What IS Incubate?!

Incubate – MTG Mechanics Explained

Card KingdomStrategy

Incubate is an ability that could appear on any card type, and will always be written with a number – so, “Incubate N.” When an effect or ability tells you to Incubate, you create a colorless artifact token named Incubator, and put a number of +1/+1 counters on it equal to the Incubate number.

Incubator/Phyrexian token

Incubator tokens are predefined, like food or treasure, meaning that they have an ability baked into them – in this case, all incubator tokens have the ability “2: Transform this artifact.” The flip side of Incubator tokens are 0/0 Phyrexian artifact creatures, so this mechanic is effectively a way to give you token creatures of varying sizes for an extra 2 mana that you can pay later.

And…that’s really about it. Nothing too tricky here.

  • Multiple instances of Incubate on the same card would both go off separately, not cumulatively.
  • The transform ability on Incubator tokens does use the stack and can be responded to.
  • Incubator tokens enter the battlefield with the +1/+1 counters already on them, so if, say, you are controlling your opponent’s turn, there’s no window for you to transform their tokens before the counters are on them.

Incubate is flavorfully tied to the Phyrexians, and therefor is unlikely to appear in a set without them. This does lay some groundwork for similar styles of mechanics, so don’t be surprised to see something like this pop up in the future.

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