1

Does Raving Dead deal damage before halving opponent's life i.e. is two damage subtracted first?

3

Yes, Raving Dead deals combat damage, then the defending player loses half their life total. This is explicitly stated in one of the official rulings for the card:

The last ability triggers and resolves after combat damage has been dealt. For example, if an opponent has 17 life and Raving Dead deals 2 combat damage to him or her, he or she will end up at 8 life.


The rules section regarding the Combat Damage Step has the following rules:

  • 510.1. First, the active player announces how each attacking creature assigns its combat damage, then the defending player announces how each blocking creature assigns its combat damage. This turn-based action doesn’t use the stack. [...]

  • 510.2. Second, all combat damage that’s been assigned is dealt simultaneously. This turn-based action doesn’t use the stack. No player has the chance to cast spells or activate abilities between the time combat damage is assigned and the time it’s dealt.

  • 510.3. Third, the active player gets priority. (See rule 116, “Timing and Priority.”)

    • 510.3a Any abilities that triggered on damage being dealt or while state-based actions are performed afterward are put onto the stack before the active player gets priority; the order in which they triggered doesn’t matter. (See rule 603, “Handling Triggered Abilities.”)

Raving Dead's ability says

Whenever Raving Dead deals combat damage to a player, that player loses half his or her life, rounded down.

So the ability triggers in the third part of the combat damage step, after damage has been dealt.


More generally, trigger abilities always resolve after the event that caused them to trigger. The rules section regarding Triggered Abilities has the following rules:

  • 603.1. Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as “[When/Whenever/At] [trigger condition or event], [effect].”

  • 603.2. Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability’s trigger event, that ability automatically triggers. The ability doesn’t do anything at this point.

  • 603.3. Once an ability has triggered, its controller puts it on the stack as an object that’s not a card the next time a player would receive priority. [...]

So any triggered ability goes through the following process:

  1. First, the triggering event occurs.
  2. Second, the ability triggers.
  3. Third, the ability gets put on the stack (when a player would receive priority).
  4. Last, the ability eventually resolves.

In this particular case, the triggering event is "Raving Dead deals combat damage to a player" and the effect (which happens) on resolution is "that player loses half his or her life, rounded down". Clearly, the triggering event must occur well before the ability's effect.

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  • Right, but (17 - 2) / 2 is 15/2 is 7.5 which rounded down is 7 and not 8 however 17 / 2 is 8.5 which rounds down to 8
    – the_prole
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:25
  • You misunderstood the ability. The defending player loses half their life rounded down. If they have 15 life, they lose 7 life, and end up with 8. If they have 17 life, they lose 8 life, and end up with 9.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:26
  • How does one know when things happen at the same time and when they don't? Like just reading the text on the card, is says the player looses life when combat damage is dealt. Do I just assume taking combat damage and losing life happens in that order and not simultaneously?
    – the_prole
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:38
  • I added another section at the end about triggered abilities in general. Does that help?
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:42
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The damage will be dealt before their life total is halved because the trigger requires combat damage to have been dealt, if damage hasn't been dealt yet the trigger will not go off.

510.1. First, the active player announces how each attacking creature assigns its combat damage, then the defending player announces how each blocking creature assigns its combat damage. This turn-based action doesn’t use the stack. [...]

510.2. Second, all combat damage that’s been assigned is dealt simultaneously. This turn-based action doesn’t use the stack. No player has the chance to cast spells or activate abilities between the time combat damage is assigned and the time it’s dealt.

510.3. Third, the active player gets priority. (See rule 116, “Timing and Priority.”)

510.3a Any abilities that triggered on damage being dealt or while state-based actions are performed afterward are put onto the stack before the active player gets priority; the order in which they triggered doesn’t matter.

4
  • It seems kind of odd that you skipped the one step where damage is actually dealt.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:27
  • @murgatroid99 You're right, I must have missed it when copying/pasting
    – diego
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:28
  • I'm also not exactly sure what you're trying to say with your second point. Trigger effects always happen after the corresponding trigger condition, so I'm not sure why it's relevant that the trigger condition is a turn-based action instead of something else.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:32
  • @murgatroid99 You're right again, I'm not sure why I was thinking that was relevant.
    – diego
    Nov 21 '16 at 21:37

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