MTG Wiki

Each Magic player is allowed to have a sideboard, which is a group of additional cards Outside the game that the player may use to modify their deck between games of a match. A sideboard helps a player address the weaknesses of their deck against their opponent.[1] For example, if a player consistently loses games against anyone who is playing red "burn" spells like Ghitu Fire and Urza's Rage, then the player may want to put four Chill (so as to "hose" red by increasing the spells' playing cost) or maybe four Ivory Mask (to prevent a player from being targeted) in their sideboard.[2][3][4]

Description[ | ]

In conventional games, each player is allowed to bring at most 7 cards for best-of-one and 15 cards for best-of-three matches (in addition to a player's main deck) to a game of Magic: The Gathering.[5][6] These cards are referred to as the sideboard.[7]

In limited games, all unused cards are treated as a sideboard.[8]

A sideboard counts as part of the player's deck, therefore any limits to the number of copies of a card that may be included in a deck take the copies in the sideboard into account. This also means that restricted cards are limited to one including the sideboard. (For example, the card Black Lotus is restricted in DCI-sanctioned Vintage Magic tournaments. This means that only one Black Lotus is allowed per deck, including sideboard, in the Vintage format.) Players are not required to have a sideboard. If a library consists of more than the minimum amount of required cards, players are still allowed to sideboard, even if their sideboard consists of no cards.

The first game of a best-of-three match is usually played without cards from the sideboard and is therefore called pre-sideboard game. After the first match the players are allowed to swap/add/remove cards in their deck for cards in their sideboard (aka "sideboarding"), as long as the sideboard and the main deck remain legal after the sideboarding.

Starting with the Shadows over Innistrad Pro Tour, the first two games of a best-of-five Sunday playoff match are considered pre-sideboard games.[9]

Wishes and Companions are methods to get access to your sideboard during a game. Learn is also a mechanic that has the choice to access the sideboard, by fetching instants and sorceries that have the lesson subtype.

The Commander format normally has no sideboard. However, a companion is the only card that can exist there, if both the cards in the library and the commander card meet the companion criteria.

Dungeons are card types introduced in Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. They start exclusively in the sideboard, but do not count as cards towards your sideboard limit. When an ability instructs you to venture into the dungeon, if you don't have a dungeon card in your command zone, you take one from the sideboard, put it there and trigger the ability of the first room. You must first complete a dungeon before being able to take another dungeon card from the sideboard.

Previous rulings[ | ]

Prior to the amendment of regulations in Magic 2014, the sideboard restrictions in constructed formats were more strict than the current one, as below:

  1. If a player used a sideboard, the sideboard had to consist of exactly 15 cards. No more, no less.
  2. Sideboarding had to be a 1-for-1 swap, i.e. the sideboard had to contain 15 cards, and the number of cards in main deck must be the same.

If one of the two cases above was violated in tournaments, it resulted in a game loss.

Prior to Strixhaven: School of Mages set, the sideboard for constructed formats (except for Commander) was limited to 15 cards for both best-of-one and best-of-three matches. With the release of this set, the best-of-one matches use a 7-card sideboard, companion included.[10]

Rules[ | ]

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

Extra cards that may be used to modify a deck between games of a match. See rules 100.4.

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

  • 100.4. Each player may also have a sideboard, which is a group of additional cards the player may use to modify their deck between games of a match.
    • 100.4a In constructed play, a sideboard may contain no more than fifteen cards. The four-card limit (see rule 100.2a) applies to the combined deck and sideboard.
    • 100.4b In limited play involving individual players, all cards in a player’s card pool not included in their deck are in that player’s sideboard.
    • 100.4c In limited play involving the Two-Headed Giant multiplayer variant, all cards in a team’s card pool but not in either player’s deck are in that team’s sideboard.
    • 100.4d In limited play involving other multiplayer team variants, each card in a team’s card pool but not in any player’s deck is assigned to the sideboard of one of those players. Each player has their own sideboard; cards may not be transferred between players.

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

  • 3.16 Sideboard
    A sideboard is a group of additional cards the player may use to modify their deck between games of a match. The player may use these cards in their main deck during all games after the first one in a match.

    Before each game begins, players must present their sideboard (if any) face down. Opponents may count the number of cards in their opponent’s sideboard at any time. Players are not required to reveal how many cards they have swapped from their main deck to their sideboard and do not have to swap one for one. Other items (token cards, double-faced card represented in the deck by a substitute card, etc.) should be kept separate from the sideboard during game play.

    During a game, players may look at their own sideboard, keeping it clearly distinguishable from other cards at all times. If a player gains control of another player, they may not look at that player’s sideboard, nor may they have that player access their sideboard.

    The deck and sideboard must each be returned to their original compositions before the first game of each match. Restrictions on the composition and use of a sideboard can be found in the deck construction rules for a particular format type.

    If a penalty causes a player to lose the first game in a match before that game has begun, or the first game is intentionally drawn before any cards are played, neither player may use cards from their sideboard for the next game in the match. If players restart a game due to an in-game effect, the composition of their decks must remain the same for the restarted game.

    Certain cards refer to “a (card or cards) from outside the game.” In tournament play, these are cards in that player’s sideboard.

Sideboard examples[ | ]

Black[ | ]

  • Deathmark - Destroy a green or white creature

Blue[ | ]

  • Annul - Counter answer to decks that rely on artifacts and/or enchantments
  • Chill - Hoses red decks
  • Flashfreeze - Cheap red/green counter

Green[ | ]

Red[ | ]

White[ | ]

Land[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Reid Duke (March 9, 2015). "Sideboard Plans". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mike Flores (August 29, 2013). "Sideboarding Strategies and Tactics, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mike Flores (September 05, 2013). "One, Two, Three Times the Murder: Sideboarding Strategies and Tactics, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Gavin Verhey (December 8, 2016). "Going Overboard". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Reid Duke (October 20, 2014). "The Sideboard". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Reid Duke (January 12, 2015). "Sideboarding in Limited". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Jeff Cunningham (January 13, 2007). "Introducing Sideboards". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Gavin Verhey (July 13, 2017). "Drafting Your Sideboard". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Wizards of the Coast (March 1, 2016). "Changes to the Pro Tour Sunday Playoff Sideboarding". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. MTG Arena (April 7, 2021). "MTG Arena: State of the Game - Strixhaven: School of Mages". Wizards of the Coast.