So I heard a while ago that damage doesn't kill creatures, state based actions kill creatures. Not relevant but this was a judge who said it.

So I wanted to ask, is it possible for someone to attack with say a 4/4 Bitterblade Warrior and me to declare 2/2 Sinuous Striker as a defender then attacking opponent casts a spell or combat trick on another minion or maybe does nothing in this example, then I say before damage is dealt to pump the Sinuous Striker by two to be a 4/0 so that it's damage is enough to kill the 4/4 Bitterblade Warrior. Does a State based action check happen before damage is dealt or is the move I'm talking about legal to do at this stage? The finer points of movement between phases still eludes me as I'm getting my head around it.

If anyone can explain this as clearly as possible (as opposed to just saying 'no you can't do that') I would be quite grateful, I'm looking to also learn about phasing and how it works here and how each steps resolves as the stack steps through the corresponding actions.

From my own perspective this is how I imagine it would work:

  • Combat starts
  • Attacker declared
  • Blocker declared
  • Nothing from the opponent like spells etc,
  • Defender gets priority to respond before damage and pumps creature
  • Damage is then resolved
  • State based action happens then it sees the 4/4 attacker and the 2/2 defender are now 4/0 and 4/-4 respectively ergo they both die as their toughness is 0 or less.
  • 3
    You seem to be asking a lot of different questions here, it would be a good idea to try and narrow down your focus to one specific question that you want answered. – Malco Aug 14 '17 at 15:28
  • You're getting one important thing wrong that's not directly tied to your question. If a 4/4 takes 4 damage, it is NOT now a 4/0. It is a 4/4 with 4 damage. Similarly, a 4/0 that takes 4 damage would not be a 4/-4. It would be a 4/0 with 4 damage. – GendoIkari Aug 17 '17 at 2:24
  • @GendoIkari this is exactly this kind've granularity I need to get correct. When exactly do damage states get checked between people playing instants. After damage is dealt do the creatures become 4/0? Or does the state become 4/0 -4 which equates to becoming dead? – Dexter Whelan Aug 21 '17 at 9:08
  • Damage doesn't subtract from a creature's toughness. If you deal 4 damage to a 4/4, it is still a 4/4. It will never be a 4/0. One of the state-based actions that is checked will destroy any creatures that have at least as much damage as they do toughness (so a 4/4 with 4 damage will be destroyed). – GendoIkari Aug 21 '17 at 14:50
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Sinuous Striker will die without dealing combat damage. Your opponent's creature will remain blocked, but will not be destroyed.


The problem with this combo is that there is no way to activate Sinuous Striker's ability without state-based actions being checked immediately afterwards. State-based actions are checked immediately after any ability resolves.

Let's assume that the Declare Attackers Step is complete. Here is the order of events:

  1. You declare that your Sinuous Striker will block your opponent's creature.509.1
  2. The active player (your opponent) gets priority.509.4
  3. Your opponent passes, giving you priority.116.3d
  4. You activate Sinuous Striker's ability twice. You and your opponent both pass (twice) allowing both of those abilities to resolve. Sinuous Striker is now a 4/0 creature.
  5. The active player (your opponent) will get priority after the spell resolves,116.3b so a check for state-based actions is triggered.704.3
  6. Sinuous Striker is destroyed by a state-based action.704.5f
  7. Combat damage is assigned.510.1 Your opponent's creature remains blocked510.1c but takes no combat damage.
  • 2
    that was the best, most concise and well laid out answer i've gotten anywhere in the stack exchange ethos. Thank you very much for that that clears up alot of my confusion around the area. – Dexter Whelan Aug 14 '17 at 22:04

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