Convoke was originally introduced in Ravnica: City of Guilds as the guild mechanic for Selesnya, but has actually been brought back in two other sets: Future Sight, and the Magic 2015 Core Set.
So what exactly does this mechanic mean?
Each creature you tap while playing this spell reduces its cost by 1 or by one mana of that creatures color.
Your creatures can help cast this spell. Each creature you tap while casting this spell pays for 1 or one mana of that creature’s color.
The wording of the reminder text has changed over the years, but isn’t any different. To sum up, you can tap your creatures to help cast these spells.
On a creature like Autochthon Wurm from Ravnica for example, even a 15 drop (10GGGWW) can be a much lower, more manageable number for something this big – but why is this really fantastic?
On one hand, you have to tap your creatures to play spells, which means you have less creatures to attack or block with. Well, when it was originally created for Selesnya, they were also the guild known for using tokens. A lot. Even Return to Ravnica has Selesnya doing token shenanigans with Populate.
By having cards that make a lot of tokens, this mechanic was designed to use these tokens to play your larger creatures like Autochthon Wurm. Even when the mechanic returned in Future Sight, it was only on a few Green and White cards, that felt more like cards they just didn’t print in Ravnica rather than a revisiting of the mechanic.
The main reason I’m writing this article now is that this is only a little after the M15 release, where the mechanic has returned in every color.
Return to the Ranks is a classic example of what Convoke does best, tapping its creatures to get more or better creatures out onto the board. With a solid token-generation card like Raise the Alarm returning to Standard, Return to the Ranks can become quite potent in a Weenie strategy. There are plenty of 2 mana or less targets that currently exist that would be great targets for this White reanimation spell.
Blue, for example, has Chief Engineer, which gives all of your artifacts Convoke. As creatures don’t need to have haste to tap for Convoke, you can easily use Chief Engineer to use your creatures to cast a lot of small creatures, rather than tapping a ton of creatures for one big one.
Stain the Mind on the other hand is a sorcery that bids your creatures to their knees to draw the power to harm your opponent and pull cards away from them.
Stoke the Flames is a pretty potent burn spell that allows you to tap down creatures that might as well be “eating” by opponent’s defending creatures anyway while dealing a direct blow to your opponent or a big creature that might be standing in your way. Also, its Convoke ability makes it more splash-able in multi-color decks due to the fact that its red requirements can be fulfilled through tapping red creatures.
The most classic example of Convoke, of course, is Chord of Calling, originally from Ravnica itself. Tapping down creatures is certainly a worthy price to pay to get one of your larger creatures straight from your deck out onto the board. It’s a mono-green Devotion staple and has been a huge piece in Modern Birthing Pod decks for a long time for a reason.
Essentially, Convoke fits well into any color with enough design work being put in – but it’s up to the player to use it wisely. Should you do it earlier and tap your creatures, or wait and hard cast it to keep a stronger board state? It’s a tricky mechanic, but used correctly, it’s extremely powerful and allows you to cast spells you may not otherwise have been able to cast.
Until next time.
– SolemnParty & Elspeth for the Win