Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Coin-Flipping Cards in Magic
While not nearly as prevalent as in games like the Pokemon TCG, some Magic spells test your luck with abilities based around 50/50 coin flips. These generally red cards apply different effects depending on a flip's result, occasionally directing their harm at you with a misfired toss.
Yet flip cards are far from unusable, with the best offering insane effects (when they successfully resolve) at reduced mana prices, and you can bend the odds to your favor with supports we'll later discuss. But with dozens of chance-related spells available, which reign supreme? These are the ten best coin flip cards in Magic: The Gathering!
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Boompile enters for a moderate fee of four mana, and it can tap to flip a coin. If you call it right, Boompile destroys all non-land permanents (including itself). Thus, when fate favors you, this grants an instant-speed mass removal you can rig ahead of time, and even if the detonation fails, you can simply wait for your next untap step to try again.
9. Fiery Gambit
Gambit lets you flip a coin until you lose or choose to stop. If you fail any of the tosses, Gambit won't resolve any effects, so think carefully. However, each successful throw results in cumulative effects that gradually strengthen in power:
- One or more wins: Gambit deals three damage to a creature
- Two or more wins: Gambit deals six damage to each opponent
- Three or more wins: Draw nine cards and untap all your lands
Obtaining the last tier isn't easy, but it grants a massive nine-card draw and refreshed mana plus prior effects, stealing a lead that could very well win you the game. Be sure to use chance-altering supports to improve your odds.
8. Rakdos, the Showstopper
This legendary demon wields 6/6, flying, and trample, making him daunting in battle. Additionally, when Rakdos enters the field, you flip a coin for each creature that isn't a demon, devil, or imp, destroying any whose result is tails.
This can potentially remove your own units, but you can avoid the blast by deck-building around black's numerous fiends. And since Rakdos himself is a demon, he'll dodge the nuke.
7. Okaun, Eye of Chaos/Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom
These two share a slot since they're rarely seen apart. After all, their unique partnering lets them both serve as commander in EDH format, and in other modes, you can search the other from your deck when you cast one.
Both need five mana and flip a coin at the start of your combat until you call it wrong; for each heads, Okaun doubles his power and toughness for the turn while Zndrsplt lets you draw a card. And these abilities trigger whenever anyone wins a flip, chaining well with other chance-based spells.
6. Goblin Bomb
Bomb only needs two mana and can flip a coin at your upkeep; a toss in your favor adds a fuse counter while a loss removes one. Fortunately, you don't lose anything if you don't have one yet, making your initial flips risk-free.
Once you have at least one counter, use proliferate effects to apply more without waiting for fortune's favor. You can sacrifice Bomb with at least five counters to deal 20 damage to a target player. That's a massive chunk of life that often kills its victim; utilize proliferating aces like "Tezzeret's Gambit" and "Contagion Clasp" to quickly access the effect.
5. Ral Zarek
A bit of a cheat, only this planeswalker's ultimate -7 relies on flips. Still, Zarek has a nice starting loyalty and impressive +1, tapping and untapping two separate permanents. -2 is also a fair removal, dealing three damage to any target.
Still, -7 is one of the best ultimate planeswalker abilities in the game, flipping five coins and granting an extra turn for each heads! Extra turns are some of the best bonuses in Magic, and even without supports, this averages 2–3 consecutive moves. Pull it off, and you're almost certain to win the match.
4. Stitch in Time
Speaking of extra turns, Stitch in Time provides just that, a single extra move. Well, you have to win a coin flip first; losing the toss provides no effect. Chancy, but this potentially offers an additional round for two less resources than the standard five-mana extra turn spells. That flip could very well make or break your game, but even if it fails, at least there's no penalty beyond skipping your extra move.
3. Odds // Ends
A rare twin spell, Odds and Ends lets you choose which half to cast. Odds is the highlight, flipping a coin when an instant or sorcery is cast; heads counters that spell while tails copies it and lets you select new targets. Both are worthy effects when timed right, letting you negate or mimic a removal. Ends doesn't utilize a coin flip, simply forcing an opponent to sacrifice two attacking creatures.
Both halves resolve at instant speed, making this spell a mainstay in my patriotic red/white/blue decks, and it's a surprisingly affordable bargain, costing well under a single dollar!
2. Mana Screw
While only semi-official as it belongs to an "Un" set, Mana Screw only takes one resource to cast. Then, you can spend one mana at any time to flip a coin, gaining two mana if you win.
In theory, spamming this ability would even out as you'd only win half the time, but it's a great way to potentially acquire needed resources for a higher-cost spell. Better yet, combo it with coin flip-influencing cards to increase your odds of success and potentially acquire unlimited mana!
1. Mana Crypt
A spell that probably should be banned in commander (but isn't), Mana Crypt requires absolutely no mana to field. It simply taps for two colorless, an amazing ramp tactic that drastically increases your speed.
The only drawback is that Crypt flips a coin at your upkeep, and if you call it wrong, you lose three life. Still, that's a small price given EDH's increased life totals, and since it's not guaranteed, you're only losing an average 1–2 health each turn, more than worth the benefits.
Supporting Coin Flips in Magic
Coin flips may deter some players with their chance-based mechanics, but to the lucky, they offer powerful abilities at reduced prices. Additionally, spells like "Chance Encounter" reward you for gambling, automatically winning the game after you succeed in ten tosses. Better yet, "Krark's Thumb" lets you flip twice with each toss and choose which result to use, and "Goblin Bookie" can retry a failed flip.
While I'm glad these cards aren't the focus in a strategy-based game, sometimes it's fun to play the odds and see where fortune takes you. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of coin-flipping effects, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill