JUDGE POINTS: Future Sight

Posted in NEWS on December 7, 2015

By Wizards of the Coast

Sheldon Menery

Since Onslaught hit the shelves, I've received enough questions regarding Future Sight to write an entire article about it. The interaction of continuous effects has always been one of the most difficult things about Magic to understand, and Future Sight has jumped up to the top of the list (along with our erstwhile friends Humility and Opalescence).

Future Sight is a simple and powerful enchantment that allows the player to play with the top card of his library revealed. He may also play that card as if it were in his hand. The majority of the confusion I've heard is what the latter ability means. We'll discuss that as well as what "revealed" means and how to apply it.
First and foremost, the card is not actually in the player's hand. This is the key. The player can only play the card (what we used to call "cast"), not use it in other ways. "Playing" takes one of two forms: announcing the card as a spell (covered in rule 409) or, if it's a land, using the turn's special action of playing the land (rule 214.9). That's it. The player can't do anything else with the revealed card.

What the player can't do with the revealed card:

  • Cycle it
  • Discard it to activate an ability (like Wild Mongrel or Psychatog)
  • Be forced to discard it (like with Duress)
  • Have it count toward the number of cards in your hand (for Gerrard's Wisdom)
  • Put it into play as the result of a spell or ability that puts a card from your hand into play (as with Elvish Piper or Hunting Grounds)
  • Use it to pay a cost from your hand (for Force of Will)

Again, the card isn't actually in the player's hand, so he simply can't use it as if it were. As a side note, Future Sight doesn't allow the player to play it for free (like Temporal Aperture); he must still pay its mana and additional costs. He may play a creature with Morph face down, but all players will have seen it and know what it is.

Knowing when to reveal the top card is a little trickier in some cases. Future Sight's first ability is a continuous effect, so it's always "on" (rule 418.4). That means as soon as the top card of the library is played, drawn, or otherwise moved, the next card is revealed, even if it's during the resolution of a spell or ability. Performing this action isn't doing anything new to the game, meaning it's not a triggered or activated ability; it's just the player making the game state consistent with what it's supposed to be. As soon as the player announces the spell, moving it from the top of the library to the stack, he reveals the new top card before doing anything else, to include continuing with the announcement of the spell. Here are some examples:

  • If the player draws multiple cards, each card is revealed before it's drawn.
  • If the player plays Brainstorm, he reveals each card before drawing it. The fourth card will be face up while he's resolving the Brainstorm. The two cards are then returned to the top of the library with only the top one face up.
  • Having the card face up means never having to fail with Tainted Pact. The player sees what the card is before deciding to continue. It also makes Predict pretty good.
  • Interacts strangely with Necropotence. The player will see each card before it's removed from the game, but won't be able to look at them after they're removed because Necropotence removes them face down (rule 217.7b).
  • The player can still look at the top card, like with Opt or Rummaging Wizard, even if it's revealed.
  • An ability can still reveal the top card to do something, like with Zoologist.

Future Sight can sometimes seem problematic, but all in all, it's a relatively simple card. The problems come with players not knowing all the card's applications, so educate as much as you can, and keep an eye out for Future Sight on the table at your upcoming events.