Someone said they can block with a Dryad Arbor then return it to their hand with a Quirion Ranger before the Arbor takes damage. That sounds wrong to me.

  • You can tag cards with [mtg:Card Name]. You didn't say what ranger you were referring to in the question (Quirion Ranger or Scryb Ranger) so I chose one for you. I removed the part about how the Wizards hotline is "bogus", because I couldn't figure out why that was relevant to the question.
    – Rainbolt
    Jun 15, 2015 at 13:47
  • @RemcoGerlich Tis definitely a duplicate. OP posted an opinion answer on there even.
    – Waterseas
    Jun 15, 2015 at 14:16
  • "If I unsummon a blocking creature, what happens?" and "Can I unsummon a blocking creature?" are two totally different questions in my opinion.
    – Rainbolt
    Jun 15, 2015 at 14:20
  • @Rainbolt Technically, true, since the other one asks about the opponent taking damage, whereas this one talks about whether the blocking creature takes damage. Ideally, they would be combined into 'what happens if a blocking creature is returned to its owner's hand'.
    – Waterseas
    Jun 15, 2015 at 14:25
  • 2
    You knew this was correct; you'd seen the answers on the other question already. If your goal was just to get this to make sense intuitively, maybe just ask more directly about that?
    – Cascabel
    Jun 15, 2015 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can return a blocking creature to your hand before it takes damage. What happens is:

  • You block with Dryad Arbor
  • You and your opponent both get a chance to cast instants and activate abilities
  • Damage is dealt
    • Note that if the blocked creature has tramble, it will still assign all of its damage directly to the player

Rules 509.1 through 509.7 cover what happens during the declare blockers step, which occurs before damage is dealt. The two rules that are relevant to your question:

509.1. First, the defending player declares blockers.
509.5. Fifth, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities

Here is a diagram that illustrates the turn structure. It shows all the opportunities that you get to cast or activate things.

  • Ok thank you for the answer but I'm of the opinion that this is the most unfair rule in magic. It doesn't make any intuitive sense to be able to block and then the blocking creature not take any damage for doing so. What a bummer. Jun 15, 2015 at 13:49
  • @ArthurGardiner It does due to the simple fact that blocked creatures don't do damage, and the declare blockers step and damage step are two separate steps, so players have a chance to react before damage happens.
    – Waterseas
    Jun 15, 2015 at 13:52
  • 2
    @ArthurGardiner Thematically, returning a creature to your hand is like having that creature run away while dodging the attack that's coming at him. The blocking worked because the enemy creature already used up his attack / ammo / whatever in trying to hit the creature that was blocking instead of trying to hit the player.
    – GendoIkari
    Jun 15, 2015 at 13:53
  • 1
    Note that the attacking creature takes no damage either, and if the attack creature has Trample then all damage does go through. Jun 15, 2015 at 14:14
  • 1
    @ArthurGardiner Think of blocking as the blocking creature standing in the path of the attacking creature. That's the interaction. The attacking creature has to stop, they're facing off, about to hit each other (which would be the combat damage step)... and then the blocker vanishes. It's too late for the attacker to run off and hit the opponent instead, so the attacker doesn't have anything to do.
    – Cascabel
    Jun 15, 2015 at 14:51

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