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While goldfishing with my new UG self-mill standard deck, I realized that I have a particular habit that is probably not legal. When I cast Forbidden Alchemy, I have a habit of unintentionally re-ordering (similar to how I shuffle my hand while playing) the four cards I'm looking at before selecting the one to put in my hand and putting the rest in my graveyard.

I realized that the order of things in your graveyard actually matters, and that what I was doing probably isn't kosher. When I'm looking at cards in a particular zone before moving them to another zone, can I change their order?

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On the subject of graveyard order (and retiring it), I remember reading this article on mtg.com about how the Recover mechanic in Coldsnap was an update of a mechanic in Alliances where cards cared about graveyard order. –  Nefrubyr Feb 13 '12 at 13:29
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1 Answer

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Fear not!

404.3. If an effect or rule puts two or more cards into the same graveyard at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order.

In addition,

404.2. Each graveyard is kept in a single face-up pile. A player can examine the cards in any graveyard at any time but normally can't change their order. Additional rules applying to sanctioned tournaments may allow a player to change the order of cards in his or her graveyard.

Basically, in formats where no cards care about graveyard order, players don't have to care about graveyard order either. This rule was created in order to "retire" graveyard-ordering in a graceful way.

DCI-sanctioned tournaments follow section 3.14 of the MTR:

In formats involving only cards from Urza's Saga and later, players may change the order of their graveyard at any time. A player may not change the order of an opponent's graveyard.

Thus, you may freely rearrange your own graveyard in Standard, Extended, and Modern, as well as modern-day Limited formats. (Word of caution: doing this too often might come off as weird and cheaty. So feel free to arrange your graveyard with all the flashback cards or reanimation targets on top, but try not to get in the habit of fidgeting with it compulsively the way you might fidget with cards in hand.)

Note also that it's perfectly legitimate to spread out your graveyard, as long as you don't create confusion between it and other zones. For example, I like to tile my cards in columns so I can see all my options at a glance.

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Nothing has ever made me happier than being able to continue shuffling those four cards when deciding which one I want. –  Ian Pugsley Feb 6 '12 at 16:34
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