Last updated on September 30, 2022
The World Spell | Illustration by Adam Paquette
With the release of Dominaria United we’re being greeted by the return of some fan-favorite characters, villains, and mechanics. One of those are sagas: enchantments that come into the battlefield with lore counters that are added during that players precombat main phase.
Each chapter of a saga grants a different effect. Lore counters are added until the number matches the matches the number of chapters (typically III or IV). It’s then sacrificed after the final lore counter has been added, and the effect either resolved or countered.
Read ahead is a new mechanic that gives sagas something new to play with and makes them much more versatile. Let’s take a look!
How Does Read Ahead Work?
Braids's Frightful Return (Dominaria United) | Illustration by Dominik Mayer
Read ahead is a new ability that allows you to either have the saga enter the battlefield normally (i.e., at chapter I), or at any specific chapter of your choice. Previous chapters don’t trigger if you choose to read ahead.
The Brief History of Read Ahead in MTG
Read ahead was introduced on saga enchantments that appeared in Dominaria United in 2022. It’s not an evergreen mechanic as it was newly created for this set.
When Do You Decide to Read Ahead?
Read ahead can only be used when a saga is entering the battlefield. After it’s on the battlefield the chosen chapter and future chapters continue to trigger as normal.
Do You Read Ahead When You Cast a Saga?
As I mentioned, read ahead is used as a saga enters the battlefield. So yes, you read ahead when you cast a saga, as it enters.
Can you Read Ahead the Next Time a Saga Triggers?
No, read ahead can only be used when the saga is entering the battlefield. If you were to cast a saga with read ahead normally and have it start at chapter I and then blink that saga, you could choose to read ahead and have it enter the battlefield this time on chapter II.
Is Read Ahead Good?
Whether or not read ahead is good is highly subjective and very dependent on the deck you slot the cards into. What I can say about it is that it grants sagas a level of versatility that they didn’t have before.
For instance, say you don’t want to wipe all of your 2/2s off the board by playing The Elder Dragon War starting at chapter I but wouldn’t mind refreshing your hand with some fresh cards. You can cast it and read ahead to chapter II instead.
Gallery and List of Read Ahead Cards
Read ahead appears on a total of 10 cards in Dominaria United. One for each color at uncommon plus one for each color except green at rare, and one for green at mythic.
- Braid's Frightful Return
- Founding the Third Path
- Love Song of Night and Day
- The Weatherseed Treaty
- Yotia Declares War
- The Cruelty of Gix
- The Phasing of Zhalfir
- Urza Assembles the Titans
- The Elder Dragon War
- The World Spell
Best Read Ahead Cards
Of the read ahead cards out there, I have four that I’d suggest keeping in mind while deckbuilding.
Urza Assembles the Titans is great specifically for chapters II and III for any super friends decks.
All of The World Spell is technically good, but specifically chapter III for any green stompy decks.
The Cruelty of Gix’s chapter III is amazing for that wonderful graveyard theft. I mean, recursion.
The Phasing of Zhalfir is good for chapter III, especially if you can play it for chapter I to phase something of yours out and then blink it to read ahead to chapter III for a board wipe.
Decklist: Read Ahead Sheoldred in Standard
The Elder Dragon War (Dominaria United) | Illustration by Filip Burburan
Arrogant Outlaw x2
Blight Pile x3
Clockwork Drawbridge x4
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim x4
Faithbound Judge x2
Markov Purifier x2
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse x3
Braids's Frightful Return x4
Love Song of Night and Day x4
The Cruelty of Gix x4
Caves of Koilos x4
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Shattered Sanctum x4
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Ao, the Dawn Sky
Arc Spitter x2
Cut Down x4
Dread Fugue x2
Henrika Domnathi x2
I was able to have some fun at prerelease and get to play with and see some decks that used read ahead to great effect. Since those were Sealed decks and not Constructed I won’t be putting of them on display, but I will share a Standard concoction I was able to come up with to display how the mechanic works for you to play around with. I make no promises that this is a tier 1 deck.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is your wincon here. Its ability plus the other direct player damage dealers just wind your opponent down. The defenders are there to hold the line so to speak while you get Sheoldred going, but also as a power source for Blight Pile to help pile one some damage.
Other cards are to remove problem creatures your opponent controls, and the sagas are there to use read ahead as needed to get back creatures from the graveyard, give you a blocker in the air, or to speed up the drawing process.
The sideboard includes some cards needed to either speed you up to meet aggro or help cheaply remove even more creatures. A board wipe is included in case things go extremely south as you can rebuild with your graveyard as needed.
The Phasing of Zhalfir (Dominaria United) | Illustration by LA Draws
Read ahead is a welcome improvement to sagas. While the enchantments have always had a wide range of power and abilities, they always had one constant: they had to go in the order they were written.
By giving us this flexibility Wizards has allowed us to have a card in hand that can have a much wider range of abilities to be cast at sorcery speeds. I’m very existed to see what comes of this now that sagas have become much more widely available in the Magic mythos.
How do you feel about read ahead? Do you think older sagas should be revamped with the new treatment? Let us know in our Discord, on Twitter, or in the comments below.
That’s all from me for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: