Wishful Thinking

Posted in Feature on May 3, 2002

By Paul Barclay, TCG Rules Manager

The five Judgment Wishes are some of the most exciting cards to come out in a long time, but they also look to be among the most confusing. Most of confusion stems from the fact that Wishes work in a slightly different way depending on whether you're playing in a DCI-sanctioned tournament or not.

In DCI-sanctioned play, “a card you own from outside the game” is one of the following things: (a) A card you own that's in the removed-from-the-game zone. It can be in that zone for any reason. (b) A card that's in your sideboard. If you get a card from your sideboard, you must put the Wish into your sideboard instead of just removing it from the game. This makes sure that your sideboard has the correct number of cards in it at all times.

A quick note about sideboards: The Magic Floor Rules do not allow you to look at your sideboard during a game. The Wishes are an exception to this rule. While a Wish is resolving (and only while a Wish is resolving), you're allowed to look at your sideboard. You must make sure that the cards in your sideboard can't be confused with any other cards you have.

Outside DCI-sanctioned play, “a card you own from outside the game” is one of the following things: (a) A card you own that's in the removed-from-the-game zone. It can be in that zone for any reason. (b) Any card in your collection. Go find the card that will help you most in the situation you’re in.

In Magic Online, we’re currently treating all games as being DCI-sanctioned, even if they don’t count for rating points. So, you’ll only be able to get cards from your sideboard, even if you’re playing in one of the casual play rooms.

We do have a plan for having Wishes correctly functional for both unsanctioned and sanctioned play in Magic Online. But we have to wait until after the program releases. We’re working around the clock at the moment to squash bugs, and make the game as enjoyable as possible.


People all over the office have been asking me questions about the Wishes for months. I’ve collected some of the more (and less) useful questions and answers here.

Q: Do the Wishes work just like Ring of Ma'ruf?
A: Yes. In fact, we’re going to match up the text of Ring of Ma'ruf up to the text of the Wishes. It will read:
, , Remove Ring of Ma'ruf from the game: The next time you would draw a card this turn, instead choose a card you own from outside the game and put it into your hand.

Q: Why can’t I get a card from my collection if I’m playing casually in Magic Online?
A: At the moment, it’s not possible for us to implement such functionality. There are all kinds of tricky questions that have to be answered before we can enable that particular feature. The only cards that the computer will let you play in a game are the ones you submitted in your deck and sideboard. We are planning to upgrade Magic Online to allow you to get cards from your collection in casual play, but we have to prioritize our work.

Q: Can I Wish for a card that was removed from the game by a Nightmare, like Mesmeric Fiend or Petravark?
A: Yes, if it’s a card that you own. A card is a legal Wish target if it began the game in your deck but is now in the removed-from-game zone for any reason: it was countered by Syncopate, it was hit with Swords to Plowshares, it was cast with flashback, it was set aside with an Aerial Caravan, it was the target of Liberate, just about anything.

Q: What about cards removed from the game face down, via something like Necropotence, Memory Jar, or Suppress? Can I Wish for those?
A: Four of the Wishes can’t get face-down cards because you don't get to look at face-down cards. Even if you have one card removed face down that you know is an artifact, Golden Wish cannot retrieve that card because you can't look at it. But Death Wish can get a card that was removed from the game face down since any card is a legal choice for Death Wish. You are not supposed to know what card you’re getting, so you must choose a card at random from the cards that were removed face down. You may or may not get the card you actually want.

The one exception I can think of to the face-down rule is the Visions card Three Wishes (how strangely coincidental), which is currently worded as:
Remove the top three cards of your library from the game face down. You may look at those cards as long as they remain removed from the game. Until your next upkeep, you may play those cards as though they were in your hand. At the beginning of your next upkeep, put any of those cards not played into your graveyard.

Because you are specifically allowed to look at the cards, the four non-black Wishes can be used on them appropriately.

Q: Can I Wish for a card removed from the game because of madness?
A: Yes and no. You can only do this with Cunning Wish, because it’s the only Wish that’s an instant. If you have a Cunning Wish, you can Wish for the madness card and put it back into your hand before your chance to play it using madness. But if you do, you can’t play it using madness.

Q: What if I Recoup a Burning Wish? Can I get the Burning Wish back into my hand?
A: No. When you play a card with flashback, it’s not removed from the game until after it’s finished resolving.

Q: What happens if I use the Mirari or Fork to copy a Wish and get two cards from my sideboard?
A: Both "Wishes" will be put into your sideboard, but the copy will cease to exist because it’s not a real card. So your sideboard will have only 14 cards in it. This is fine, as long as you remember to make sure it has 15 cards in it at the start of your next game.

Q: Can I Wish for my Breezekeeper that’s phased out?
A: Phased out cards are in the phased-out zone (otherwise known as “phaseland”), not in the “removed from the game” zone. You can’t get them back with a Wish.

Q: Is there any way to get one of my opponent’s cards with a Wish?
A: No. You can’t ever get a card that started the game in your opponent’s deck or sideboard. You also can’t get a card from someone else’s collection, unless you trade for it or borrow it before you Wish for it.

Q: Can I Wish for a card in my opponent’s sideboard that he or she has borrowed from me?
A: No. For the purposes of the game, all cards in a player's deck and sideboard are “owned” by that player. Even if you legally own the card, you can’t Wish for it if it is in your opponent's sideboard.

Q: I Death Wish for the Ace of Spades...
A: Yes, in casual play you can Wish for an Ace of Spades. You won’t be able to do much with it, though. Non-Magic cards are considered to have no rules text in Magic (so that devastating Star Wars card won't actually help you).

Q: So, are Jokers wild in Magic?
A: No. There are no wild cards in Magic. Jokers, Twos, and one-eyed Jacks are not wild.

Q: If I’m playing a Shahrazad subgame --
A: Stop right there.

Q: No, really. Can I Wish for a card that was in the normal game, but isn’t in the subgame?
A: Yes, you can, because the card is outside of the current game. There will be a new Comprehensive Rulebook version released soon after the Judgment set hits the shelves. The new rules update will explain exactly how Shahrazad subgames work.

Q: Do you expect other weird rules interactions to come up involving Wishes?
A: Yes, absolutely.

Send questions or comments to editor@wizards.com.

Latest Feature Articles


June 24, 2022

Double Masters 2022 Release Notes by, Jess Dunks

Compiled by Jess Dunks Document last modified April 4, 2022 PDF Download Links:English | 中国话,汉语;中文 | Français | Deutsch | 日本語 The Release Notes include information concerning the relea...

Learn More


June 17, 2022

Social Play Opportunities in D&D and Magic: The Gathering by, Wizards of the Coast

We're back, following our third and final Office Hours for the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate set. We recently welcomed our final set of guests, Game Designer Ellie Rice, Sen...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All