If I use Golos, Tireless Pilgrim's activated ability, which starts:

Exile the top three cards of your library...

when my library has 2 or fewer cards, must I draw all 3 cards (and hence lose the game attempting to draw from an empty library) or can I just exile the 2 cards which are available?

  • 7
    When MTG references a keyword action (a verb with a rule definition, such as "draw"), it refers strictly to that keyword action. Being unable to draw a card loses you the game, but exiling is not drawing.
    – ikegami
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 17:02
  • "Exile was known as 'removed from the game' before it was renamed" - if there's (was) a pseudo keyword, it's take like Scry, and it would've read : '[Take] the top three cards of your library [and remove them from the game]'. - But it isn't one, so inability to take is moot.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 19:45

3 Answers 3


You don't lose the game until you try to draw a card that doesn't exist.

104.3c If a player is required to draw more cards than are left in their library, they draw the remaining cards and then lose the game the next time a player would receive priority. (This is a state-based action. See rule 704.)

Since Golos exiles cards it doesn't lose you the game, but that will probably happen on your next draw step anyway.

You can now exile your 2 cards to Golos's ability:

609.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.

  • 6
    Good answer. Just to make it perfectly clear to someone who isn't fully proficient in the rules, you may want to spell out in your second paragraph that exiling cards from the library is not drawing them (and that's why, as you already wrote, it doesn't lose you the game)
    – Syndic
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 7:57
  • 5
    To add to @Syndic's comment, nothing is considered drawing a card unless the keyword "Draw" is involved, even if an effect puts the top card of your library into your hand. If you deal combat damage with Augury Adept, even though the top card of your library was moved to your hand, you still haven't technically drawn a card. If your library was empty library at the time, it would not cause you to lose the game. Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 18:19

The first two answers did a good job of answering your question, but I feel like it is important to point out a misunderstanding in your question.

(...)must I draw all 3 cards(...)

Actions that remove cards from the top of your library are not necessarily drawing a card, even if the cards go into your hand. It is only a card draw if it's your one card that you draw during your draw phase or a spell or ability specifically uses the phrase "draw (a/X) card(s)".

  • Fixed it @DavidZ
    – DenisS
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 14:44
  • This reads strangely specific. Is there a card that does that, i.e. that removes one or more card from the top of your library and puts them into your hand in such a manner that, since the keyword "draw" is not used, you don't loose the game if your library is empty?
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 16:09
  • @Schmuddi There are plenty of cards like that. Underrealm Lich is a good example where it replaces draws with "Look at the top 3 cards of your library, put one into your hand, and the rest into your graveyard". It actually makes it impossible to deck yourself while it's on the battlefield because you never actually draw with an empty library.
    – DenisS
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 16:48
  • Thanks. Of course, now that I read the card text for Underrealm Lich, it sounds perfectly natural. Don't know what I was thinking.
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 13:22

You exile all cards in your library (given that you have 3 cards or less in your library). You don't lose the game because the cards are exiled, not drawn.

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