MTG Keywords Explained: Suspend

Card Kingdom Strategy

One of the most important skills to master in Magic is mana efficiency. Using as much of your available mana as possible each turn will allow you to have a big impact on the game, and it’ll serve you well in future turns.

There are a number of abilities in Magic that allow you to maximize your mana efficiency — either by reducing the costs of spells or giving you different ways to pay for them. Today, we’re going to cover an ability that allows you to trade mana for another important resource: time.

What is Suspend?

The concept behind suspend is simple: spend a little bit of mana now, get a big payoff later. But there’s a lot to this mechanic, and you can almost think of it as three abilities in one. We’ll break them all down one at a time.

Suspending a spell: Whenever you could normally cast the card, you may instead pay it’s suspend cost (the mana cost listed after the Suspend ability) and put the card straight into exile. When you do, you put X time counters on the card, where X is the number right after suspend on the card. Doing this doesn’t count as casting the card, and it also doesn’t use the stack — which means your opponents can’t respond when you suspend a spell.

Time counters: At the beginning of your upkeep, you remove a time counter from any cards you have suspended in exile.

Casting the card: Finally, we get to the payoff. When you remove the last time counter from a suspended card, you immediately cast it without paying its mana cost, ignoring normal timing restrictions. (This means your opponent can respond with a counterspell, if they have one.) If the suspended spell is a creature, it gains haste, so you can use it to attack right away. Even when they can see it coming several turns away, Greater Gargadon hits pretty hard!

Finer Details

Here are a few more rules involving suspend that may come up in your games:

  • While your opponent can’t counter the suspend ability with a card like Stifle, removing time counters is an ability that uses the stack. Remember, you can only cast a suspended card when its last time counter is removed, so if that ability is countered, the card will remain in exile.
  • Likewise, a spell with suspend will also stay in exile if you can’t cast it for some other reason (like you’ve been Silenced, for example).
  • When the last time counter on a suspended spell is removed, you must cast the spell if able, paying any additional costs if you can and choosing targets, even if you don’t particularly want to right then.
  • There are various ways to remove (or add) time counters to suspended cards. You can potentially cast suspended cards on your opponents’ turn, which is totally allowed.

Suspend was first introduced in Time Spiral — perhaps we’ll see it return in Time Spiral Remastered this spring!

LEARN MORE!

Check out the rest of our keyword ability primers:

Banding
Cascade
Companion
Crew
Cycling
Deathtouch
Defender
Enchant
Encore
Equip
First Strike & Double Strike
Flash
Flying & Reach
Haste
Hexproof
Indestructible
Kicker
Lifelink
Menace
Mill
Mutate
Partner
Phasing
Prowess
Prowl
Ripple
Storm
Trample
Vigilance