17

Camouflage is a strange old card that changes how blocking works. The card text says

This turn, instead of declaring blockers, each defending player chooses any number of creatures he or she controls and divides them into a number of piles equal to the number of attacking creatures for whom that player is the defending player. Creatures he or she controls that can block additional creatures may likewise be put into additional piles. Assign each pile to a different one of those attacking creatures at random. Each creature in a pile that can block the creature that pile is assigned to does so.

Here's an example of the situation I'm wondering about:

My opponent attacks with two creatures, a Charging Rhino and a Boggart Brute. The former can't be blocked by more than one creature, and the latter can't be blocked by fewer than two creatures. After they declare attacks, they cast Camouflage.

Now, I want the possibility of blocking both creatures, so I put two creatures in one pile and one in another (for simplicity, assume all of the blocking creatures are 1/1 Soldier tokens).

Then, when the piles are assigned to attackers, I get unlucky, and the pile with one creature is assigned to block the Boggart Brute, and the pile with two creatures is assigned to block the Charging Rhino.

Now, clearly the single Soldier can't legally block the Boggart Brute alone. So my question is this: does the Charging Rhino end up blocked?

Basically, I think there are two possible interpretations for the bolded sentence that change how this situation plays out. I think it could either mean

For each attacking creauture, if some subset of the set of creatures that could each individually block that creature is a legal block, then they are assigned to block that creature.

or

For each attacking creature, if the entire set of creatures that could each individually block the assigned creature is a legal block, then they are assigned to block that creature.

Or it could even be something different from both of those that I haven't thought of.

  • Re "I think it could also make sense for the game to attempt to assign both as blockers, see that a restriction has failed, and decide that the block has failed overall.", There's no basis for this. There's no assignment, check and block. There's a single instruction to block, and a legal outcome can be achieved. – ikegami Nov 2 '16 at 17:49
7

You can't leave the Charging Rhino unblocked because it's possible to block it, and you were instructed to block it.

Similarly, you can't block with both Soldiers since you are restricted from doing so[1].

That leaves only two possible legal outcomes:

  • Solder 1 blocks the Charging Rhino, and Soldier 2 doesn't.
  • Solder 2 blocks the Charging Rhino, and Soldier 1 doesn't.

Pick one.


In Magic, actions are instantaneous. They are never being performed. For example, a card is never moving, a creature is never tapping, etc[2]. The game instantly switches from one state to another. For example, when instructed to draw, the game instantly goes from a state where the card is on top of your library to a state where the card is in your hand. This is why triggered abilities look at the state of the game before or after they trigger; there is no state during the event that triggered the ability.

Yet, some actions can depend on the outcome of other actions taken simultaneously. This is technically impossible. In this situation, we naturally start imagining complex scenarios to explain what happens, but these have no basis in the rules. I've learned long ago to catch myself, and I now see that you have entered this trap.

The solution: You must simply find the legal state that is achieved from following the instructions. How the game managed to achieve that result is not important!


I find it reassuring that the above achieves the same outcome as if one were to follow the steps of Declare Blocks. But it doesn't resolve many other related problems, such as creatures that require paying costs to block. I would be tempted to interpret

Each creature in a pile that can block the creature that pile is assigned to does so.

as

Follow the instructions of the Declare Blocks Step, except

  • Each creature in a pile that can block the creature that pile is assigned to must do so,
  • Each creature in a pile can't block any creature other than the creature that pile is assigned to, and
  • Creatures not in a pile can't block.

  1. I take "that can block" to mean "that isn't tapped and that isn't subject to a restrictions preventing it". In other words, restrictions are still in effect even though they are normally checked during the declaration of blockers which was replaced.

  2. Attacking and defending don't refer to actions being performed, but to a rule-defined state of the object.

  • I clarified that section of the question. That part of the question was just supposed to be an explanation of why I was unsure of the answer, and I was easily able to change it to make it a single instruction in both cases without changing the meaning I was trying to convey (I think). – murgatroid99 Nov 2 '16 at 18:06
  • I don't think you read my interpretations completely. They both address the possibility that some creatures can't block at all with the clause "set of creatures that could each individually block that creature". Your answer seems to imply that blockers are assigned sequentially. If so, how does it address menace? Two creatures each can block a creature with menace only because the other one is blocking it too. – murgatroid99 Nov 2 '16 at 18:37
  • Cleaned up the answer. It's very straightforward now. – ikegami Nov 2 '16 at 19:18
  • "some actions can depend on the outcome of other actions taken simultaneously" Do you have an example of this other than the situation in question? That definitely doesn't apply to normal declaration of blocks, which defines a clear sequential procedure, with explicit instructions to start over if one check fails. – murgatroid99 Nov 2 '16 at 21:33
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    I like the interpretation of Camouflage as using restrictions and requirements, because it achieves what seems to be the intention of the card in a relatively simple way that works with the blocking rules. I'm just not totally convinced that it is the correct interpretation. And I think your middle section is mostly misleading and partly incorrect. I'm pretty sure that there are no situations in Magic with depedencies between simultaneous choices/options, and with the interpretation you present, such a thing isn't even necessary. – murgatroid99 Nov 4 '16 at 20:51
5

Neither creature is blocked.

I asked this question to the (Unofficial) Ask a Magic Judge tumblr blog worded like this:

Say Anthony attacks with a Charging Rhino and Boggart Brute, then casts Camouflage. Then, while declaring blocks, Nathan puts 2 vanilla creatures in one pile and 1 in the other. Unfortunately, he gets unlucky, and the pile with 2 creatures is assigned to block Charging Rhino and the pile with 1 creature is assigned to block Boggart Brute. Which creatures end up blocked, and why does it work that way?

and this is the response

Neither creature is blocked because neither set of blockers is legal.

  • I really wish they would have elaborated. The card clearly says that only those the can block do so, so how can you get in to a situation where the set of blockers is illegal? [Sorry for the deleted comments; I had a hard time coming up with the words to express this.] – ikegami Jan 19 '18 at 18:55
  • I think the card's wording is up for interpretation. You can see that this answer matches the second possible interpretation in the question, so it's something I was considering from the beginning. I also wish it was further elaborated, but I think the card is kind of ambiguous, so a ruling from a judge is probably the best we can hope for. – murgatroid99 Jan 19 '18 at 19:06
2

Camouflage replaces the declaration of blockers. This does not remove the Declare Blockers step, but it does remove the ordinary process of declaring blockers, which in the CR is referred to stepwise by rules 509.1a through 509.1i. None of these rules apply.

Instead, the defender does as camouflage says, and ends up with piles of creatures sitting in front of each attacker. Then then each creature that "can block the creature that pile is assigned to does so".

The most important thing to know is that restrictions and requirements on blocking ONLY apply during declaration of blockers, which is why you can block a flier with your own flier and it stays blocked even if your own one loses flying. However, because Camouflage says each creature that "can block", blocking restrictions apply, but requirements do not!

What this means is, you look at restrictions only when seeing what the piled-up creatures block. Lure effects will do nothing. Flying, Menace and "can't be blocked by more than one creature" will apply, however.

My answer kind of falls apart at this point and I would love someone else to point out something in the CR I missed, because I'm not sure how to resolve the Charging Rhino case. The problem is that because we're ignoring rules 509.1a-i, we're also ignoring the way the game normally resolves contradictory requirements, which would be fulfilling as many as possible. The text for Camouflage does nothing to address that the creatures in a pile could interfere with the other creatures in their pile, so even if you take "does so" as a 'requirement' (which I do) it's not officially resolved in the same way.

I'm almost certain a Judge would tell you to pick a single creature from the pile to block with (then ask why you're playing Camouflage in an eternal format). As for justifying that decision within the CR, I'm sorry but I'm stumped.

TL;DR, You must follow blocking restrictions as normal, while blocking with as many creatures from the pile as possible. In your case, this means you must choose one creature to block the Rhino, and it is up to the defending player to choose. I am unable to quote the CR to directly back up this statement, but seeing as Camouflage's ability is close to a normal declaration of blockers, the rules were almost certainly intended to handle it this way.

2

In my understanding you assign every pile as described and then handle the last sentence:

Each creature in a pile that can block the creature that pile is assigned to does so.

This is the same scenario as with a Lure on that Charging Rhino. As worked out on Reddit:

  • In case of the rhino the defender choses one, if the pile is > 1.
  • In case of the brute if pile is <= 1, brute is not blocked.

Edit: To clarify a bit more, Camouflage states

Cast Camouflage only during your declare attackers step. This turn, instead of declaring blockers[...]

So "Declare Blockers Step" is replaced. Therefor multiple steps are resolved as statet in 608.2c Since there is no later text that acutually modifies earlier text, all instructions are followed [..]in the order written[..].

  • First the defender's creatures are put into piles.
  • The piles are randomly assigned.
  • And last go through each pile and creature relation. For every single creature an its corresponding pile Camouflage states that each creature that can block the creature (=attacker) do so. Since nothing else is stated the defender(!) assigns blockers following rules 509, esp 509.1c. The defender has to follow the maximum number of requirements without disobeying any restrictions.


So it is analogue to the Lure-Rhino situation. Only one creature is allowed to block the Rhino and the defender choses which one it is (out of the assigned pile of course).

Regarding murgatroid99's comment: Camouflage does not exclude the process of blocker declaration, it modifies it. It inserts the step of creating the piles and adds the requirement that all creatures of a pile block the correspondig creature. Blocking itself must follow 509 rules. Camouflage does not state anything like ignore other requirements, the original card even comes with the example of flying creatures cannot be block by non-flying. (which seems to be ikegami's interpretation as well)

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    Can you give more detail? Why does the defender get to choose one creature to block if 2 are assigned to block the Rhino? – GendoIkari Nov 2 '16 at 13:58
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    As Lure applies to declaring blockers, a turn-based action which is replaced by Camouflage's effect, the scenario in that thread is not analogous. – monoRed Nov 2 '16 at 19:02
  • I think it is the same. You assign your piles at random and now handle the last step: "each creature [in that pile] that can block the creature [..] does so". If only one can do this because rhino excludes more blockers, only one creature blocks. And this is analogue to the lure. – Sebastian Nov 4 '16 at 9:15
  • Your edit is kind of confusing. You say that the Declare Blockers Step is replaced, and then go on to say that the defending player should follow the procedure in the Declare Blockers step. Also, if Camouflage creates blocking requirements, as you seem to be claiming, it would create some weird interactions. For example, if an attacking creature also had Lure, the defending player would have the choice to reassign any number of blocking creatures from their pile to the creature with Lure, exchanging one requirement for another. – murgatroid99 Nov 4 '16 at 19:49
  • What I mean is that declare blockers is replaced by a group ( means creature <-> pile) of blocker declarations, one for each attacking creature. In each of these groups 509 is applied (separately) - and within such a group you can fully resolve a lure since Camouflage just splits the "normal" phase into > 1 parallel – Sebastian Nov 4 '16 at 22:41
-1

Camouflage replaces the declaration of blockers, so none of the rules that usually apply to declaring blockers are used here.

The key sentence is "Each creature in a pile that can block the creature that pile is assigned to does so." So, for each creature, we check individually if that creature can block the creature that it is assigned to.

That means that Charging Rhino can be blocked by any number of creatures using Camouflage, because each creature individually can block it. Also, Boggart Brute can not be blocked by any creature, even if there are several creatures in the pile assigned to it.

There is not especific rule that I can quote to show that each creature is checked individually, but the first ruling on Retether in a somewhat similar situation says to check each card individually.

  • I have to disagree. Each creature that can block does so, as only one creature can block, one creature is chosen to block, making the assignment of the rest as blockers illegal. – Andrew Jan 19 '18 at 5:43

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