MTG Discover – Rules and Interactions Explained

Discover is a new MTG keyword action introduced with The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about it, including:

  • How does MTG discover work?
  • Which is better discover or cascade?
  • And more!

There’s a lot to talk about, so we better get right to it.

How Does Discover Work?

Discover can appear on any card, and is always associated with a number.

To discover X, you exile cards from the top of your library, one at a time, until you reveal a nonland card with mana value X or less. Then you have two options.

  1. Cast that card without paying its mana cost.
  2. Put that card into your hand.

Then you put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.

That’s practically it. However, there are some corner cases, which we’ll explore in rest of the article. First, let’s take a look at an example to even better illustrate the workings of this mechanic.


Here’s Geological Appraiser, a simple uncommon.

Geological Appraiser MTG Discover Rules

When it enters the battlefield, you discover 3. That means that you exile a card from your library. If it is a land or a card that costs more than three mana, you keep exiling cards. Once you exile a card that costs three or less, you stop. Then you need to make a decision.

You can either cast the card right now, without paying it’s mana cost. You’ll typically choose this option, as it saves you mana. That’s unless the card wouldn’t be good in this moment.

In that case, you’re going to pick a second option. That is to put the card into your hand. You’ll most often do so with situational cards, such as Counterspells.

The effect doesn’t need to happen as a enters-the-battlefield effect necessarily. There are many ways in which discover can be used. Take a look at another example.

Quintorious Lost Caverns of Ixalan Spoilers

As you can see, Quintorious’ -3 ability allows you to discover 4. When you play a card with discover, you play it from exile, which plays nicely with its static ability.

MTG Discover – FAQ

Here are some additional answers to clear things up even further. As always, if you have a question that we didn’t answer, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you soon.

What happens if I don’t find any eligible card with discover?

Let’s say, you play a card with discover 3, while your deck contains only lands and cards that cost 4 or more mana. In that scenario, you’ll exile all he cards in your deck one by one, then shuffle them back.

When you exile cards with discover does your opponent see them?

Cards that you exile with discover are exiled face-up, which means that your opponent also gets to see them.
So, if you’re playing best-of-three, you should pay attention to what your opponent reveals with their discover cards. There might be some useful info that you can use in your next games.

If you discover and put the card in your hand, can you cast it later for free?

No, you can’t. You can only cast it for free when you discover it. Once you decide to put it into your hand, you’ll have to pay its mana costs.

Is discover just a new cascade mechanic?

While there are similarities between the two mechanics, they’re still different from one another. You can find more about the comparison between these two in the next sections.

MTG Discover – Further Information

While the information above covers most of the stuff you need to know, there are still some interesting things about this mechanic. That’s what we’ll talk about in this section.


The new Ixalan set, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan features a discovery of the caves. Thus, it makes sense for a discover mechanic to be introduced with the set.

As it turns out, it also plays out pretty on-point as the flavor goes. You put discover 4 on the stack, and you really get that feeling of discovery, when you’re flipping cards figuring whether you’ll get a measly one drop or a powerful four mana play.

Discover VS Cascade

Maelstrom Wanderer

Discover is a newer version of the cascade mechanic, which many Magic players consider extremely powerful. So, what are the differences between the two? Which one is stronger? Let’s find out.

When you cast a spell with cascade, you exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card with mana value less than the cascading spell. Then you may cast that card without paying its mana cost. If you don’t, you shuffle it with the rest of the exiled cards on the bottom of your deck.

So, cascade always triggers when you cast a spell. This means that it can’t be countered by regular Counterspells. That’s a point for cascade.

Now what happens if you exile a card that you don’t or can’t use right now? Well, with cascade, if you don’t cast it, it’s just gone. With discover, you put it in your hand for later use. This favors discover.

Cascade always brings you a card that costs less mana than the one you’ve cascaded with. Discover depends on the associated number. Neither of this things makes either of the mechanic better of worse. It all depends on the type the actual card’s design.

All things considered, neither of the two mechanics seems inherently better or worse, as both come with pros and cons. In general, both seem strong.

Influencing the Outcome

The in-game power level of discover card will vary wildly. Let’s say you play a card with discover 5. If you actually reveal a five drop, it’s going to be amazing. However, if you just get a one mana card, it’s going to feel pretty bad.

However, you can influence that with cards like Brainstorm.

Brainstorm MTG Discover Rules

You can put a card with mana value five on top of your library, then discover 5. Thus, you’ll get the most value from your discover effect. Cards that allow you to look at the top card of your library, like Oracle of Mul Daya can also help.

Discover in Draft

We shall see how powerful discover ends up being in draft. In general, getting to both draw and play a nonland card is a very useful effect. However, you’ll probably want to built your decks with this mechanic in mind, at least somewhat.

For example, if you have a plenty of discover cards in your deck, you might want to get away with playing some less cheap cards. It’s certainly going to be a pretty skill-testing mechanic, as it challenges you both during drafting and during deckbuilding.

More information about drafting will be available once we get closer to the release date.


That’s all about MTG discover rules. Now you know how this mechanic works, so you’ll be able to use it to your advantage.

If you want to know more about the newest set, check our The Lost Caverns of Ixalan spoilers, where you’ll find more discover cards. Furthermore, if you want to get your hands on some new cards with discover, perhaps you want to acquire some of the new Ixalan Set boosters.

Lost Caverns of Ixalan Set Booster Box

Until next time, have fun and may your discovers always be optimal.

2 thoughts on “MTG Discover – Rules and Interactions Explained”

  1. “So, cascade always triggers when you cast a spell. This means that it can be countered by regular Counterspells. That’s a point for cascade.”

    –Is this correct? I thought Cascade CAN’T be countered.


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