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Magic: the Gathering is a game, a form of competitive activity played according to certain rules.[1] Specifically, it is a turn-based trading card game.

A game is also single portion of play forming a scoring unit in a match between (at least) two players. While you have full control of the selection of your own cards, your deck never exists in a vacuum. One half of a game of Magic is a constant, and the other is a variable that changes with every opponent.


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

Outside the Game
An object is “outside the game” if it isn’t in any of the game’s zones. See rule 400.11.

Pre-game procedures[]

From the Tournament Rules (January 24, 2020—Theros Beyond Death)

  • 2.3 Pregame Procedures
    The following steps must be performed in a timely manner before each game begins:

    * If sideboarding is allowed, players may remove cards from their decks and add cards from their sideboards.
    * Players shuffle their decks. Steps 1 and 2 may be repeated.
    * Players present their decks to their opponents for additional shuffling. The sideboard (if any) is also presented at this time.
    * The appropriate player must decide whether to play first or second at this point, if they haven’t done so already (see section 2.2).
    * Each player draws seven cards. Optionally, these cards may be dealt face down on the table.
    * Each player, in turn order, may take mulligans. (Rules on mulligans can be found in the Magic Comprehensive Rules, rule 103.4). If a player takes a mulligan, they shuffle again and repeat the presentation process described above.

    The game is considered to have begun once all players have completed taking mulligans. Pregame procedures may be performed before time for the match has officially begun.

See also[]


  1. Mark Rosewater (June 4, 2018). "What is a Game?". Wizards of the Coast.