Thursday, June 19, 2014

Magic 2015's Returning Mechanic

Hard to believe it, but spoiler season is already upon us for the next card set - Magic 2015. For the past few years, each Core set has included a single returning mechanic. And thanks to some early spoilers, we already know what that mechanic will be - Convoke.

In case you didn't play the original Ravnica block, here's a refresher for what this keyword mechanic means:

"For each colored mana in this spell’s total cost, you may tap an untapped creature of that color you control rather than pay that mana. For each generic mana in this spell’s total cost, you may tap an untapped creature you control rather than pay that mana."

Essentially then, Convoke allows you to significantly reduce the cost of a spell if you have several untapped creatures in play. This doesn't change the casting cost of the spell, but merely reduces the amount of mana you actually have to pay. This can even reduce the cost down to zero.

One of the more popular Convoke cards in Pauper was the spell Scatter the Seeds:

Especially in Pauper, the ability to get three creatures out of a single card is pretty good, even if there are only 1/1s. Additionally, this could be cast as an Instant, which allowed it to be used as a combat trick to block one or more creatures your opponent expected to remain unblocked. Given that White typically pays 2W for two 1/1 tokens at Sorcery speed, getting three 1/1 tokens at Instant speed for 2 additional mana is already a good deal. But when you factor Convoke into the equation, this becomes quite mana efficient, particularly in color that already rewards playing lots of creatures.

Since the original Ravnica was released, the token-generating effect has become more predominantly White rather than Green. And as I will discuss next time, that explains why Magic 2015 brings us a very similar card but now in White.

What do you think of Convoke as a returning ability? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Pretty strong evidence of super weenie strat in next block I think.

  2. "Three dudes!?"

    I think the impact of the core set returning mechanic is always hinged on two things. First, the power of the effect on the cards that feature the mechanic. Second, on the way that effect interacts with and maximized the mechanic. I think the only returning core set returning mechanic that ever made an impact was M11's scry, which was represented mainly by Preordain and Foresee, which were all over the place back then. Not only were the effects of the cards good, the effects worked great with the mechanic: you drew the cards you just scry'ed for. Convoke is similar when the cards effects make tokens that can then be tapped for even more convoke-enabled token-making. So if M15 has a card that generates tokens and also has Convoke, then I'd say Convoke will be the first returning core set mechanic since Scry to have an impact on the format.