If you’re the type to intricately plan your every move, using Foretell in Magic: The Gathering can be fun. Spells that have the Foretell ability let you cast them from exile (after first exiling them from your hand). This variation of casting also splits a spell’s mana cost.
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What Is Foretell?
Foretell in Magic: The Gathering is a static keyword ability that lets you exile spells that have it from your hand for two mana (any color) so that you can cast it later for its Foretell cost. The Foretell cost is always next to the keyword, so you’ll never get confused about how much mana you’ll need to spend to cast the desired spell from exile.
Another important note is that spells with Foretell have standard casting timing. As such, after you exile a card with the Foretell ability, you cannot cast them from exile until your next turn. The only exceptions are Foretell spells that are Instants or have the Flash ability.
When you exile a spell via Foretell, they are exiled face-down. You’re allowed to check your foretold spells at any time. However, you need to keep them in the same order; you cannot re-arrange them. Your opponent needs to be able to keep track of the foretelling order.
Using the Foretell ability is a special action. This means that cards with the Foretell ability do not appear on the Stack while being exiled for your hand.
There’s also a flavorful detail in regard to Foretell rulings. If you leave a game while you have Foretell spells in exile, you must reveal them to your allies and opponents. The same is true if a game ends while you have exiled Foretell spells—flip them face-up to reveal your predictions! This ruling doesn’t impact gameplay much. However, it does add a tarot-like sense of wonder to your MTG games.
An Example of How Foretell Works
Let’s say that you have Saw It Coming in your hand and you’re opponent seems to be running a mostly red deck. Counterspells like Saw It Coming are always handy for disrupting your opponent’s plays; however, this Instant costs three mana (two blue, one of any color). This is a bit more expensive than most other Couterspell variants.
With that said, you can pay two mana (any color) to exile it now so that you can cast it from exile later for another two mana (one blue, one of any color). Although this costs you more mana in the long run, you’ll pay less mana now to exile it and less mana later to cast it from exile.
Due to Saw It Coming being an Instant, you can cast it from exile during your opponent’s turn. After being exiled from your hand, Saw It Coming acts like the usual Counterspell variant: cast it for two mana to counter a target spell.
If your opponent casts a sorcery like Fireball—and you have the mana to cast Saw It Coming—you can counter the incoming Sorcery. With that said, if you do this before your next turn, it’s not the most efficient way to use Foretell. During one turn, you’ll pay four mana for a card that would normally cost three mana.
How to Use Foretell
The best way to use Foretell in Magic: The Gathering is to wait at least one full turn before using any spells you’ve exiled with this ability. Once your mana pool refills, casting Foretell spells from exile becomes more efficient. While doing so, make sure to use Foretell’s other main advantage: increasing your hand size artificially.
Using Foretell Efficiently
Let’s use some simple equations to demonstrate ideal Foretell usage. We’ll use Saw It Coming’s mana costs for this.
Bad Foretell usage looks like this:
Pay two mana to exile Saw It Coming and then immediately cast from exile during your opponent’s next turn to counter a spell.
[pay 2 mana to exile, then pay 2 mana to cast from exile = 4 mana spent this turn/4 mana spent overall]
Good Foretell usage looks like this:
Pay two mana to exile Saw It Coming and wait for your next turn. After your next turn begins, you cast Saw It Coming when your opponent casts a spell either during your turn or theirs.
[pay 2 mana to exile and wait until your mana pool refills on your next turn, then pay 2 mana to cast from exile = 2 mana spent this turn/4 mana spent overall]
How much mana you spend over the course of a game does not matter at all. However, what does matter (and greatly so) is how much mana you spend per turn. The less mana you spend per action or special action, the more actions and special actions you can do in a turn.
Using Foretell to Gain a Bigger Hand Size
One of the best benefits of using Foretell is that it basically lets you increase your hand size.
Think of it this way: your exiled Foretell spells are all immediately accessible. This is the same as for cards in your hand. On top of that, there’s no limit to how many cards you can have in exile this way. If you’re using a deck that has many Foretell spells, you can keep exiling them to cast later.
This can potentially result in you being in a situation where you have seven cards in your hand and seven in exile. They can all be played as if they were in your hand. In essence, this would be like having a hand size of 14. What’s more, your foretold cards now cost less to cast than their default mana cost.
The downside is that you need to have a lot of patience and must plan precisely for your tactics to pay off. The upside is that you can artificially increase your hand size while decreasing the mana costs of your spells.
Further Increasing Casting Efficiency
There are quite a few cards out there that have great synergy with Foretell. One way to make a Foretell-heavy deck more effective is to further reduce the mana costs of your spells. An easy way to do so is with cards such as Cosmos Charger.
When Cosmos Charger is on the battlefield, you can exile Foretell spells from your hand for one mana (any color) instead of two. Cutting the exiling cost in half immensely improves your mana efficiency. In turn, you can use that saved mana for any number of actions or special actions.
That’s not all—Cosmos Charger also lets you exile Foretell spells during your opponent’s turn. If you do so, this means that you can cast foretold spells at the start of your next turn after your mana pool refills. As such, you can cast your non-Instant and non-Flash spells from exile sooner than usual.
Since this ability stacks, if you have two Cosmos Chargers on the battlefield, you can exile Foretell spells for free! This can lead to incredibly broken tactics given the right cards and timing.
Last but not least, remember that Cosmos Charger has both Flash and Flying. These abilities on a creature with three power and three toughness should never be underestimated.
How to Counter Foretell
It’s pretty hard to counter Foretell in Magic: The Gathering. Since foretold cards exist in exile before being cast, you’ll have a hard time targeting them. Also, since foretelling does not temporarily place spells on the Stack, you can’t mess with them that way either.
The only real way of countering Foretell is to wait until your opponent casts their Foretell spell from exile. At that point, the spell is placed on the Stack, which means you can use a Counterspell variant against it.
However, instead of countering Foretell tactics (which is definitely an uphill battle), you can prevent your opponent from setting up their board. Foretell decks are relatively slow, as they need lots of time and mana to set up their best strategies. Take advantage of this by rushing your opponent with low-cost creatures and spells.
If you’re using a goblin-themed deck (or one with comparable setup speed), you can easily overwhelm a Foretell deck before it can become a threat.
With that in mind, make sure you take out your opponent soon. Once you enter the middle or late portion of a game, a good Foretell deck will almost always have an advantage. This is thanks to reduced mana costs, a bigger (artificial) hand size, and now possessing knowledge of your deck’s tactics.
When you take advantage of Foretell mechanics in Magic: The Gathering, you’re setting yourself up for a decisive victory. Be sure to pack options for the early game so that your big plans can pay off later. Using abilities like Lifelink can help you gain enough life points to weather early storms. As long as you live long enough to see your predictions come true, you’ll likely come out on top!