Will New Mechanics Boast and Foretell be Good in Standard?

Will New Mechanics Boast and Foretell be Good in Standard?

It’s 2021! A new year that will hopefully bring better fortunes for everyone. Vaccines for Covid-19 will get around, and with some luck our economies will recover. Some of us have been hampered by 2020 and we could use some change.

But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s Magic: the Gathering and the systematic release of new expansion sets featuring new Planes and new mechanics. Kaldheim – a new set released at the end of January – will feature Boast and Foretell mechanics.

New mechanics can be cool, after all everyone likes to try new things. But will it be like Party from Zendikar Rising where it’s good for memes but is too clunky for competitive play? Let’s find out.

What Is The Boast Mechanic And How Does It Work?

Based on recently released spoilers, Boast is an activated ability that can only be used if the Creature with Boast has attacked that turn. Specifically, the oracle text says “activate this ability only if this creature attacked this turn and only once each turn.”

The leaked card – Dragonkin Berserker – lets you Boast for 1 Red and 4 Colourless Mana to create a 5/5 Dragon token with Flying. Is creating a 5/5 Flyer for 5 Mana great? It’s decent, but not that gamebreaking. However the Berserker has additional text – with Boast abilities cost 1 less to activate for each Dragon you control.

So assuming you’re not specifically playing a Dragon deck in Standard (or Pioneer or Modern), then the first Boast activation will cost 5 but next it’ll cost 4, then 3 and so on. The Berserker only needs to attack and dealing damage to the player is not a requisite, so at the very least you’ll be guaranteed a Boast activation as long as you have the Mana.

Interestingly, you can also use Standard-legal Zirda, the Dawnwaker to reduce Dragonkin Berserker‘s Boast cost by 2 – a 5/5 Flyer for 3 mana or less is indeed a ‘good deal’ to have. Zirda is also in Red so that’s a combo many players will be play testing with when the set is released. However if you cast Berserker on turn 2 and Zirda on turn 3, you might only get to Boast on turn 4. Decent, but a turn 3 activation would have been better.

How Powerful is the Boast Mechanic And Will It See Play?

Currently we don’t know exactly what cards will have the Boast mechanic, but seeing how tribal cards are making a big impact in Kaldheim, it could see some play in Standard. Angels tribal looks to be pretty strong, so if there are any White Berserkers that carry the Boast mechanic, there is some potential to be a strong Standard deck.

An Elf Berserker with a Boast mechanic would also prove useful in an Elves tribal deck in Standard. Elves have always been a fan-favourite and they’re definitely getting plenty of additions in Kaldheim.

Commander could be the format that sees the most impact as tribal decks with Dragons and Angels see quite a lot of play. Kaalia of the Vast is a Commander that quickly comes to mind, although having to pay a Boast ability is clearly not as sexy as putting in a 7-cost Angel or Dragon into play for free. Because the power level of Commander is so high, Boast abilities will be need something spectacular if it’s going to squeeze itself into the 99.

What Is The Foretell Mechanic And How Does It Work?

Foretell is a modified version of Morph, and looks like it can be found in any kind of Permanent, and not just Creatures. It states that “during your turn, you may pay [cost] and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast on a later turn for its foretell cost.”

So two things immediately stand out. The first is that the initial face-down cost plus the Foretell cost should be higher than the actual Coverted Mana Cost (CMC) of the card. However by going the Foretell route, you can cast it on an earlier turn.

The second important point is that you can only Foretell on a later turn and not on the same turn you placed it face down. Putting a card face down may not be a bad idea, as the card is actually Exiled while face down, and any “board wipes” or mass removal will not affect it, and you can cast it on the next turn for the cheaper Foretell cost. This is in contrast to the older Morph mechanic where face-down cards are 2/2 Creatures that can be targeted with removal spells.

How Powerful Is The Foretell Mechanic And Will It See Play?

First impressions don’t instill me with much confidence. It is indeed a way to get a card out perhaps a turn earlier than usual, but you pay a higher price for it. Its other benefit is to keep the exiled card as a backup plan and safe from cards like Shatter the Sky or spells that force you to discard from your hand.

Battle Mammoth is a Green card in the new Kaldheim set that has the Foretell mechanic.

And since you can only Foretell on your own turn, you can’t, for instance, cast Battle Mammoth in response to an opponent’s Sorcery spell to trigger his draw ability. Sadly Zirda, the Dawnwaker will also not reduce the Foretell cost as it’s not considered an ability activation but rather a casting cost. Currently we are unsure if the face-down cost can be reduced by Zirda, but even so it can only reduce to 1 colourless Mana.

Is Morph or Foretell better? The former comes in face down as a Creature, allowing you to attack and deal damage, or block in more dire situations. You can also turn it face up at “Instant” speed, unlike Foretell. Foretell’s one main advantage could only be that it’s safe from removal spells until you decide to cast it.

Foretell may end up in the same way as Party, with too many conditions and not enough upside to make it worth it in a top Standard deck. And if it’s not good enough for Standard, the same goes for older and broader formats like Pioneer and Modern.

End Step

New mechanics – while great – have the unfortunate disadvantage of competing against established mechanics that have reappeared many times over MTG’s history. Some mechanics shine and get reused, while others may not see a second return. We’ll understand its impact more when the set is released. Boast has some promise but Foretell looks to be quite mediocre at the moment.

Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments!

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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