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I play Magic: The Gathering and I just had a really strange game with my opponent. We were both about to die (both sides with 2 life) when we both set down instants that damaged each other (at the same time). I played the red instant Shock, and she played the red instant Staggershock. It was my turn. It was kind of an awkward coincidence, so we called a draw. Is that logic correct?

  • If you came to this question looking for an answer to the title "if both players are killed at the same time, do they both die?", this question may have a better answer – Pro Q Nov 21 '18 at 21:40
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No, it's not correct, and no, it wasn't a draw.

As you know, if they were killed at the same time, it would be a draw. But they weren't killed at the same time. MTG is a turn-based game. It's impossible to cast two instants at the same time (at least under normal circumstances), and it's completely impossible for two instants to resolve at the same time.

Whoever had priority[1] got to cast their instant. Their opponent then got a chance to cast an instant in response. The instant cast in response, being cast last, will resolve first.

The game would have ended before the first instant had a chance to resolve.


  1. It's not possible to determine who had priority from the info you provided. Being your turn, chances are it was you unless you just finished casting a spell.
  • What made you put the line about "your draw step" - I don't see anything in the post that talks about that. Considering the question is about 'draws' in a completely different context, that line might be confusing. – corsiKa Nov 5 '14 at 1:06
  • One other thought I had was that the title on this question isn't what's actually happening... they aren't at the same time. However, an effect could happen at the same time, such as "all players lose 1 life" when they're all at one life. That would cause a draw. It's not what the OP is actually asking in his question, but it IS what the title is asking. – corsiKa Nov 5 '14 at 2:44
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    @corsiKa Titles that don't accurately reflect the question being asked need correcting to be accurate, not answering. – SevenSidedDie Nov 5 '14 at 4:57
  • @corsiKa, I didn't see the point of repeating what the OP already knows, but for the benefit of other readers, I added "As you know, if they were killed at the same time, it would be a draw." – ikegami Nov 5 '14 at 5:24
  • @SevenSidedDie Clearly it needed answering in some form; the OP thought it was equivalent to what was being asked. – Cascabel Nov 5 '14 at 6:32
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The game shouldn't be called a draw, because you weren't killed at the same time.

Magic: the Gathering uses a system of priority and a thing called stack. You can only cast spells and activate abilities when you have the priority. After you cast a spell (or activate an ability), but before it resolves, your opponent gains priority and has a chance to response to whatever you cast, by casting his own spell (or activating an ability) which will put on stack on top of your spell.

Whenever priority is passed, state based actions are checked. The way stack works is first in - last out. The first spell cast, will be the last to resolve. You can read more about priority here.

The situation in your game looked like this:

  1. Stack is empty, it is your turn, you have the priority, both you and your opponent have 2 life.

  2. You cast Shock and pass priority

  3. Your opponent gains priority and responds to your Shock with his or her Staggershock

Stack looks like this

 Staggershock
 Shock

You start resolving spells from the top, so the first spell to resolve is Staggershock. It resolves and deals you 2 damage. Before moving on to resolving Shock, state based actions are checked, you have 0 points of life, you lose the game as a state based action.

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