I was looking at this link and was kind of confused. In Magic, when can I tap my opponent's creatures to prevent them from attacking? So if a instant says tap target creature and they attack I have basically have to either do 2 things. Asks if they are on combat phase or if they rush to attacking phase say something like before you attack. I was wondering because if you wait for them to declare attackers then you tap target creature they have to reconsider if they want to attack.

On another note there is a card that taps target attacking or blocking creature if I'm correct (might be exile) if so what are the rules on that?

  • If I can give you one point of advice try to get on MTGO. The visual representation of the phases in a turn will be of great help to you.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 9:55

3 Answers 3


You can always ask your opponent to "rewind" phases if they attempt to skip through them. According to the rules, each player gets a chance to act within all phases, however, many players choose to skip through the phases in interests of saving time. A player is never allowed to "rush" you through a phase. They will need to reset their creatures to how they existed before attackers were declared.

In this particular case, if they move to attack step before you get a chance to respond, I would politely inform them that I wish to cast a spell during the "begin combat" phase.

For your side note: there are many cards such as Celestial Flare that effect attackers or blockers (scroll down to the bottom for example rulings that I believe you will find helpful)

  • 2
    Good answer, but it might be worth pointing out that even though your opponent can't rush you through a phase, it doesn't mean you can just wait for your opponent to declare attackers and then back up and try to tap something. Rushing you through a phase only means that they didn't even give you a chance to play something in that phase if you wanted to.
    – David Z
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:29
  • 1
    @DavidZ You can wait for your opponent to declare attackers before informing him that he isn't in his declare attackers step yet. Free information for you. More details here, if you are interested. The gist of that post is that pausing does not communicate acceptance of a shortcut.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 14:06
  • The untapped phase being the notable exception to when players get priority.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 16:02

Players commonly say something like "combat?" or "attackers?" which is basically a short way of asking "I am ready to declare attackers, do you have any spells or abilities you want to use in the beginning of combat step?" This is your last chance to tap anything. If you say no then they can proceed with declaring attackers, which is a so called "turn based action" that you cannot interrupt.

If a player just starts turning things sideways and declaring attacks without giving you a chance to act, you can ask them to please rewind to the Beginning of Combat Step. However, you are not allowed to "fish" for information about their intended attackers and then try to use abilities.

A creature becomes an 'Attacking Creature' as soon as it's declared an attacker, so you can target it with "target attacking creature" spells/abilities anytime from before declaring blockers up to End of Combat before the second main phase starts.

Likewise a declared blocker is a valid target for 'Blocking Creature' spells/abilities before or after combat damage, until the second main phase starts.

This sometimes catches new players off guard with a card like Celestial Flare since if you attack with say, two weak creatures and a strong one, I could kill your two weak creatures with blockers then cast Celestial Flare during the End of Combat Step and force you to sacrifice your strong creature


The obvious time to tap thing like this is to do it in the beginning of combat step. That is to say after the first main phase but before attackers are declared.

If you tap things in your opponents main phase he can still use the permanents tap abilities in response and play things at sorcery speed. Which is bad.

The beginning of combat step is after the main phase though so no sorcery speed things can be played then but it is still before attackers are declared so tapping creatures here will keep them from attacking (Unless your opponent has a way to untap them before attackers are declared.)

Lastly you should know this but your opponent cannot steamroll you into not doing things in certain parts of the turn. He cannot go from the main phase to the declare attackers phase without giving you a chance to do things in the beginning of combat step.

Phases are only ended when priority is skipped by both players on an empty stack. Don't get intimidated like this.

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