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.
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.
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.
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.
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.