According to the comprehensive rules, the definition of shuffling is thus:

701.16a To shuffle a library or a face-down pile of cards, randomize the cards within it so that no player knows their order.

If you use a proxy (an honest, third party entity) to search your deck for a desired card (let's say you used Demonic Tutor), then when the proxy has located and presented you with the card, you still have no knowledge of the order of the cards. [note 1]

Since as far as you or your opponent(s) know, the deck is entirely randomized, is it necessary to go through the act of physically moving cards around? It seems that it already meets the requirements of a randomized deck. Sure, the cards are in the same order as they were before, but since there was no prior knowledge, there is no present knowledge. [note 2]

Is it strictly necessary to go through the physical process of shuffling if you use a proxy to dig through your deck?

note 1: This assumes there were no previous 'place on top of your library' or similar effects.

note 2: This assumes your proxy will yield no information or provide assistance based on the knowledge gained by looking in your deck.

  • 3
    This would be covered more by the Floor Rules than by the comp. rules - and according to the floor rules, I'm reasonably certain you couldn't use a non-judge proxy to handle the shuffling of your deck. If it's not too impertinent, what prompted this question in the first place? (Insert the standard blurb about 'practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.' here...) Feb 12, 2013 at 23:04
  • It would certainly be a big time saver in EDH games if you, for example, cracked a fetch and asked someone in a different game at an adjacent table to get you a Tropical Island please, rather than go through shuffling a 100 card deck. I find in the early turns one is often still shuffling when their next turn comes around if you fetch :)
    – Affe
    Feb 12, 2013 at 23:23
  • @Affe In that case, your deck would have one extra island, and you have negated the (not insignificant) advantage fetch lands give you of thinning your deck. More importantly, you've now changed your deck composition during the game, which of course is a big no-no in tournaments.
    – ghoppe
    Feb 13, 2013 at 1:01
  • 1
    I meant ask them to do the tutor for me, as in the question, not actually just hand the card over! Anyway, was responding to Steven's challenge re: does this address a problem a person actually faces. Holding up turns in EDH from the large amount of shuffling is a real problem people face to which this is a solution. I offer no position on if it's an acceptable one or not by the comp rules or tournament procedures :)
    – Affe
    Feb 13, 2013 at 1:08
  • 1
    Other than to say I would personally never authorize a spectator to manipulate game materials in any way whatsoever in any sanctioned event at any level I was officiating, for any reason other than to accommodate a player with a disability. :)
    – Affe
    Feb 13, 2013 at 1:15

2 Answers 2


As Jefromi points out, the deck is not left in a randomised state unless there's only one of the card being removed in it.

Now, you could pick one of the matching cards at random, but that becomes complicated and error prone. (What if there are three matching card, but the 3rd party only sees two?) I would not accept this.

Original post follows.

In what circumstance would there be a neutral 3rd party handling your deck? But ok, let's assume that's somehow the case. From the tournament rules:

Randomization is defined as bringing the deck to a state where no player can have any information regarding the order or position of cards in any portion of the deck.

So technically, it is randomised. I'm assuming you okayed it with your opponent, otherwise, the following could apply:

If the opponent does not believe the player made a reasonable effort to randomize his or her deck, the opponent must notify a judge.

That said, (emphasis mine)

At Competitive and Professional REL tournaments, players are required to shuffle their opponents’ decks after their owners have shuffled them. The Head Judge can require this at Regular REL tournaments as well.

Given this, a judge may insist you are also required to actually shuffle the deck. Why don't you ask your judge since it really comes down to what he thinks.

Quotes come from the Tournament Rules. They apply to Competitive and Pro REL, but that's the only place your question really matters.

  • 8
    The one little nit is that your deck probably isn't randomized, unless they search for the card in an interesting way. They'll probably start from one end, then search through until they find one, so if there are multiple, the distribution of the remaining ones is no longer random.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 13, 2013 at 2:25
  • @Jefromi, Great point! I'm beating myself for not thinking of it. That changes everything. Answer updated.
    – ikegami
    Feb 13, 2013 at 4:18
  • @Jefromi I guess the proxy you could work around that by randomly cutting the deck before or after searching.
    – Alex P
    Feb 13, 2013 at 5:13
  • @AlexP A cut just moves the section of the deck that cannot contain a copy of the card. I think that's only sufficient to randomize the deck if the cut is truly random (humans are generally really bad at this kind of randomness) and there's only one other copy.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 13, 2013 at 5:21
  • The point about Jefromi is very interesting. The proxy would have to search for a randomly determined nth card. I.e. secretly roll a 4 sided die (or 20 sided for land) and if a 3 comes up, pick the third one he encounters.
    – corsiKa
    Feb 13, 2013 at 15:21

In a tournament: No. Never. Definitely no. The MTR refers to "shuffling" (as well as cutting) and "randomization" in the same breath. A judge could permit another person to shuffle for you, but not shuffling at all -- regardless of who is responsible for "randomization" -- is deeply sketchy.

In a more casual setting, you might be able to convince your friends to let you do this. The important thing to note is that there are lots of situations that can violate your assumption about library ordering even in a deck without Ponder effects. You'll need to actually shuffle if you're searching your deck after a Terminus, for example. Imagine casting your search spell six turns after that Terminus -- are you sure you'll be able to remember whether or not you've given your deck a real shuffle since?

My other concern is logistical. Not shuffling is faster than shuffling. However, you're not just skipping the shuffle. You're replacing it with handing your deck to another player and describing the card you want. If you're playing a card that doesn't force you to reveal what you searched up, like Demonic Tutor, you'll also want to figure out a way to communicate this information secretly. I think most players could do 3-4 riffles in the time it takes to accomplish these tasks.

Note also that you're missing out on a significant advantage of searching your deck: the ability to look over your cards before you commit to a choice. It's not hard when you Cultivate in a mono-green deck, but how about Gifts Ungiven? I'd much rather think a bit, cast the spell, then finalize my decision while looking at my library.

If you're looking for alternatives to shuffling because you're playing an unorthodox deck, you can find some advice in Abe Sergeant's article explaining how he "shuffles" a 1500-card deck. None of this will be a perfect facsimile of shuffling but the assumption is that it is "good enough."

  • 1
    The MTR says no such thing. In fact the MTR doesn't even call it shuffling, it calls it "randomization".
    – ikegami
    Feb 13, 2013 at 7:00
  • You're right: I checked the document and it's not explicit what "shuffling" is. However, the MTR and IPG refer to shuffles and cuts repeatedly alongside "randomized."
    – Alex P
    Feb 13, 2013 at 19:00
  • That article on the 1500 card deck has some awful suggestions, including just not shuffling, playing poorly, removing your best cards from the deck, and stacking the deck. Nov 24, 2015 at 8:40
  • Uhh, no you can't do 3-4 riffles that fast. This comes up when playing Battle of Wits where shuffle takes several minute due to having way too many cards in the deck.
    – Joshua
    Apr 5, 2016 at 23:17

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