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What's the most cards I can own at once in a game, presumably with the cooperation of all players?

I think it's something like Graveyard Busybody with an Abyssal Persecutor, so the opponent(s) can have all their cards in the graveyard and the game still goes on.

That gives a player ownership of all the cards that's possible to be played in a game.

But are there ways beyond that? Like my hypothetical "turning an infinite number of tokens into 'cards' a.k.a 'things that will persist beyond death'", is currently impossible, but are there other ways?

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    Could you clarify what mean by "own"? Ownership is a very specifically defined term in the MtG rules, and the things you are referring to do not change ownership in any way. – Philip Kendall Feb 27 at 18:44
  • All the cards that changed card ownership are really old and banned - cards change control of other cards, or zones in a few silver bordered cases, but ownership is something different and does not change. – Andrew Feb 27 at 18:59
  • @PhilipKendall - Make it so cards that cards that were played by your opponent can now be affected by cards that say "Your Graveyard / Lands / Whatever", such as [mtg:Unburial Rites]... Interesting that [mtg:Reanimate] itself can be used on any graveyard... – Malady Feb 27 at 19:32
  • I believe there aren't any cards that say "your lands," "your creatures," or anything else that's "your" followed by a card type (except in reminder text). – Tanner Swett Feb 28 at 14:52
  • @TannerSwett - Well, it seems to be more "X you control", for cards, when not talking about spaces like Library or Graveyard. ... Not sure if editing "control" for "own" in now is changing the question too much. I think it is...? – Malady Feb 28 at 17:01
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There is no limit to the amount of cards in your deck. For a given number N, the simplest way to own at least N cards during a gaming of Magic is to start with N cards in your deck.

100.5. If a deck must contain at least a certain number of cards, that number is referred to as a minimum deck size. There is no maximum deck size for non-Commander decks.

Most cards are limited to four copies each, but basic lands and cards like Relentless Rats are not.

Also, the only cards which change the owner of other cards are either silver-bordered or referring to ante and are outright banned in any competitive format.

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  • Hmm... Is it too late to clarify "increase the number of cards I own, beyond the starting number"? – Malady Feb 27 at 18:42
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    It's best not to edit the question to change what it's asking in a way that invalidates existing answers. So, yes, probably too late. You could post a separate followup question though. – David Z Feb 27 at 18:52
  • Are there any silver-bordered cards that change ownership? I suppose there might be, but I can't come up with the correct search terms. Also, you need to be able to shuffle your deck reasonably, so in addition to collecting an N-card deck to play with, you'd better practice shuffling too. Hope you have big hands. (Would it be allowed to shuffle with a machine? That would probably make it easier to deal with a huge deck.) – ilkkachu Feb 27 at 19:14
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The rulings of Graveyard Busybody include:

Cards owned by your opponents still go to the appropriate graveyard.

and

Speaking of [another ruling], cards in graveyards are shuffled into their owners’ libraries. You won’t put any cards from graveyards you stole, er . . . borrowed into your library.

which appears to imply that the graveyards are "yours", but you don't own the cards.

Which matches how the "owner" in game terms closely shadows the actual owner of the cards, e.g. if a player leaves a multiplayer game, cards they own also leave the game. Which they would do in any case if the player decided to pick up their belongings and go.

(108.3 does say that "Legal ownership of a card in the game is irrelevant to the game rules except for the rules for ante." and that instead "The owner of a card in the game is the player who started the game with it in their deck [etc.]", which could make a difference if a player plays with a borrowed deck. In the worst case, it could mean that all players play with cards actually owned by some other player in the same game... But even if someone does play with a deck borrowed from a friend, they still get to pick up that deck and go when conceding the game, and there's not much the game rules can do about that.)

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Aside from putting more cards in your own deck or taking ownership of your opponent's cards, you could explore cards that add cards to your hand from outside the game (often known as "wishes", after a cycle in Judgment). Many wishes don't exile themselves, so you could find ways to replay them to add more cards to your hand.

In particular, Fae of Wishes looks like a good candidate for bringing arbitrary numbers of cards into the game. Play the adventure, wish for a card, play the faerie from exile, and then return it to your hand and repeat (much easier for a creature on the battlefield than a spell in the graveyard). With a card-efficient way of bouncing it and a sufficient supply of mana, you could hypothetically stuff your entire collection (except creatures) into your hand.

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  • I've refined the first search to eliminate Companions (which can only fetch themselves from outside the game) and a number of Un-cards that refer to people outside the game. – Cadence Feb 27 at 20:23
  • In competitive games Fae of Wishes can only fetch cards from your sideboard, which can only have a maximum of 15 cards, so you can't go up to an arbitrary number of cards. – Allure Feb 27 at 22:58
  • @Allure OP specified "with the cooperation of all players", so I assume they aren't looking at a competitive game. – Cadence Feb 28 at 9:51
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Cadence's answer describes one mechanism for moving cards from your sideboard (if in a tournament setting) or from your collection (in a "casual" setting) into your game. Their answer focuses on wishes. There are many other ways to bring cards from outside the game into the game. My personal favorite is Spawnsire of Ulamog. i.e. bring as many cards as you want from outside the game all at once.

That said, the number of cards that can exist in a game are determined by the format. Different formats have different numbers. For instance, in Magic the Gathering: Arena, your deck has a max size (250) and your sideboard has a max size (15). So, the largest possible number of cards you can ever "own" and "incorporate" into a game are 265 in Arena.

In tournament play, your sideboard (which is the extent of your collection "outside the game") can have at most 15 cards.

In casual play however, you are allowed to bring all cards you own from outside the game into the game via these mechanisms.

There is one general rule that Glorfindel's answer neglected. While in tournament and casual play your deck can be as large as you want it to be. You have to be able to shuffle it in a reasonable amount of time. Shuffling 400 card decks is extraordinarily difficult to do quickly.

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From 2008 2016, there were over 20 billion MtG cards printed. So the total number of cards is probably in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 billion. However, a Gathering ruling on Battle of Wits says "In tournaments, you must be able to shuffle your entire deck within a reasonable amount of time." So it would be up to a judge how long "a reasonable amount of time" would be.

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