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I was playing against my son tonight and an issue came up that we disagreed on. We looked in the rules, but that just made things murkier for us.

I attacked with Goblin Chieftain (2/2), Goblin Fireslinger (1/1) and Blisterstick Shaman (2/1). My Goblin Chieftain gave +1/+1 to the other two creatures.

My son chose to defend with Elite Inquisitor (2/2 with First Strike) and block the Chieftain.

So, the question is, do my two remaining creatures deal 3 damage to him or 5?

My son argues that since the Chieftain died, the other two creatures no longer have the +1/+1 effect. I thought that damage in battle was resolved before that would happen.

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If the Inquisitor hadn't had First Strike you would have been dealt 5 damage (in case that isn't already clear from the answer posted!) – thesunneversets May 10 '12 at 9:33
Thanks @thesunneversets, for the clarification. Makes total sense now. – Brendon Cheves May 10 '12 at 14:55
An aside: I feel weird correcting things like this, as I look like a pedant ;) — but target has a very specific meaning in Magic. Your son blocked the Chieftain, he didn't target it. – ghoppe May 10 '12 at 15:54
Also, props to your son on responding the best he could (given what we know of the game state that turn). – cdeszaq May 10 '12 at 21:18
Thanks @ghoppe. I agree that it's very important to get the terms right. If we don't, then we'll never be able to get any questions answered. – Brendon Cheves May 11 '12 at 4:06
up vote 18 down vote accepted

First of all, Goblin Chieftain does not give any kind of counters. It just modifies the P/T of goblins while it is on the battlefield.

Secondly, First Strike creates two combat damage steps. One in which only Elite Inquisitor (and any other potential First Striker) deals it's combat damage. In your scenario, this will kill the Goblin Chieftain. In the second combat damage step, non-First Strike creatures deal their damage. Since the Chieftain is no longer there, they do not get the +1/+1.

You will deal 3 damage.

702.4b/702.7b If at least one attacking or blocking creature has first strike or double strike as the combat damage step begins, the only creatures that assign combat damage in that step are those with first strike or double strike. After that step, instead of proceeding to the end of combat step, the phase gets a second combat damage step. The only creatures that assign combat damage in that step are the remaining attackers and blockers that had neither first strike nor double strike as the first combat damage step began, as well as the remaining attackers and blockers that currently have double strike. After that step, the phase proceeds to the end of combat step.

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Thanks @OrigamiRobot. So, since the +1/+1 is not a counter, then Proliferate will not work on those cards either? Also, we've been struggling with what to call the +1/+1. Is it called an ability? I've seen the term "activated ability" thrown around, but my impression was that was an ability that had a cost (something followed by a colon) associated with it. – Brendon Cheves May 10 '12 at 15:01
@BrendonCheves Yes, an activated ability has a cost. The chieftain has a static ability: “Other Goblin creatures you control get +1/+1 and have haste.” See section 112 of the Comprehensive Rules if you want all the nitty-gritty. Also, you are correct, it's not a counter, so Proliferate will not add any counters. – ghoppe May 10 '12 at 15:44
IIRC the +1/+1 itself is an effect. As ghoppe said, the Goblin Chieftain has an ability; in this particular case it's a static ability, because it is something that applies continuously as long as the Chieftain is in play. One effect of that ability is that all other Goblins you control get +1/+1. And another effect is that they all have haste. – David Z May 11 '12 at 2:16
Thanks to all of you! I just went over all of these details with both of my boys. Time to play some more Magic! – Brendon Cheves May 11 '12 at 4:08

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