MTG Read Ahead: How It Works and What It Does

It’s that time again. Another MTG set has come and gone and several new and exciting mechanics have been injected into the meta. In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know about the brand new Read Ahead mechanic.

Read Ahead is an Ability Word featured on Sagas from the Dominaria United set. If a Saga has the Read Ahead ability, you can choose any chapter for that Saga to start on when it enters the battlefield. This lets you skip earlier chapters and get straight to the chapter you need the most.

Sagas are one of the most innovative card designs to grace Magic in a long time. And Read Ahead puts a fresh new twist on them. Read ahead (see what I did there) for a detailed guide to this new mechanic.

What Is Read Ahead?

Read Ahead is a brand new ability featured on Sagas in Domanaria United. Flavor-wise, Sagas, of course, are just stories. So Read Ahead, as the name suggests, lets you skip over any parts of the story that don’t interest you, and get straight to the good stuff.

How Does It Work?

the phasing of zhalfir

It’s pretty simple. Usually, when a Saga enters the battlefield, it enters with one Lore Counter on it and the first chapter, or ability, triggers. The Saga then gains one more Lore Counter on each of your turns after that. When it has two Lore Counters, chapter two triggers. When it has three, chapter three triggers. And so on and so forth until the last chapter resolves and you sacrifice the Saga.

If a Saga has Read Ahead, however, you can choose to have it start on whatever chapter you want. Whenever it enters the battlefield, you get to choose a number between one and the highest chapter it has. Most Sagas have three chapters, so usually you’ll be choosing between one and three.

You then add Lore Counters to the Saga equal to the number you chose, and the corresponding chapter triggers. After that, it functions exactly the same as a regular Saga. Keep in mind, though, you can’t go backwards. If you skip a chapter, you lose any chance of getting its effects.

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Read ahead (Choose a chapter and start with that many lore counters. Add one after your draw step. Skipped chapters don’t trigger.)

Reminder Text
  • As a Saga with Read Ahead enters the battlefield, its controller chooses one of the chapters present on the Saga. The Saga then enters the battlefield with the chosen number of lore counters. Choosing the number and/or putting the counters on the Saga doesn’t use the stack, and therefore, neither can be responded to.
  • Usually, if multiple lore counters are put on a Saga at once, each of the chapter abilities will trigger. However, the Read Ahead ability creates an exception to this.
  • When a Saga with read ahead enters the battlefield, its chapter abilities won’t trigger unless it has exactly the same number of lore counters on it as that ability’s chapter number. So for example, if you choose to “read ahead” to chapter two of your Saga, chapter one would not trigger.
  • If an effect would modify the number of counters that your permanent enters the battlefield with,
    that effect is applied after you have chosen the number of lore counters that the Saga will enter with.
    To elaborate, this means that only the chapter ability with the same chapter number as the number of lore counters it entered with will trigger, regardless of the number you chose. As an example, say you chose for your Saga to enter on chapter two. Then, an effect added a counter as it entered. The Saga would enter the battlefield on the third chapter and only that chapter will trigger.
  • On all turns after it is cast, a Saga with Read Ahead follows the normal rules for Saga enchantments.

Is Read Ahead Good?

Sagas in general have proven to be really powerful, with cards like Urza’s Saga dominating several formats. All Read Ahead does is make Sagas even more versatile and powerful.

With that being said, however, Urza’s Saga and the like were printed straight into Modern, while Dominaria United is a Standard-legal set.

It’s no surprise then that the power level of sagas was brought back down to a more modest level here, even with the added ability. Of the ten Read Ahead Sagas printed, most of them are pretty high-mana, and none have proven to be incredibly powerful so far. That could all change at any moment, though.

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Read Ahead Full Card List

End Step

Read Ahead is a flavorful and exciting addition to one of Magic’s newest card types. I hope this article has answered any and all questions you may have about the ability. If not, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll be happy to respond.

Until next time, I wish you the best of luck in every chapter of your MTG journey.

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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.