The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is introducing three new MTG mechanics, and they are all rather complicated. While Craft has some additive abilities that can cause confusion, and Descend or Descended really feels like three different keywords mashed into one, the new MTG Discover mechanic is definitely the most complex of the three… at least, without additional context.
Fortunately for veteran MTG players trying to wrap their heads around this mechanic, it is very similar to the old Cascade mechanic that has been dominating Modern for over a decade. There are, however, some stark differences that we will address in this article.
Additionally, if you have no idea what Cascade is, MTG Discover is a pretty complex mechanic. For that reason, we’re here to help clear up some confusion.
The new MTG Discover mechanic wants to exile cards from the top of your library. You do this until you exile a nonland card with mana value equal to or less than the numerical value of your Discover trigger. you can either cast that card from exile, or put it into your hand. All of the other exiled cards are put on the bottom of your library in a random order. For example, with Geological Appraiser, since the card has Discover 3, you exile cards until you hit a nonland card with mana value three or less and can then choose to cast it or put it in your hand.
This, as intended, is not complicated, but there are a ton of questions brought up by an effect like this, especially thanks to Cascade’s history. Let’s take a look at how this mechanic differs from Cascade, and answer some common questions surfacing in the community right now.
Differences Between MTG Discover and MTG Cascade
The first difference between MTG Discover and MTG Cascade was highlighted in our simple explanation of MTG Discover above. Cascade does not give the player the option to put the exiled spell into its owner’s hand. You either cast the spell or put it back in your deck.
This change, in the words of Wizards of the Coast, can open up deckbuilding restrictions a bit. You don’t need to play cards with Discover that you always want to cast. More situation effects, like combat tricks, can be put into your hand and saved for later.
The most obvious difference between Discover and Cascade is how they calculate what mana value they care about. Cards with Cascade can only cast spells with a mana value less than the card that has Cascade, while Discover just cares about the numerical value of the trigger. This allows Discover to appear on some cards that would never be able to Cascade, like lands.
Unlike Cascade, Discover is not a cast trigger. This means that one counterspell will generally be enough to counter both Discover and the card behind it unless that instance of Discover is specifically stated to trigger on cast.
Otherwise, Discover and Cascade function pretty much the same. That said, since a mechanic that had been broken sideways is reappearing as a ‘fixed’ version, there are some additional questions being asked by the community.
MTG Discover and MDFC Cards
Kaldheim players are likely familiar with Valki, God of Lies. Believe it or not, this card completely ruined a Modern format thanks to Cascade. Because of the way Cascade was worded at the time, you could Cascade into Valki and cast the flip side of the card from exile, which happens to a seven mana Planeswalker named Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter.
This, essentially, allowed Modern players to cast Tibalt for just three mana. Because multiple cards could do this, it wasn’t difficult to have more than four copies of Cascade spells that were guaranteed to cast a Tibalt. This interaction completely ruined the Modern format until Wizards of the Coast was forced to act.
To fix this, Wizards of the Coast did something that we have rarely ever seen in the history of Magic: the Gathering. They changed how Cascade works. Now, Cascade needs to cast a card with a mana value less than the card that triggered Cascade. For that reason, Cascade can no longer cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter unless the card Cascading into it has a mana value higher than seven.
Discover, as we understand currently, also has the errata’d version of Cascade, meaning that it, too, cannot cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter unless the Discover value is seven or greater. The example used in Wizards of the Coast’s official article, however, referred to an Adventure spell instead of an MDFC (Modal Double Faced Card) to demonstrate this. You definitely will not be casting any Fetch Quests with your exiled Bramble Familiar and, as we currently understand it, you will not be casting a discounted Tibalt either.
MTG Discover and Zero Mana Value Cards
This interaction is why Cascade is still very popular in the Modern format. Even though one can no longer use cheap Cascade spells to cheat out gigantic Planeswalkers, you can still use Cascade to cast cards that do not have a mana value. Cards like Living End, as far as Cascade is concerned, have a mana value of zero, meaning they are totally fair game for Cascade. This also appears to be the case for Discover.
Without an effect like Cascade or Discover, these cards can only be cast via their Suspend costs. The act of Cascading cards like Living End and Crashing Footfalls, therefore, speeds up their cast immensely. Discover, assumedly, should be able to do the same.
Either way, Discover looks like an immensely powerful new mechanic. It will be interesting to see what players do with it. If you want to read about the new MTG Descend or Descended mechanic, you can do so here. Additionally, information on the new MTG Craft mechanic can be found here.