Improvise – MTG Mechanics Explained

Card KingdomStrategy

Improvise is a static ability that can appear on any nonland card. When a card has it, it means that for each generic mana (mana written as a number in a gray circle) in that card’s mana cost, you can tap an untapped artifact to pay for one of that mana. So like a version of Convoke that works off artifacts. Improvise isn’t an additional or alternative cost, and applies after any other effects that would affect the cost of the spell are calculated.

Not too bad so far, but there are few notes to help things stay clear:

  • Improvise doesn’t change a spell’s total mana value.
  • Since it isn’t an alternative cost itself, it can be used alongside an alternative cost.
  • Improvise can never pay for any colored mana in a spells cost, nor for specifically colorless mana (like the final mana symbol in Reality Smasher’s mana cost).
  • Improvise only pays for a spell to be cast. You can’t use it to pay for Mana Leak costs or the like.
  • You can use a summoning sick artifact creature to improvise, as it’s the ability causing it to tap.
  • If you have something like Ashnod’s Altar on the battlefield, you cannot both tap an artifact creature and sacrifice it – only one or the other.
  • Multiple instances of Improvise (possible thanks to Inspiring Statuary) are redundant.

Mechanics like this tend to be popular, and Improvise was no exception. It does tend to want to go on larger spells, and requires an environment with a lot of artifacts to be useful, limiting its usefulness in Constructed formats to very specific decks types. That said, it could see another go around any time a set wants to have an artifact theme, which happens fairly regularly.

No need to improvise with your collection, you can pick up whatever you need at!