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Flanking
Keyword Ability
Type Triggered
Introduced Mirage
Last Used Commander 2016
Reminder Text Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
Statistics
30 cards
{W} 56.7% {U} 3.3% {B} 13.3% {R} 20% {G} 3.3% {G/W} 3.3%
Scryfall Search
oracle:"Flanking"

Flanking is a keyword ability that gives creatures that block a creature with flanking -1/-1, unless the blocker also has flanking.[1][2]

Description[]

With two exceptions (Sidewinder Sliver/Old Fogey), all flanking creatures are either knights on horseback or centaurs; they have a tactical height advantage and the added mobility to swing around the enemy and attack in the flanks.[3][4] The name is inspired by the effective military tactic of attacking the enemy at an angle to the enemy’s direction of engagement.

The first tournament-legal cards with this keyword were printed in the Mirage block, with a further set of Flanking cards appearing in Time Spiral block.[5] The ability is found in all colors, but is primary a white or red.[6] In the Mirage block it is found on eight white creatures, four red creatures, three black creatures and one each in blue and green. In the Time Spiral block, the ability is mainly white, appearing on ten white creatures, three red creatures and one black creature. Commander 2016 featured one card with Flanking that was also the first multicolored card with the mechanic: Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa (white/green).

Flanking is currently a 7 on the Storm Scale.[7] R&D considers Flanking’s problem to be its lack of flanking against other flankers, which was not understood by the majority of players.[8][9][10] A renamed version without the self-referential component ("flanking creatures do not flank other flankers") is more likely.[11] A rethemed Flanking would fit very well in black's part of the color pie[12], which turned up years later with Plague Wight. For Future Sight, it was considered to create a creature that had Flanking twice.[13]

Rules[]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 23, 2021—Adventures in the Forgotten Realms)

Flanking
A keyword ability that can make a creature better in combat. See rule 702.25, “Flanking.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (July 23, 2021—Adventures in the Forgotten Realms)

  • 702.25. Flanking
    • 702.25a Flanking is a triggered ability that triggers during the declare blockers step. (See rule 509, “Declare Blockers Step.”) “Flanking” means “Whenever this creature becomes blocked by a creature without flanking, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.”
    • 702.25b If a creature has multiple instances of flanking, each triggers separately.

Rulings[]

As this is done during the Declare Blockers Step, if a creature is put into the graveyard as a result of the -1/-1, that creature will deal no damage to the creature with Flanking, even if it has first strike. The creature with flanking is still considered blocked, however, so no damage will be dealt to defending player, unless the creature with flanking also has trample.

  • Flanking only triggers when a creature with flanking becomes blocked, not when it blocks.
  • This may kill the blocker prior to damage being assigned in combat, but the attacker is still blocked.
  • Flanking applies to blockers which are not assigned to the Flanking creature directly. For example, creatures that become blockers due to blocking a member of a band which includes the Flanking creature are subject to the Flanking -1/-1 ability.
  • Gaining Flanking after blockers are declared will have no effect on the blockers because the time for Flanking to trigger has already passed.
  • If an attacking creature has multiple instances of the Flanking ability, even one instance of Flanking on the blocking creature will negate the effect.

Examples[]

Example

Mtenda Herder {W}
Creature — Human Scout
1/1
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)

Cards that grant Flanking[]

Creatures

Enchantments

Artifacts

References[]

  1. Mirage FAQ
  2. Brady Dommermuth (June 01, 2009). "Mechanically Inclined". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (October 19, 2018). "I was hoping I could get some trivia on my favorite mechanic, Flanking.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater (October 21, 2016). "How is flanking primarily white if its basically a weaker wither?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Mark Gottlieb (November 20, 2006). "Ask Wizards: With Time Spiral did you consider re-templating flanking to read "flanking 1" like the other numbered keywords (mainly bushido)?". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (February 14, 2011). "Fight Club, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (October 24, 2016). "Where's flanking on the storm scale?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2015). "What are the issues that might prevent Flanking's return?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Mark Rosewater (September 23, 2013). "What's wrong with Flanking not giving -1/-1 if blocked by another Flanker?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (July 05, 2013). "Why was this a problem for flanking when it's not a problem for flying?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (December 23, 2012). "is Flanking coming back any time soon?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (November 23, 2015). "Would a rethemed Flanking fit in Blue/Black's color pie?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Mark Rosewater (May 17, 2021). "Future Sight Design Handoff Document". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.