Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Suspend Work in Magic?
In Magic, several cards bear the unique suspend ability, letting you exile them from your hand to later cast. Suspending cards usually involve a vastly-reduced mana cost, and cards will banish themselves with varying numbers of time counters. At each of your upkeep steps (the start of your turn), you remove a time counter from suspended spells, and when they have none left, you get to cast them for free!
As a bonus, any suspended creatures also gain haste, letting them avoid summoning sickness (they've waited long enough) to tap or attack immediately. Suspension offers an excellent manner of circumventing the steep mana prices of the strongest spells, but with dozens of detained cards, which units reign supreme?
These are the ten best suspend cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Curse of the Cabal
- Deep-Sea Kraken
- Search for Tomorrow
- Lotus Bloom
- Crashing Footfalls
- Rift Bolt
- Ancestral Vision
- Jhoira of the Ghitu
10. Curse of the Cabal
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 10
Suspend Cost: 4
Like many suspend units, you can play Cabal without its delay effect—but this requires ten mana, an insane amount black themes are unlikely to amass. Instead, you can suspend it for four mana, placing just two time counters on it!
When Cabal activates, a target player has to sacrifice half their permanents (rounded down). Since this tallies everything from lands to creatures to planeswalkers, it's a brutal removal that also circumvents defenses like protection and indestructible. Your opponent can delay Cabal by sacrificing a permanent at any upkeep, placing another time counter on it, but they lose either way; whether they do or don't restrain it, they'll be forfeiting several precious soldiers.
9. Deep-Sea Kraken
Suspend Cost: 3
Suspending this ocean-dwelling leviathan takes three mana, a fraction of his huge 10 base cost. Unfortunately, Kraken exiles himself with a whopping nine time counters, which would normally take forever to arrive.
Thankfully, whenever an opponent casts a spell, you get to remove a time counter from Kraken; with each play they make, they're hastening the arrival of your massive beatstick. Not only does your giant squid brandish fierce 6/6 stats, he's also unblockable, easily landing direct attacks to finish off weakened foes.
Suspend Cost: 2
Seven mana is probably too pricey for this swamp-fueled removal; thankfully, you can suspend it for just two resources. That said, it's a suspend five, so the sorcery will take its time hitting the field.
However, when Phthisis finally arrives, not only do you destroy a target creature, its controller also loses life equal to its combined power and toughness! So, the bigger they are, the harder they fall; just ensure you're not the only player with creatures out when this impending sorcery arrives or you could end up annihilating your own troop.
7. Search for Tomorrow
Suspend Cost: 1
This green sorcery is surprisingly affordable even without suspend, needing just three mana. However, suspension costs a single mana and delays just two turns, so you won't prolong it for long.
Either way, Search for Tomorrow pulls and fields a basic land from your deck. This doesn't count as your land play for the turn, won't deplete your hand, and can field basic lands of any type (not just the green forests), making it a great early-game mana ramp tool, especially since the land enters untapped and ready to use.
Suspend Cost: N/A
Epochrasite bears a unique suspend mechanic. Rather than banishing him from your hand, you'll first need to cast him normally, which is thankfully pretty easy since he accepts any two mana.
With weak 1/1 power and toughness, this artifact creature should soon fall in battle, but rather than heading to the graveyard like usual, Epochrasite instead suspends himself with three time counters. Thus, he can indefinitely revive himself, and best of all, he'll gain three +1/+1 counters whenever he joins having not been cast from your hand, upgrading into a stronger form with subsequent appearances!
5. Lotus Bloom
Suspend Cost: 0
Lotus Bloom works exactly like the long-banned "Black Lotus"—except for its delay. You can't cast Bloom from your hand no matter how much mana you have, but you can suspend it for free, giving it three time counters.
Once the last is removed, Bloom arrives with the same abilities of Black Lotus: it's an artifact that you can tap and sacrifice to add three mana of any one color to your pool. While mana ramp is more useful in the earlier stages of your match, this still offers an excellent way to prepare a huge play of any color, especially for a spell that never requires any resources.
4. Crashing Footfalls
Suspend Cost: 1
Like Bloom, you can't cast Footfalls, forcing you to suspend it for four turns. Still, it only costs one mana, and when it finally resolves, you create not one but two 4/4 rhino tokens with trample!
You're getting a whopping total of 8/8 trampling power with just one mana. My one nitpick is that since the tokens weren't technically suspended (the spell was), they don't gain haste like most suspended creatures, so you'll have to wait another turn before they can attack.
3. Rift Bolt
Suspend Cost: 1
Rift Bolt isn't too expensive to simply cast, but if you need the mana for other spells, suspend it for a single turn with just one. When it triggers, you'll hit any target for three damage, a powerful early-game removal that matches the classic "Lightning Bolt" in power (if not speed).
2. Ancestral Vision
Suspend Cost: 1
Just as Bloom mimics Black Lotus, Vision copies the forbidden "Ancestral Recall", with its suspend effect adeptly keeping it off the ban list. Exiling Vision costs just a single blue mana, and it'll disappear for four turns.
However, when the last time counter dissipates, Vision triggers to let a target player draw three cards. Cast early in the match, this lets you rapidly fill your hand mid-game, seizing a substantial hand advantage that ensures you won't run out of cards to play. Or, if you're milling other players, target one to get them three cards closer to decking-out into a loss.
1. Jhoira of the Ghitu
Suspend Cost: 2 (for other cards)
While Jhoira herself doesn't bear suspend, this legendary warrior costs just three mana, and by spending two of any color, she can suspend any card from your hand with four time counters! This lets you field even your most expensive eldrazi without needing to achieve their costs. As if that weren't enough, Jhoira's human and wizard types unlock additional combos, she can activate her effect even on your opponent's turn, and her legendary status lets her serve as commander in EDH format.
Jhoira's one my favorite generals for EDH since she lets players activate cards they'd otherwise never be able to afford, and she's cheap enough to field relatively quickly. Thankfully, despite her competitive status and rare original prints, thanks to rereleases, you can buy your own Jhoira copy for less than two dollars!
How to Support Suspend in Magic
A few tips for suspend decks: while you're waiting for delayed cards to activate, stall opponents with defensive measures like "Maze of Ith" and "Ghostly Prison". Also, the inexpensive and colorless "Jhoira's Timebug" can tap to remove time counters, letting your limbo-dwelling cards hit the field sooner, and the one-use white instant "Dust of Moments" removes two counters from every suspended unit!
With the proper stall tactics and time-counter removals, you'll be casting your purgatory spells before you know it, seizing the advantage with cheap juggernauts. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of suspended units, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill