Last updated on July 12, 2022
Rakshasa Debaser | Illustration by Yigit Koroglu
Sometimes a performance is so good you just want to see it again. Be it a song, a dance, or a card effect triggering, you’d do just about anything to see it a second time.
If you’re looking for creatures in Magic that can make a repeat appearance with a big influence on the battlefield in your games, Commander Legends has just the thing for you with the encore mechanic. So let’s get ourselves settled and enjoy the show!
Elvish Dreadlord | Illustration by Randy Vargas
Encore, put simply, is a sorcery speed activated ability on a creature that exiles it from your graveyard to create a token copy of the creature for each opponent you have. Each of those tokens is also forced to attack a designated player during combat before being sacrificed at the end of the turn. And yes, the tokens have haste to make sure they can in fact attack.
Encore is a pretty recent mechanic that debuted back in late November 2020. It was printed in Commander Legends on a total of 15 cards. Encore is far from evergreen since it’s only been printed in Commander Legends so far, but it sure is fun.
So far encore sounds pretty similar to unearth, but there are some pretty core differences. Unearth actually uses the creature itself instead of making copies and it isn’t forced to attack, though it does gain haste. That said, both mechanics send the card to exile at the end of the turn.
If you’re wondering which of these is better that’s purely a question of what your deck wants. If your deck wants to see creatures die en masse, encore might get you farther since the tokens actually die while unearth forces the card to be exiled if it were to leave the battlefield. But some unearth cards have effects that better synergize with your build and would be preferred over encore.
Does Encore Count as Casting?
Trove Tracker | Illustration by Tyler Walpole
Creating an encore token is no different from any other generic copy ability. When a copy is made of something it copies all copyable parts of a card, and the mana value of the card is one of those copyable parts of the card. So anything that cares about the mana value of a card will see this value and affect the token copies.
Any effect that can copy an activated ability can copy encore, since it’s an activated ability. So you had best bet you’re going to see some insane value if you have something like Rings of Brighthearth to combo with an encore ability.
Can Encore be Countered?
Amphin Mutineer | Illustration by Nicholas Gregory
Exiling the creature is part of paying the encore cost since that rule is written before the colon in the rules text that refers to the mechanic. That cost is paid before anybody can do anything. Players can counter the effect of the ability, but once that cost is paid, it’s paid.
If a player at your table has something that prevents them from being attacked the encore creature can just attack any player or planeswalker at the table, or it can just not attack at all. If a player has a cost that has to be paid to attack them, you aren’t forced to pay that cost.
- Amphin Mutineer
- Briarblade Adept
- Coastline Marauders
- Elvish Dreadlord
- Exquisite Huntmaster
- Fathom Fleet Swordjack
- Fin-Clade Fugitives
- Impulsive Pilferer
- Kangee's Lieutenant
- Kinsbaile Courier
- Kitesail Skirmisher
- Phyrexian Triniform
- Rakshasa Debaser
- Soul of Eternity
- Trove Tracker
Araumi of the Dead Tide grants other cards encore but doesn’t have it itself, so it’s like an honorary 16th card if you want to count that.
If you’re wondering what the best cards with this mechanic are you’re thankfully not in for a very long ride since there are so few encore cards in the first place. You’re looking for cards that have good effects and are astounding when you encore them back in multitude.
Amphin Mutineer is a fantastic piece of removal both on its first cast and more so on its encore. Yes, it makes a pretty big body for whoever’s creature it takes out but it’s better than a powerful effect or a bigger body sitting on the board.
Elvish Dreadlord is fantastic in an Elf tribal deck since it acts like a huge -9/-9 for everything that isn’t an Elf when you encore it and it dies, which usually kills most other things.
Rakshasa Debaser is super fun to yank some powerful creatures from your opponents’ graveyards later in the game to turn the tides.
Fathom Fleet Swordjack is great to deal heavy damage in any artifact-centered deck.
Kangee's Lieutenant | Illustration by Randy Vargas
And there you have it! Hopefully you’re like me and enjoy the mechanic enough that you’d like it to return at some time. A repeat appearance, if you will. An extended performance. An enc- okay, I’m sorry, I’ll stop now.
But seriously, encore is a really cool mechanic, especially in the Commander format. I hope they give more attention to this mechanic regardless of where it shows up next. Some of the cards have powerful effects that are well-designed to work with encore and be super influential to the state of a game while still being useful when you cast them from your hand. As long as Wizards doesn’t get too crazy with what the abilities on encore creatures are I can see a future where they print a few encore cards here and there.
What do you think? Do you have any favorite encore cards? Or maybe you don’t like encore and want to share why. Whatever the case, feel free to comment below or find us over on the official Draftsim Discord.
As always, it’s been a pleasure to have you all here today. Stay safe, and I’ll see you all in the next one!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: