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From a design point of view, I cannot figure out why Cascade should specifically exile the cards involved, then return them to the bottom of the deck instead of revealing them (like Spellshift or Reweave do)? Is there some sort of interaction I didn't notice?

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Not sure Spellshift and Reweave are the best examples - they require shuffling, which potentially takes a lot of time. Maybe something like Abundance is a better example? –  Jefromi Aug 9 '13 at 1:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Cascade works with exile rather than revealing because of the possibility of one Cascade triggering another Cascade.

The full meaning of Cascade is (702.84a):

When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card whose converted mana cost is less than this spell's converted mana cost. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Then put all cards exiled this way that weren't cast on the bottom of your library in a random order.

With this definition, if one Cascade spell finds another Cascade spell, the way you handle it is easy: the cards exiled by the first Cascade are still exiled, so you keep going through your library until you find another appropriate spell. It's simple and a very literal cascade through your library.

What if you were simply revealing cards from the top of your library? Well, the "reveal" doesn't actually move the cards from your library. So if you needed to Cascade again, you have to put those cards back and then look through them again! Then, making the "put all cards revealed this way" phrasing work becomes much more complicated, because some of the cards are subject to two or more Cascade effects.

In short, I don't believe that there's a deep gameplay reason, but it makes the Cascade mechanism (specifically, its recursive nature) and the wording simple and elegant.

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The recursion is definitely the big deal, though there are probably also some little picky things here and there where the difference does matter - for example, Grafdigger's Cage doesn't stop Cascade. –  Jefromi Aug 9 '13 at 4:17
    
Thanks! I was actually somewhat unaware that a card revealed from the deck is still in that play zone, and of the problem that generated with Cascade. –  Circeus Aug 9 '13 at 4:49
    
I have actually noticed that the exile zone seems to be an all-purpose zone to just throw cards into as a (semi) temporary storage area. I think it is probably one of my favorite, non-obvious portions of Magic's design. Cascade uses this design element exactly. –  Milo Gertjejansen Aug 9 '13 at 20:26
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This answer is wrong. The first triggered ability has to fully resolve before you move on to the second one. –  Affe Aug 9 '13 at 21:28
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Late comment: I agree with @Affe, if only for the reason that there is a very similar mechanic in Ripple that uses revealed cards instead of exiled: Ripple 4 (When you cast this spell, you may reveal the top four cards of your library. You may cast any revealed cards with the same name as this spell without paying their mana costs. Put the rest on the bottom of your library.) –  Hackworth May 4 at 17:23

As far as I can tell, there are two functional differences from cascade exiling cards instead of merely revealing them:

  1. It lets you cast cascaded spells from exile rather than your library, circumventing Grafdigger's Cage.

  2. The exiled cards are not considered if the abilities of cards like Selvala, Explorer Returned, Charmed Pendant, Millikin, or Deranged Assistant are used to pay for an additional cost on the cascaded spell. These abilities are rare in that they are mana abilities (and so can be used during the resolution of another ability) that interact with the top card of your library.


There seem to be several types of effects that are looking for a top card of your library that meets some criteria.

Cards like Spellshift and Reweave have you do this by revealing the top cards of your library, but then have you shuffle your whole library afterwards.

Cards like Explosive Revelation and Abundance have you put the cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

I can find one example, namely Jalira, Master Polymorphist, that has you reveal cards off the top and put the revealed cards on the bottom in a random order. There are also Heroes' Podium, Aladdin's Lamp, that put unrevealed cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.

The only other cards that uses exile instead of reveal are Possibility Storm and Undying Flames; Possibility Storm works the same as cascade and Undying Flames leaves the cards in exile.

Finally, Ripple seems to be a similar ability to cascade, but uses reveal instead of exile and doesn't shuffle the cards before they go on the bottom of your library:

Whenever you cast a spell, you may reveal the top four cards of your library. You may cast any revealed cards with the same name as the spell without paying their mana costs. Put the rest on the bottom of your library.

So, as far as I can tell from this, the cards are exiled because you are casting one of them, shuffling the rest, and then putting them on the bottom of your library. Given that there are potentially a lot of things that happen when you cast a card (such as choosing targets, paying additional costs, etc), having the cards in a dedicated area before they are randomized seems like a reasonable idea.

The most comparable card is Possibility Storm, which uses the same procedure as cascade. None of the other cards that have you shuffle cards from the top of your library before putting them on the bottom of your library have you cast anything (see: http://magiccards.info/query?q=o%3A%22random+order%22+-o%3Acascade&v=card&s=cname).

Why this procedure isn't used for Spellshift and ripple is anyone's guess. My speculation is that Wizards was hesitant to have abilities that shuffled a set of library cards independent of the library, given that only Aladdin's Lamp (excusable as an ancient card) did this until 2014 (when they printed Heroes' Podium).


NOTE: The answer by sitnaltax (http://boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/12671/9999) is factually incorrect. If you cascade into another spell with cascade, the second cascade trigger does not resolve until the first cascade trigger is finished resolving (namely the cards exiled are put on the bottom of your library). This is because cascade is a triggered ability. The relevant rules are the following:

603.2. Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability's trigger event, that ability automatically triggers. The ability doesn't do anything at this point.

603.3. Once an ability has triggered, its controller puts it on the stack as an object that's not a card the next time a player would receive priority.

No player gets priority until the first cascade trigger is done resolving.

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If you read 702.84a as quoted by sitnaltax, it says the opposite of what you say in your NOTE. The spell is cast "before" the exiled cards are put on the bottom of the library. –  John May 4 at 18:40
    
@John Yes, the spell is cast before the exiled cards are put on the bottom of the library. However, the second instance of cascade doesn't resolve until the first instance has finished resolving, meaning the cards will be on the bottom of the library when the second cascade begins. –  Zags May 4 at 18:41
    
are you familiar with recursion? Cascade is an example of recursion. Cascade triggers when the spell is cast, not when it resolves. The second cascade spell is cast in the middle of the first spell's cascade. Thus, the second spell is cast (and if it has cascade, the cascade processing triggers) while still "in" the first spell's cascade processing. This is an important aspect of sitnaltax's original answer. –  John May 4 at 18:50
    
@John 603.2. Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability's trigger event, that ability automatically triggers. The ability doesn't do anything at this point. ----- 603.3. Once an ability has triggered, its controller puts it on the stack as an object that's not a card the next time a player would receive priority. –  Zags May 4 at 18:55
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A decent generalization of both #1 and #2 is simply that using exile makes it less likely that any other cards will care about what cascade is doing. That way the cascade ability itself has the best chance of functioning as intended, no matter what cards you cascade through/into (even if they're ones that weren't printed yet when the cascade card was printed). –  Jefromi May 4 at 19:36

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