MTG Unearth: How It Works and What It Does

Magic’s newest crossover product, Warhammer 40k, is bringing us a new batch of Commander Precons. These Precons are stuffed with brand new cards that feature awesome mechanics both new and old. In this article, I’ll go over one mechanic making its comeback in the new release: Unearth!

If a creature with Unearth is in your graveyard, you can pay its Unearth cost anytime you could cast a sorcery. If you do, you return the creature to the battlefield. It gains Haste and you exile it at the beginning of the next end-step.

Although this might sound simple enough, there are lots of questions and interactions that arise from any MTG mechanic. And Unearth is no different.

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about this mechanic. Let’s jump right in.

RELATED: Warhammer 40k Commander Precons – Everything You Need To Know

What Is Unearth?

Unearth is an activated ability found on certain creature cards. The ability gets its name from a Sorcery card of the same name, Unearth, printed all the way back in Urza’s Legacy.

You can only activate a creature’s Unearth ability if that creature is currently in the graveyard. Once you pay the specified cost, you then return the creature to the battlefield under you control. It also gains Haste!

How Does It Work?

rotting rats

It’s pretty simple, really. Once a creature with Unearth lands in your graveyard, you simply pay the cost to activate the ability. The actual cost varies from creature to creature. So far, all of the costs are some number of mana, sometimes less than the original mana-cost of the creature, sometimes more.

You can only activate an Unearth ability on your turn, during one of your main-phases.

Once you pay the cost and activate the ability, you return the creature to the battlefield under your control. Once you Unearth a creature, you have to exile it at the beginning of your next end step. If it would leave the battlefield before that (if it dies in combat, for example), you still have to exile it.

Does Unearth Count as Casting a Spell?

No, returning a creature with the Unearth ability does not count as casting a spell.


702.84a “Unearth [cost]”: Return this card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step. If it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else. Activate only as a sorcery.”

MTG Comprehensive Rules
  • You can activate a creature’s Unearth ability regardless of how it wound up in the graveyard (i.e combat, removal, milling etc.)
  • If a creature returned to the battlefield via its Unearth ability would leave the battlefield for any reason, it is exiled instead.
  • If a card would exile a creature returned with the Unearth ability, it succeeds in exiling it. This is relevant for cards such as Oblivion Ring that might eventually return the Unearthed creature to the battlefield. If an Unearthed creature is returned in such a way, it comes back as an entirely new object. It no longer has haste and will no longer be exiled at the next end step.

Best Unearth Cards

Corpse Connoisseur


Corpse Connoisseur lets you tutor for a creature and put it into your graveyard, twice! Of course, you have to pay nine mana for the pleasure, but you’ll also be basically getting two 3/3 bodies as well.

Corpse Connoisseur is an overall solid card, and a great budget alternative to tutors in the Commander format.

Sedris, the Traitor King

priest of fell rites

Sedris is not only a beefy creature in his own right, he also lets you unearth any creature in your graveyard for just three mana. This makes him a great commander for self-mill shenanigans.

Priest of Fell Rites

sedris the traitor king

Priest of Fell Rites is the perfect creature for reanimating huge threats that you’ve managed to dump in your graveyard. And the beautiful part is, you don’t even have to pay any mana. Priest lets you bring back any creature simply by paying three life. You do have to sacrifice Priest of Fell Rites, but you can bring it back and do it all over again thanks to the Priest’s Unearth ability.

This is an overall awesome card, and, in my opinion, the best that the Unearth mechanic has to offer.

Card Gallery

I’ve compiled all of the new cards from the upcoming Warhammer 40k Commander decks here in one place for your research/enjoyment.

canoptek tomb sentinel
ghost ark
hexmark destroyer
lokhust heavy destroyer
royal warden
skorpekh lord
triarch praetorian

Unearth Cards Full List

RELATED: The Best Budget MTG Commander Decks

End Step

Unearth is a classic mechanic. There’s little else as simple yet satisfying as returning a creature card from your graveyard to battlefield. And thankfully, with the release of the Warhammer 40k Commander Precons, we have more opportunities than ever to do just that.

I hope you’ve found this article useful. Until next time, best of luck with all of your Magic endeavors.

Photo of author

Joe Doak

I started playing Magic in 2015 after impulsively buying a fat-pack of Khans of Tarkir. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the game, and it's been a big part of my life ever since. Nowadays, I play moslty Modern, Commander, and Limited, but also enjoy keeping up with Standard. Whatever the format, I always find a way to brew up janky decks, convince myself they're great, get proven wrong, and love every second of it.