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This actually pertains to a deck I played long (about 15 years) ago, but I've always wondered as to the correct ruling. The deck in question had lots of banding and trample creatures, so that in the end I would attack with a band that had a large amount of trampling creatures in it. For sake of argument, lets say my band has 15 points of trampling damage and 5 points of non-trampling damage.

These bands would typically be blocked by more than one creature. Let's say I was blocked by a 1/1 and a 8/8. My rule of thumb for banding was that an attacking band get to distribute damage as it likes. So I would assign all damage to the smallest creature (1/1). That creature would absorb the 5 points of non-trampling damage and my opponent would take all 15 points of trampling damage.

Trampling specifies that only leftover damage after dealing lethal damage to all blocking creatures would then trample over to the player, and banding is... complicated.

My question is: does the banding ability to choose how damage is assigned trump the trampling requirement that all creatures must be assigned lethal damage first?

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When attacking with creatures that have some combination of Banding and Trample you must still deal lethal damage to all blocking creatures before you can deal damage to the defending player (or the Planeswalker you attacked).

Rule 702.21k explains how banding affects combat damage when attacking. Basically it allows you to ignore the damage assignment order the defending player chooses, and you assign damage to your creatures as you choose. It does nothing for how you assign combat damage to the defending creatures (or players or planeswalkers).

Rule 702.19b explains how trample works. This rule doesn't change the rules for assigning combat damage to creatures, but allows for once all blocking creatures have been dealt lethal damage any remaining damage may be assigned to the player or planeswalker that creature is attacking.

So when you have an attacking band (at least 1 of which has trample), and the band gets blocked by multiple creatures you must assign lethal damage to all blocking creatures before you can trample over any damage.

702.21k During the combat damage step, if a blocking creature is blocking a creature with banding [...] the active player (rather than the defending player) chooses how the blocking creature’s damage is assigned. That player can divide that creature’s combat damage as he or she chooses among any number of creatures it’s blocking. This is an exception to the procedure described in rule 510.1d.

702.19b The controller of an attacking creature with trample first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it. Once all those blocking creatures are assigned lethal damage, any remaining damage is assigned as its controller chooses among those blocking creatures and the player or planeswalker the creature is attacking. [...] The attacking creature’s controller need not assign lethal damage to all those blocking creatures but in that case can’t assign any damage to the player or planeswalker it’s attacking.

510.1d A blocking creature assigns combat damage to the creatures it’s blocking. If it isn’t currently blocking any creatures (if, for example, they were destroyed or removed from combat), it assigns no combat damage. If it’s blocking exactly one creature, it assigns all its combat damage to that creature. If it’s blocking two or more creatures, it assigns its combat damage to those creatures according to the damage assignment order announced for it. This may allow the blocking creature to divide its combat damage. However, it can’t assign combat damage to a creature that it’s blocking unless, when combat damage assignments are complete, each creature that precedes that blocked creature is assigned lethal damage. When checking for assigned lethal damage, take into account damage already marked on the creature and damage from other creatures that’s being assigned during the same combat damage step, but not any abilities or effects that might change the amount of damage that’s actually dealt. An amount of damage that’s greater than a creature’s lethal damage may be assigned to it.

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    702.21k actually says that if you are attacking with a band, you get to choose how the blocking creatures divide their combat damage. It says nothing about changing how the attacking creatures divide their combat damage. – murgatroid99 Oct 21 '15 at 15:50
  • @murgatroid99 You're right, stupid confusing banding... – diego Oct 21 '15 at 16:01
  • "Rule 7002.21k explains how creatures in a band deal combat damage." Since it doesn't actually explain that, maybe 702.21k isn't really relevant here. I think the only part of the banding rules that is actually relevant to this question is 702.21h, as Vilmar quoted. – murgatroid99 Oct 21 '15 at 16:17
  • @murgatroid99 I think 702.21k is relevant since it shows that attacking with banding doesn't change how the attackers assign damage at all – diego Oct 21 '15 at 16:26
  • Now, what are the chances that this is how the interaction worked 15 years ago when Zack was playing their deck? I'm betting it wasn't. (not that it's really relevant how the rules used to work) – Arcanist Lupus Jun 22 '18 at 4:38
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I haven't really played with banding, but here are my thoughts:

If you attack as a band, each creature in a band becomes blocked:

702.21h If an attacking creature becomes blocked by a creature, each other creature in the same band as the attacking creature becomes blocked by that same blocking creature.

You can then choose how to assign damage to blockers. Let's assume blockers don't have banding (special rules apply).

Trample ruling gives us the answer:

702.19b The controller of an attacking creature with trample first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it. Once all those blocking creatures are assigned lethal damage, any remaining damage is assigned as its controller chooses among those blocking creatures and the player or planeswalker the creature is attacking. When checking for assigned lethal damage, take into account damage already marked on the creature and damage from other creatures that’s being assigned during the same combat damage step, but not any abilities or effects that might change the amount of damage that’s actually dealt. The attacking creature’s controller need not assign lethal damage to all those blocking creatures but in that case can’t assign any damage to the player or planeswalker it’s attacking.

So, in your example, you need to assign lethal damage to all blocking creatures (since they block all of your creatures in a band) before being able to assign damage to a player, but you count all damage assigned by other creatures. The best way would be to assign your 5 non-trampling damage to a 8/8 creature. Then use assign leftover 3 damage and also 1 damage for 1/1 from your tramplers. All blockers are now assigned lethal damage, and you are now able to deal the 11 damage left from your tramplers.

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