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Karn Liberated has an ultimate ability that says

Restart the game, leaving in exile all non-Aura permanent cards exiled with Karn Liberated. Then put those cards onto the battlefield under your control.

At first I interpreted this effect as saying that players shuffle all cards they own into their libraries, then carry out the start of game procedure, thereby making a fully and completely reset game and board state (except for the exiled cards). But reading the comprehensive rules only mystified me, because there's nothing that explicitly says that, with some rules seeming to require it and others requiring the opposite.

Rule 721.1 states

...All players in that game when it ended then start a new game following the procedures set forth in rule 103, “Starting the Game”...

And there is nothing in rule 103, nor rule 721, that states players shuffle all their cards into their libraries, only "shuffle their deck" in rule 103.2. So now I interpret the effect as all permanents remain on the battlefield and players' existing libraries become their decks in the restarted game. This is supported by rule 721.3:

Because each player draws seven cards when the new game begins, any player with fewer than seven cards in their library will lose the game when state-based actions are checked during the upkeep step of the first turn, regardless of any mulligans that player takes.

If players shuffled all their cards into their libraries before starting the game, they couldn't lose due to mill in the opening hand. I was comfortable with this state of affairs until I saw the example rule 721.2, which boggled my mind.

Example: A player casts Living Wish, bringing a creature card into the game from outside the game. Then that game is restarted. The creature card will be part of that player’s library when the new game begins.

Huh?? So suddenly a creature card does go back into the library? Wouldn't that apply to other cards as well? This example doesn't say what zone the card was in, seeming to make it unconditional.

The other argument I can think of is: if cards aren't shuffled back into libraries, why would Karn's effect need to specify that cards are left in exile?

I'm so confused.

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Yes, players shuffle all of their cards into the library when starting a new game.

The full text of rule 103.2 says

After the starting player has been determined, each player shuffles their deck so that the cards are in a random order. Each player may then shuffle or cut their opponents’ decks. The players’ decks become their libraries.

Your deck is not the same thing as your library. Your deck is the cards that you start the game with. When you restart the game, you pick up every card in every zone that you own to reconstruct your deck, then you shuffle it, then it becomes your library.

This is reflected in Karn Liberated's second ruling:

The player who controlled the ability that restarted the game is the starting player in the new game. The new game starts like a game normally does: Each player shuffles their deck (except the cards left in exile by Karn’s ability). Each player’s life total becomes 20 (or the starting life total for whatever format you’re playing). Players draw a hand of seven cards. Players may take mulligans. Players may take actions based on cards in their opening hands, such as those of Leylines.

"Deck" must refer to more cards than just the library for the exception to make any sense.

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  • How do companions figure into this? Or is that a separate question?
    – John
    Oct 8 '21 at 0:43
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    Similar to the card you find with wish cards, companions also start the game in the sideboard and later enter the game, so I would assume that the conclusion is the same as with the Living Wish example in the question and you shuffle them into your deck. The rest of the companion procedure happens "Before the game begins", so I assume that you don't get to repeat it when restarting the game, the same way that you can't re-sideboard when restarting the game.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 8 '21 at 0:52
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Murgatroid99's answer certainly is the proper answer, but I just wanted to point out something in your question.

Because each player draws seven cards when the new game begins, any player with fewer than seven cards in their library will lose the game when state-based actions are checked during the upkeep step of the first turn, regardless of any mulligans that player takes.

If players shuffled all their cards into their libraries before starting the game, they couldn't lose due to mill in the opening hand. I was comfortable with this state of affairs until I saw the example rule 721.2, which boggled my mind.

There are a number of situations where this is possible. The simplest example involes Karn, Liberated himself.

Imagine that you have slowly and methodically exiled each card from an oppenent's deck to the point where 54 cards are currently exiled by Karn. Those cards, per the abilities on Karn, would not get shuffled back into your opponent's deck when the game is restarted. Assuming your opponent only has 60 cards in their deck, they would only shuffle 6 cards back into their library, then attempt to draw 7 at the beginning of the game.

This would trigger the 719.3 rule, although technically this ruleisn't necessary because 719.3 is just a reminder to apply 704.5b even when drawing your opening hand.


Other scenarios where a player would restart the game with less cards in their library than when they started playing include ante cards (think token copies of Tempest Efreet). Just because Ante cards are illegal in all formats doesn't mean that the comprehensive rules don't need to cover them.

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    The comprehensive rules very much do not cover silver-bordered cards. Most silver bordered card do not actually work according to a strict interpretation of the rules.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 7 '21 at 17:58
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    The CR does NOT cover silver bordered cards. There's no 702 entry for Last Strike, Undeathtouch, or Super Haste for example. Rulings (I think you meant rules tough) in general are just ways of stating the general rules in the CR for a specific case - none of them are "necessary" in that sense, they just simplify and specify what's already correct. As for rules, the CR says the same thing multiple times in multiple places - wherever it applies worded to focus on that part of the rule.
    – Andrew
    Oct 7 '21 at 18:08
  • I've removed the bit about silver bordered cards, and you were right, I meant to say "rule" instead of "ruling" when I was mentioning 719.3
    – DenisS
    Oct 7 '21 at 22:39
  • While murgatroid's answer is indeed the direct answer, yours is the one I prefer. The only obstacle to shuffling everything for me was rule 721.3 and you explained why that happens. Oct 8 '21 at 0:41

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