Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Is Scrying in Magic?
Maintaining card advantage is an important part of winning Magic games; if your hand dwindles, you'll run out of both lands and spells, making you easy pickings. But you don't just want random draws, you want to nab exactly what you need in a given situation.
To help with this, several cards let you "scry" a certain number of cards. This means you (and only you) look at that many cards from the top of your deck. Not only can you replace them in any order, you can even send as many as you wish to the bottom of your deck, hopefully letting you draw something better. But with hundreds of scrying spells available, which reign supreme? These are the 10 best scry abilities in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Thassa, God of the Sea
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
For such a low price, Thassa provides a mighty 5/5 with indestructible, making her fierce in battle. However, she doesn't count as a creature until your devotion to blue hits five; counting her own blue symbol, you'll need four more among your permanents.
But whether she's a creature or still just an enchantment, Thassa automatically scries a card at your upkeep, giving you continuous deck tweaking. She can also spend two mana at any time to make a creature unblockable, a great way to land direct-damage effects.
9. Sphinx of Foresight
For four mana, Foresight offers a 4/4 with flying, a surprisingly strong combatant in generally combat-weak blue. Like Thassa, he automatically scries a card at your upkeep, letting you readjust your upcoming draws as needed.
But Foresight also offers a rare opening hand effect, letting you reveal him from your initial cards to scry three at your first upkeep. This helps ensure you don't run out of lands in the game's initial stages.
8. Harsh Scrutiny
Blue specializes in scrying, but other factions dabble in it as well. For a single mana, this black sorcery reveals an opponent's hand, lets you discard a creature from it, and has you scry one.
Thus, with just one mana, they're down a card, you have tactical knowledge of their upcoming plays, and you've had a chance to manipulate your next draw.
7. Augury Owl
For two mana, Owl grants a weak 1/1, though he slightly compensates with flying. But he really shines with his entrance effect, automatically scrying three when he enters the field. This helpfully triggers whenever Owl arrives, not just when cast, meaning it'll activate with graveyard arrivals and other entrance gimmicks.
6. Lifecrafter's Bestiary
Bestiary accepts any mana for its cost, but its text symbol means your commander has to be partially green to use it in EDH. Like Thassa and Foresight, you get a free scry at each of your upkeeps, and you can now pay an additional green mana whenever you cast a creature to draw a card.
Simply put, these are powerful deck-tinkering and hand-replenishing tools, especially for a non-blue color.
One of the best counterspells in the game,Condescend requires one blue mana plus an X value of your choice. You then negate a card unless its owner pays an additional X mana, and you also get to scry twice.
If you wait until your opponent taps all their lands for a big play, you only need X to be one to thwart it, making this as cheap as the classic "Counterspell." Throw in the added scrying benefit and colorless slots and you've got a powerful check against any card type.
This simple instant requires just one mana and both scries and draws a card, skillfullymanipulating your next draw. It also helps activate the reduced prices of surge cards as well as "spell mastery" effects (which rely on having instants and sorceries in the graveyard).
Very similar to Opt, Preordain can only activate at sorcery speed, but it now scries twice and draws a card. Again, a cheap and effective tool to set your upcoming cards and quickly stock your graveyard with a sorcery.
2. Reason // Believe
One of the best aftermath-split spells, you first play Reason from your hand, then you later cast Believe from your graveyard into exile. Reason simply scries three; you don't gain any draws, but that's a powerful early-game manipulation tool.
This also stacks well with Believe, which needs five mana but reveals the top card of your deck. If it's a creature, you play it for free; if not, you add it to your hand. Hopefully your scrying will set you up for this, rigging the effect to provide a free behemoth.
Reason and Believe adopt one of my favorite commander color pairings (green/blue), making them frequent members of my own builds, and they're surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
1. "Temple of" Lands
Some of the best lands in the game, the temple cards all enter tapped, so you can't access their mana until your next turn. However, not only can each tap for either of two colors (noted below), they all scry one upon entering the field, making them great versatile boons for multi-color decks.
"Temple of ____" Color Combinations:
- Red and black: Malice
- Red and white: Triumph
- Red and green: Abandon
- Red and blue: Epiphany
- Black and white: Silence
- Black and green: Malady
- Black and blue: Deceit
- White and green: Plenty
- White and blue: Enlightenment
- Green and blue: Mystery
Surveiling Cards in Magic
In addition to today's scry effects, you can tweak your upcoming draws using the similar surveil ability. Like scrying, a surveil reveals a certain number of cards from your library, and you can place any back on top that you wish. But rather than moving some to the bottom, you can now send them to the graveyard, swiftly preparing aftermath or flashback effects.
Whether you're scrying or surveiling, the ability to manipulate your deck helps you quickly pull what you need during a match and works great for accessing the reduced prices of miracle effects. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of card-revealing tools, vote for your favorite spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill