5

Scenario is a 10/10 with trample attacks. Defender blocks with a 1/1 and plays smite

My understand was that in order for smite to work, the attacker must be blocked. If the attacker is blocked, then isn't damage already assigned?

Would the defending player take 9 damage and the 1/1 is destroyed? Or would the destroyed creature not deal any damage?

  • Re "My understand was that in order for smite to work, the attacker must be blocked. If the attacker is blocked", That is correct. The targeting condition is "blocked creature", so only blocked creatures can be targeted. – ikegami Oct 27 '17 at 0:19
11

The attacking creature will die, the blocking creature will survive, and the defending player will not take damage. If you destroy a creature before the combat damage step, or otherwise remove it from combat, it will not deal combat damage. There is an opportunity after declaring blockers to play spells like Smite to accomplish that.

Combat has the following steps:

In each step, after taking the relevant turn based actions, such as declaring attackers or blockers, or dealing combat damage, each player gains priority, which is the opportunity to take actions such as casting spells and abilities. This means that the defending player can cast Smite during the declare blockers step, before the combat damage step begins.

The important thing, in this particular situation, is that combat damage is both assigned and dealt in the combat damage step, and no players gain priority in between those two actions. This is described in the following rules regarding that step:

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.”)

  • Isn't the answer more "it's up to you", since you can (presumably) also destroy it after damage is dealt, if you want? – NotThatGuy Oct 27 '17 at 7:42
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    In the scenario as described "Defender blocks with a 1/1 and plays smite". The implication is that Smite is played immediately after blockers are declared. That sequence is also the correct play almost all of the time, so it's reasonable to assume that that's what was intended. – murgatroid99 Oct 27 '17 at 7:46
  • @NotThatGuy You're correct that there are times you might want to take a small amount of damage sometimes - for example, if the creature didn't have trample you might have wanted to block with Abattoir Ghoul - then when you smite the creature, you'll get 10 life, which is a non-trivial amount of life. Another reason might be transforming Arguel's Blood Fast or getting out a cheap Avatar of Hope - but it's a dangerous thing to take 9 damage so late in the game, especially if you're going to remove the creature anyway. In 99.99999% of cases, the correct play is to smite before damage. – corsiKa Oct 27 '17 at 17:07
7

The 10/10 would be destroyed and not deal any damage. The combat phase has multiple steps, and damage isn't assigned as soon as blockers are declared.

You work through the combat phase like this:

  1. Beginning of Combat step.
  2. Declare attackers step.
  3. Declare blockers step.
  4. Combat damage step.
  5. End of combat step.

At the end of each step, each player has the opportunity to cast spells and activate abilities before the game reaches the next step.

Smite would be used in this sort of sequence:

  1. Declare attackers: the 10/10 trampler is declared as an attacker.
  2. Declare blockers: the 1/1 is declared as a blocker.
    • Once the defending player receives priority, they cast Smite on the 10/10 trampler. It's destroyed.
  3. Combat damage: None is exchanged, since the 1/1 has nothing to deal damage to anymore, and the 10/10 trampler is gone.

Note that merely blocking doesn't cause an immediate exchange of damage. Any number of spells can be cast before we move on to the combat damage step, after all attackers and blockers are declared. It's during that stage we'd sometimes use pump abilities like those found on Rhonas the Indomitable or on Creeperhulk so as to maximize what we can do with them.

2

In the scenario you describe, the defending player would take no damage.

A creature becomes blocked when a blocker is declared for it or an effect makes it blocked. Once blockers are declared, both players have the opportunity to cast spells or activate abilities before combat damage is dealt. If a blocked creature is destroyed at this point, it will not be present during the combat damage step and will not deal damage.

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