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In Magic:The Gathering it is possible to trigger abilities of creatures at the same time you can play instants?

I play it that I can block with a creature and sacrifice it at the same time. The attacking creature blocked this ways does not deal damage because the blocking creature is gone - and I get the bonus for the sacrifice (e.g. Blood Pet gives me an extra B-Mana).

In a recent discussion the topic came up again. It seems like the rulings even allow for the blocking player to wait until the damage is put on the stack. Once the damage is on the stack, I can sacrifice my creature, gain the benefits from the sacrifice ability AND deal damage to the attacking create. In my Blood Pet example I would be able to kill an attacking creature with toughness 1 and get 1 B-Mana.

Is this correct? Where can I find the official ruling that clarifies that?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

There was a fairly long period of time ending with Magic 2010 when you could put damage on the stack, and then play instants and abilities before the damage resolved. Those days are over!

Nowadays, you declare blockers, and then both players have a chance to play spells and abilities. Once everyone is finished doing this, we move onto the combat damage phase, and only then do creatures even start thinking about dealing damage to each other. If you sacrificed your creature after declaring it as a blocker, then it never gets an opportunity to deal damage, I'm afraid!

One corner case: if your creature has First Strike and also a sacrifice ability, you can have it deal its first strike damage and then sacrifice it in the window of opportunity both players have to play spells and effects before normal combat damage. Try this page for a handy breakdown of when players have a chance to do things in the course of a Magic game.

Also have a look at this document, explaining some of the latest changes made to the game rules, particularly section 5, about combat damage not using the stack. Much more readable than the Comprehensive Rulebook, I think you'll find...

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+1: Thanks for the quick response. I especially like the turn structure table. This will help me a lot in the future. –  Demento Aug 5 '11 at 10:40
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Though, actually, looking at that turn structure table, it's not QUITE right - because it's still checking for mana burn at the end of phases, and mana burn no longer happens! So I guess it's a bit out of date. It seems mostly okay though, so probably still useful for better visualising the steps of a turn. –  thesunneversets Aug 5 '11 at 12:14
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@thesunneversets - they got rid of mana burn?!?! That's ridiculous. –  Charles Boyung Aug 5 '11 at 20:08
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@Charles Boyung I don't really agree with the assessment that by removing little-used edge-case rules like "mana burn" and confusing combat steps like "assign damage, deal damage assigned" that the game is "dumbed down". The streamlining of the rules is a process that has always been happening and keeps the game accessible and the rules interactions manageable. New mechanics/keywords/card interactions is what keeps the game "complex", not bizarre, arbitrary, and obscure rules. –  ghoppe Aug 8 '11 at 22:15
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That turn structure table link is also out of date because it includes "damage on the stack" which is no longer part of the rules. Here is a more up-to-date turn structure from the MTG Wiki: wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Category:Turn_structure –  ghoppe Aug 8 '11 at 22:27
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If you sacrifice an attacking or blocking creature during the declare blockers step, it won't deal combat damage. If you wait until the combat damage step, but the creature you wish to sacrifice is dealt lethal damage, it'll be destroyed before you get a chance to sacrifice it.

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With old magic rules, you could, as it went

  • play effects
  • combat damage goes on the stack
  • play more effects (including a sacrifice)
  • combat damage resolves

Since Magic 2010, the order now goes

  • play effects
  • combat damage goes on the stack
  • play more effects (including a sacrifice)
  • combat damage resolves

As you can no longer play spells or abilities before damage resolves, it is not possible to sacrifice a creature after dealing damage. **

(** anymore)

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The "simple" way I see this is kinda silly, but it works. Look at the cards during combat like a somewhat real battlefield:

  1. Opponent declares attack, monster now run towards YOU (monsters always go towards you or planeswalker, unless something say otherwise).

  2. You declare you do not want to be hurt, so you order your minions to block.

  3. Attacking and blocking creature now meet, both ready for impact, attacker lift axe to strike, blocker raise shield to block.

  4. Attacker swings to deal damage, attacker blocks to soak the damage. Nothing can really be done now.

  5. Regeneration effects are now in play. Creatures that are not regenerated and has taken fatal damage will be dead after this step.

  6. Any "when creature dies" effect can now execute.

This "list" is basically the whole attack pace broken down to show how it more or less works. A great way to explain how the stack works for new players during attack pace. The same idea can also be adapted to explain how the whole stack idea works out throughout the game as a whole. While I admit it likely has its flaws, it at least provides a general idea. In the end the attack pace is two parted, declare attack and declare block, everything else goes between or after those two steps (usually). You can for example not declare to block an attacking creature, then snipe it with a card that say to destroy attacking creature.

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