A player's hand consists of cards that have been drawn, but not played. It is one of six zones of the game.
Flavor-wise, the hand represents the conscious mind of the player as a planeswalker and the starting hand is the first seven items that occur to you when you begin a duel with another planeswalker. The starting hand may be reduced when a mulligan is performed. After the optional mulligan, it is called your opening hand.
- 1. A zone. A player’s hand is where that player holds cards they have drawn but not played yet.
- 2. All the cards in a player’s hand.
- See rule 402, “Hand.”
- 402. Hand
- 402.1. The hand is where a player holds cards that have been drawn. Cards can be put into a player’s hand by other effects as well. At the beginning of the game, each player draws a number of cards equal to that player’s starting hand size, normally seven. (See rule 103, “Starting the Game.”)
- 402.2. Each player has a maximum hand size, which is normally seven cards. A player may have any number of cards in their hand, but as part of their cleanup step, the player must discard excess cards down to the maximum hand size.
- 402.3. A player may arrange their hand in any convenient fashion and look at it at any time. A player can’t look at the cards in another player’s hand but may count those cards at any time.
Mechanics interacting with hands
Mechanics which change your hand size.
Putting cards from hand onto the battlefield
Putting creatures from hand onto the battlefield is primary green, secondary in blue and red and tertiary in white and black. Green does this effect the most often. Blue will do it usually flavored as transformation, and will return one its creatures to its owner's hand. When red does this the creature is most often sacrificed or returned to hand at end of turn.
Returning cards from graveyard to hand
Black can return any creature from the graveyard. It will often do this as an enters the battlefield effect nicknamed after Gravedigger, as that was the card that did it first. White usually returns creatures with smaller converted mana costs.
Instant and sorceries
As blue and red are the spell colors (they have the highest percentage of spells versus creatures), they are the two colors that can get instants and sorceries back. When there is a choice to separate them, blue leans toward getting back instants and red leans toward getting back sorceries.
Looking at opponent's hand
The ability to look at an opponent's hand is primary in blue and secondary in black. The latter does it only in conjunction with discarding where it has to choose what gets discarded. R&D has been scaling back on this effect, as it tends to slow down gameplay. This has had the effect of making the ability appear more in black than blue, as they still make the discard spells.
- 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.
- Doug Beyer (August 18, 2010). "Seven on the Seven". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Helene Bergeot (June 29, 2015). "Changes Starting with Pro Tour Magic Origins". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.