MTG Wiki
MTG Wiki
Introduced Magic 2015
Last Used Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
Reminder Text Exile target [permanent], then return that card to the battlefield...

Flicker or Flickering is the nickname (alluding to the effect of its namesake, the Urza's Destiny card Flicker) for exiling something, then returning it to the battlefield.[1][2][3] The mechanic is sometimes also called blinking after Blinking Spirit (which actually has a bounce effect and not a flicker).[4]


The Flicker ability was inspired by phasing. Flicker originally was designed as a vertical cycle in white but development moved the common to rare, changed it to a sorcery and dropped the other two.[5]

When you "flicker" a permanent, it's treated as a new card that just entered the battlefield. The mechanic appears primary on white and blue, tertiary on black and also on artifacts. "Flickering" removes all counters and auras from a creature, and makes it dodge targeted removal if a spell "flickering" that creature is played in response to the removal spell targeting it.[6]

With Core Set 2021, experiments have been made at returning phasing - specifically the action to phase out, not the ability - as a design tool in premier sets, as its ability to retain object memory and avoid various triggers make it more suitable in certain scenarios. The usage balance between them is not yet fully realized.

Flicker can appear in both white and blue, although R&D recently has been trying to push it a little more in white. Black can sacrifice a creature and then later reanimate it (Rescue from the Underworld as an example), but while this functions similarly to flicker, it's a separate thing.[7]

Name confusion[]

R&D uses "insta-flicker" and "flicker" as terminology to distinguish between 'exile and return immediately' and 'exile and return at next end step'. Others differentiate between "flicker" and "blink", "short blink" and "long blink", or "blink" (after Momentary Blink) and "slide" (after Astral Slide).[8]


  • A permanent that returns to the battlefield after being exiled does so as an entirely new object. It will have no memory of or connection to its previous existence.
  • Unless an effect says otherwise, permanents enter the battlefield untapped, creatures can't attack or {T} until they've been continuously under your control since the start of your most recent turn, and double-faced cards enter the battlefield with their front face up.
  • Any Auras attached to a permanent that leaves the battlefield will be put into their owner's graveyard the next time state-based actions are checked. Any Equipment attached to a permanent that leaves the battlefield become unattached and remain on the battlefield. Any counters on a permanent that leaves the battlefield cease to exist.
  • If a token creature is exiled, it will cease to exist. It won't return to the battlefield.
  • If a paired creature is exiled, the pair will break. However, the creature entering the battlefield again will cause its soulbond ability (or the soulbond ability of the creature it was paired with, as appropriate) to trigger again. This may cause the creature to pair with the creature it was previously paired with or another creature.
  • If a creature you've gained control of temporarily (perhaps due to the ability of Zealous Conscripts) is exiled and returns to the battlefield under your control, you will control that creature indefinitely.
    • Note that many flickering cards return such creatures under their owner's control, which is also the default if the card does not specify who controls the returned creature. Therefore the flicker effect must explicitly say "under your control", such as with Cloudshift.



  1. Mark Rosewater (November 7, 2016). "A Few More Words from R&D". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (October 13, 2016). "Will these abilities ever be keyworded?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (March 05, 2017). "What are the odds on another mechanic that phases things in/out?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater (August 12, 2017). "Can I get some trivia on Phasing?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  6. Staff (April 09, 2012). "Avacyn Restored Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (March 14, 2018). "Does R&D have terminology to distinguish between 'exile and return immediately' and 'exile and return at next end step'?". Blogatog. Tumblr.