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Exchange
Keyword Action
Introduced Alpha (mechanic)
Sixth Edition (keyword)
Last Used Evergreen
Reminder Text No official reminder text
Statistics
48 cards
{W} 8.3% {U} 47.9% {B} 14.6% {R} 4.2% {G} 2.1% {U/B} 2.1% {U/R} 2.1% {B/G} 2.1% {G/U} 2.1% {artifact symbol} 14.6%
Scryfall Search
oracle:"Exchange"

Exchange is a keyword action. One of the big things the Sixth Edition rules change did was to try to consolidate how Magic card text referred to things. The game had always had it, but it wasn't until then that exchange got its own vocabulary word.[1]

Description[]

There are three major use cases for the action of "exchange", with a fourth obsolete use related to ante. The largest set of "exchangers" swap control between two permanents. Each must exist upon the battlefield during the resolution. There are two cards (Perplexing Chimera, Sudden Substitution) that exchanges a card from the stack, which is the only other zone where a player has control of an object. Goblin Welder is a card that once had "exchange" in its rules text, but control changing effects meant the terminology needed to be spelt out. Aura Swap, a similar effect, has rules baggage preventing the effect if the controller of the aura swapper is not its owner. The ante usage did not have this issue, as the changing of owners circumvented the "control can only change on the battlefield or stack" rule. As such, it could exchange objects from any zone, including the graveyard, hand and library.

The second set of exchangers that swap all cards in two zones with each other - due to the nature of ownership and shared zones, this is limited to the hand, library and graveyard. One card of each exchange has been printed: Mordenkainen (hand and library), Harness Infinity (hand and graveyard) and Morality Shift (graveyard and library).

Finally, there are a set of numerical value exchangers. Most commonly life total is exchanged, but a handful of cards exchange life total with power (Evra, Halcyon Witness) or toughness (Tree of Redemption and Tree of Perdition), and one card (Serene Master) exchanges its power with its blocked attacker. Any change in life total will trigger effects that track life gain or loss. This also results in some amount of memory issue with exchanging life with power or toughness, as these effects are permanent and the creature will continue to exist with an altered stat.

Rules[]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

Exchange
To swap two things, such as objects, sets of objects, or life totals. See rule 701.10, “Exchange.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

  • 701.10. Exchange
    • 701.10a A spell or ability may instruct players to exchange something (for example, life totals or control of two permanents) as part of its resolution. When such a spell or ability resolves, if the entire exchange can’t be completed, no part of the exchange occurs.

      Example: If a spell attempts to exchange control of two target creatures but one of those creatures is destroyed before the spell resolves, the spell does nothing to the other creature.

    • 701.10b When control of two permanents is exchanged, if those permanents are controlled by different players, each of those players simultaneously gains control of the permanent that was controlled by the other player. If, on the other hand, those permanents are controlled by the same player, the exchange effect does nothing.
    • 701.10c When life totals are exchanged, each player gains or loses the amount of life necessary to equal the other player’s previous life total. Replacement effects may modify these gains and losses, and triggered abilities may trigger on them. A player who can’t gain life can’t be given a higher life total this way, and a player who can’t lose life can’t be given a lower life total this way (see rules 119.7–8).
    • 701.10d Some spells or abilities may instruct a player to exchange cards in one zone with cards in a different zone (for example, exiled cards and cards in a player’s hand). These spells and abilities work the same as other “exchange” spells and abilities, except they can exchange the cards only if all the cards are owned by the same player, and they can exchange the cards even if one zone is empty.
    • 701.10e If a card in one zone is exchanged with a card in a different zone, and either of them is attached to an object, that card stops being attached to that object and the other card becomes attached to that object.
    • 701.10f If a spell or ability instructs a player to simply exchange two zones, and one of the zones is empty, the cards in the zones are still exchanged.
    • 701.10g A spell or ability may instruct a player to exchange two numerical values. In such an exchange, each value becomes equal to the previous value of the other. If either of those values is a life total, the affected player gains or loses the amount of life necessary to equal the other value. Replacement effects may modify this gain or loss, and triggered abilities may trigger on it. A player who can’t gain life can’t be given a higher life total this way, and a player who can’t lose life can’t be given a lower life total this way (see rules 119.7–8). If either of those values is a power or toughness, a continuous effect is created setting that power or toughness to the other value (see rule 613.4b). This rule does not apply to spells and abilities that switch a creature’s power and toughness.

References[]

  1. Mark Rosewater (June 8, 2015). "Evergreen Eggs & Ham". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
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