Last updated on September 27, 2023
Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom | Illustration by Yongjae Choi
There’s one thing you try your best not to rely on when you’re playing Magic, and that’s luck. A major factor in the deckbuilding process is trying to cut down on variance between games.
Most of us carefully choose the number of lands that go in our decks to make sure we have enough mana. We include multiple copies of the same card, and we include multiple cards that basically do the same thing in an effort to create a consistent play experience that relies on luck as little as possible. But some of us like a little more excitement in our decks.
If you’re looking to spice up your games a little bit, coin flip cards can be a good way to do that. You trade some of that consistency and rely a little more on luck. While you might see your win percentage slip, it may be worth it for the rush of pulling off a win thanks to the flip of a coin.
Ready to find out more? Time to flip it over!
What are Coin Flip Cards in Magic?
Stitch in Time (Secret Lair) | Illustration by Micha Huigen
Coin flip cards are any card that has an ability that relies on the flip of a coin. That might sound like a very frustrating type of card since you’re probably used to being able to count on your spells doing what they’re meant to. But you’ll see as we start the list below that a lot of these coin flip cards are much more powerful than cards of the same mana value.
Instead of seeing your mana as an investment into a card, it’s now more of a gamble. And just like gambling, you have a chance to get more than what you put in. But you also have a chance of ending up with nothing.
While it’s risky, the chance to swing a game in your favor for just a few mana is very tempting.
#32. Krark's Thumb
Krark's Thumb is a staple for any deck built around flipping coins. Every other card on this list instantly becomes much better if it’s on the field. But this card doesn’t have a place outside coin flip decks since it doesn’t do anything on its own, earning it the bottom spot on this list.
#31. Squee's Revenge
Squee's Revenge is a prime example of a coin flip card that can make a game much more exciting. This card could draw you a lot of cards for just three mana if you're lucky.
This can be a fun card to play that occasionally nets you a good number of cards. But if you aren’t lucky, this is three mana spent for nothing.
#30. Chaotic Strike
Chaotic Strike might work a lot better in a Limited environment. Cheap cantrips are always good for thinning out a Draft or Sealed deck. This card is a fine addition to any Constructed deck looking to cash in on coin flips, but it's a lesser option than some of its counterparts like Crash Through and Charge Through.
#29. Molten Birth
A lot of the better coin flip cards share a quality with Molten Birth: they still do something even if you lose the flip. Three mana for two small creatures is fine. It’s not great, but it at least makes sense to spend mana on. Add in the possibility of being able to cast it repeatedly and this card gets a little better.
#28. Goblin Archaeologist
As I said above, coin flip cards that don’t rely on the flip to provide value are often better than those that do. Creatures with activated coin flip abilities are even better because you get to choose if you even want to take the risk.
Plenty of goblin decks care about the number of goblins you have out, especially ones built around Krenko, Mob Boss or Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Goblin Archaeologist allows you to have another goblin with the chance at some artifact removal if you really need it.
#27. Chaotic Goo
#26. Tide of War
It also at least adds a chance that you take out your opponent’s threat since you already know your blocker will be destroyed. This might even discourage your opponent from swinging at you with their best creatures, giving you a little more time to find an answer.
#25. Fighting Chance
Fighting Chance wouldn’t be on this list if it wasn’t a 1-mana card. But it can be a good card to include in decks looking to go wide since it's so cheap to play.
If your strategy already involves swinging out with a lot of creatures to get around blockers, this card can help protect some of the creatures you know are likely to die in the attack. This can potentially save a couple of your creatures, even if it isn’t the type of card you can rely on.
#24. Goblin Kaboomist
Goblin Kaboomist originally fell lower on the list because it has the potential to be a mana sink. Two mana for the chance to spend another just to deal two damage to a creature without flying isn’t ideal. But there are two factors that make this card better than it initially appears.
First, the Land Mines are artifacts. Generating one or more can be very useful if your deck includes cards that care about the number of artifacts you have. Second, this card doesn’t say “sacrifice Goblin Kaboomist,” but instead deals two damage to itself if you lose the flip. That means it can stick around regardless of whether you win the coin flip or not if you’re able to buff it by just one toughness.
#23. Crazed Firecat
As a 4/4 with a mana value of seven, Crazed Firecat is definitely a gamble. Even if you win one or two flips, you still have much better options for creatures when you’re spending this much mana. That being said, this card can get nasty given the right interactions.
Effects like Yarok, the Desecrated can give you two chances to put counters on this creature, making it a much bigger threat on entry. Flicker effects allow you to try your coin flips again, which not only gives you a better chance at a big creature but also more chances for coin flip-related abilities to trigger.
#22. Tavern Scoundrel
Streets of New Capenna gave us a ton of great new cards that support Treasure tokens. For example, Stimulus Package can use Treasures to create 1/1 creature tokens, a very powerful effect if you’re generating a lot of Treasure tokens.
The Scoundrel’s ability allows you to sacrifice any permanent at the chance of making two Treasures. That means you can sacrifice Treasure tokens you already own to get two back. Token doubling effects like Parallel Lives can make this effect even better.
#21. Yusri, Fortune's Flame
A deck built around Yusri, Fortune's Flame can be incredibly powerful. But it isn’t as great on its own. I can tell you from experience that you’ll rarely win all five flips without the help of Krark's Thumb or something that can double up ability triggers like Lithoform Engine. You’re going to end up taking some damage from Yusri’s ability in most cases, even if you aren’t going for all five.
That being said, this card becomes a lot better if you can manage to give it lifelink. You can choose five flips during each of your combat steps without the potential risk of losing 10 life, drawing yourself a good number of cards in the process.
#20. Desperate Gambit
Desperate Gambit is fun to play and scary to go up against. This card can bring the result of an entire game down to a coin flip if played at the right time. While no coin flip card should be the only thing you rely on, a 1-mana card that can win you the game isn’t as big of a risk as some of the others on this list.
There’s also something fun about making your opponent make the call on the flip that could decide the game.
#19. Mana Clash
Mana Clash can be a lot of fun. The chances of both players flipping heads on the same toss are low enough that you can assume at least some damage will be dealt out. Playing this card can give you an edge or even finish off your opponent for you if you have a comfortable lead on life.
Running this card with Krark's Thumb also gives you more control over how things play out, making it even less of a gamble.
#18. Goblin Bomb
Whether or not it ends the game, dealing 20 damage to a player is a huge swing in your favor. And the nice thing about Goblin Bomb is that you don’t necessarily have to win enough flips to activate it.
You can stop flipping once you have one fuse counter on the bomb since its ability allows you to choose whether or not you want to flip a coin. Then you can use proliferate abilities to add more counters and get up to the five you need.
#17. Krark, the Thumbless
At least upon losing the flip your spell goes back to your hand, and it still counts as being cast. Given payoffs like Runaway Steam-Kin, Storm-Kiln Artist, Young Pyromancer you can have a lot of fun with this one. Krark, the Thumbless can be a no-cost way to copy your spells and a huge benefit with just one coin flip win.
#16. Creepy Doll
Indestructible blockers can be incredibly useful on their own. Creepy Doll can help keep you alive for longer if your opponent doesn’t have creatures with trample or evasion of some kind. Add to that a pretty good chance that it destroys any creature it blocks, and it just gets even better.
Sometimes deterrents can be just as effective as threats. If this creature stops your opponent from swinging at you altogether, that’s even better.
#15. Two-Headed Giant
Some of the creatures on this list aren’t really worth it on their own when it comes to their mana value, power, and toughness. Two-Headed Giant has the distinction of already being a decent card for its cost, especially in a Limited setting.
Add to that the possibility that it’ll gain either double strike or menace each time it attacks and this is a card I could see having a place in a deck that doesn’t care about coin flips specifically.
#14. Goblin Traprunner
When it comes to goblins, the more you have the better it is, so the chance to create up to three each time this card attacks can be very beneficial.
#13. Scoria Wurm
Scoria Wurm earns its spot on this list thanks to it being a red card. A 7/7 for five mana is pretty powerful, which is why it has the effect that it does. But you don’t necessarily have to win the coin flip for this card to do damage.
#12. Fiery Gambit
Fiery Gambit is good because of its versatility. Being able to choose when to stop is a big benefit for a coin flip card. You can play it safe after one win if you want to and still get a pretty good effect. This card can be a good gamble if you really need to swing things in your favor by going for two or three wins since it's cheap to play.
Gambit also has the added benefit of potentially letting you flip a lot of coins in coin flip decks specifically. There’s nothing saying you have to stop after three wins. While you'd normally want to, you can keep flipping as long as you keep winning if winning four flips could potentially win you the game thanks to something like Chance Encounter.
#11. Frenetic Sliver
Sliver decks rely on having a variety of different slivers on the field, providing one another with beneficial effects. That makes removal and board wipes a big setback for any sliver decks. Luckily, Frenetic Sliver can potentially protect your slivers from both. Any time one of your slivers might be destroyed, just flip a coin and there’s a chance it’ll survive.
While this card really only belongs in a sliver deck, it deserves its spot on this list by being a useful card for an already powerful tribe.
#10. Puppet’s Verdict
While Puppet's Verdict is worded like a board wipe, it’s easier to see its potential if you think of it as a spell that removes just a couple creatures. Knowing you’ll be able to remove one or more creatures is a pretty good deal at a mana value of three, even if you aren’t sure which creatures you can remove.
#9. Mutalith Vortex Beast
You have to love a coin flip that's a win-win, and the Mutalith Vortex Beast is so red and blue about it. It's great! Despite being a beefy trampler, this is a great card to flicker or copy the ETB effect. The only thing keeping it from ranking higher is not having control of which benefit you get.
#8. Mirror March
Making copies of creatures can be beneficial in a variety of ways. There’s the obvious benefit that you’re getting some free creatures to swing with for one turn, but Mirror Match lets you cash in on multiple effects that trigger when that creature enters the battlefield. Doubling up triggers for cards like Terror of the Peaks or Craterhoof Behemoth could easily help you close out a game.
As I’ve mentioned before, coin flip effects that stick around on the board are always going to be easier to rely on. You might not be copying every creature you drop, but you at least have a chance to while this is one the board. And you can also have multiple March's on the board at the same time since it isn’t legendary.
Boompile is a great card in a variety of ways. This card is one of the cheapest board wipes you can cast as a colorless 4-mana potential board wipe. It also allows you to include a board wipe in decks with colors that don’t traditionally support them, like green or blue.
This is also a board wipe that hits all nonland permanents, so there’s a good chance this card will take care of whatever form your opponent’s threat is taking. Add to that the ability to try to set this off at instant speed more than once and this card becomes less of an “if” and more of a “when” in terms of its ability. The simple possibility of it going off might dissuade your opponent from playing their best cards out of fear of losing them.
#6. Ral Zarek
Before even touching the coin flip aspect of this card, Ral Zarek can be a pretty powerful planeswalker. Its first ability can have a lot of applications, allowing you to both tap down your opponent’s permanents and untap yours. It can also protect itself by dealing damage to possible attackers.
The coin flip aspect of Ral is also very powerful. You’ll be taking two extra turns on average with five coin flips. While it takes Ral a few turns to get there, cards that proliferate can speed up the process.
#5. Odds // Ends
For the sake of this list I’ll focus mainly on the Odds spell. The fact that this card has two options already makes it a lot more consistent than many cards on this list.
What’s nice about Odds // Ends is that you’re getting an effect out of it with either outcome, and both are pretty good. If your opponent casts Murder on one of your creatures, you either prevent it from happening or get to do it to one of their creatures. Either way you’re getting value out of the mana spent.
There are times when one mode or the other won’t be as helpful in a given situation, but usually you’re getting at least some value out of Odds // Ends regardless of how the coin flip goes.
#4. Okaun, Eye of Chaos
A 3/3 creature for five mana is usually pretty bad. A 6/6 for five mana is good, even after winning one coin flip. But Okaun, Eye of Chaos can be a lot more powerful than it originally appears.
Because the text doesn’t specify to double Okaun’s base power and toughness, any buffs you apply to Okaun are doubled as well. Add a cheap spell like Infuriate onto it before combat and suddenly it just takes one win to make this card hit much harder. I’ve personally seen this card close out several games on its own or with the help of an Embercleave.
Another benefit to consider is the number of coin flips this card generates each turn. If you’re building your deck around coin flips, cards like Tavern Scoundrel will also benefit from the extra free flips.
It’s important to note that Okaun activates whenever a player wins a coin flip, not just off its own ability. So any of your other coin flip cards can activate its ability, as can opponent’s coin flips from commonly-used cards like Mana Crypt.
#3. Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom
Similar to its partner card, Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom is another great way to generate a lot of coin flips. It also benefits from any player winning a coin flip. The reason I give Zndrsplt the edge over Okaun is the added value you get from its ability.
I’m sure you already know that drawing cards is one of the most powerful things you can do in the game. With Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom you have the potential to draw one or more extra cards each turn at no extra cost. Plus, you don’t really have to choose between Zndrsplt or Okaun if you’re playing Commander. You can just have both.
#2. Rakdos, the Showstopper
Rakdos, the Showstopper’s power and toughness along with having flying and trample already makes it a pretty good use of six mana. Add to that the possibility of destroying some (or all) of the creatures on the board and suddenly Rakdos becomes a lot better.
And then there's the added benefit of not worrying about your own creatures if you’ve built your deck around demons, devils, and imps. The card also pairs well with the likes of Panharmonicon since it increases the chance of destroying your opponent’s creatures.
#1. Stitch in Time
A lot of cards on this list earned their place by being more consistent or having value outside of their coin flip abilities. Stitch in Time breaks that mold, but I still think it’s the best option for coin flip cards. Extra turns can win you the game, or at the very least help you catch up if you’re falling behind.
Potentially taking one as early as turn 3 can really help you get ahead. Luckily this card is in Izzet () colors, so you can still benefit from effects like prowess or magecraft even if you don’t win the flip. This also means you have cheap and easy ways to copy this spell with Dual Strike or Rootha, Mercurial Artist.
Best Coin Flip Payoffs
The best coin flip payoffs are also the better coin flip cards for the most part. Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom adds value on any coin flip and Okaun, Eye of Chaos can get big enough to end games. Tavern Scoundrel can turn your coin flips into Treasures, giving you the extra mana you need to cast your big threats.
After seeing the prior listed best coin flip cards, you can probably see how easy it can be to get 10 successful coin flips out of a coin flip deck to win the game. A good strategy for Chance Encounter as an alternate wincon is to include as many cards that let you flip multiple coins per turn as you can.
Extra turn spells are also a good inclusion since this allows you to flip more coins, and because its game-winning ability triggers on your upkeep.
What Counts as Winning a Flip in Magic?
You have to be the one to flip the coin in order to be considered the winner of the flip. That means cards that cause your opponent to flip a coin, even if you’re the one that played the card, don't count towards the number of coin flip wins you have.
Originally, winning a coin flip in Magic was considered any time a coin flip resulted in a favorable outcome for you, no matter who flipped the coin. This means that if your opponent flipped a coin and lost, you'd be considered the winner of that coin flip.
Can You Respond to Coin Flips?
In short, no, you can't respond to coin flips. This means you can’t wait to see the result of a flip before playing a spell that might protect one of your permanents from the result of the flip. What you can respond to is effects that cause a coin flip to happen in the first place.
This means if your opponent casts a spell that involves a coin flip, you have to decide how likely it is that the result of the flip will have an effect on the game and whether or not you should do something about it. This adds a fun extra layer to coin flip cards, for both you and your opponents.
Can You Use a Die Coin Flips?
Yes, you can use a die for coin flips. You’re allowed to use any other form of randomization as long as each player involved in the game agrees to it. This means you can roll a die with an even number of sides, or use something like a digital random number generator. Instead of picking heads or tails, you just choose even or odd numbers.
One important thing to remember is that rolling this die is still considered flipping a coin for the purpose of the game. So, winning the die roll still triggers effects that trigger on winning a coin flip, and cards that effect rolling dice have no effect. I'd also advise not letting your opponent spin a coin, because the heads side is slightly heavier and can result in a disproportionate number of tails coming up.
Is There a Secret Lair for Coin Flips?
Coin flip cards were the subject of the first ever Secret Lair deck. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose is a full 100-card Commander deck focused on coin flips. It uses the partner commanders I mentioned above, Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom, and also includes a lot of the cards on this list.
Not only does this deck include its own coin, it also has double-sided versions of five of the cards featuring some cool artwork. It was a very good deal in terms of value, costing under half of the estimated value of the cards included.
Is There a Coin Flipping Commander?
There are actually three coin flipping commanders, all of which appear on this list. While I’ve already discussed them as individual cards, I’ll quickly run through their benefits as commanders.
It should come as no surprise that two of the top five coin flip cards would also be great commanders for a coin flip deck. Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom benefit you any time you win a coin flip, so packing this deck with a bunch of opportunities to flip coins is the best way to go.
While Yusri, Fortune's Flame is a coin flipping commander, it isn’t as good of a choice for a deck that's about coin flipping. You’ll want to build your deck around its ability, both mitigating its downside and capitalizing on its benefits.
As I mentioned before, giving Yusri lifelink with cards like Basilisk Collar or Shadowspear can let you activate its ability without worrying about burning yourself too much. Urza's Saga can search up Shadowspear for you, so that’s also a great inclusion in this deck.
I'd also include extra turn spells to increase your chances of winning all five flips. Nexus of Fate is especially good since you’ll probably be drawing a lot of cards and will have a good chance of playing it multiple times.
Should You Pick Heads or Tails?
If I wanted to be scientific about it, I'd tell you to pick whichever side of the coin is facing up when you flip it. This has a 2% better chance of being the result than the side that starts facing down. That being said, if I wanted to be scientific and care about probability, I wouldn’t be playing a coin flip deck in the first place.
If you want my advice? Call tails every time, because tails never fails and everyone knows nothing that rhymes can be untrue.
Chance Encounter | Illustration by Steven Belledin
I hope that this list has inspired you to consider including some coin flip cards in your next deck or helped you build your own coin flip-themed deck. While they aren’t the most consistent cards, I’m sure you can see why I think they're some of the most fun cards in Magic. It'll be interesting to see if we get even more cards to support coin flip decks in the future since it has its own Secret Lair deck dedicated to it.
Do you think you’ll be including any of these coin flip cards in your decks? What type of coin flip cards would you like to see printed in the future? Let me know your thoughts on all things coin flip down in the comments or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
Thank you for checking this list out, and I hope there’s more than a 50/50 chance I see you in the next one!
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