Top 10 Suspend Cards in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on October 11, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

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!

  1. Curse of the Cabal

  2. Infiltrator il-Kor
  3. Search for Tomorrow
  4. Phthisis
  5. Ith, High Arcanist
  6. Epochrasite
  7. Deep-Sea Kraken
  8. Lotus Bloom
  9. Ancestral Vision
  10. Jhoira of the Ghitu

Curse of the Cabal
Curse of the Cabal

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 you would need ten mana, a value black swamps are unlikely to amass. Instead, you can suspend it for four mana, helpfully 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 planeswalker, it's a brutal removal that also circumvents defenses like protection and indestructible. Note that your opponent can delay Cabal by sacrificing a permanent at their upkeep, placing another time counter on it, but this also forces them to lose; whether they do or don't restrain it, they'll be losing several precious soldiers.

Infiltrator il-Kor
Infiltrator il-Kor

9. Infiltrator il-Kor

CMC: 5
Suspend Cost: 2

With the islands of blue, you could cast il-Kor for a base five mana, not as hefty as most suspensions. However, you're better off procrastinating it since exile only needs two mana, especially since il-Kor only stays suspended for two turns.

3/1 stats (three power and one toughness) may seem mediocre, but this card really only needs power, as its shadow ability lets it block and be blocked only by other shadow creatures. These are very few and far between, so you've usually got an unblockable warrior who can repeatedly swing for three. Since the lands damage easily, this rogue's a solid choice for "deals combat damage to a player" effects like that of "Sword of Fire and Ice", denying your opponent any opportunity to block.

Search for Tomorrow
Search for Tomorrow

8. Search for Tomorrow

CMC: 3
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 be spending much or suffering a hefty wait by prolonging your ability.

When resolving, 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 forests of green), making it a great early-game mana ramp tool.


7. Phthisis

CMC: 7
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 beasts.

Ith, High Arcanist
Ith, High Arcanist

6. Ith, High Arcanist

CMC: 7
Suspend Cost: 2

3/5 stats are hard to justify on a seven-cost creature; fortunately, you can suspend the legendary Arcanist for only two, and he'll remain exiled for a moderate four turns. Still, 3/5 fits nicely on a two-cost creature, and Arcanist bears vigilance, letting him attack without tapping.

Plus, true to his Ith name, he replicates the effect of the infamous "Maze of Ith", one of the best lands in the game. By tapping, you can untap a target attacking creature, preventing all combat damage it would deal and suffer, essentially negating its strike. As icing on the cake, Arcanist belongs to both the human and wizard subtypes, two popular groups with a wealth of powerful supports to explore.


5. Epochrasite

CMC: 2
Suspend Cost: N/A

Eopchrasite 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 two mana of any hue.

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 amass a bonus three +1/+1 counters whenever he joins having not been cast from your hand, upgrading into a stronger form with subsequent appearances!

Deep-Sea Kraken
Deep-Sea Kraken

4. Deep-Sea Kraken

CMC: 10
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, meaning he'd 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 a fierce 6/6, but he's also unblockable, easily landing direct attacks to finish off weakened foes.

Lotus Bloom
Lotus Bloom

3. Lotus Bloom

Suspend Cost: 0

Lotus Bloom is 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 counter 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, and remember you'll never need to spend resources for Bloom, letting you access your full reservoir even on the turn you suspend it.

Ancestral Vision
Ancestral Vision

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.

Jhoira of the Ghitu
Jhoira of the Ghitu

1. Jhoira of the Ghitu

CMC: 3
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 repeatedly 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 unrivaled spells. 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!

Which card do you prefer?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Jeremy Gill


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