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From reading the rules it would appear there are two kinds of damage and then straight loss of life:

118.3 If an effect causes a player to gain or lose life, that player's life total is adjusted accordingly.

From reading that I would guess that effects like Extort are not sources of damage. You simply lose the life.

119.2a Damage may be dealt as a result of combat. Each attacking and blocking creature deals combat damage equal to its power during the combat damage step.

So damage from creatures during combat is combat damage.

119.2b Damage may be dealt as an effect of a spell or ability. The spell or ability will specify which object deals that damage.

And that is direct damage from an object.

So the arguments are these:

Does loss of life as outlined by 118.3 count as being dealt damage? Do triggered abilities that redirect or reduce damage effect loss of life?

My second related question: You put Arcane teachings on a Blinding Angel and tap her to deal one damage to your opponent. Am I right in saying that because the damage was direct damage(not dealt during combat 119.2b) then the triggered ability of preventing the combat phase of the damaged player is not triggered?

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"So damage from creatures during combat is combat damage" isn't really true - combat damage is specifically the damage attacking and blocking creatures do during combat because they have a power. For example, "when creature becomes blocked, it deals 1 damage to the controller of the blocking creature" wouldn't be combat damage, but if it had trample, the trample damage spilling onto the player would be. –  Samthere Mar 28 '13 at 15:05
    
well if you take the wording you have on that card and break it down it is obvious the damage is not stemming from combat. The damage is coming from the triggered ability of the creature. So the damage did not come from the creature during combat, the damage came from the ability as a result of combat. Different. –  Pow-Ian Mar 28 '13 at 15:10
    
Yeah, I was just trying to point out that the concept of "combat damage" is even more nuanced than the wording suggested :) –  Samthere Mar 28 '13 at 16:57
    
yeah sadly the 'comprehensive' rules often require that you have read just about the whole darn thing before they make sense. It is super easy to take things out of context. –  Pow-Ian Mar 28 '13 at 17:00

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This is cleared up in rule 118.2:

Damage dealt to a player normally causes that player to lose that much life. See rule 119.3.

So you actually have it backwards. Damage to a player is loss of life, not the other way around. When a player is "dealt damage," they lose that much life. (See below for more on "normally.") This is emphasized in rule 119.1a:

Damage can't be dealt to an object that's neither a creature nor a planeswalker.

Spells that specifically say "lose life" cannot be reduced by spells that redirect damage. Damage is caused as "a result of combat" (119.2a) or "as an effect of a spell or ability" (119.2b). Spells that cause loss of life do not cause damage. Instead, they go around damage and just cause the loss of life. There are two ways to cause damage (quoted above as combat damage and damage from spells), and when these objects would inflict damage on a player, that player loses that much life.

If a player takes damage, they lose that much life; if a player loses life, they lose that much life. Additionally, if a creature takes damage, it takes that much damage; creatures do not lose life. Think of life as the currency of players, which damage can impact in a negative way.

This distinction between damage and loss of life is important. They are intentionally kept separate for cards like Griselbrand. The designers wouldn't want you to be able to prevent the loss of life caused by his ability by casting a simple damage reduction spell, like Reflect Damage, so loss of life is kept as a separate concept.

If a triggered ability says "whenever a player is dealt damage," it would not trigger when that player is affected by a spell that causes loss of life.

In regards to the Blinding Angel example, you are correct. Blinding Angel did not deal combat damage so its ability would not trigger.


The word "normally" in rule 118.2 refers to one way in which damage is modified, laid out specifically in 119.3b. This rules lays out an important exception to loss of life:

Damage dealt to a player by a source with infect causes that player to get that many poison counters.

This is an exception; players lose life when they are dealt damage 99.9% of the time.

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But then what do you do about 'loss of life' effects and triggered 'received damage' abilities? Are they the same thing? MTG can be a bit word fu*&ed at times and though it feels like splitting hairs some times the wording is often necessary to keep cards from breaking the game. Furthermore 118.2 says normally. Which to me implies that since damage can do other things it is not loss of life, it is damage which leads to loss of life. –  Pow-Ian Mar 28 '13 at 12:53
    
@Pow-Ian I updated my answer to cover the "normally" wording. Also, I tried to explain the importance in the distinction between damage and loss of life. You treat loss of life and damage the same when it comes to your life total; taken damage reduces your life total, and so does losing life. The way both of these interact in the game is different. –  SocioMatt Mar 28 '13 at 13:21
    
Thank you that is more clear. I thought I understood it correctly but the wording is difficult. –  Pow-Ian Mar 28 '13 at 13:26

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