Latest version of diagram, based on feedback in Answers below.

Latest Diagram

Original Question

Considering a creature card that is currently on the battlefield, is the following diagram accurate?

Original Diagram

"Accurate" in the sense of determining triggers etc.:

  • Indestructible doesn't prevent Sacrificing, or dying from reducing toughness, but does prevent death from damage.
  • "Destroy Target Creature" doesn't require dealing damage.
  • Everything mentioned so far does count for a "when dies" trigger.
  • etc. etc.

Are there anything missing that would fit nicely into the diagram? Are there other ways to leave the Battlefield?

Suggested Text representation for use in answers:

> Left the Battlefield
>> Exiled
>> Entered the Graveyard
>>> Died
>>>> Sacrificed
>>>> Toughness-Damage <= 0
>>>>> Dealt Lethal Damage [#1]
>>>>> Toughness = 0
>>>> Destroyed [Includes #1]
  • Am I the only one not understanding this diagram? I read over the answers and still can't figure out what this is supposed to be. I also really don't just want to close-vote in case I'm just missing something obvious, even though it appears to me as "unclear what you're asking". Jan 26, 2017 at 14:37
  • 4
    First off, do you understand the concept of a Venn Diagram? If not, then this certainly won't make any sense, but it's a fairly common concept to I don't think it's an innappropriate assumption. If you do understand Venn diagrams, then could you expand on what you don't understand? It's a fairly straightforward diagram of concepts which are nested and my question is have I nested them correctly? Respectfully, given that we've already got 3 sensible answers with multiple comments, I think its likely to be you, and not the question.
    – Brondahl
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:21
  • It is unclear what criteria you are using to determine whether two categories are related (should overlap) or unrelated (should not overlap). I don't know what it means to be "accurate in the sense of determining triggers, etc." There should be some question such that "Yes" means overlap and "No" means no overlap. I also don't understand why this diagram would be useful to anyone, but that's a separate issue and not why I voted to close.
    – Rainbolt
    Jan 30, 2017 at 21:12
  • @Rainbolt As per my other comment, it seems clear enough to all the people who've already answered, and it seems strange to Vote Close on a question that already has 3 answers, and a rich discussion coming from them, including an updated "Final" answer?
    – Brondahl
    Jan 31, 2017 at 10:56
  • @Rainbolt to directly answer your question, the Yes/No question is "If this state/event/trigger has occurred then has this other s/e/t also occurred". e.g. "If my creature has been Sacrificed has it also Died"? (Yes). "If my creature has been affected by the Legend rule, has it also been dealt Lethal Damage"? (No)
    – Brondahl
    Jan 31, 2017 at 10:58

3 Answers 3


The new rules changed for innistrad. Dies and Enters the Graveyard are now very similar (A creature “dies” if it is put into a graveyard from the battlefield; rule 700.4.). Dies now means "is put into a graveyard from the battlefield.” So I'd start by putting "dies" and "is put into graveyard" together.

Toughness - Damage < = 0 makes little sense in that context (because it is completely arbitrary and has no in game analogue).

I'd just keep sacrificed, destroyed and 0 toughness as 3 entities inside "Died", with lethal damage inside destroyed, (and also add deathstrike inside destroyed).

Make the wording shorter too, it's obvious in context that lethal damage inside destroyed means it was destroyed by lethal damage. No need to say "dealt lethal damage".

Edited: Deathtouch as a subset of death touch. Legend Rule as another way to Die / put creature in graveyard.

Left Battlefield


Died / Put into Graveyard


Legend Rule (like Diego noted)

0 Toughness


Lethal Damage

Deathtouch (as Hackworth noted, Death Strike causes lethal damage)

  • 1
    Except that "is put into graveyard from library" is different from "is put into graveyard from battlefield", so that might need to be distinguished as a separate concept. (Unless we just clarify this diagram only applies to things on the battlefield to begin with.) Jan 26, 2017 at 12:22
  • 1
    @doppelgreener OP did state that it's about creatures on the battlefield, so "died" = "put into graveyard" is correct.
    – Hackworth
    Jan 26, 2017 at 12:57
  • @CyberClaw "Toughness - marked damage <= 0" is a correct representation of the state-based effect, only differently stated. The rules say that a creature dies if "marked damage >= toughness", which is mathematically equivalent to what OP wrote.
    – Hackworth
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:00
  • Yeah, I meant the step.toughness - damage thing can be applied to both lethal damage, and toughness = 0, but it's really nothing regarding MtG rules. It's just an arbitrary subset of way a creature can die.
    – CyberClaw
    Jan 26, 2017 at 14:20
  • Doh. Lol. Haven't played MtG in a few years, it shows xD
    – CyberClaw
    Jan 26, 2017 at 14:27

The diagram is not correct.

  • "Left the battlefield" is indeed the outermost set. However, a creature permanent can move to almost any other zone with the right rule or effect, i.e. to the graveyard, exile, library, hand, ante, or command zone. There is currently no effect that would move a permanent from the battlefield to the stack. Therefore, "Exiled" and "Entered the graveyard" are not the only subsets of "left the battlefield".

  • As far as creature permanents on the battlefield are concerned, "died" is identical to "entered the graveyard":

700.4. The term dies means “is put into a graveyard from the battlefield.”

  • "Received lethal damage" is identical to "toughness - marked damage <= 0". Note that the rules state the rule a little differently, although mathematically equivalently:

119.6. Damage marked on a creature remains until the cleanup step, even if that permanent stops being a creature. If the total damage marked on a creature is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed as a state-based action (see rule 704). [..]

704.5g If a creature has toughness greater than 0, and the total damage marked on it is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event.

  • While, strictly speaking, "Toughness = 0" is only a special case of "marked damage >= toughness", it is mentioned in the rules explicitly. For this diagram you can either leave it out, or keep it as you have it as a subset of "toughness - marked damage <= 0":

704.5f If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.

  • Destruction of a creature can either be a stand-alone effect, or the result of lethal damage. Lethal damage is one or both of "damage >= toughness" and "deathtouch damage >= 1"

702.2b Any nonzero amount of combat damage assigned to a creature by a source with deathtouch is considered to be lethal damage, regardless of that creature’s toughness. See rules 510.1c–d.

702.2c A creature with toughness greater than 0 that’s been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch since the last time state-based actions were checked is destroyed as a state-based action. See rule 704.

  • 1
    The Legend Rule is also something that can move a creature from the battlefield to the graveyard.
    – diego
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:40
  • ["Received lethal damage" is identical to "toughness - marked damage <= 0"] surely that's wrong - as per the rules that you cited after? Lethal Damage is a distinct and different subset from Toughness = 0, because the later case does NOT cause the creature to be destroyed by the game rules. (Unless I'm missing something?)
    – Brondahl
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:40
  • @Bronahl I'm confused why you're bringing up "toughness = 0" given the quote you're responding to never mentions it. The quote is saying that lethal damage is when you have damage that is at least toughness, which is what that equation expresses. Jan 26, 2017 at 14:36
  • @doppelgreener "you have damage that is at least toughness" is NOT the same as the equation ... EXACTLY because of the "toughness = 0" case. Lethal Damage requires that you have some non-zero amount of damage. The Equation doesn't.
    – Brondahl
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:25
  • @Brondahl then why do you have that equation there as a group name when it isn't a specific phenomenon as far as the rules are concerned? Might want to remove that label Jan 26, 2017 at 17:17

What's interesting to me is that "Dealt lethal damage" is not the same as "Entered the graveyard" because they happen at different moments, they're not subsets.

The first is before an SBA check the second is after.

To me, a time-based activity diagram makes more sense, where:

Dealt Lethal Damage => Leaves Battlefield & Enters Graveyard/Dies

demonstrates the time-based aspect

This also allows you to demonstrate a difference between, for example, Dealt Lethal Damage (waits for a state based effect to enter graveyard) and Sacrificed (happens immediately on payment/effect, rather than waiting for an SBA check).

  • yeesh, adding time flow into the whole thing is going to be tough. I think that that would require 2 distinct diagrams to track?
    – Brondahl
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:22
  • I think it replaces the Venn diagram, tbh. Basically everything inside "Died" is highly time-sensitive, whereas everything outside isn't. And to be honest, the confusion with triggers is normally more timing than quality.
    – deworde
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:25
  • I could cite a long list of SE questions about how indestructible interacts with <insert special kind> that disagrees with "the confusion isn't about quality".
    – Brondahl
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:28
  • I agree that the timing can be confusing, but that's why I think the 2 things required 2 distinct diagrams.
    – Brondahl
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:28
  • @Brondahl Ah, right, that makes sense, but in that case I'm not sure the diagram helps.
    – deworde
    Jan 26, 2017 at 16:29

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