- For other uses, see Library (disambiguation).
The library is the pile from which you draw cards, either the opening hand at the beginning of the game, during your draw phase, or because of an effect of a spell or ability. Cards drawn are put into a player's hand, from which they can be played. Some effects return cards to the top or bottom of your library, or cause cards to be shuffled into your library. Other effects allow you to search your library for a card; these effects can be referred to as "tutors".
Typically, whenever a player has looked through the contents of their library, that player shuffles the library before resuming play. This is to preserve the random order of the cards to be drawn, and allow for luck to play a part in the game. In organized play, many judge policies concern preserving the randomness of the library when a player illicitly obtains knowledge of the order of a player's library.
The library also serves as an alternative win condition by being a finite resource. Once all of the cards in a library are drawn or otherwise removed, a player will lose the game if an effect causes him or her to draw a card. While most decks try to win by reducing life points, some aim at reducing another player's library to zero cards.
Flavorfully speaking, the library represents a subset of all the spells the player (who is a planeswalker), knows. It is a subset because the player's entire Magic collection would be all the spells and lands they have encountered and learned in history.
- 1. A zone. A player’s library is where that player draws cards from.
- 2. All the cards in a player’s library.
- See rule 401, “Library.”
- 401. Library
- 401.1. When a game begins, each player’s deck becomes their library.
- 401.2. Each library must be kept in a single face-down pile. Players can’t look at or change the order of cards in a library.
- 401.3. Any player may count the number of cards remaining in any player’s library at any time.
- 401.4. If an effect puts two or more cards in a specific position in a library at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order. That library’s owner doesn’t reveal the order in which the cards go into the library.
- 401.5. Some effects tell a player to play with the top card of their library revealed, or say that a player may look at the top card of their library. If the top card of the player’s library changes while a spell is being cast, the new top card won’t be revealed and can’t be looked at until the spell becomes cast (see rule 601.2i). The same is true with relation to an ability being activated.
- 401.6. If an effect causes a player to play with the top card of their library revealed, and that particular card stops being revealed for any length of time before being revealed again, it becomes a new object.
- 401.7. If an effect causes a player to put a card into a library “Nth from the top,” and that library has fewer than N cards in it, the player puts that card on the bottom of that library.
- If player puts two or more cards on the top or bottom of another player's library (as with Misinformation), that player may arrange them in any order (unless otherwise specified) and doesn't reveal this order to the owner of the library.
Mechanics dealing with the library
Putting cards on top of a library
Putting cards nth from the top of a library
Playing cards off top of your library, at a cost
This effect isn't done very often. Any color can have access to it, but it must play cards from a subset that make sense for that color. Blue is the color that can cast any card off the top. This effect is usually on a permanent that makes the top of your library be played face-up. You may then cast cards off the top of your library.
Playing cards off the top of opponent's library
Blue and black, being the sneaky colors, are the two that most often cast spells off the opponent's deck. Occasionally red does it, but usually there's a short duration during which you can do it, unlike blue and black that usually doesn't have a time limit.
Playing cards off top of your library, for free
Putting cards from your graveyard back into your library ("Restocking") is primary in green and blue. Green does it most as a "cycle of life" flavor, while blue is flavored more as magical manipulation. Blue sometimes also shuffles your hand in as well and then draws you cards.
Mindblaze is the only card that refers to the number of a named card contained in an opponent's library, and also the only card that reveals an opponent's library. Guided Passage is the only card that reveals one's own library, as the rules forbid a library being searched by a non-owner.
Number of cards in libraries
Constructed (Including standard, historic, pioneer, modern and vintage)
Libraries in this format have a minimum of 60 cards, and no maximum (note that players playing paper Magic should keep their decks small enough so that they can shuffle it in two hands). A library and its sideboard together may not contain four or more copies of a same card unless otherwise specified, even if they are printed in different sets.
Limited (Including draft, sealed and cube)
Libraries in this format have a minimum of 40 cards.
100 cards exactly. A library and its sideboard together may not contain two or more copies of a same card, even if they are printed in different sets. In a commander deck, one of a legendary creature (or planeswalker if written) in the mainboard is your commander.
A sixty-card commander library.
The Mystery Booster test card Witty Demon introduced the concept of a "Starting library". This should be interpreted as "starting deck," including cards that started the game in a zone other than your library (such as Buried Ogre or Memory Bank).
- Doug Beyer (February 20, 2008). "Share the Spark". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer (December 10, 2008). "The Flavor of Zones". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (August 10, 2017). "So, white can't put things on top of a library.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (September 18, 2020). "Will we ever get a mechanic that uses placing cards from our graveyard on bottom of our library as a resource?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Eli Shiffrin (November 11, 2019). "Mystery Booster Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.