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Phasing
(Phase Out)
Keyword Ability
Type Static
Introduced Mirage
Last Used Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
Reminder Text Phasing (This phases in or out before you untap during each of your untap steps. While it's phased out, it's treated as though it doesn't exist.)
Phase out (While it’s phased out, it’s treated as though it doesn’t exist. It phases in before its controller untaps during their next untap step.)
Storm Scale 9[1]
Statistics
16 Phasing cards
{U} 75% {G} 12.5% {G/U} 6.3% {land symbol} 6.3%
35 Phase out cards
{W} 22.9% {U} 57.1% {B} 5.7% {U/B} 2.9% {U/R} 2.9% {G/U} 2.9% {M} 2.9% {artifact symbol} 2.9%
Scryfall Search
oracle:"Phasing"
oracle:"Phase Out"

Phasing is a mechanic where permanents may phase out, causing them to be treated as if they don't exist, until they automatically phase back in on their next untap step. This can be a protective action, or a means to temporarily disable an opponent's permanents. Phasing is primary in white and secondary in blue.[2][3][4] Unlike similar concepts like flickering, a phased out permanent remains the same object, and so retains counters, attachments, and choices made during the "life" of the object.

Phasing is also the name of the closely related keyword ability that puts a permanent in a repeating cycle of phasing out and in every two turns. This form of the ability functioned mainly as a drawback, and has not been printed since Weatherlight in 1997, aside from acorn cards.

Description[]

Some spells and abilities cause permanents to "phase out". This is usually a keyword action, but the discontinued "Phasing" ability causes it as a turn-based action. While a permanent is phased out, it's treated as though it doesn't exist; a phased out permanent can't affect or be affected by anything that doesn't specifically mention phased out permanents. During each player's untap step, before they untap, all phased-out permanents under that player's control "phase in". Due to this timing, permanents that just phased in usually untap normally right afterward. A few cards can also cause a "phase in" outside of the untap step.[a]

When a permanent phases in or out, it does not change zones or leave the battlefield, so no enters-the-battlefield or leaves-the-battlefield triggered abilities will trigger. Any Auras, Equipments, and/or Fortifications attached to that permanent phase out with it; this is called "phasing out indirectly". A permanent that phases in is treated by the game rules as the same object that phased out. As a result, (and unlike a permanent that is flickered), it retains any counters that were on it, and, if it's a creature, it is unaffected by summoning sickness, so that it can attack and use activated abilities with the tap ({T}) or untap ({Q}) symbols in their activation costs during the turn it phases back in. Auras, Equipment, and/or Fortifications attached to that permanent "phase in indirectly" when the permanent itself phases in. Tokens continue to exist while phased out, and phase back in like any other permanent.

Discontinued keyword ability[]

The Phasing keyword ability generally causes a permanent to alternate between phasing out and phasing in each turn. Specifically, a permanent with the ability phases out on each of its controller's untap steps if it wasn't already phased out, causing it to alternate unless another effect interferes with the cycle. Phasing out this way happens simultaneously with other cards phasing in. This ability is no longer used outside of acorn cards, but was heavily centered in blue with minor usage in green.[5]

Note that the ability of a permanent to phase back in is completely unaffected by whether it has the Phasing ability or not. The ability only causes phasing out at special times, whereas general game rules cause phasing in for all phased out objects.

Interaction with other mechanics[]

Generally, phasing functions to prevent interaction of any kind, and is similar to flicker or bounce in this way but with even fewer triggered abilities or state-based actions that can occur, since objects phasing in or out are not considered to change zones. Decks focused on counters and auras may desire phasing as a protective mechanic since their phased out permanents bring those modifications along with them instead of losing them.

The echo ability was formerly stated to trigger its payment requirement on a phasing permanent on the first turn on which it's not phased out during its controller's upkeep (generally, this will be its second turn after being played, having phased out on the first turn after being played). This was a ruling for an "un-set" and may not have been thoroughly considered; in any case the current ruling is that echo is made irrelevant by the phasing ability.

History[]

Phasing was created by the Mirage design team with an eye toward Sealed Deck play. It created variability on the battlefield, which decreased the likelihood of a single player having an overwhelming creature advantage on a given turn, and complicated the tactics of board wipes. It also allowed designers to create large creatures with a lower cost since they'd be present only half the time.[6]

Phasing inspired the design of the Flicker ability.[7] R&D didn't consider Phasing a well-understood mechanic. Nonetheless, it was used to clean up a few Oracle wordings,[8] although some of these were later reverted, typically using the exile zone instead.[9]

For a long time, the only tournament-legal cards with phasing had been printed during Mirage block.[10] Its only reappearance was as an example of an outdated mechanic in Unhinged's Old Fogey.

Change to keyword action[]

Thirteen years later, and just over twenty years after its last printing on a non-acorn card, "phase out" made a surprise return as an one-off on Commander 2017's Teferi's Protection.[10][11] This featured a new reminder text: (When permanents are phased out, they're treated as if they don't exist. They phase in before you untap during your untap step.) As of Commander 2017, tokens which phase out phase back in the same as nontoken permanents, instead of ceasing to exist as a state-based action.[12]

In 2020, R&D was considering giving "phase out" deciduous status as a keyword action, because it allows for different design space than flickering, e.g Auras and Equipment don't "fall off" of and "enters the battlefield" and "leaves the battlefield" effects don't work.[13][14] They are not interested in the permanent keyword phasing where an object continually phases in and out every turn.[15] Two Teferi cards in Core Set 2021 made use of the technology (Teferi, Master of Time and Teferi, Timeless Voyager) These featured the following reminder text (Treat it and anything attached to it as though they don’t exist until its controller’s next turn). It also made the return of Oubliette in Double Masters possible.

By 2021, the deciduous status of phasing was confirmed with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.[16] "Phase out", in contrast to the original phasing ability, is primary in white.[2][3][4]

Rules[]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

Phasing
A keyword ability that causes a permanent to sometimes be treated as though it does not exist. See rule 702.26, “Phasing.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

  • 702.26. Phasing
    • 702.26a Phasing is a static ability that modifies the rules of the untap step. During each player’s untap step, before the active player untaps permanents, all phased-in permanents with phasing that player controls “phase out.” Simultaneously, all phased-out permanents that had phased out under that player’s control “phase in.”
    • 702.26b If a permanent phases out, its status changes to “phased out.” Except for rules and effects that specifically mention phased-out permanents, a phased-out permanent is treated as though it does not exist. It can’t affect or be affected by anything else in the game. A permanent that phases out is removed from combat. (See rule 506.4.)

      Example: You control three creatures, one of which is phased out. You cast a spell that says “Draw a card for each creature you control.” You draw two cards.

      Example: You control a phased-out creature. You cast a spell that says “Destroy all creatures.” The phased-out creature is not destroyed.

    • 702.26c If a permanent phases in, its status changes to “phased in.” The game once again treats it as though it exists.
    • 702.26d The phasing event doesn’t actually cause a permanent to change zones or control, even though it’s treated as though it’s not on the battlefield and not under its controller’s control while it’s phased out. Zone-change triggers don’t trigger when a permanent phases in or out. Tokens continue to exist on the battlefield while phased out. Counters remain on a permanent while it’s phased out. Effects that check a phased-in permanent’s history won’t treat the phasing event as having caused the permanent to leave or enter the battlefield or its controller’s control.
    • 702.26e If a continuous effect generated by the resolution of a spell or ability modifies the characteristics or changes the controller of any objects, a phased-out permanent won’t be included in the set of affected objects. This includes continuous effects that reference the permanent specifically, unless they also specifically refer to the permanent as phased out.
    • 702.26f Continuous effects that affect a phased-out permanent may expire while that permanent is phased out. If so, they will no longer affect that permanent once it’s phased in. In particular, effects with “for as long as” durations that track that permanent (see rule 611.2b) end when that permanent phases out because they can no longer see it.
    • 702.26g When a permanent phases out, any Auras, Equipment, or Fortifications attached to that permanent phase out at the same time. This alternate way of phasing out is known as phasing out “indirectly.” An Aura, Equipment, or Fortification that phased out indirectly won’t phase in by itself, but instead phases in along with the permanent it’s attached to.
    • 702.26h If an object would simultaneously phase out directly and indirectly, it just phases out indirectly.
    • 702.26i An Aura, Equipment, or Fortification that phased out directly will phase in attached to the object or player it was attached to when it phased out, if that object is still in the same zone or that player is still in the game. If not, that Aura, Equipment, or Fortification phases in unattached. State-based actions apply as appropriate. (See rules 704.5m and 704.5n.)
    • 702.26j Abilities that trigger when a permanent becomes attached or unattached from an object or player don’t trigger when that permanent phases in or out.
    • 702.26k Phased-out permanents owned by a player who leaves the game also leave the game. This doesn’t trigger zone-change triggers. See rule 800.4.
    • 702.26m If an effect causes a player to skip their untap step, the phasing event simply doesn’t occur that turn.
    • 702.26n In a multiplayer game, game rules may cause a phased-out permanent to leave the game or to be exiled once a player leaves the game. (See rules 800.4a and 800.4c.) If a phased-out permanent phased out under the control of a player who has left the game, that permanent phases in during the next untap step after that player’s next turn would have begun.
    • 702.26p Multiple instances of phasing on the same permanent are redundant.

Examples[]

Example 1

Teferi's Protection {2}{W}
Instant
Until your next turn, your life total can’t change and you gain protection from everything. All permanents you control phase out. (While they’re phased out, they’re treated as though they don’t exist. They phase in before you untap during your untap step.)
Exile Teferi's Protection.

Example 2

Sandbar Crocodile {4}{U}
Creature — Crocodile
6/5
Phasing (This phases in or out before you untap during each of your untap steps. While it's phased out, it's treated as though it doesn't exist.)

Example 3

Vodalian Illusionist {2}{U}
Creature — Merfolk Wizard
2/2
{U}{U}, {T}: Target creature phases out. (While it’s phased out, it’s treated as though it doesn’t exist. It phases in before its controller untaps during their next untap step.)

See also[]

  • Phased out — an obsolete game zone previously used to deal with phased-out permanents prior to the Magic 2010 rules

Enchantments that grant Phasing[]

References[]

  1. Mark Rosewater (2020-12-07). "Storm Scale: Theros and Theros Beyond Death". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. a b Mark Rosewater (July 1, 2021). "Hey mark guardian of faith and out of time are...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. a b Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Thanks for the color pie article im missing...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. a b Scryfall search for "phase out" cards since their reintroduction in 2017. As of April 2022, the color balance is narrowly in W's favor at 6, then 4 U, 1 UB, and 1 B. Regardless, note that primary/secondary terminology is a design concept and may not be strictly reflected in final sets, although it's still worth noting empirical evidence since updates aren't always available to the exact current thinking of R&D.
  5. Scryfall search
  6. Brady Dommermuth (January 1999). Mechanically Inclined. The Duelist #33. Wizards of the Coast.
    Reprint: Brady Dommermuth (June 01, 2009). "Mechanically Inclined". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (August 12, 2017). "Can I get some trivia on Phasing?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Magic Arcana (February 21, 2005). "Phasing to the Rescue?". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Gottlieb (August 29, 2007). "Masters Edition Update Bulletin". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. a b Bryan Hawley (August 9, 2017). "Vampirism 101". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Scryfall search: Acorn card Old Fogey is the only phasing card printed between July 1997 and July 2017.
  12. Eli Shiffrin (August 11, 2017). "Magic: The Gathering—Commander (2017 Edition) Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (June 29, 2020). "Odds & Ends: Core Set 2021". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (July 01, 2020). "What led to the change in views on phasing's complexity, or was it actually not considered too complex to begin with?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Mark Rosewater (July 01, 2020). "Just to be clear, what is the part of phasing that R&D is no longer interested in?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  16. Mark Rosewater (July 1, 2021). "Is phasing things out deciduous now...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
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