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Jun 14 2016

Glaring Spotlight Volume 9 – Read the Bones

As I continue to evolve as an EDH deckbuilder, my thirst for card advantage steadily increases. In the past, my black Commander decks were severely lacking for card draw and I felt the repercussions of denying my builds with a drink from the resource fountain. Outside of Phyrexian Arena and Bloodgift Demon my lack of card replenishment in black was sparse.

Now-a-days I like to include several different options to draw cards in my black decks, but one Sorcery in particular has impressed me time and time again. Let’s take a moment and focus the glaring spotlight on Read the Bones.

Read the Options

Impulse for EDH CommanderRead the Bones allows us to look at the top two cards of our library. We can then keep both cards on top of our library, keep one on top and move one to the bottom, or move both cards we looked at to the bottom. Then, we get to draw two cards. By being able to Scry 2 before we Draw 2, we can select the prizes we already see or roll the dice and take what is be behind door #2.

If you read my previous Glaring Spotlight article on Impulse, you may recall that I became infatuated with the ability to look at four cards, pick one, and then put the other three on the bottom of our library. In essence, Impulse allows us to sift through four cards with one spell and sets up a fresh card the next time we draw. I referred to this as getting the “gunk” out of the way so that we can get to the cards we need at that moment in the game.

Read the Bones functions in almost the same way. We get to look at the top two cards of our library and if they are not what we need, then we can scry them to the bottom and draw the next two. In theory, like Impulse, we can use Read the Bones to “plow through” the top four cards of our library and get a fresh option the next time we draw a card. Moving through four cards with one spell is essential at crucial times in the game whether we are in dire need of a board wipe, piece of removal, or need that final piece to assemble a victory. Just think, without a card like Read the Bones (or Impulse for that matter), it would take us four turns to draw those same cards, in order, during our draw step.

Of course, we may not always be digging for answers or win conditions. During our first few turns we may need land or some of our other early game plays. With Read the Bones we can successfully scry and draw our way into land, ramp, or lower casting cost spells and put our late game bombs on the bottom of the deck to look for later.

Read the Bargains

Paying two life in a Commander game where you start at 40, is quite the bargain. Once you are comfortable with the occasional use of your life total as a resource, you will never be sad to draw this card. Unless, of course, you are sitting at 2 or less life. Hmm, well, if you are playing black then I am sure you have already accepted the give life / take life nature in black’s part of the color pie.

At a low casting cost of , Read the Bones is one of my favorite turn three plays in addition to being my late game roll for hope. The single black in the casting cost makes it a perfect addition to monoblack, two, three and even five color decks.

Ah, now the fantastic part. At common, this card is readily available to you everywhere at the whopping price of about $0.10. Heck, you may be able to find a used one in the neighborhood kid’s bicycle spokes or a Read the Bones being used as a coaster for your friend’s beer on EDH night. I’ve started to pick up Foil versions of this card, because at about a $1.00 a piece, I wanna sport the bling-bling.


Read the Bones is a budget option that will help you dig through your deck faster, give you more options, and lets you enjoy life as a thrifty bargain hunter. Don’t let the game slip through your hands. Find that board wipe, get your lands in hand, or get your winning piece of the puzzle.

Do you use Read the Bones in EDH? What is your favorite draw spell in Black? Please reply in the section below!

On to the next!

GLARING SPOTLIGHT is a Magic the Gathering™ column featuring a card that may have gone over-looked during the the building of your EDH Commander deck. If you would like to submit a guest article and talk about a card YOU feel needs some of the Glaring Spotlight, please contact us asap: nick@MTGCasualPlay.com.

1 comment

  1. cailtis

    Solid review, WallyD. This, alongside Night’s Whisper, I think are slowly becoming more and more well-regarded in the EDH community for decks that don’t sport other noteworthy card advantage engines (like from supporting/additional colors, or consistent engines like Rhystic Study or Phyrexian Arena). In mono-black, rakdos, and a few other color combinations they seem like mainstays now.

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