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The graveyard is one of the six main zones in the game of Magic: The Gathering.

Description[ | ]

The graveyard is the pile into which you discard, where instant and sorcery spells go once they have resolved, and where permanents go when they have been sacrificed, destroyed, or "put into the graveyard" due to a state-based effect.[1][2][3]

Cards in the graveyard are usually no longer relevant to the game, but some mechanics do interact with the graveyard. Examples are Flashback, unearth, dredge and delve. A notable creature type that often comes back from the graveyard is Zombies. The threshold and delirium mechanics also make use of the graveyard. Decks such as reanimator are built to use or re-use cards in the graveyard, often making it as useful a resource as a player's hand.

Flavor[ | ]

Flavory speaking, sometimes the graveyard is regarded as a literal cemetery littered with bodies. In other ways, is regarded as a more conceptual past, a "place" where forgotten magics are hidden.[4][5]

"Graveyard sets"[ | ]

Weatherlight was the first set where the graveyard "mattered". Blocks like Odyssey, Innistrad, and Amonkhet gave graveyard strategies the center stage, and the graveyard played a huge part for the Golgari, Grixis, and Sultai in otherwise not-graveyard-focused sets.[6]

Rules[ | ]

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

1. A zone. A player’s graveyard is their discard pile.
2. All the cards in a player’s graveyard.
See rule 404, “Graveyard.”

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

  • 404. Graveyard
    • 404.1. A player’s graveyard is their discard pile. Any object that’s countered, discarded, destroyed, or sacrificed is put on top of its owner’s graveyard, as is any instant or sorcery spell that’s finished resolving. Each player’s graveyard starts out empty.
    • 404.2. Each graveyard is kept in a single face-up pile. A player can examine the cards in any graveyard at any time but normally can’t change their order. Additional rules applying to sanctioned tournaments may allow a player to change the order of cards in their graveyard.
    • 404.3. If an effect or rule puts two or more cards into the same graveyard at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order.

Graveyard mechanics[ | ]

"Graveyard order matters"[ | ]

Twenty-one cards from Magic's early sets relied on the order of cards in a graveyard. The last of these, Volrath's Shapeshifter, was printed in Stronghold.[7]

Cards that care about graveyard order were obsoleted after the Tempest block.[8] Mark Rosewater is highly skeptical that they will ever return, seeing that that they cause a lot of aggravation for minimal design space.[9] He rates the mechanic a 10 on the Storm Scale.[10] R&D have talked about issuing errata on all “graveyard order matters” cards, but it would majorly change how those cards work. The general strategy now, as the list of cards doesn’t get played a lot, is to let players assume the default is it doesn’t matter unless someone speaks up at the beginning of the game that it does.[11]

From the Tournament Rules (May 13, 2024—Outlaws of Thunder Junction)

  • 3.15 Graveyard Order
    In formats involving only cards from Urza’s Saga and later, players may change the order of their graveyard at any time. A player may not change the order of an opponent’s graveyard.

Cast spells out of graveyard[ | ]

Black is the color most focused on the graveyard. thus the ability to cast spells out of the graveyard is primary in black.[12] Blue occasionally can cast instants and sorceries out of the graveyard. Red is also secondary, especially in sets where it can grant flashback to instants and sorceries in the graveyard. White and green are tertiary because flashback is done with regularity.[13]

Cast spells from the opponent's graveyard[ | ]

The two sneakiest colors are the ones most likely to use the opponent's resources against them. Sometimes blue and black will make the player discard/mill the cards into exile where they can later cast them.[13]

Bringing back from the graveyard[ | ]

White, the color of mercy, is the color that saves things the turn they are destroyed.[12]

Exiling from the graveyard[ | ]

Exiling from the graveyard is used to get rid of cards that might have an effect/usable activation cost.[12] Black does it most often, but white occasionally does it in sets that need it. Green has the occasional cards, such as Night Soil and Scavenging Ooze, though many cards with green also have black, such as Necrogenesis.

References[ | ]

  1. Mark Rosewater (November 14, 2011). "Grave Consequences, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (November 17, 2011). "Grave Consequences, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Tom LaPille (November 18, 2011). "Graveyard Shifts". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Doug Beyer (December 10, 2008). "The Flavor of Zones". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Doug Beyer (November 16, 2011). "It's Not a Discard Pile". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Sam Stoddard (February 6, 2015). "Sultai Graveyard Strategies". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Wizards of the Coast (May 16, 2002). "Graveyard Order". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (October 11, 2004). "That's the Spirit". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (April 16, 2023). "Where is graveyard-order-matters at on the storm scale?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (May 16, 2019). "Where would you put "graveyard order matters" mechanics on the storm scale?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (August 27, 2023). "While not quite the same as Ante, another oddity from Magic's past is Graveyard-Order-Matters.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. a b c Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. a b Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". Wizards of the Coast.