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My life is down to 1 and my opponent 4. I attack with a 4/4 lifelink creature, and my opponent answered with a Shock to deal two damage to me, will I lose or will lifelink save me first?

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Welcome to B&CG! –  Pat Ludwig Aug 7 '12 at 16:02
    
hum... Why did your opponent wait that long to cast Shock? He could have cast it on his turn, before you untapped and drew. –  ikegami Aug 7 '12 at 17:32
    
maybe the 4/4 lifelink had some counter/prevent damage ability and he needed to wait for it to be tapped, or maybe it was a multiplayer game. –  Colin D Aug 7 '12 at 18:22
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3 Answers

You will die first.

The attack phase is actually a series of steps, of which declaring the attacking creatures is only the second. After you have determined your attacking creatures, there are several opportunities for each player to play instant-speed spells (such as Shock) and abilities before the attacking creatures can deal their combat damage. So, unless you agreed to resolve combat first, if your opponent can reduce you to zero health or less, you will lose.

For reference, these are the steps of the combat phase:

  1. At the end of the first main phase, when the stack is empty and all players have passed, combat starts. Every player can play spells and abilities now.
  2. You declare with which creatures you want to attack, if any. You tap them, they now count as attacking.
  3. Every player can play spells and abilities until the stack is empty and everyone passes. (This is where your opponent played Shock, which killed you right there).
  4. The defending player declares with which creatures to block, if any. They now count as blocking.
  5. Every player can play spells and abilities until the stack is empty and everyone passes.
  6. Combat resolution starts. First, all creatures with First Strike and/or Double Strike now deal their damage, simultaneously.
  7. Every player can play spells and abilities until the stack is empty and everyone passes.
  8. All creatures with Double Strike and all creatures who didn't deal damage in the first damage step deal damage now (this is where you would have killed your opponent with the 4/4 and gained 4 life).
  9. Every player can play spells and abilities until the stack is empty and everyone passes.
  10. Combat ends.
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You over-truncated by a step there. There is a Beginning of Combat Step, which is after combat has begun but before attackers are declared, during which players get priority. This is really important if you are a fan of Cauldron Dance for EDH shenanigans like some of us :) –  Affe Aug 8 '12 at 1:40
    
It's also important that the default shortcut for "ready for combat?" and similar statements is an offer to pass priority to the beginning of combat step. Casual players frequently assume they can play more sorceries if an opponent responds to that offer with a spell or ability, which is not the case under standard tournament rules. –  Affe Aug 8 '12 at 1:49
    
@Affe That's very possible, I am old and wrote this down from memory :) I guess I can fix this easily by moving "beginning of combat" from my step 2 to step 1. –  Hackworth Aug 8 '12 at 7:17
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You're dead.

You and your opponent both have the opportunity to cast spells and activate abilities during both the declare attackers and declare blockers steps, both of which happen before the combat damage step. So you've taken the two damage well before your creature would deal its damage and let you gain life.

Of course, this is a slightly unusual situation anyway - your opponent could've probably just killed you with Shock earlier in the turn, or even during their turn.

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could have been multiplayer. That would have been the best opportunity to cast shock. –  user1873 Aug 7 '12 at 16:05
    
@Jefromi, could you put your second paragraph into comments? It's not really important to the question and more appropriate as a comment. –  Hackworth Aug 7 '12 at 20:29
    
@Hackworth: I think it's perfectly appropriate in the answer the more concise way it's written now. –  Jefromi Aug 8 '12 at 23:54
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Sounds like shock was used before blockers were declared and therefore before combat damage was dealt. In this case, the shock will resolve and reduce your life to -1 before your creature can attack. You lose.

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