How does the Combat Step interact with instant speed?

Asked by TheCheese 2 months ago

There are some things about the rules of the Combat Phase and Instant spells that are bothering me and I'm reading things that sound like they're conflicting. I thought I'd lay out some specific scenarios that will answer my concerns definitively. These questions may have been answered, but after hours of rewording my questions to try and find the answers I'm looking for, I'm more confused than ever. Hopefully, this will put my questions to rest.

SCENARIO ONE:Active player declares they're entering the combat phase.Declare Attackers Step begins.Active player declares attacker Elvish Mystic, tapping it and making it an attacking creature. ( I dunno why they're attacking with it and not using it for mana ramp. They're a moron. Maybe they don't have a turn two 3-drop and want to see if their opponent is dumb enough to block one damage on turn two. First 1/1 that came to mind. Just go with it. )Active player passes priority.Non-active player passes priority by declaring they're entering the Declare Blockers Step.Declare Blockers Step begins.Non-active player declares blocker Typhoid Rats, making it a blocking creature and making Elvish Mystic a blocked creature. ( This player is also not so keen on how to use their 1/1 with Deathtouch to maximum effect against what we're going to find out is a Gruul aggro mana ramp deck. I'm aware. Apparently they're as dumb as the active player thinks they are. )Active player casts Spark Jolt, targeting Typhoid Rats, then passes priority.Non-active player passes priority.Spark Jolt resolves on the stack, destroying Typhoid Rats.Combat Damage Step begins.

QUESTION ONE: During the Combat Damage Step, will Elvish Mystic deal 1 damage to the non-active player due to a lack of defending creatures on the battlefield during the step, or will becoming a blocked creature during the Declare Blockers Step prevent the damage and apply the Typhoid Rats' damage to the Elvish Mystic despite the fact Typhoid Rats no longer exists during the Combat Damage step?

SCENARIO TWO:Active player declares they're entering the combat phase.Declare Attackers Step begins.Active player declares attacker Elvish Mystic, tapping it and making it an attacking creature.Active player passes priority.Non-active player casts Spark Jolt targeting Elvish Mystic, then passes priority.Active player begrudgingly passes priority.Spark Jolt resolves on the stack, destroying Elvish Mystic.Declare Blockers Step begins.

QUESTION TWO: Does the non-active player need to apply a blocker to the damage initiated by the attacking Elvish Mystic, or will the damage be ignored as the creature will no longer exist on the battlefield and be in the graveyard during the Combat Damage Step?

SCENARIO THREE:Active player declares they're entering the combat phase.Declare Attackers Step begins.Active player declares attacker Fugitive Wizard, making it an attacking creature. ( I hope this player has a very specific reason for having this thing in their deck beyond attacking, but who am I to judge? I just made this person up. )Active player passes priority.Non-active player passes priority by declaring they're entering the Declare Blockers Step.Declare Blockers Step begins.Non-active player declares blocker Typhoid Rats, making it a blocking creature and making Fugitive Wizard a blocked creature.Active player casts Crippling Chill, targeting Typhoid Rats, then passes priority.Non-active player passes priority.Crippling Chill resolves on the stack, tapping Typhoid Rats. Active player draws a card.Combat Damage Step begins.

QUESTION THREE: Will Fugitive Wizard do 1 damage to the non-active player due to the Typhoid Rats being unable to block by being tapped when the Combat Damage Step occurs, or will the two creatures damage one another and be destroyed because the Typhoid Rats card is still on the battlefield during the combat step after being declared a blocker?

SCENARIO FOUR:Active player declares they're entering the combat phase.Declare Attackers Step begins.Active player declares attacker Fugitive Wizard, tapping it and making it an attacking creature.Active player passes priority.Because Crippling Chill would not deter an attacker due to attackers being tapped upon their declaration, non-active player casts Refocus, targeting Fugitive Wizard, then passes priority.Active player passes priority.Refocus resolves on the stack, untapping Fugitive Wizard. Non-active player draws a card.Declare Blockers Step begins.

QUESTION FOUR: Does the non-active player need to declare a blocker in order to stop the incoming damage from Fugitive Wizard, or is there no damage being applied because the attacking creature is not tapped any longer and does not have Vigilance?

SCENARIO FIVE:Active player declares they're entering the combat phase.Declare Attackers Step begins.Active player declares attacker Fugitive Wizard, tapping it and making it an attacking creature.Active player passes priority.Non-active player says "Before Fugitive Wizard becomes an attacking creature..." and casts Crippling Chill, targeting Fugitive Wizard, then passes priority.Active player passes priority.Crippling Chill resolves on the stack, tapping Fugitive Wizard before it is declared as an attacker, making it unavailable to be tapped and declared an attacking creature. Non-active player draws a card.Declare Blockers Step begins.

QUESTIONS FIVE AND SIX: Has the non-active player made a legal play if the active player allows this to occur? Would a tournament official deem this play legal if the active player called the official over to dispute the play?

I BELIEVE I know the answers to these questions, but I've seen so many answers that SEEM to conflict with one another, I need to lay out my specific concerns exactly and get specific answers before I can say with all confidence that I'm correct and teach my circle of Magic-playing friends what-for. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and respond if you do. I know it's sort of a lot, but I appreciate it.

Raging_Squiggle says... Accepted answer #1

  1. A creature is declared blocked for the combat phase once a creature blocks it. It doesn't matter what happens to the blocking creature (whether it become tapped, exiled, destroyed, or otherwise removed from combat), Elvish Mystic will remain blocked and not deal any damage.

  2. A creature cannot deal combat damage in the Combat Damage Step if it's not on the battlefield to deal it.

  3. Refer to answer 1.

  4. Untapping an attacking creature does not remove it from combat, it simply untaps it. The defending player will have to declare a blocker in order to stop the 1 damage coming their way.

  5. The combat phase is split into 5 Steps: Beginning of Combat, Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, Combat Damage, and End of Combat. The defending player will have priority at one point in the Beginning of Combat Step to cast Crippling Chill. The active player must give the opponent the chance to do so. If the active player immediately says "attack with this creature" without giving the opponent a chance, that opponent has every right to essentially back up the game to the Beginning of Combat Step in order to cast Crippling Chill.

January 10, 2017 5:50 p.m.

ZomBee_Hunt says... #2

Scenario one: Neither creature will damage. Once a creature is considered blocked, it is blocked even if the creature that blocks it dies. The only situation in which a creature that has been blocked will do damage is if it has trample. For instance if Charging Badger attacked and was blocked but the blocker was killed. IT will do one damage because it doesnt have to assign any damage to the creature that died and the one can hit the player

Scenario 2: If you kill the creature before blockers are declared, you do not need to declare any blockers. A creature not in play can not assign any combat damage.

Scenario 3: Since typhoid rats was already a blocker at the time it was tapped, it is still blocking the creature and they both die. IF they used it before the declare blockers step then it couldnt block.

Scenario 4: You will still need to block if you do not want to take damage. Untapping a creature does not remove it from combat unless it specifically says it does Maze of Ith.

Scenario 5: This one depends on how it was played it. Sometimes players shortcut and saygoing to combat and show what creatures they are going to attack without passing priority. You have to pass priority as you enter combat, once in combat active player has priority and can declare attackers before NAP is able to respond. The tournament official will probably say back up the short cut before entering combat, if it is a higher end torunement (PTQ, PT, GP) you

January 10, 2017 5:55 p.m.

BlueScope says... #3

To explain what happens in general:

  • once a creature blocks or becomes blocked, that doesn't change unless the creature is explicitly removed from combat (such as by regenerating).
  • blocked creatures only deal damage to blocking creatures, and vice versa, if both are still on the battlefield.
  • blocked creatures won't deal combat damage to players unless they have trample

Question 1: Elvish Mystic has been blocked, and due to the lack of Trample, it won't deal damage to the defending player even if it's power exceeds the toughness of all blocking creatures. This includes zero blocking creatures, such as in your example. Neither creature will deal damage in this case.

Question 2: As with Typhoid Rats in your first example, only creatures still on the battlefield will deal combat damage. Not only will Elvish Mystic not deal any damage - the defending player wouldn't be able to block it either way, as the creature already left the battlefield.

Question 3: Tapping a creature that has already been declared as a blocker changes nothing. It will still deal and be dealt damage to/by the attacking creature it's blocking.

Question 4: Just as with the previous question, whether a creature is tapped or untapped doesn't matter after it's been declared as an attacker. The creature won't be removed from combat by doing either. Vigilance doesn't change anything about this (and tapping an attacking creature with Vigilance would not do anything largely relevant either).

Question 5 (I can't see a question 6, but it may be included): Attackers are declared at the beginning of the declare attackers step. Declaring attackers is a tunr-based action that doesn't use the stac, meaning once the game enters this step, no player receives priority until attackers are declared, at which point tapping or untapping creatures won't be relevant. This means that the latest possible time to tap a creature to prevent it from attacking is the beginning of combat step.

January 10, 2017 6:13 p.m.

Neotrup says... #4

Not entirely on topic, but there was an issue with priority you missed that I want to address, because it is a fairly common bit of confusion. From Scenario One:

"Active player casts Spark Jolt, targeting Typhoid Rats, then passes priority.Non-active player passes priority.Spark Jolt resolves on the stack, destroying Typhoid Rats.Combat Damage Step begins."

When Spark Jolt resolves Typhoid Rats is destroyed as a state based action, then the active player gets priority. They can then pass priority, and if the nonactive player passes priority the combat damage step will begin. Every time a spell resolves the active player gets priority again. The stack resolving doesn't automatically move to the next step or phase, and the stack doesn't resolve all at once.

Scenario Four, addendum:

Refocus resolves on the stack, untapping Fugitive Wizard. Non-active player draws a card. Active player passes priority. Non-active player casts Crippling Chill targeting Fugitive Wizard. Active player passes priority, non-active player passes priority, Crippling Chill taps down Fugitive Wizard and non-active player draws a card.

Does Fugitive Wizard deal combat damage despite having been tapped down by Crippling Chill? Of course, because nothing removed it from combat or created a damage prevention effect.

Also, side note, Crippling Chill can be cast on tapped creatures to prevent them from untapping on their controllers next untap step and to draw a card. Even though tapping them does nothing, the other effects of the card still work.

January 10, 2017 9:03 p.m.

Please login to comment