Convoke has made several appearances throughout Magic’s history, and each time, it’s brought along high-impact, powerful cards. Sprout Swarm was the scourge of Planar Chaos Limited, 2015’s Standard format lived in fear of Stoke the Flames, and of course Chord of Calling remains a Modern staple. Clearly, convoke has a pedigree.
The Power of Cost Reduction
It’s critical to examine any mechanic—new or recurring—that revolves around cost reduction. Historically, some of the most broken and powerful mechanics have involved cheapening the mana costs of spells—things like delve, affinity, and Phyrexian mana have produced multi-format all-stars, and are over-represented on the ban lists of various formats.
Convoke may not have reached the lofty heights of cards like Treasure Cruise or Gitaxian Probe—it’s a non-blue mechanic, after all—but it still threatens to have a huge impact on post-rotation Standard, especially given some of the enablers that are flying around. Any way you slice it, a mechanic that offers significant opportunity for cost reduction is something to pay attention to.
Building a Convoke Deck
So what can you do with convoke in Standard? Obviously, we’re locked into green and white, and thankfully there are plenty of cards surviving rotation that will bolster any token-based strategy (including two of my all-time favorites, History of Benalia and Legion’s Landing).
Anyone who has drafted a ramp deck in Cube will know the balance you have to strike between enablers and payoff cards. Too many cheap enablers and your deck doesn’t have enough power—too much top-end and you’ll never get to cast your haymakers. Similarly, finding the correct pieces to pull together for a Standard Convoke deck requires a careful mix of both enablers and payoffs.
Even without seeing all of the cards in Guilds of Ravnica, it’s abundantly clear that plenty of cards exist to support a go-wide, token-based strategy that can make the most of convoke as a mechanic. Ixalan brought us Legion’s Landing, and Dominaria brought us Saproling Migration and History of Benalia. But one Guilds card in particular stands out as a strong enabler.
Emmara, Soul of the Accord powers out convoke spells like no other, providing maximum synergy in go-wide Convoke decks with her ability. As a core component of this deck’s engine, Emmara scales extremely well into the later stages of the game. Look at it this way: if every single spell in your deck had convoke, every time you cast a spell with her, Emmara would create a Llanowar Elves—with lifelink!
Most of the powerful payoff cards are, of course, found within the new Selesnya cards from Guilds of Ravnica. The headliner is March of the Multitudes (a card my friend Mush described as the new Sphinx’s Revelation, “except all of the cards you draw are Memnite”). March threatens to completely overtake the late game, synergizing supremely well with further copies of itself.
It doesn’t stop there, however. Conclave Tribunal will often be a 1-mana Oblivion Ring, and Venerated Loxodon adds to the board while pumping your team. Perhaps the most exciting prospect, however, is finally getting Song of Freyalise off the indie charts and into the Top 40. I can’t imagine a better-looking strategy for this Dominaria Limited powerhouse (its synergy with Emmara is also bonkers!).
Finally, some top-end ties it all together. Ajani and Shalai work alongside March of the Multitudes to secure the late game, and both of these 4-drops offer different tools to the deck. Ajani is a flexible way to either get aggressive or grind value from the graveyard, while Shalai has terrific defensive game and offers a (somewhat mana-hungry) way to go over the top.
Finally, and quite fortunately, there are plenty of cards that can play both sides of the court. Legion’s Landing, Saproling Migration, and Thorn Lieutenant all scale well as the game goes long, being cheap, early plays while offering a scaled-up power level in drawn-out games.
Next Steps for Convoke
We haven’t even seen all of the cards from Guilds of Ravnica yet, meaning that there could yet be more ways to upgrade and improve on this deck. While waiting to see if there are more convoke cards (or cards that enable big convoke plays), it’s also important to monitor what’s going on in other colors.
Already, there are incentives to splash a third color. Vraska, Golgari Queen is great with an abundance of tokens, and a black splash for her also opens up a top-shelf piece of removal in Assassin’s Trophy—not to mention Duress in the board. It’s an exciting time to be sketching out deck ideas like this, and I can’t wait to see what else Guilds of Ravnica has to offer!