MTG Keywords Explained: Echo

Card Kingdom Strategy

Creatures in Magic are much more powerful than they used to be. Their stats tend to be higher for their mana value, and they tend to have more abilities. But as mana fixing has improved and more enablers have been printed, creatures simply have fewer downsides than they used to.

Of course, downsides aren’t always a bad thing, either! You might have some older creature cards in your collection whose downsides are actually key to their success. Today, we’re going to explore one such “downside” mechanic: echo.

What is Echo?

Echo is an additional cost on some creature cards that is required to keep those cards in play. It’s an ability that triggers at the beginning of a player’s first upkeep after a creature with echo comes into play under your control. If you pay the creature’s echo cost, you get to keep it in play; otherwise, you must sacrifice it.

The creatures with echo that see the most play typically have powerful effects that trigger when they enter or leave the battlefield. Deranged Hermit creates a swarm of Squirrel tokens, which will be useful in a sacrifice strategy even after the Hermit itself is gone. Karmic Guide can reanimate a creature and evades many common removal spells. And Mogg War Marshal‘s ability is very well-suited for a go-wide Goblins deck.

A few notes on echo:

  • Cards with echo have a variety of different costs. If a creature’s echo cost is unspecified on the card, its echo cost will always be equal to its mana cost.
  • Echo is completely optional; you can always just sacrifice the creature if you can’t pay the echo cost for any reason.
  • The echo ability doesn’t just apply to creatures that enter the battlefield under your control; it applies to any creature that comes under your control, including one of your opponents’. If you steal an opponent’s creature for more than a turn, its echo ability will trigger on your next upkeep.

Echo is an ability that will test your mana base and your decision-making skills. But fortunately, there are many ways to ensure you get a card’s worth of value out of your creatures with echo, even if they don’t stick around for very long.