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Top 10 Flip (Rotate) Cards in Magic: The Gathering

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

What Are Flip/Rotate Cards in Magic?

Not to be confused with transforming or coin-flip-related cards, today's spells rotate 180° after meeting certain conditions, evolving into stronger forms. These self-improving creatures and enchantments are scattered among all colors, but they're generally inexpensive, letting you cast them early in your match.

With various rotating conditions, some are easier to empower than others; which spells reign supreme? These are the ten best flip cards in Magic: The Gathering!

10. Student of Elements/Tobita, Master of Winds

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2

Even for his low cost, Student is a weak 1/1. However, if he ever gains flying, you flip him into Tobita; not only does this boost his stats to 3/3, it grants all your creatures flying, letting them soar over ground blockers.

Additionally, Student and Tobita both carry the wizard subtype, synergizing with blue's most abundant faction. Try using cheap cards like "Cloak of Feathers" and "Maximize Altitude" to trigger the metamorphosis.

9. Callow Jushi/Jaraku the Interloper

CMC: 3

Callow begins similarly to Student, costing three mana and only bearing 2/2 stats. However, he also enjoys the wizard heritage, and when you play a spirit or arcane spell, Callow obtains a ki counter, flipping at the end of a turn where he has at least two.

Jaraku's stats increase to 3/4, and he can remove a counter to negate a spell unless its controller spends two extra mana, drastically slowing your opponent's forces. Be sure to proliferate Callow and Jaraku's counters to provide a continuous supply of counterspells.

8. Kitsune Mystic/Autumn-Tail, Kitsune Sage

CMC: 4

Despite not being blue, Kitsune also enjoys the handy wizard subtype, though his 2/3 stats disappoint on a four-cost unit. But he reverses when enchanted by two or more auras, becoming the 4/5 Autumn-Tail.

In addition to increased stats, Autumn can spend one mana to move an aura from one creature to another. Unlike many aura-adjusters, this activates at instant speed and can even steal opposing arnaments. And don't worry about Autumn morphing back; once rotated, today's cards stay that way regardless of whether they're still meeting their transformation triggers.

7. Jushi Apprentice/Tomoya the Revealer

CMC: 2

Jushi appeals since he's decent even in base form. He's a 1/2 wizard who can spend three mana and tap to draw a card, a nice outlet for leftover resources. Plus, if you ever have at least nine cards in hand, Jushi flips into his Tomoya form.

Here, his stats become 2/3, and he can tap alongside five mana to have any player draw cards equal to the number in your hand. Use this on yourself when you have lands like "Reliquary Tower" that offer infinite hand size, or against opponents to quickly mill them into a deck-out loss.

6. Nezumi Shortfang/Stabwhisker the Odious

CMC: 2

Nezumi is also helpful even before his upgrade, though he suffers a weak 1/1 stats. Still, he can spend two mana and tap to force an opponent to discard, continuously weakening their hand.

After using this effect, if your target now has an empty hand, Nezumi rotates into his 3/3 Stabwhisker form, exchanging his rogue subtype for shaman. Here, he automatically inflicts one damage to opponents at their upkeep for each card below three in their hand. Considering his flip condition, this should land some hefty damage against your depleted rivals throughout their next few turns.

5. Bushi Tenderfoot/ Kenzo the Hardhearted

CMC: 1

1/1 stats are forgivable on a one-cost creature, making Bushi a nice first turn play. And when a creature he damaged during the round is placed into a graveyard, he morphs into 3/4 Kenzo, skyrocketing his power. Of course, Bushi has to survive to flip, so be sure to protect him with auras, equipments, or artifacts (try "Dolmen Gate").

In addition to Kenzo's improved stats, he enjoys the rare double strike trait, essentially letting him swing for six damage each turn. He also enjoys bushido two, upping his stats by +2/+2 for the turn (which will be doubled) when blocked or blocking, punishing foes for guarding his lethal assault.

4. Homura, Human Ascendant/Homura's Essence

CMC: 6

At first, Homura seems difficult, costing a substantial amount of mana yet arriving as just a 4/4, and his ability prevents him from blocking. He changes into his Essence enchantment when put into a graveyard with play, so use creature removals, sacrificial effects, or other gimmicks to initiate his death (remember, he can't block).

Thankfully, a transformed Homura rewards your efforts with a hearty boost, granting your creatures +2/+2, flying, and the ability to spend a red mana at any time to gain +1/+0 for the turn. Three impressive supports let you quickly overwhelm foes with your martial prowess.

3. Nezumi Graverobber/Nighteyes the Desecrator

CMC: 2

Another Nezumi entry, Graverobber arrives with a decent 2/1 stats and can spend two mana to exile a card from an opposing graveyard. This activates at instant speed, adeptly counters graveyard revivals, and since it doesn't require tapping, it can be used consecutively.

After using the trait, if your victim's graveyard is empty, Graverobber enters his 4/2 Desecrator form. From here, he gains the useful wizard subtype, but more importantly, he can spend five mana to summon a creature from any graveyard under your control. While this is actually weakened by Graverobber's ability (which reduces your options), it's still a mighty effect.

I enjoy using Nezumi in blue wizard decks that mill opposing graveyards as well as black zombie decks that mill their own; either way, he's surprisingly cheap (especially compared to our next few entries), costing less than a single dollar!

2. Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant/Rune-Tail's Essence

CMC: 3

Rune-Tail begins as a simple 2/2, but he's ridiculously easy to flip in commander format, as he only requires you have at least 30 life. Since you start with 40, this means he'll often immediately rotate into his Essence enchantment.

From here, Rune-Tail prevents all damage (not just combat) that would be dealt to your creatures, essentially granting them the valued indestructible trait. Opponents can still exile or bounce them, but this skillfully shields against the most common removal type.

1. Erayo, Soratami Ascendant/Erayo's Essence

CMC: 2

Like most of today's units, Erayo starts off weak at 1/1, but he does have flying, meaning he can block an aerial threat. However, try keeping him alive until the fourth spell of a turn is played, where he's reborn as Erayo's Essence.

This dominating enchantment automatically counters the first spell by each opponent each turn, a devastating penalty that practically ensures your win. This is similar to the ultimate effect of planeswalker "Jace, Unraveler of Secrets," but it's available much sooner. Remember that you don't have to cast all four spells to flip Erayo; try waiting for an opponent to play one or two, then hit them with multiple low-cost instants to initiate your brutal combo.

The Legend Rule in Magic

Keep in mind that many of today's cards are legendary on one or both sides, meaning you can't control duplicates without sacrificing. That said, if you're playing commander, you're using singleton rules anyway, mitigating the issue.

Reversible cards are surprisingly underutilized, carrying far fewer members than split spells or transformers, and I hope to see their ranks expand in future sets. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next batch of rotating spells, vote for your favorite flip card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill