Invoked: Five Years of Normal Summons

February 23, 2017 saw the release of Fusion Enforcers. The set brought with it a ton of Predaplant and Fluffal support, but vastly overshadowing these two was Invoked. This simple but versatile engine quickly found itself in top cut breakdowns. How did it happen? And why are people still playing it five years later?


Early Days

In case you've been living under a really big rock for the past few years, Invoked is a fusion archetype centered around fusing Aleister the Invoker using Invocation in order to bring out a variety of monsters, depending on the attribute of the other material used. This in tandem with Magical Meltdown makes for a hyper-consistent engine enabling a wide variety of strategies.

Or at least it used to be like that.

Magical Meltdown Aleister the Invoker Invocation
Activate, seach, summon, search—this level of redundancy gives unparalleled consistency

When Invoked was released, it didn't become quite the tier zero meta threat some people might have anticipated. That's not to say it was irrelevant, quite the opposite. Due to a lack of useful Light archetypes at the, time which enabled you to summon Invoked Mechaba, players opted for a Windwitch engine instead. While not as powerful as Mechaba, using the wind attribute, Windwitches gave access to Invoked Raidjin on top of the engine, enabling a Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon summon in the process. Not only that, but playing a Kaiju engine on top of the Windwitches allowed for quick access to more attributes while removing threats. Still, even with all its versatility, playing in the middle of Zoodiac and Grass format was not an easy thing to do.

Later in 2017, we saw one of the biggest rule changes in the game's history. Master Rule 4 and link monsters were introduced. This made a lot of decks unplayable, but made Invoked adapt in weird ways. With the lack of easily accessible link monsters at the time, the Windwitch engine was dropped in favor of a much larger handtrap lineup and even a Spellbook package employing Spellbook of Knowledge for added consistency by dumping Aleister. Even so, for the second format in a row, Invoked found itself pitched against unsurmountable odds, this time having to compete with full power SPYRAL. Thus, Invoked would drop off the top tables, while still finding some success with Mekk-Knight builds. This is the form the deck would take for the next two years, since the Mekk-Knights not only didn't require a normal summon, but were also Light, making for easy Invoked Mechaba fodder.

SPYRAL Double Helix Zoodiac Drident
(Almost) back-to-back tier zero formats? Not a good place to be if your name is Aleister!

Eternal Format to Present

Things would change for Invoked starting in 2019, however. Battles of Legend: Hero's Revenge saw the release of an inconspicuous little monster, Salamangreat Almiraj. While weak at first glance, most players will recognize this card as one of the most useful and played link monsters of all time. Its release benefits a lot of decks to this day, but none more than Invoked. Almiraj's release meant that you could summon it using your Aleister the Invoker, to then link it off for Secure Gardna, meaning you could summon Invoked Mechaba off just one card.

invoked mechaba

This was a game changer. No longer were you restricted to using Light engines to bring out the deck's most powerful card, you could just normal summon Aleister and get a negate on board way before you could get hit with the upcoming Nibiru, the Primal Being. Not only that, but Almiraj being a fire monster meant that afterwards, you could just summon Invoked Purgatrio for easy one-turn kills. Still, Sky Striker and Orcust were dominating the format, and even if you could summon Mechaba much more easily, the remainder of the deck was lackluster at best. It would take another year for the deck to become somewhat actually competitive.

The announcement of the Shaddoll Showdown structure deck brought attention to this long forgotten engine, and even before it was released, Invoked Shaddoll took a first place finish at the Cardmarket Series Paris in 2020. This deck sought to turbo out El Shaddoll Winda, easily summonable through Aleister being Dark. That on top of Invoked Caliga being another very fun floodgate made this deck a chore to play against. And it was with the release of the aforementioned structure deck that Invoked would become a staple of every single Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament to come. The ease of access to these cards made for a fun and cheap-ish deck that was very viable in a competitive setting. But this would not last long. Oh god, it would not last long.

Rise of the Duelist is one of the best sets ever printed, I think we can all agree on that. And arguably the deck that was the most impacted by this set was Invoked. Rise of the Duelist brought with it the Dogmatika archetype, which would henceforth become a mainstay of any and all Invoked decks.

Not only did the Dogmatikas not need a normal summon to function, they enabled a one card El Shaddoll Winda line using the absolutely loaded Nadir Servant. Not only that, but the Aleister line through Almiraj set up for a Dogmatika Maximus play that also set up Winda. It was a hyperconsistent deck with a ton of versatility. However, with it came complacency. The deck was quickly resolved into a list that focused on consistency, and in this kind of deck, there was no space for Shaddoll cards that did little to nothing in your hand. It wasn't long before the deck devolved into running one or two main deck Shaddoll monsters at most, all to enable Winda. All that versatility and tools, and the deck was a glorified Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo stun deck.

Dogmatika Maximus El Shaddoll Apkallone Shadoll Schism
One-card Winda engines are never fun, especially when Meltdown makes sure it will hit the board

What Invoked Means for Card Design

In my humble opinion, no matter how good or bad the deck is, Invoked is the most unhealthy and badly designed deck the game has ever seen. Before the release of Salamangreat Almiraj, it rewarded smart deckbuilding and forced you to play weird engines to enable access to the good Invoked fusions. After the release of Link-1, however, the deck quickly devolved into the most brainless combo you could ever perform in the whole game. Search Aleister, search Invocation, make Almiraj, make Secure Gardna, make Mechaba. Every. Single. Game. Add any engine that doesn't need its normal summon and you've got a deck. It's just so tiring.

While in the current format, we have a dozen decks that are one-card combos, such as Prank-Kids, I'd argue Invoked was the first relevant one. Invoked is the end of card design, the most linear play you can make, with the least restrictions you can pick. Yet people keep playing it, but why? Because it works. For all the bad design Aleister showcases, it works. It's a damn good engine which gives some playability to dozens of otherwise useless decks. And for that, you might say it has merit, but I have to disagree. Running Invoked in weaker decks quickly devolves into just summoning Mechaba and then doing whatever the deck was trying to do. It's just lame.

Seriously, try other stuff. You don't have to jam Aleister into a deck just because it's the path of least resistance. It's been five years. You don't need to keep searching Invocation.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not of Cardmarket.


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Azdrerios(08.05.2022 18:19)(Edited: 08.05.2022 18:20)

As crazy as this sounds, I'm actually super happy that the article went full berserker mode at the end there. Regardless whether you agree with the writer's opinion or not, you just don't get this kind of opinions on other professional Yugioh article series.

I'm seriously glad Cardmarket lets people write what they actually think about something instead of making them write positive things about what's popular/what sells, all the while holding their paycheck at gunpoint.

evilclone(05.05.2022 21:13)

Invoked is one of the best-designed archetypes, throughout its life it may have not even held Tier 1 status until recently, and when it did, it was on the back of Dogmatika, Shaddoll and DPE, which have or had arguments to be hit on their own.

People are very much against the rising cost of the card game, but then also start hating on Evergreen decks. Yes, you will lose against a fair engine sometimes. Yes, it might seem that the specific engine your opponent plays somehow makes them draw cards differently (the common, they always have invocation if I disrupt the Aleister), but that isn't the case, it's just confirmation bias and hyper focusing on specific cases. When you can hate an Aleister, and an invocation, it's different than hating a random dragon that D-link has as an extender, or Warrior #45 that Isolde piles had.

To give pushback on a few points as well
Invoked is free - it takes 'only' the normal summon, but if we look at history what relevant decks we had that combined with it - windwitch, mekk knight, eldlich, shaddoll and dogmatika. In 5 years we had 5 relevant invoked piles. You could always play invoked paleo, but i dread on the performance. If we compare it to the very overused brave engine, which doesn't even use the normal summon, but simply limits the activation of effects on summon, we see how many decks currently abuse it, now that is an actual problem, and has a right to be called "free", if anything.

Invoked is the end of card design - what? It's a repeated motion, sure. But why would there be an issue in simply having a linear first turn experience, why would making 5 steps to get a mechaba be any more of an issue towards just setting strike(then again, if i can be a bit of bad faith, i'm sure you aren't a fan of backrow either). Mechaba in itself is still a negate, which the player has to know how to use. I don't want to dilude this into combo vs control, but combo in most cases is control with more steps.

The article was completely fine, but really there was no point in having such a public aggressive pushback against an engine that simply isn't good enough, just out of spite for control decks or a linear-advantage engine, simply by being linear.

Felisinhoo(05.05.2022 18:39)

You guys want yugioh only for smart players #keepaleisterbro

Clovercards(05.05.2022 15:27)(Edited: 05.05.2022 15:28)

Sounds like you've lost against Invoked during the past month... Come on, don't be so salty ;)

aegon5(05.05.2022 21:46)

Clovercards i think so too :D

basill(05.05.2022 12:15)

Flunder invoked

Silverface(05.05.2022 11:48)

On one hand I agree, it's been years and everyone is bored with Aleister. On the other hand, you can't forget that the engine was super non budget until the last year, and there's lots of people that just want to try it out. Plus, it gets results. And I'd personally prefer the deck building decision of adding the 9 cards and ED space for the engine as opposed to the DPE engine in every single deck. I get the complaints but seriously, imo there's so many more issues in the meta than Mechaba pass

Scopolamin(05.05.2022 11:44)

Your last sentence is so right.
Because it is always in my opening hand.

Aleister will have a special place in my heart, forever.

GrandmistressD(05.05.2022 11:43)

Personally, I think Invoked is one of the most balanced modern engines the game has; if I compare it to a wide variety of other engines over the years, Invoked really doesn't do all that much.

Additionally, I feel like what we should take away is that Link-1s are just inherently awful card design; Almiraj on its own already facilitates so much and it might as well not have an effect, same deal with Link Spider, and then there's Striker Dragon, Balelynx, etc. The Link mechanic in general accelerates many plays by allowing you to freely dump monsters in the graveyard, but Link-1s take this mechanic to the limit.

Megda(05.05.2022 12:11)

GrandmistressD I would not say that Link-1s as a whole are inherently awful, I would say, that the most awful ones are the more or totally generic ones (Almiraj or Link Spider from your examples).
Striker Dragon and Balelynx, even if absolutly strong and in there decks inherently awful are not genericly awful, since you could never easly use Balelynx in a Dragon Link Deck or Striker Dragon in a Cyberse Deck.
I would have love to see even more specific materials for Link-1s so that they can not be used as they can be now.

XBoosted-ttv(05.05.2022 14:14)(Edited: 05.05.2022 14:15)

I like Link-1s BECAUSE they allow more combos and consistency. Through them the parts of the Decks get more connected and you don’t have to rely on drawluck or whatever to perform a 3card Combo which makes Decks more wellrounded … imo Link-1s are one of the best things Konami ever did. But probably I‘m alone with that opinion … (I play Invoked and salads … but also eldlich, hoping for them to get a link1 xD)

Happiste38560(05.05.2022 11:36)

You forgot the true hidden mechanic of the invoked engine. They ALWAYS have invocation in hand if you negate Aleister.

Megda(05.05.2022 12:06)

Happiste38560 is the hidden mechanic not more like: they ALWAYS have the search target in hand of the card you negated?
For me it literally was no different negating Meltdown or Aleister, the card they would have been searched was already in hand.