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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Judge's Corner

How to Submit Your Questions to Judge Bill

Judge Bill is here to answer your Magic: The Gathering rules questions. But first, if you want to be sure he will answer them, look at the following basic Mantras to see if they answer your question:

The 12 Mantras (aka The Dirty Dozen)

1. I can't play any spells or abilities while something is resolving or while another spell or ability is being played. (18 April 02, modified 11 May 04)

2. Increasing the power of creatures once their damage has been put on the stack won't make them do more damage.(13 May 02) (Footnote A)

3. If the card doesn't say 'TARGET,' it doesn't target.(31 May 02) (Footnote D)

4. Protection is a DEBT we owe some of our permanents. (26 September 02) (Footnote B)

5. When assigning trample, look only at the toughness of the blocking creatures. Assign damage so that they would have that much damage on them, and then you can assign the other damage to your opponent. (26 September 02) (Footnote C)

6. Play (as in playing a spell) = Cast. (14 January 03)

7. You can't do something just because you want to. A spell or ability (or the cost of playing a spell or ability) must tell you to do it before you can do it. (2 March 03)

8. Removing the source of an ability does not stop that ability from happening. (2 March 03)

9. If you have multiples of a card in play, you deal with each card individually. (3 September 03)

10. The Combat Phase has been moved to the bottom of the page for easier readability of the other Mantras. Please click on the link to read it.

11. To play an ability, you must be able to fully pay the costs. You can't play the ability if you can't pay the costs. You may play the ability as many times as you can pay the costs. (11 May 04)

12. Mana in your mana pool has nothing to do with lands. Most lands produce mana, but mana does not produce lands. (24 Sept 04)

 


 

Footnote A: A corollary to this mantra is, "Decreasing the power of creatures after damage is on the stack won't make them do less damage." (14 June 02)

Footnote B: DEBT is an acronym. It stands for Damage, Enchantments/Equipment, Blocking, and Targeting, which are the 5 things a creature with protection is protected from.

For an extended definition, protection is usually written on a card as "Protection from [quality]." (For example, "Protection from green.")

-Damage: All damage dealt to the permanent from a source with the stated quality is prevented.

-Enchantments: The permanent can't be enchanted by permanents with the stated quality.

-Equipment: The permanent can't be equipped by Equipment with the stated quality. Such an Equipment stops equipping that permanent, but remains in play.

-Blocking: The permanent can't be blocked by permanents with the stated quality.

-Targeting: The permanent can't be targeted by spells with the stated quality, or abilities from permanents with the stated quality. (Remember Mantra #3.)

Footnote C: You can assign the extra damage to the creatures if you want, or assign all the damage to one or more creatures (even though the damage being dealt is greater than the toughness of that creature) and none to the other creatures. But you have to assign damage as the mantra says before you can assign trample damage to your opponent.

Footnote D: Local Enchantment cards being played (cast) target the thing they're going to enchant. (27 January 03)


10. The Combat Phase. (20 April 04)

Once both players pass priority (whenever I say "both players pass priority" from here on out for this mantra, I mean they pass in succession) with an empty stack in the first main phase, you enter the Combat Phase. The Combat Phase is broken down into the following steps:

 

  • Beginning of Combat Step: At the beginning of this step, all "beginning of combat" triggered abilities trigger and go on the stack. Then, both players may play instants (instants include instant speed abilities). Once both players pass priority on an empty stack, go to the next step.

    This is the best time to use an Icy Manipulator or Master Decoy to tap a creature so they can't attack.

    RULES WARNING: Make sure where you are playing an ability before attackers are declared. When a person says they "Announce an attack," this means they intend to pass twice to get to the Declare Attackers step. If you want to "respond" with something, tell them EXACTLY when you are responding - either in the first main phase, or in the Beginning of Attack step.

    (99% of the time, you want to do it in the Beginning of Attack step. But BE CLEAR about it.)


 

  • Declare Attackers Step: The player whose turn it is declares their attackers. This action does not use the stack, and cannot be responded to.

    Once a legal set of attackers has been declared, both players may play instants. Once both players pass priority with an empty stack, go on to the next step.

    RULES/GAME PLAY NOTES:

    1. Tapping or untapping a creature after it is declared as an attacker does not remove it from combat.
    2. This is the best time to play an ability like cycling Decree of Justice or casting Raise the Alarm to create surprise blockers.
    3. Once a creature is an attacker, it is considered an attacking creature until the combat phase ends or it is removed from combat, whichever comes first.
    4. If no attackers are declared, the game skips immediately to the End Of Combat Step.


 

  • Declare Blockers Step: At the beginning of this step, the player who is being attacked declares their blockers. This action does not use the stack, and cannot be responded to.

    Once a legal set of blockers has been declared, both players may play instants. Once both players pass priority with an empty stack, go on to the next step.

    RULES/GAME PLAY NOTES:

    1. Once a creature has blocked an attacking creature, removing the blocking creature from play or tapping the blocking creature won't let the attacker through. The attacker is still considered blocked.
    2. This is the best time to play stuff like Giant Growth or Predator's Strike to deal more damage.


 

  • Combat Damage Step: When this step begins, all creatures assign damage. Creatures that are blocked or blocking assign damage to each other (their controllers assign the damage), and creatures that weren't blocked assign damage to the defending player. Trample or Banding may change how or who assigns damage. This assigning of damage is placed on the stack as a single object, but it can't be countered.

    (See Mantra 5 for notes on assigning trample damage.)

    Both players then may play instants (like Pearl Shard's ability). Once damage is the only thing on the stack and both players pass priority, damage is dealt as it was originally assigned. Once both players pass priority on an empty stack, go to the next step.

    RULES/GAME PLAY NOTES:

    1. If any creatures have first strike or double strike when damage would be assigned, only those creatures assign (and deal) damage. A second Combat Damage Step is then created (right after the first one, and just like the first one) to let all creature that didn't assign damage in the first Combat Damage Step and all creatures with double strike assign and deal damage.
    2. If all creatures blocking or being blocked by a creature aren't in play when damage would be assigned, then the creature that has no creatures blocking or being blocked by it doesn't assign damage. (Exception: Attacking creatures with trample assign and deal all damage to the defending player in this instance.)
    3. If a creature leaves play after damage is assigned but before it is dealt, it deals damage how it was assigned. Any assignments of damage to that creature aren't dealt.


 

  • End of Combat Step: At the beginning of this step, all "end of combat" triggered abilities trigger and go on the stack. Then, both players may play instants (instants include instant speed abilities). Once both players pass priority on an empty stack, go to the second main phase.

Click here to return to the other Mantras.


Again, apply the Mantras before you write in to me with a question about them. If it looks like you wrote in without applying them, my "Delete" key will thank you for the workout.

 

If you feel the above have not addressed your questions, feel free to submit them to Judge Bill at:

pojomagicjudge@hotmail.com

 

 

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