allows or instructs a player to reveal the card as it’s being drawn, it’s revealed after the spell becomes cast or the ability becomes activated. While face down, the drawn card is considered to have no characteristics and can’t be used to pay any part of the cost of the spell or ability that would require the card to have specific characteristics.
    • 121.9. If an effect gives a player the option to reveal a card as they draw it, that player may look at that card as they draw it before choosing whether to reveal it.

By color[ | ]

All colors[ | ]

  • Cantrips: draw a card when playing a small spell, or a triggered ability of a permanent.
  • Cycling: discarding a card to draw or search for a card

Blue[ | ]

Blue is the best at card drawing. It has the most of it and no restrictions.[6] The hand and the library are a metaphor for knowledge (the former being what you currently are thinking of while the latter is the entirety of what you know), so card drawing is a perfect fit for blue.

  • Cantrips: Blue gets the best cantrip spells.[7]
  • Regular card draw: take some number of cards from your library and put them into your hand.
  • Card filtering: draw several cards, but you can't keep them all. The remaining cards go into the graveyard or are put onto the top or bottom of the library.
  • Looting: draw one or more cards, and then discard a number equal to what you drew. Looting almost always goes to the graveyard.
  • Curiosity: draw a card when a creature deals combat damage to another player.
  • Tutoring: search your library for a particular card.
  • Regrowing: return a card from your graveyard to your hand. In blue, this usually gets you back instants and sometimes sorceries.

Green[ | ]

The color with the next most access to card draw is green. Green uses card drawing as a metaphor for growth. Green's card drawing is tied to creatures.[6] The popularity of the Commander format has caused R&D to do a lot of rethinking about how each color draws cards (as card flow is even more important in that format). They have dialed down green card drawing a little (it's still secondary, but in more ways that mirror green's style of play and no longer tied to lands, just creatures).[7]

  • Cantrips: while all colors can have creature cantrips, this is something done much more in green, especially for larger creatures.[7]
  • Regular card draw: Most green card drawing ties directly into one or more of its creatures. Green draw spells often take the form of conditional card draw, i.e. "Draw a card for each..." or "Draw cards equal to...".
  • Curiosity: green is secondary in this ability.
  • Tutoring: other than lands (see below), green tutors only for creature cards.
  • Regrowing: green is primary in the ability to get back any type of card from the graveyard.
  • Land fetching: green can draw specific lands.

Black[ | ]

Black is third in card drawing. It always involves paying some cost.[6] The flavor of card drawing in black is that of greed or bloodletting, while the flavor of tutoring in black is one of demonic knowledge.

  • Regular card draw: black's card drawing always comes with an additional cost (paying life, sacrificing).
  • Tutoring: black, along with blue, is the color that can tutor any card from the library.
  • Regrowing: black has the ability to put creature cards from its graveyard into its hand or on the battlefield (Reanimation).

Red[ | ]

Red is number four in card drawing, it doesn't do a lot. R&D made the conscious choice to limit red’s straightforward drawing on an empty hand.[8] Red cards related to card draw generally have a flavor of fate or randomness. Red doesn't get any card advantage, with three exceptions — impulsive draw, wheeling, and punisher effects.[6][7]

  • Looting: red has its form of looting, what R&D calls "red looting" and many players call rummaging, where it discards before it draws. Most draw contingent on cards being discarded, though some higher-powered spells allow raw card advantage if empty-handed. Spells that begin by having one or more players discard their hand, then draw some cards are almost exclusively the province of red.
  • Wheel effects: these effects cause each player to discard their hand and draw a completely new one, most frequently either three cards, seven cards, or cards equal to the number of cards discarded.
  • Regrowing: red sometimes can regrow sorceries. Some direct damage spells have conditions by which the player can get them back from the graveyard. Second, some artifact sets have red returning them from the graveyard. Third, red has Phoenixes that can return themselves.
  • Impulsive draw: red gets to exile cards from the top of the library to cast them for that turn.[6][9] The cards that are not cast remain lost in exile. There are some variants on this:
    • The player may get access until their next end step (allowing one untap if done at instant speed and one land drop), or until a certain permanent is removed.[7]
    • The player may choose several, or the player can only cast them (i.e. can't play any lands revealed).
    • The player may exile cards from the opponent's library, and may mana wash the spell.
    • Bottle: A variation on impulsive draw where cards exiled from the top of the library can be played until the end of a player's next turn. It's named after Elkin Bottle's ability.[10][11]
  • Punisher effects: spells that force an opponent to decide how to punish themselves. Various color breaks or bends are allowed for punishers, and so may come in the form of allowing the caster to draw cards.

White[ | ]

There is very few monowhite draw spells. It used to be focused on having to use a specific strategy.[6] As of 2020, R&D worked to give white more card draw to help solve its problems in Commander.[12] While white is still tertiary at card drawing, R&D has added some new abilities for white to draw cards. The big limitation is that white tends to draw over time rather than all at once, so it has a once-per-turn limit on card drawing (multiplayer does allow white on occasion to draw multiple cards tied to how many opponents a player has).[7]

  • Tutoring: white can occasionally tutor for enchantments and less often for artifacts, usually Equipment.
  • Regrowing: white can get back artifacts and enchantments from the graveyard. It can also reanimate small creatures.
  • Symmetrical draw: white has been allowed to give card draw (up to three cards) to the player and an opponent.[13] Currently has only been cantrip-based but will get more.[12]
  • Cantrip engines: white has many permanents that turn a particular subset of cards into cantrips, as part of rewarding a specific focus. White gets the best cantrips on smaller creatures.[7]
  • Rule-setting draw: Since white can set rules, if an opponent breaks those rules you may draw a card (eg. Mangara, the Diplomat).[12]

Examples[ | ]

Example

Opportunity {4}{U}{U}
Instant
Target player draws four cards.

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (March 17, 2003). "Danger, Will Robinson". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Ben Bleiweiss (March 21, 2003). "The Top 50 Card Drawing Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (March 26, 2012). "Point/Counterpoint: Targeted Card Draw?". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Zac Hill (March 30, 2012). "Point/Counterpoint: Targeted Card Draw?". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on July 1, 2022.
  5. Mark Rosewater (October 14, 2013). "Drawing Attention". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. a b c d e f g Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. a b c d e f g Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (December 17, 2018). "Rix Maadi Reveler is a red card with rummaging that lets you draw a card on an empty hand.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Mark Rosewater (November 7, 2016). "A Few More Words from R&D". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (July 28, 2017). "So the Elkin Bottle ability is Red only these days, right?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Gavin Verhey (December 5, 2023). "Monastery Swiftspear: BANNED! But Why?? A Pauper Update (Video)". Good Morning Magic. YouTube.
  12. a b c White gets Flash Now!? Here's What's Next for White! (Video). Good Morning Magic. YouTube (February 17, 2021).
  13. Mark Rosewater (November 28, 2020). "How does white symmetrical draw work? What can it do, and what can it not do?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
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