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Introduced: Alpha
Last Used: Homelands
Reminder Text: No official reminder text
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Ante refers to both an optional variation of Magic and the ante zone used only in such ante games. It is also an obsolete keyword action. [1] Ante was designed by Richard Garfield and introduced in Alpha.

Description[edit | edit source]

If players agree to play for ante, the rule is that at the beginning of the game each player puts a random card from his or her library into an ante zone and then the winner of the game would get permanent ownership of all the cards in the zone. [2] There were several 'ante cards' with the text "Remove [this card] from your deck before playing if you're not playing for ante." Some, such as Contract from Below, interacted in some way with the ante zone, in this case by giving a powerful effect in exchange for having to ante an extra card. Others, such as Bronze Tablet, could change a card's owner.

The idea behind ante was to introduce an element of gambling to Magic, but it proved unpopular as many players did not like having to bet valuable cards and so rarely played for ante. There were also concerns within Wizards of the Coast that playing for ante could cause official tournaments to be classed as gambling and would therefore have to adhere to the laws governing it (for example, tournament venues may have needed gambling licences.) As a result, playing for ante is now classed as an unofficial variant format, cards referring to it are no longer made and all older cards referencing ante have been banned in every sanctioned format. The last card to mention ante was in the 1995 Homelands expansion - Timmerian Fiends.

Ante is strictly forbidden in DCI-sanctioned play, and is only allowed in unsanctioned games where not forbidden by law.

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Amonkhet (April 28, 2017))

  • 407. Ante
    • 407.1. Earlier versions of the Magic rules included an ante rule as a way of playing “for keeps.” Playing Magic games for ante is now considered an optional variation on the game, and it’s allowed only where it’s not forbidden by law or by other rules. Playing for ante is strictly forbidden under the Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules (
    • 407.2. When playing for ante, each player puts one random card from his or her deck into the ante zone after determining which player goes first but before players draw any cards. Cards in the ante zone may be examined by any player at any time. At the end of the game, the winner becomes the owner of all the cards in the ante zone.
    • 407.3. A few cards have the text “Remove [this card] from your deck before playing if you’re not playing for ante.” These are the only cards that can add or remove cards from the ante zone or change a card’s owner.
    • 407.4. To ante an object is to put that object into the ante zone from whichever zone it’s currently in. The owner of an object is the only person who can ante that object.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (Amonkhet (April 28, 2017))

1. A zone used only when playing “for keeps.”
2. To put a card into the ante zone.
See rule 407, “Ante.”

Examples of cards referencing ante[edit | edit source]

  • Contract from Below - {B}
    Remove Contract from Below from your deck before playing if you're not playing for ante.
    Discard your hand, add the top card of your library to the ante, then draw seven cards.
  • Jeweled Bird - {1}
    Remove Jeweled Bird from your deck before playing if you're not playing for ante.
    {T}: Put Jeweled Bird into the ante. If you do, put all other cards you own in the ante into your graveyard, then draw a card.
  • Timmerian Fiends - {1}{B}{B}
    Creature — Fiend
    Remove Timmerian Fiends from your deck before playing if you're not playing for ante.
    {B}{B}{B}, Sacrifice Timmerian Fiends: The owner of target artifact may ante the top card of his or her library. If that player doesn't, exchange ownership of that artifact and Timmerian Fiends. Put the artifact card into your graveyard and Timmerian Fiends from anywhere into that player's graveyard. This change in ownership is permanent.

List of ante cards[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (June 8, 2015.) “Evergreen Eggs & Ham”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (August 17, 2009.) “In My Day”,, Wizards of the Coast.