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When a spell says, Search target player's graveyard, hand, and library for X, as is the case with Memoricide and Surgical Extraction, does that mean the casting player gets to look? (Thereby being able to take a mental inventory and gain insight into what he or she would apply a subsequent Memoricide to?)

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    As far as I know, besides a mental inventory, you're also allowed to just write down all the cards in a notebook. – RemcoGerlich Jul 1 '15 at 12:46
  • @RemcoGerlich Though if you do that, you'll have to be careful about slow play. If your in a tournament, you can't just take a break from the game to write down every card in your opponent's deck. – murgatroid99 Jul 1 '15 at 16:46
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Yes, when a spell has an instruction, it is instructing its controller to take that action. According to rule 608.2c, the third step of resolving a spell or ability is

The controller of the spell or ability follows its instructions in the order written.

That does mean that when you cast those spells, you can look through your opponent's hand and library.

Imagine if the spell was instead instructing that player to search their own hand and library. How would you verify that they had found all copies of the named card?

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    Even worse, if the opponent was doing the searching they could elect not to find the named card, even if it's there! – Samthere Jul 1 '15 at 8:16
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    Would I be correct in interpreting that the actions must be taken strictly in order? ... In the case of Memoricide, I can't look at their cards and then name the card? – svidgen Jul 1 '15 at 13:55
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    @svidgen Yes, do the actions exactly in the order specified, skipping any that can't be done (e.g. if a spell tells you to discard a card and you have none in hand). – Alex P Jul 1 '15 at 14:07

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