Exile is one of the game zones in Magic: The Gathering outside the usual field of play, as well as an evergreen keyword action.


During gameplay, to exile a card means to remove a card completely from play. Exiled cards enter a separate area from your graveyard, and it cannot be brought back unless a counterspell is used against the exiling effect, or another spell or effect is used to bring it back into your graveyard, sometimes even directly into your hand or into play.

There are cards that make use of the Exile pile, some even using it as a cost to cast a spell. Processor Assault is an Instant that lets you deal 5 damage to a target Creature if you place a card from an opponent's Exile into their Graveyard. This is considered a valid extra cost to cast the spell because for a card to be in a player's Graveyard means it eventually has a chance of being brought back into the game, which may be bad for the casting player depending on the card that was returned and the game's situation.

AWOL, a card from the Unhinged set creates a third zone apart from the conventional "Graveyard" and "Exile" pile.

Cards that are exiled are put in their own special pile, usually face-up. However, they must be put face-down if that is what the effect that exiled the card calls for. Yourself and any other player may look through your exile pile at any time, as you may look through any other player's Exile pile at any time.

Comprehensive Rules

406. Exile

  • 406.1. The exile zone is essentially a holding area for objects. Some spells and abilities exile an object without any way to return that object to another zone. Other spells and abilities exile an object only temporarily.
  • 406.2. To exile an object is to put it into the exile zone from whatever zone it’s currently in. An exiled card is a card that’s been put into the exile zone.
  • 406.3. Exiled cards are, by default, kept face up and may be examined by any player at any time. Cards “exiled face down” can’t be examined by any player except when instructions allow it. However, once a player is allowed to look at a card exiled face down, that player may continue to look at that card as long as it remains exiled, even if the instruction allowing the player to do so no longer applies. A card exiled face down has no characteristics, but the spell or ability that exiled it may allow it to be played from exile. Unless that card is being cast face down (see rule 707.4), the card is turned face up just before the player announces that he or she is playing the card (see rule 601.2).
  • 406.4. Face-down cards in exile should be kept in separate piles based on when they were exiled and how they were exiled. If a player is instructed to choose an exiled card, the player may choose a specific face-down card only if the player is allowed to look at that card. Otherwise, he or she may choose a pile of face-down exiled cards, and then a card is chosen at random from within that pile. If choosing such a card is part of casting a spell or activating an ability, the chosen card isn’t revealed until after that cost is fully paid. (See rule 601.2i.)
  • 406.5. Exiled cards that might return to the battlefield or any other zone should be kept in separate piles to keep track of their respective ways of returning. Exiled cards that may have an impact on the game due to their own abilities (such as cards with haunt) or the abilities of the cards that exiled them should likewise be kept in separate piles.
  • 406.6. An object may have one ability printed on it that causes one or more cards to be exiled, and another ability that refers either to “the exiled cards” or to cards “exiled with [this object].” These abilities are linked: the second refers only to cards that have been exiled due to the first. See rule 607, “Linked Abilities.”
  • 406.7. If an object in the exile zone becomes exiled, it doesn’t change zones, but it becomes a new object that has just been exiled.
  • 406.8. Previously, the exile zone was called the “removed-from-the-game zone.” Cards that were printed with text that “removes [an object] from the game” exiles that object. The same is true for cards printed with text that “sets [an object] aside.” Cards that were printed with that text have received errata in the Oracle card reference.
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