What Is Read Ahead in MTG?

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As the starting point to the four-part Phyrexian arc, Dominaria United is all about story. Despite this, one of the set’s main mechanics lets you skip that story to get right to the good bits. Fittingly named Read Ahead, this MTG mechanic reinvents a classic Dominaria mechanic, Sagas. 

First introduced in 2018, Sagas have been on quite a journey since their first appearance. After being most recently turned into double-faced cards in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Sagas now have their own keyword. As a breath of fresh compared to some other recent MTG mechanics, Read Ahead is also mercifully simple. 

While the mechanic’s name explains a lot, here’s everything you need to know about Read Ahead in Dominaria United!

What Is Read Ahead in MTG?

The Phasing of Zhalfir | Dominaria United

Introduced in Dominaria United, Read Ahead is a brand new mechanic only found on Sagas. As the name somewhat suggests, Read Ahead lets you skip chapters of a Saga when it comes into play. Specifically, according to the reminder text, you “choose a chapter and start with that many lore counters.” For reference, chapters in Sagas are the triggered abilities marked by roman numerals on the side of the card. 

It’s important to note that chapters skipped through this process are not triggered. Once the Saga is in play, it follows the normal rules for Saga enchantments. This means that during your draw step, a lore counter will be added to the Saga and the relevant ability triggered. The Saga will also be sacrificed, as usual, upon the completion of the Saga’s final chapter.

How to Use Read Ahead in MTG?

While Dominaria United’s spoiler season is not yet complete, it is known that eight Sagas with Read Ahead are included in the set. This information is thanks to an unfortunate leak of a rules document by Wizards of the Coast. This leak shows that Read Ahead Sagas are available in all five colors. 

With Sagas being a familiar sight in Standard since first being introduced in 2018, the applications for Read Ahead are fairly straightforward. Typically, the most powerful ability or chapter on a Saga is its last one. This was true for Elspeth Conquers Death and it remains true on The World Spell. As a result, Read Ahead’s ability to skip straight to a Saga’s third ability is undeniably powerful. 

While Read Ahead’s ability to skip right to a Saga’s final chapter is helpful, it’s not always the best choice. On The Phasing of Zhalfir, for instance, blue players may want to utilize the Saga’s first two chapters to phase out and protect their creatures. This prevents the chosen creatures from getting destroyed by the Saga’s third chapter, which destroys all creatures. The Phasing of Zhalfir also marks the first time a solely blue destroy all creatures effect has been printed. 

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Ultimately, the correct answer of where to Read Ahead to, if at all, will change from game to game. This is the greatest strength of the ability, as it provides more options to the Saga’s controller. Due to this strength, we expect to see Dominaria United’s Sagas frequently in the new post-rotation Standard environment.