I'm looking for a turn structure diagram for Magic the Gathering to use for teaching new players. There is a lot of information to keep track of in the turn: there is everything from the fact that the Upkeep Step comes before the Draw Step to when you can play abilities between the game actions of the Combat Phase.

For new players in particular, a graphical representation is particularly useful since I want them to gain an intuitive grasp of how the turn progresses as well as be able to reference particular details that become relevant.

I have seen charts that list the steps and phases in order but I need something more than that for teaching and reference. Where can I find a chart that includes the order of steps/phases, when you can use various types of cards and abilities, and what game actions happen when?

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    I am voting to close this as too broad, as it's asking for a list of diagrams. Thank you for sharing your diagram with us, though this style of question is not appropriate for our format. (I am not sure what type would be.) Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 3:12
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    @murgatroid99 I think you're worrying too much about the diagram part. All questions are looking for the best answer, and yes, the quality of an explanation is subjective, but that doesn't mean no one can ask for questions that invite explanation - we do that all the time. Asking for the explanation in visual form doesn't make it any more subjective.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 3:32
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    @Jefromi It's looking for a list. It is not a "practical, answerable question based on actual problems that you face" and does not have a possibility for a single objectively best solution, nor is this a subjective question where GSBS would apply. In this case "every answer is equally valid" and "there is no actual problem to be solved". There are criteria, but they're loose and don't set us up for a best answer: we just list whatever answer meets the criteria. It violates most of our questions to avoid asking, and doesn't fit our format. Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 8:12
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    What is the definition of a list question? offers a very shorthand test: list questions are "questions that are geared toward creating responses, not answers." Since this one is interested in gathering a bunch of diagrams, not so much solving a problem the asker is facing (e.g. "how does turn structure work!?") that counts as responses (and then "let me explain with words and not pictures" is also a good solution if they actually have that question). Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 8:30
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    @doppelgreener Let's discuss on meta: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/1227/409
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:06

4 Answers 4


Here is one I made:

turn diagram

(click for full size - hosted on 27ld.com)

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    A minor correction: creatures deal damage in the second combat damage step depending on whether they had first strike at the beginning of the first combat damage step and whether they currently have double strike.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 2:29
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    @murgatroid99 I am aware of the nuance surrounding this, but deemed it too specific to put on the turn order diagram (as never once in my 7 years of playing magic have I seen a creature gain/lose first strike or double strike after the Declare Blockers Step)
    – Zags
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 2:41
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    @Zags That's reasonable. Though, if you're focusing on situations that create to additional steps, you might want to mention that if anything triggers during the cleanup step, people get priority and there is an additional cleanup step.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 3:10
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    You can fix the First strike imprecision by using the following text for the Combat Damage Step: "Creatures who didn't participate in the First Strike Combat Damage Step and those with Double Strike ..."
    – ikegami
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 14:25
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    Your chart is is not clear on the fact that you can only cast spells (such as instants) when you have priority. This chart makes it seem that the non-active player can cast instants at any time during the phases.
    – Rik_S
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 15:10

I created a git hub page for this topic. Its a summary of the turn structure from official rules listed on wizard.com. it covers both: basic rules and comprehensive rules in an overview table.


[Beginning Phase]
[[Untap Step] Untap & phase things - No Priority
[[Upkeep Step] Upkeep triggers on the stack, then Priority
[[Draw Step] Draw a card, the Priority

[First Main Phase] Priority (One of two places to play things that aren't abilities/instants)

[Combat Phase]
[[Begining of Combat Step] Nothing special - Priority
[[Declare Attackers Step] Attackers are declared, then Priority
[[Declare Blockers Step] Blockers are declared, then Priority
?First Strike Damage Step] First Strike damage happens, then Priority - Skip this step if no creatures in combat have First/Double Strike
[[Damage Step] Rest of damage happens, then Priority
[[End of Combat Step] Rare triggers are placed on stack, then Priority

[Second Main Phase] Priority (One of two places to play things that aren't abilities/instants)

[End Phase]
[[End of Turn Step] End of turn triggers on the stack, then Priority
[[Clean Up Step] Until end of turn things end, active player discards down to 7 cards, state based effects are resolved. If anything has triggered: Priority and repeat this step.


I wanted a chart that is legible when printed, so I came up with the following:

Disclaimer: this chart is based on the old rules, and so the particulars are very incorrect. But If someone is interested in enumerating the issues, I will update the chart. Consider editing my answer with a list of errata at the bottom.

I found this chart that has a lot of detail - I copy-pasted it into excel and tweaked the formatting a bit because I wanted to print it. I also added the mana pool emptying to it, based on @Zaga's.

Turn Structure

Combat Phase Detail

But, as pointed out in the comments, the rules here are out of date.

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    This chart is out of date. Combat damage assignment no longer uses the stack and can't be responded to. See mtgsalvation.gamepedia.com/Combat_damage_step
    – ghoppe
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 21:54
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    A few other issues: there are no "At beginning of turn" or "At beginning of untap step" abilities, as far as I can tell. You don't mention that you can play other non-land permanents and activate Planeswalker abilities during the main phase. Your Declare Attackers Step has the line "Go directly to the End of Combat step", but you don't describe the End of Combat step. Double strike is also relevant to how combat damage works. Mentioning state-based actions only in the cleanup step may be confusing, because they are checked all the time. You don't say that mana pools empty in the end step.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 21:58
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    @murgatroid99 Yeah, these problems come from the source of his chart, which was based on old Magic the Gathering rules before turn structure and terminology was more developed. "At the beginning of turn" was changed to "At the beginning of upkeep" on cards like Barbed Sextant. Heck, the source of this chart still has "mana burn" on it. :)
    – ghoppe
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 22:09

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