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MTG Flash ability explained

WotC Magic: The Gathering keyword Flash is useful for plenty of decks - luckily it can be explained almost as quickly as it can be activated

MTG Flash - card art for Snapcaster Mage showing a man smiling menacingly while bathed in the glow of a blue ball of electric magic

What’s worse than a powerful Magic: The Gathering card that wrecks your planned combos? One that can be played when you least expect it. Enter the keyword Flash – here comes a card ability that has unlimited potential to mess with the MTG stack and the overall state of play. Spells that couldn’t be used to counterattack suddenly can be, and those pesky creatures are popping up everywhere.

Flash has been around in some form since the mid-to-late 2000s, and cards with Flash are certainly present in the latest MTG set. This means it’s pretty important to understand what Flash does, as well as the implications it has for your deck. Blue Control deck players (or those who want to defend against them) will want to pay particular attention, but they’re by no means the only players who can benefit from a little zippiness.

We’ve put together a guide that explains the MTG Flash ability. It’s as snappy as the keyword in its title, so you’ll be Flash fit in no time at all.

Here’s everything you need to know about the MTG Flash ability:

MTG Flash - card art for Venser, Shaper Savant, showing a young white man with dark brown hair and a hood cloaked in blue flames

MTG Flash meaning

In short, the Flash ability allows a card to be cast any time you could cast an Instant. Instants have no time restrictions, and they’re activated as soon as the Mana cost is paid and the spell is able to resolve. Instants are designed with this in mind, and they’re immediately sent to the graveyard upon use, so there’s never anything too permanent or powerful going on with an Instant. Not so with Flash.

Flash opens up a lot of opportunities for non-Instant cards that weren’t there previously. Decks that prioritise getting creatures on the board quickly can suddenly play one at any time, and more powerful sorcery cards that couldn’t previously be used to respond to an opponent are suddenly a viable option. You can find cards of pretty much any type with the Flash ability if you look far enough (apart from Instants, for obvious reasons). 

MTG Flash - card art of Teferi, Hero of Dominara, showing a bald black man in mage's clothes reaching out with one hand towards the viewer and holding a staff in the other

Best MTG Flash cards

Here are a few examples of the best cards that have (or give) the Flash ability:

Veldalken Orrery

A four-mana Artifact, Veldaklen Orrery might seem a bit of a steep investment for a guide about getting cards onto the field quickly. But remember that this is a colourless Artifact – and one that allows you to cast nonland cards as though they had Flash as long as it remains in play.

Teferi, Time Raveler

Like Veldalken Orrery, planeswalker Teferi, Time Raveler isn’t one of the best Flash cards because of its own Flash abilities. It’s instead about what Teferi can offer to other cards. The answer? His +1 ability gives Sorcery spells Flash abilities until the end of your next turn when activated.

Teferi also limits your opponent to only playing spells when they could play a Sorcery as his passive ability – so he slows everyone else down while speeding you up a little. No wonder he’s on the Standard and Explorer banlist.

Snapcaster Mage

For just two Mana (one of them blue), you can cast the blue human wizard creature Snapcaster Mage at just about any time you like. A 2/1 creature isn’t the beefiest thing in the world, but Snapcaster Mage does allow you to give Flashback to an Instant or Sorcery in your graveyard until the end of your turn – though ‘Flashback explained’ is another guide for another day.