Card Draw

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Card draw in EDH is defined as a spell or ability that gives its controller access to additional cards from the top of their library beyond the single card allotted during the draw step. These may take the form of one-time spells that allow a player to draw many cards at once, or recurring effects that let them draw a small number of extra cards over a longer period of time. These are distinct from Tutors, which search for specific cards, usually one at a time. Card draw is a common form of resource advantage used to maximize one's options and power during a game.

Types of Card Draw

Card draw can take multiple forms in Commander, though there is often some overlap between the different types.

Cards in Hand

This category is what players typically think of when it comes to card draw. Typical draw is mostly clearly personified in the original Alpha cards Ancestral Recall and Braingeyser, which leave a player with a higher number of cards in their hand than before they cast the spell. Regular card draw is most commonly found without restriction in blue, though black is often able to pay life to draw cards (for example, Sign in Blood) and green is able to draw cards based upon either the number or power of its creatures (such as Rishkar's Expertise).


Impulse draw nets a player with card advantage, but does so on the condition that the player must use those cards during a specified time window, or else lose them to exile. This effect was first seen in Ice Age on the card Elkin Bottle, and is named after the card Act on Impulse. Impulse draw is almost exclusively found on red cards, such as Outpost Siege. (Note that the term 'impulse draw' is more of a colloquialism than it is gameplay terminology, and is not considered 'drawing a card' for the purposes of cards like Narset, Enlightened Master or Smothering Tithe.)


Wheels exchange a player's entire hand with a new set of cards, either by replacing the exact number the player hand in hand to begin with, or by drawing a full new hand of seven cards. This generates either a net gain in total cards, or in card quality. Named after the Alpha spell Wheel of Fortune, wheels are primarily found in red and blue. Red versions of this effect often discard the player's original hand to the graveyard, while blue versions may shuffle the hand (and even sometimes the graveyard) into the library (as seen on the spell Time Reversal). In recent years, black has also gained access to wheels, though usually at a loss of cards in hand, as seen on the card Dark Deal.

The Monarchy

The monarch mechanic, found on cards like Queen Marchesa and Protector of the Crown, allows its holder to draw an additional card at the beginning of their end step. The monarchy can be introduced into the game whenever a card allows its controller to 'become the monarch', and the monarchy can be taken by other players when one of their creatures deals combat damage to the current monarch. The monarch mechanic is available to all colors.


Card selection doesn’t net a player with card advantage by increasing the number of cards in that player's hand, but instead aims to increase the quality of cards in their hand. Card selection takes four primary recognized forms:
Filtering: Card filtering allows a player to look at several cards from the top of their library and select one to keep in their hand, either discarding the rest or putting them back into their library. These spells tend to be low-cost, and are useful for players who wish to find specific cards that will help them. Examples include Ponder, Brainstorm, and Grisly Salvage, though there are also larger versions of card filtering spells, like Dig Through Time.
Cantrips: Cantrips are cheap, efficient spells that provide a minor effect and then replace themselves, usually by allowing the caster to draw a card. (Card filtering spells such as Ponder may also be considered cantrips, as they provide a minor effect and then replace themselves by giving the player another card in hand.) Though they do not increase the net amount of cards in hand, this incidental draw can help the player move their gameplan forward without running out of cards to play later. Examples of cantrips include Expedite or Elvish Visionary.
Looting: 'Looting' refers to an ability that allows a player to draw a certain number of cards from their library and then discard an equal amount of cards from their hand. These effects do not increase the number of cards a player has in hand, but allow them to keep cards they will find useful, and get rid of cards they do not need. This is a relevant and notable difference from filtering and cantrips, as some deck archetypes will make use of discarded cards in the graveyard as an additional potential resource. The name comes from the iconic card Merfolk Looter, and looting is predominantly found in blue.
Rummaging: 'Rummaging' is simply an inverse form of looting, where the player first discards cards, then draws that same number of cards. Rummaging Goblin was named after this effect, which is primarily found in red.

Card Draw vs Card Advantage

A common mistake among players is to conflate the terms 'card draw' and 'card advantage'. A spell like Dig Through Time increases the number of cards in a player's hand, giving them resource advantage, but it does not actually draw them any cards. By contrast, a spell like Frantic Search can allow a player to draw many cards, but they will not end up with a greater number of cards in their hand when the spell resolves. Furthermore, an effect such as Howling Mine does provide a player with additional cards in hand, but also provides that player's opponents with extra cards as well, which means they have not gained a resource advantage over their opponents.

Importantly, card draw is not the only way a player is able to accrue card advantage. For example, Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Underworld Breach allow cards to be cast from the graveyard, increasing the number of cards a player has to cast, which represents an increase in the number of resources they now have access to. Cards like {Gonti, Lord of Luxury and {Praetor's Grasp can exile other players' cards from their deck and allow you to cast them; although cards exiled this way aren't explicitly in your hand, they are extra resources you have access to The commander Feather, the Redeemed is also famous for reclaiming the spells she casts, which may not always draw her cards, but does provide her with additional resources. Clever players are able to find additional forms of card advantage that lies outside the scope of sheer card draw.

Card Draw in the Color Pie

Card draw appears in cards of every color, though it is weighted more heavily in blue, green, and black. While red has gained access to forms of impulse draw, both it and white have historically had small numbers of card draw effects, as this is intended to be one of their primary weaknesses in traditional games of Magic: the Gathering. In one-on-one formats, red and white traditionally achieve victory by taking advantage of their speed, defeating an enemy by dealing lethal damage before that enemy gets the chance to make use of the extra cards they have drawn. Since Commander games have twice as much life and twice as many players as traditional one-on-one games of Magic, red and white's speed is harder to capitalize upon, which is considered to give the colors that do draw lots of cards a significant advantage. It is not uncommon for red and white to rely upon colorless sources of card draw to help assist them in this area.

Card draw effects can take many forms in each color, but within each color, the forms of draw tend to be centered in the following areas:







Colorless cards may also include card draw effects for decks that utilize extremely dedicated strategies, such as lifegain or tribal strategies (see Well of Lost Dreams, Vanquisher's Banner, Geth's Grimoire, and Tome of Legends).


When colors pair together, their versions of card draw tend to remain tied to the categories established by each individual color. However, there are occasionally some version of card draw that appear in multicolored strategies that are not seen as often on cards of any individual color. For example, Fathom Mage rewards +1/+1 counters theme in a way blue and green don't do on their own, and Sire of Stagnation provides card advantage based on the actions of its opponents.
Most frequently, multicolored forms of card draw are found on commanders themselves, who reward players for committing to a dedicated strategical direction. Some examples include: