Why Has WotC Brought Back Phasing?

General forum

Posted on Sept. 6, 2021, 7:58 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

Phasing was a mechanic from the older years of MtG that WotC had stopped using for a long time, but has recently revived, and I am wondering why they have done that.

I am not fond of phasing, as I much prefer "flicker" effects (i.e., Turn to Mist or Momentary Blink), since flicker effects allow for much great combo potential, especially abusing "enters-the-battlefield" abilities or sending a general back to the command zone in EDH games, whereas phasing has no synergy with either of those.

I really hope that WotC keeps phasing as only an occasional ability, and instead keeps "flicker" effects as the primary method for protecting creatures or temporarily removing threats.

What does everyone else say about this? Why has WotC brought back phasing, and will they still continue to print "flicker" effects?

DarkMagician says... #2

They brought it back for the same reason they bring back other mechanics, to keep the game fun. They won't stop printing blink or flicker effects as phasing is something that is, for the most part, incomparable to those things.

September 6, 2021 8:05 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #3

Phasing is a way of giving your creatures shroud until the start of your next turn, while also ensuring that you cannot punch damage through by protecting them from removal mid-combat. It also makes auras and equipment a bit more viable - if you used an exile-based mechanic to protect them from removal, all the investment in improving them would be wasted.

September 6, 2021 8:11 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #4

DarkMagician, that makes sense.

Caerwyn, why not simply use hexproof, shroud, or ward, in that case?

September 6, 2021 8:58 p.m.

shadow63 says... #5

They retired shroud and hexproof might be done too

September 6, 2021 9:04 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #6

shadow63, I am glad that shroud has been retired, but what is wrong with hexproof?

September 6, 2021 9:13 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #7

Because there isn’t a large downside to hexproof, shroud, or ward. Phasing forces you to commit - you have to decide “this creature is so important, that I need to have it disappear for a while in order to save it.” When you phase something out, it is no longer attacking - so you can’t use it to force damage through like you can if you cause targeted removal to fizzle with hexproof. You can’t keep the creature around to block. You can’t keep it around to combo off.

Phasing requires you not only to pay the cost of protecting the creature; it requires you to live without whatever was powerful enough to be worth saving.

September 6, 2021 9:23 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #8

Ephemerate is one of the cards I hate the most, so I'm fine with that.

September 6, 2021 9:37 p.m.

wallisface says... #9

I can’t recall the exact discussion but i remember Mark answering this on Blogatog. I believe the jist was they’re bringing Phasing back because Flicker effects used in bulk are too strong with all of todays etb effects. I don’t think Flicker effects are gone, but I think they’ll become much rarer, especially if Phasing’s return is received well.

In any case, it appears WotC is aware that Flicker effects are very powerful, and are trying ways to work around making many cards with that mechanic in Standard sets.

September 6, 2021 10:08 p.m.

Fumbles says... #10

All I know is banding better be next!

September 7, 2021 2:49 a.m.

DarkMagician says... #11

DemonDragonJ the problem with hexproof is the fact that it's a strictly better form of shroud. I think ward will take the place of hexproof in standard at least. Shroud, hexproof and flicker will most likely continue to see print in supplemental sets.

September 7, 2021 3:12 a.m.

shadow63 says... #12

DarkMagician unfortunately they haven't used shroud in a few years. Really wish they would bring it back here and there to help with balancing

September 7, 2021 9:38 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #13

I like Ward, especially with the varying costs. Makes it more interesting and varied.

I wouldn't say I "love" phasing, but it is substantially more balanced than blink effects. Blink effects are entirely unfun to play against. You're already getting a 2-for-1 if you blink in response to removal on an ETB-effect creature, and it just makes fair strategies have to play in gross patterns. Of course, I'm coming at this as someone who is permanently frustrated by Pauper, so it is what it is.

Evoke errata to prevent blink when? :P

September 7, 2021 10:50 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #14

Phasing is a mechanic entirely tied to the character of Teferi. In fact, it's literally his ability. It's a mechanic we first saw with Teferi, and one that disappeared when we stopped seeing Teferi. Then we got some Teferi stuff back, but he mostly used his other trademark, time manipulation, until m21 where he used both.

Teferi is also confirmed to be on Innistrad currently. That's why we're seeing Phasing on Innistrad.

The mechanic should continue to pop up here and there, probably in conjunction with Teferi(which so far has been the case -- phasing = Teferi in same set).

September 7, 2021 11:29 a.m.

plakjekaas says... #15


Guardian of Faith is not sure it agrees with the Phasing = Teferi statement.

September 7, 2021 2:05 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #16

Caerwyn, that is exactly why I do not like phasing, because I make an effort to avoid difficult decisions.

Grubbernaut, using "flicker" effects to negate the downside of evoke is a clever strategy and should not be "fixed," in my mind.

wallisface, that is exactly why I like "flicker" effects, because they can be used to repeatedly trigger "enters-the-battlefield" abilities.

September 7, 2021 8:38 p.m.

Necrosis24 says... #17

As much as I love flickering I have always wanted to use phasing. It just doesn't quite fit my play style, so I do hope they make the ability more reliable because tucking your creature away for an entire round in commander is a bit long.

I had put Teferi's Veil into my first commander deck, but it did not function as I had hoped. So I'm still looking for a proper place for it.

September 7, 2021 11:41 p.m.

wallisface says... #18

DemonDragonJ Yeah I also enjoy flicker effects, and my original comment wasn't directing what I think should happen - but instead what WotC are deciding needs to happen. And I can see why they're changing paths slightly - having lots of flicker effects narrows down their options for making new creative cards with etb effects (as they've deemed that the potential to flicker them is too dangerous).

If they do continue down the route of using Phasing over Flicker, then this opens the door for them to create strong etb effects in standard without too much worry, and so the eternal formats then have the chance to fully abuse those cards in an environment that does have flicker cards.

September 8, 2021 2:28 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #19

Clever, yes. Fun and healthy, I'd say no. Knowing you can never remove a creature as long as they have one open mana isn't a healthy play pattern, IMO.

September 8, 2021 8:36 a.m.

Beware says... #20

Phasing doesn’t trigger ETB abilities. Your reasoning against using phasing is precisely WHY it was brought back

September 8, 2021 8:37 a.m.

1empyrean says... #21

One thing that I appreciate is that phasing just flat out interacts better with counters, as well as aura and equipment strategies.

September 8, 2021 9:07 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #22

Beware, why did WotC do that? What is wrong with finding a clever way to repeatedly trigger "enters-the-battlefield" abilities?

September 8, 2021 6:24 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #23

It's the combination of dodging removal with extra value. Getting a one mana 3 for one is... not healthy, in most formats.

September 8, 2021 6:27 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #24

They are not really “clever” ways of triggering ETBs - they’ve been a staple for ages and there are plenty of them. It is a design space that has been thoroughly explored and doesn’t need much additional support for Modern and Eternal formats.

Phasing in this manner has not been explored, meaning they have plenty of design space to try new things. By using phasing currently, they can both print more powerful ETB effects in Standard (which is good for everyone) and give new tech to Modern/Eternal formats that does not previously exist and which fills a void that needs filling (a way to blink your creature out of harms way without losing its auras, equipment, or counters).

September 8, 2021 6:30 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #25

Grubbernaut, what card allows a player to do so much for 1 mana?

Caerwyn, I agree that not losing auras or counters on a creature is very nice, but there are currently far fewer phasing effects than there are "flicker" effects, so it is more difficult to make a deck that is centered around phasing than it is to make a deck that is centered around "flickering."

September 8, 2021 6:43 p.m.

Beware says... #26

They did it because the ability to abuse ETB abilities puts a restriction on the design space for both flicker and ETB effects. Phasing is not a marquee mechanic. It’s a deciduous keyword. You can’t make a phasing deck any more than you can make a Reach deck because that’s not the point of the mechanic. Phasing is a way to deal with opposing threats without pushing the power of traditional removal while also preventing abuse by the Ephemerate gang. You might prefer flicker effects, but the point of using phasing is to allow greater interaction without the potential for abuse (and the design restrictions inherent to that).

There are also millions of MtG players, so no matter how much you prefer flickering vs phasing there are as many people who feel the opposite. It’s not like WotC has ended flickering like they have shroud, it’s simply a different flavor.

September 8, 2021 6:53 p.m.

Beware says... #27

Comparing them at all kind of misses the point if you ask me. Phasing is there EXPLICITLY to do the opposite of what you specifically want.

September 8, 2021 6:55 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #28

September 8, 2021 7:06 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #29

There “currently” being fewer phasing effects is the exact point I was making - we already have plenty of blink effects for the decks that need blink effects. Wizards has some catch-up to do if they want phasing to be viable in the decks that want it.

September 8, 2021 7:07 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #30

Beware, in that case, are there sufficient options for players who wish to make decks that abuse "enters-the-battlefield" abilities?

September 8, 2021 8:45 p.m.

Beware says... #31

Depends on the format. The purpose of bringing phasing back is they can push ETB abilities further without worrying about breaking standard.

September 8, 2021 8:53 p.m.

wallisface says... #32

DemonDragonJ easily. In modern Ephemerate has become a pretty commonly seen tool for this kind of abuse. Outside if that, we’ve seen all Soulherder, Restoration Angel, Flickerwisp, and Eldrazi Displacer harass the format at different stages. There are currently an abundance of insane etb creatures, including Thragtusk, Eternal Witness, Skyclave Apparition, Ice-Fang Coatl just to name a few.

If someone’s unable to build a deck based around abusing etb effects, that’s on them, because the options to do so are vast.

September 8, 2021 8:54 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #33

ETB abuse has all the reasonable support it could ever want. What more could they possibly print that's more broken than Ephemerate? Whatever effect you want already exists as an ETB on a creature, there's tons of efficient ways to flicker them... what else is there?

If the argument is "phasing is less interesting than blinking," what other blink effects/etc would you like to see printed?

September 8, 2021 9:04 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #34

Eternal Witness + Eerie Interlude

spice it with Ephemerate and -insert creature with etb here- becomes stupidly powerful.

September 9, 2021 11:30 a.m.

wallisface says... #35

In the upcoming set they just spoiled “Hallowed Respite”, which is a flicker effect with flashback. I think the Sorcery speed was a very deliberate choice and something we’re likely to see for flickers going forwards (i.e. flicker for aggression, phasing for protection).

September 9, 2021 4:03 p.m.

I wasn’t a huge fan of phasing when it first came out but I’ve been hoping that they use it for ocean-like effects, like a simpler version of Homarid; I love the reoccurring/rhythmic wave feeling of things coming and going that way. I think they could make some really great ocean/water creatures with phasing.

September 9, 2021 6:13 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #37

wallisface, yes, I saw that card, and I am very annoyed that it is a sorcery, since it cannot be used defensively; at least Momentary Blink still exists.

September 9, 2021 9:07 p.m.

wallisface says... #38

DemonDragonJ as I said in that same post, i suspect they’ll be removing the option for flicker effects to be used defensively going forwards - and it makes a lot of sense for them to do this if they plan to keep both flicker & phasing in standard sets (as it allows for a point of distinction).

Also, why use Momentary Blink when Ephemerate exists?

September 9, 2021 10:31 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #39

Flicker on defense is the whole reason it's broken.

September 10, 2021 9:57 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #40

wallisface, what makes Ephemerate better than Momentary Blink, apart from its lower cost? I like how the latter spell has flashback, which means that its owner can decide when to use it for a second time.

Grubbernaut, I do not think that it is broken; I feel that it is a perfectly viable strategy; when else would a player use a "flicker" effect, except to protect a creature from danger? Is that not entirely the reason for which such effects exist?

September 11, 2021 12:31 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #41

If WotC wishes to decrease the prevalence of "flciker" effects in standard sets, I have no problem with that, since I never plays standard, but I would like to have the assurance that WotC shall still support flickering strategies in modern, legacy, and EDH, so does anyone here think that WotC shall still print "flicker" cards for those formats?

September 11, 2021 9:56 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #42

They're 100% going to keep printing them, they print one every dang set. Most of them are bad though.

Additionally, the support for the concept is already really strong in all of those formats. It's pretty rare that something comes along that is actually better.

September 11, 2021 11:26 a.m.

shadow63 says... #43

I kinda feel like blink is a dead end design wise. We already have plenty of options to choose from. Itll be hard for wotc to be original with the designs

September 11, 2021 12:22 p.m.

wallisface says... #44

DemonDragonJ Ephemerate is stronger than Momentary Blink because only costing 1cmc instead of 2 is huge. Also, the Rebound mechanic lets you easily abuse this spell with stuff like Eternal Witness, effectively putting it back into your hand for later use. Momentary Blink being 2cmc makes it a really clumsy spell, especially if you're needing to constantly hold up that mana to use the spell defensively. On top of that, it's flashback cost is far too high.

September 11, 2021 9:43 p.m.

Beware says... #45

Ephemerate is also a very recently printed spell. Not sure how you can think these kinds of spells are somehow going away when we still get incredibly powerful cards like that.

September 11, 2021 10:56 p.m.

wallisface says... #46

Beware Ephemerate was printed in MH1, which was over 2 years ago now. Wizards shift to using phasing is much more recent

September 11, 2021 11:31 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #47

To be exact, it started exactly 1 year after MH2, with the introduction of Teferi, Master of Time in Core Set 2021

September 12, 2021 6:21 a.m.

Beware says... #48

But then we also got a pretty cool blink card in Midnight Hunt and other cards after that. My point is blink has had TONS of support for literal decades. Using it all the time in every set creates a very severe design restriction regarding the power level of ETB abilities. Ephemerate is the go-to example because it’s one of (if not the) best ones. Blink hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s simply one tool WotC has in the box and should be used to express a certain feeling instead of thrown in as an evergreen mechanic.

September 13, 2021 9:01 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #49

Beware, the new "blink" card, Hallowed Respite, is very nice, but the fact that it is a sorcery severely reduces its usefulness, since the primary reason for which "flicker" cards exist is to save creatures from targeted destruction spells.

September 13, 2021 6:53 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #50

That's not the primary reason blink cards exist, though. That's what this whole thread has been about.

Mechanics, unless they're strictly tied to combat or something more specific, don't have intentions; they have utility.

And furthermore, blink has every tool it could reasonably want, anyway. What card that isn't objectively broken could be printed that would offer more power or a new angle to blink strategies?

At least in terms of nonrotating formats, it's a tired and well-explored mechanic.

September 13, 2021 7:01 p.m.

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