Flanking – MTG Keywords Explained

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Along with banding, flanking ranks high on the list of Magic‘s most complex and misunderstood mechanics. If you’ve never seen this keyword before — or if you need a refresher on how it works — we’re here to break it all down for you today.

What is Flanking?

Flanking is one of Magic‘s most unique combat mechanics. It doesn’t modify the creature that has flanking, but it does affect any creatures that block it.

Whenever a creature without flanking blocks a creature with flanking, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until the end of the turn. If a creature has multiple instances of flanking, each triggers separately — which is really, really powerful. Flanking also triggers for each blocking creature without flanking, so a handful of 1/1 blockers won’t be able to take down your creature.

Note that flanking only triggers when a creature with flanking is attacking and becomes blocked — not when the creature with flanking is doing the blocking. This makes flanking a purely offensive mechanic. It encourages attacking, but it makes blocking a nightmare for your opponent. Turns out math really is for blockers, after all!

If you enjoy attacking with creatures, consider adding creatures with flanking to your decks!