Let us assume I use Behemoth's Herald's ability to search for a card named Godsire. If Godsire can be found in the library the situation is clear. But what if no Godsire is in the library and I have Godsire in my Hand? Can I still use Behemoth's Herald's ability to put Godsire onto the battlefield at no mana cost?

The official rules on searching (Comprehensive Rules, Section 701.17, Aether Revolt, January 20 2017) do not seem to answer this question. But I guess it is also relevant that the words "and" and "it" appear in the card's ruletext.


When instructed to search your library, you can only search your library. If the card you're looking for isn't in your library, you can't find it. You can't search zones other than your library for the card.

Rule 701.17a says

To search for a card in a zone, look at all cards in that zone (even if it’s a hidden zone) and find a card that matches the given description.

The relevant part of Behemoth's Herald's ability says

Search your library for a card named Godsire and put it onto the battlefield.

"Your library" is the zone that you are instructed to search, so you can look at cards in your library. And "card named Godsire" is the description of the card you are trying to find, so you can only find cards named "Godsire" in your library.

  • To be perhaps excessively thorough, also: "400.1. A zone is a place where objects can be during a game. There are normally seven zones: library, hand, battlefield, graveyard, stack, exile, and command. [...]" - unsurprisingly, library and hand are separate zones.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 20 '17 at 22:11
  • This was not the focus of the question. The focus of the question was about playing a card which was in my hand. Sorry if that was not clear enough.
    – joern
    Mar 21 '17 at 16:43
  • @joern: The way I read it, this answer very much answers the question you asked, just maybe phrases it in a different manner than you would expect. The reason you can't put a card from your hand on the battlefield here is because the ability is exclusively instructing you to search your library - as far as that effect is concerned, your hand doesn't even exist, and this answer elaborates on why. If this wasn't what you wanted to know, please consider editing your question. Mar 21 '17 at 21:04

I feel like all the other answers, while correct, are missing part of what the question was asking.

The rule here is dependent upon what the word "it" refers to. The card could be (mis) read as 2 separate instructions:

1) Search your library for a card named Godsire

2) Put a card named Godsire onto the battlefield

However, in the context of the card, the word "it" actually refers to "the card that you found when you searched for a card named Godsire"; it does not refer to "a card named Godsire".

I do not know of a comprehensive rule that clarifies this meaning of the word "it"; but it is the most specific use of "it", and it makes sense to interpret it as specifically as you can.

  • 2
    This is the best answer. Like it or not, the OP didn't really need help with rules. They needed help correctly identifying the antecedent for the pronoun "it".
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 21 '17 at 18:35
  • 1
    Good point. Which makes me curious: What if Behemoth's Herald's rule text said "Godsire" instead of "it" in the second part? (I hope it is okay to ask a small follow-up question here).
    – joern
    Mar 22 '17 at 22:11
  • @joern Interesting question... I think that it would just be bad/unclear wording, because an instruction to put a card onto the battlefield would need to say where it comes from. (In your hand, in your graveyard, etc).
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 23 '17 at 1:06
  • 1
    @joern: If the card were meant to do what you were asking about, it would be phrased something like "Search your library for a card named Godsire and put it in your hand. Then shuffle your library. You may put a card named Godsire from your hand onto the battlefield.". If it were indeed badly phrased as you said, it would likely get Errata text in the Oracle database to fix that problem. Mar 23 '17 at 19:46

From the Comprehensive Rules:

101.3. Any part of an instruction that’s impossible to perform is ignored.

If you search for a card in a specific zone and can't find it there, anything you're supposed to do next with that card is impossible and thus ignored. The impossible action does not get replaced by any other action, even if that action appears to you to be quite similar (like taking the action with a card of the same name from a different zone).

  • Re "If you search for a card in a specific zone and can't find it there", Or if you choose not to find it (a perfectly legal option).
    – ikegami
    Mar 22 '17 at 17:32
  • True - if you are searching a hidden zone for cards with a stated quality, such as OP's search of a library for a card with a specific name, you aren't required to find them (rule 701.17b). In any other kind of search - in other words, any search where the opponent can check your work - you have to find the card if it's there. Mar 22 '17 at 17:45

Behemoth's Herald says, "Search your Library." Your hand is not part of your library.


Cards do what they say they do. In this case that is "Search your library for a card named Godsire and put it onto the battlefield.", you are not instructed to search anywhere else, therefore you cannot search anywhere else to find Godsire.

In order to be allowed to search your hand the card would have to say that like Surgical Extraction does "Search its owner's graveyard, hand, and library [...]"

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