Last updated on February 1, 2023
Endurance | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
I started playing Magic right around the tail end of the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block. It was an exciting time in Magic history; faerie decks were super competitive, Time Spiral was still legal, and we had just met planeswalkers for the first time.
Lorwyn also came with a lot of mechanics, way more than we see in current Standard sets. Tribal themes, champions, clash, changelings, hideaway, and the topic of interest today: evoke.
Let’s talk about that.
How Does Evoke Work?
Wavesifter | Illustration by Nils Hamm
Creature cards with evoke are given an alternate casting cost. If you choose to cast them with that cost, they must be sacrificed as soon as they enter the battlefield. These creatures usually have either an “enters the battlefield” or “leaves the battlefield” effect that triggers upon evoking.
History of Evoke
According to Mark Rosewater, evoke was originally supposed to be a way for instants and sorceries to have alternate casting costs to make them into creatures. This idea was unsurprisingly shot down because Magic’s rules weren’t built to let that happen.
So it settled on its current incarnation. We first saw evoke spoiled with Shriekmaw, which went on to become a format staple for years. It was the primary mechanic for elementals in Lorwyn and returned in Morningtide.
We didn’t see a return of the mechanic until both Modern Horizons sets where evoke appeared on a few cards per set.
What Colors Is Evoke in Primarily?
Because the original elemental tribe was primarily five colors, most of the cards are pretty equally spread among all five colors. White and red are tied for the most evoke cards with each having one card more than the other colors.
Is Evoke Evergreen?
Evoke is not an evergreen mechanic. Because it’s so closely tied to elementals, most sets aren’t able to use the mechanic without it being a dedicated theme.
What Is the Mana Cost of an Evoked Card?
Like most alternate casting costs, the total mana value of an evoked creature is still what’s printed on the card, not the ability’s cost.
When Can You Evoke? Is it Instant Speed?
Evoke is tied to the same casting speed of the creature it’s attached to. If the creature has flash you can cast it whenever you could play an instant. But most evoke creatures don’t have flash, so they’re usually played at sorcery speed.
Is Evoke a Trigger?
The second half of evoke is a triggered ability. After the creature has resolved, the second part of the ability triggers and you’ll need to sacrifice it.
Can You Respond to Evoke?
Yes, you can respond to evoke! Whether you want to respond to casting the spell, the “enters/leaves the battlefield” effect, or the triggered ability to sacrifice it. You can even sacrifice it to another ability like Phyrexian Altar while the triggered ability is on the stack, netting you some mana.
How Do You Stack Evoke?
Here are the steps that happen while an evoke creature is being cast for its evoke cost:
- You cast a creature for its evoke cost.
- If the creature resolves, it enters the battlefield.
- If that creature has an “enters the battlefield” triggered ability, it triggers now.
- Once the creature enters the battlefield, evoke’s sacrifice trigger goes on the stack.
- Note: The controller of the creature casting the spell chooses which order any triggered abilities go on the stack.
- Any triggered abilities resolve, including the sacrifice trigger.
- If that creature has a “leaves the battlefield” effect, it goes on the stack.
- Once the LTB ability has resolved, the stack is clear.
Does Evoke Count as Casting?
Evoking is still casting a creature spell, just for an alternate cost. It’s still a creature spell.
Does Evoke Trigger Cascade?
If you (somehow) have a situation where a creature with evoke also has an instance of cascade, it triggers as you cast it. If you cast it for its evoke cost, it still cascades. But the mana value that cascade is looking for is still the card’s the mana value, not the evoke cost.
If you’re cascading into a card with evoke, you can’t cast it for its evoke cost. Because cascade and evoke are both alternate costs, you have to pick between the two. Cascade doesn’t look at any alternative casting costs, only the mana value printed on the card.
Can You Blink or Sacrifice in Response to Evoke?
Yes, you can blink/sacrifice in response to evoke! As soon as evoke’s sacrifice trigger hits the stack you’re free to respond to it in any way you’d like. You can sacrifice it to Ashnod's Altar, blink it with Roon of the Hidden Realm, or anything else you’d like to do.
Can You Evoke from the Graveyard?
If you’re in a situation where you can cast creature cards from your graveyard like Muldrotha, the Gravetide or Chainer, Nightmare Adept, you can still evoke creatures. Because you’re casting them as if they were in your hand, you can choose any alternate costs.
Can You Stifle or Counter Evoke?
Yes, you can stifle/counter evoke! You’re able to counter the creature spell itself through regular counterspell means, or you can use effects that counter triggered abilities like Trickbind and Stifle.
List of Evoke Cards
- Soul of Migration
- Night Incarnate
- Ingot Chewer
- Inner-Flame Acolyte
- Foundation Breaker
- Walker of the Grove
Best Evoke Cards
Reveillark is a staple in most white Commander decks since it offers a great reanimation effect. It also pairs really well with Karmic Guide to loop them both over and over.
Solitude sees a fair amount of Modern play since it’s basically a free Swords to Plowshares.
Mulldrifter was a long-time staple in most blue decks back in the day and still sees play in Commander where you can abuse its ETB effect.
Fury sees some Modern play because it offers a good way to wipe a small board or keep bigger creatures at bay.
Endurance sees some fringe competitive play as a way to deal with graveyard strategies. It’s popular in Modern, Legacy, and even some Commander decks.
Shriekmaw has been a longtime favorite of mine, especially in Commander. It can quickly become a powerful and repeatable Terror if you can recur it from the graveyard.
Ingot Chewer sees fringe play in Modern and some Pauper decks, mostly as a cheap Shatter effect.
Fury | Illustration by Raoul Vitale
I’ve always thought that evoke was a neat mechanic. It’s fun, flavorful, and easy to understand. It’s a shame that we don’t see the mechanic as much as we could, but I like to think that it’s thanks to a flavor issue rather than a power issue. I’m sure we’ll see more of it in small doses for future Masters sets, and hopefully if we ever return to Lorwyn!
What do you think of evoke? Was it worth the hassle for most of the creatures, or would you rather have cast a different spell instead? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Twitter.
As for me, I’ve got to plan out my next Wolfenstein game. Wash your hands!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: