When I attack with a first strike creature, does it deal combat damage before normal combat damage is dealt?

Specifically, if I attack with Drana, Liberator of Malakir (has first strike and "Whenever Drana, Liberator of Malakir deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on each attacking creature you control.") and 5 other creatures with no counters on them, do I deal damage equal to the creatures' total power or damage equal to the creatures' total power + 5?

1 Answer 1


Yup, that's one of the reasons Drana's powerful - she can pump up your other attackers in time to help them deal more damage. The point of first strike is that it happens first!

Here's how combat plays out, assuming you attack with Drana, your opponent doesn't block her, and nothing weird happens:

  • First Combat Damage Step
    • Drana and all other creatures with First Strike or Double Strike deal damage. Drana will deal 2 damage to your opponent, unless you've pumped her up somehow.
    • Drana's ability triggers, then presumably resolves, placing a +1/+1 counter on each of your attacking creatures, including Drana.
  • Second ("regular") Combat Damage Step
    • All of your creatures without First Strike (including those with Double Strike) deal damage equal to their power, including the +1 from the counters they just got.

There are rulings on the Gatherer page for Drana to this effect:

Drana’s last ability triggers after combat damage has been dealt, so only attacking creatures that survive the combat damage step in which Drana deals combat damage will have +1/+1 counters put on them.

The +1/+1 counter won’t change how much damage Drana or any other attacking creature with first strike or double strike deals during that combat damage step. However, the +1/+1 counters that are put on attacking creatures without first strike will affect the damage those creatures deal during the regular combat damage step.

  • It's worth noting that in a tournament setting, it's a good idea to explicitly declare the 'first damage combat step' and the relevant Drana trigger.
    – Cronax
    Aug 24, 2016 at 8:24
  • Also technically the regular combat step is 'creatures that didn't deal damage in the first strike step', not 'creatures without first strike'. So you can't use granting FS after the FS step as a pseudo-fog, and removing it after the FS step as pseudo-double strike
    – diego
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:18
  • @diego Okay, that might be a bit beyond the scope of the question, but I avoided being technically wrong in that corner case too.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    @Cronax I mean... I guess? I don't really know how necessary it is to add "be sure to declare your triggers" to every question involving a triggered ability, or "be sure to do the two damage steps separately" to every question involving first strike.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:23
  • 1
    @Cronax My point wasn't about comment vs edit, but just whether it needs to be noted. There are hundreds of questions involving triggered abilities here, so commenting on each of them (or one or more answers to each) seems a bit much.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:59

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