Steeling Stance | Illustration by Randy Gallegos
Every time we return to Ravnica, it seems like one of the guilds gets the short end of the stick, as far as effective and thematic mechanics go. In 2006’s Dissension, Azorius got the junk mechanic. Forecast isn’t bad, per se. It just lacks a certain splashiness that other mechanics have. Besides, it’s a little counterintuitive at first glance. It’s often interpreted as an “either/or” situation like we see on adventure spells.
How does forecast work? What’s the flavor behind this mechanic? Are there any uses for it anymore? Let’s take a dive into the Azorius-themed mechanic, forecast!
Pride of the Clouds | Illustration by Rebecca Guay
Forecast is an activated ability that can only be activated from a player’s hand (like cycling, or “discard this card: X” effects). It’s written as “Forecast – Cost, effect.” Forecast abilities can only be activated once per turn during the upkeep. The activating player reveals the card from their hand as part of the activation cost, and the card remains “revealed” until it either leaves their hand or until the end of that upkeep step. Technically, the revealed card is “known information” to your opponent, so they’re allowed to confirm you still have one Plumes of Peace in your hand.
Keep in mind that activating a forecast ability doesn’t cause the card to leave its owner’s hand. But, if you can somehow find a situation where the card leaves and then returns to your hand before the end of the upkeep step, you can activate the forecast ability a second time. The game considers the returned card a new object, so it hasn’t activated its forecast ability yet this turn.
Forecast was introduced as the Azorius mechanic in the second set of the original Ravnica block, 2006’s Dissension. The Azorius are the cops and judiciary branch of the Ravnican government, so it only makes sense that they control the weather. Yeah, I suppose that makes sense. There were a total of nine forecast cards printed in Dissension, with one more printed in Future Sight and another printed in Modern Horizons 2.
In Dissension, blue and white lend themselves to a control-ish midrange-ish strategy, with many midsize creatures and spells. Early game for these decks revolves around using the forecast mechanic in lieu of typical low-cost spells to control the early game and then sweep up in the mid to late game with flying creatures.
Forecast delves into under-utilized design space, but not very bravely. Occasionally, we see new mechanics debut with meta-shaping consequences, but not forecast. While forecast creates an interesting Battle of Wits for you and your opponent (“Is it worth revealing this card from my hand? Should I spend the mana to activate this ability before I know what I’m going to draw?”), most of the forecast abilities won’t make enough of a splash to win games. I personally enjoy the mind games involved in revealing private information to my opponent in exchange for small bits of value and control here and there, but ultimately forecast decks are hindered by their theme rather than helped by it. Never mind that they're infinitely repeatable effects so long as you keep that card in your hand, there are just better ways to spend your mana.
You can’t activate the same forecast card multiple times in the same upkeep. The only way around this is if you can find a way to activate the forecast ability, remove the card from your hand, then return it and activate the ability again all in the same upkeep.
Technically, you could activate Sky Hussar’s ability, then flash it into play while its ability is still on the stack with a Quicksilver Amulet, then Unsummon it back to your hand and activate its ability again. The rules read that returned Sky Hussar as a new object, so it hasn’t yet activated its forecast ability this upkeep.
Yes, the forecast card must be in your hand to activate. Cards typically can only be revealed from your hand or the top of your library, and you can’t activate an ability on top of your library if you can’t see it.
Yes, you can activate multiple different forecast cards in the same turn. For example, if you have both Sky Hussar and Pride of the Clouds in your hand, you could activate the Pride to create a 1/1 Bird creature token, then use that bird as part of the activation cost for Sky Hussar’s forecast.
You can respond to forecast abilities the same as any other ability. Forecast abilities use the stack to resolve.
- Govern the Guildless
- Paladin of Prahv
- Piercing Rays
- Plumes of Peace
- Pride of the Clouds
- Proclamation of Rebirth
- Sky Hussar
- Spirit en-Dal
- Steeling Stance
- Writ of Passage
As you’ve probably guessed, forecast cards don’t see a lot of play in any format.
Skyscribing scores second-highest on the list of useful forecast cards. This slower form of Prosperity still functions as a mana-dump if you’re looking to use your infinite mana to draw out your opponents or draw into your Laboratory Maniac. Plus, it’s a cute political card in your Phelddagrif group hug Commander deck.
Pride of the Clouds is probably the best of the forecast cards. It’s dependent on controlling a lot of flying creatures and plays into that by creating them for you from the hand. Unfortunately, mana is quite a lot to pay for a single 1/1 flier, so Pride of the Clouds still needs some build-around support to be effective.
Beacon Hawk | Illustration by William Simpson
So, how do you build around forecast? It’s not strong enough to stand on its own in traditional formats, but what about in the environment where it was originally created? That’s right, I’m reviving the Block Constructed format today in an attempt to make a forecast deck that doesn’t suck. Hopefully, by expanding the card pool to the rest of the Ravnica block, I’ll be able to cobble together a fun and thematic deck.
Forecast cards remain in your hand after you’ve activated their effect, so you’ll want to capitalize on all those cards in your hand. I’ve started with the Azorius Ascendant theme deck from Dissension and built off of its general control strategy by increasing certain card counts for consistency, removing general cards without synergy, and adding four copies of Pride of the Clouds.
This deck opens up with Beacon Hawk and Pride of the Clouds, two key cards that’ll keep your engine running. Beacon Hawk synergizes with Ocular Halo to deal damage and draw a few cards here and there, while an early Pride of the Clouds just gets bigger with the rest of your flying creatures.
As with most forecast decks, you’ll need to plan your turns ahead of time. If you can’t commit to using the rest of your mana after you activate the forecast card, it might not be worth it to activate.
This deck wants to stall out the game with a defensive field until you can swing in for big damage with your Stoic Ephemera with Wakestone Gargoyle on the field. Use Soulsworn Jury in place of regular countermagic and capitalize on your mainly creature-based deck with Halcyon Glaze.
There’s one sneaky trick you can pull: Activating Writ of Passage on a Pride of the Clouds during your upkeep means it’s unblockable for the rest of the turn, even if you decide to play some cheap fliers and buff it up before combat.
If you really want to pump this deck up while staying on theme, consider adding the two non-Dissension forecast cards, Spirit en-Dal, and Piercing Rays. The spirit makes a great low-cost replacement for Writ of Passage, and you can cast it to trigger your Halcyon Glaze. Piercing Rays is better removal, and it can replace Plumes of Peace.
Sky Hussar | Illustration by Kev Walker
Sure, there are only 11 cards with forecast and sure, they’re almost entirely overcosted and underwhelming. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a home. The forecast cards are begging you to build around them! Nobody else will!
You could purchase a playset of every forecast card for about $25! Go nuts with it! Construct a casual 60-card deck with forecast cards, and be sure to share it with me. Or, come join the official Draftsim Discord, and talk about the deck with some fellow MTG players!
Thanks for reading, keep an eye on the weather!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: