In Magic:The Gathering it is possible to trigger abilities of creatures at the same time you can play instants?

I play it that I can block with a creature and sacrifice it at the same time. The attacking creature blocked this ways does not deal damage because the blocking creature is gone - and I get the bonus for the sacrifice (e.g. Blood Pet gives me an extra B-Mana).

In a recent discussion the topic came up again. It seems like the rulings even allow for the blocking player to wait until the damage is put on the stack. Once the damage is on the stack, I can sacrifice my creature, gain the benefits from the sacrifice ability AND deal damage to the attacking create. In my Blood Pet example I would be able to kill an attacking creature with toughness 1 and get 1 B-Mana.

Is this correct? Where can I find the official ruling that clarifies that?

  • Protecting this on account of repeatedly attracting non-answers from 1-rep users. (It'll probably get auto-protected after the current one's removed anyway.) Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 6:25
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    @Pureferret, To which change are you referring? I've just checked the accepted answer against the latest rules, and I don't see any error. If the only problem is the dead links in the accepted answer, the proper course of action is to edit the answer rather than create a bounty.
    – ikegami
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 17:18
  • @ikegami I don't know the latest rules or where to source a new link (otherwise I'd edit). If the original answerer wants to edit in new info they're still eligible for the bounty. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 17:27
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    @Pureferret, Re "I don't know the latest rules", So why do you claim there's been a rule change that invalidates the existing answers?
    – ikegami
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 17:45
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    @Pureferret, No, you said "The current answer(s) are out-of-date and require revision given recent changes". That's clearly false. If you suspect a rule has changed, why don't you Ask a Question rather than creating baseless bounties!! On a protected post no less. That's suppose to be a signal to think twice!!
    – ikegami
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 15:11

6 Answers 6


There was a fairly long period of time ending with Magic 2010 when you could put damage on the stack, and then play instants and abilities before the damage resolved. Those days are over!

Nowadays, you declare blockers, and then both players have a chance to play spells and abilities. Once everyone is finished doing this, we move onto the combat damage phase, and only then do creatures even start thinking about dealing damage to each other. If you sacrificed your creature after declaring it as a blocker, then it never gets an opportunity to deal damage, I'm afraid!

One corner case: if your creature has First Strike and also a sacrifice ability, you can have it deal its first strike damage and then sacrifice it in the window of opportunity both players have to play spells and effects before normal combat damage. Try this page for a handy breakdown of when players have a chance to do things in the course of a Magic game.

Also have a look at Magic 2010 Rule Change, explaining some of the latest changes made to the game rules, particularly section 5, about combat damage not using the stack. Much more readable than the Comprehensive Rulebook, I think you'll find...

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    Though, actually, looking at that turn structure table, it's not QUITE right - because it's still checking for mana burn at the end of phases, and mana burn no longer happens! So I guess it's a bit out of date. It seems mostly okay though, so probably still useful for better visualising the steps of a turn. Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 12:14
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    One clarification on this otherwise excellent answer: while a sacrificed creature cannot deal combat damage, it does still act as a blocker if it is sacrificed after blocking creatures are assigned. Sacrificing the blocker does not cause the attacking creature to become "unblocked" and deal its damage to the player (Exception: if the attacker has Trample, then when there is no blocker it deals all of its damage to the player, just as if it were blocked by a 0/0 creature.) Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 14:21
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    @JS: yes, that's a useful clarification. A sacrificed blocking creature may not get to kill attackers, but it does usually save you some damage, so it is still doing double duty in a way! Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 14:40
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    @Charles Boyung I don't really agree with the assessment that by removing little-used edge-case rules like "mana burn" and confusing combat steps like "assign damage, deal damage assigned" that the game is "dumbed down". The streamlining of the rules is a process that has always been happening and keeps the game accessible and the rules interactions manageable. New mechanics/keywords/card interactions is what keeps the game "complex", not bizarre, arbitrary, and obscure rules.
    – ghoppe
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 22:15
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    That turn structure table link is also out of date because it includes "damage on the stack" which is no longer part of the rules. Here is a more up-to-date turn structure from the MTG Wiki: wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Category:Turn_structure
    – ghoppe
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 22:27

If you sacrifice an attacking or blocking creature during the declare blockers step, it won't deal combat damage. If you wait until the combat damage step, but the creature you wish to sacrifice is dealt lethal damage, it'll be destroyed before you get a chance to sacrifice it.


With old magic rules, you could, as it went

  • play effects
  • combat damage goes on the stack
  • play more effects (including a sacrifice)
  • combat damage resolves

Since Magic 2010, the order now goes

  • play effects
  • combat damage goes on the stack is determined by the players
  • play more effects (including a sacrifice)
  • combat damage resolves

As you can no longer play spells or abilities before damage resolves, it is not possible to sacrifice a creature after dealing damage. **

(** anymore)

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    Combat damage doesn't go on the stack at all.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 6:40

Under today's rules, the relevant part of the turn looks like this:

  • Declare Blockers Step
    1. The defending player chooses which creatures block.
    2. Players may cast instants and activate abilities.
  • Combat Damage Step
    1. Players assign combat damage.
    2. Combat damage is dealt.
    3. Players may cast instants and activate abilities.

Combat damage no longer uses the stack, so by the time you are able to cast instants and activate abilities in the Combat Damage Step, combat damage has already been dealt and any creatures dealt lethal damage have died.

Also, note that each time we reach a "Players may cast instants" part of the turn, the "active" player (the person whose turn it is) always goes first. So if you want to block and then sacrifice, there will be a chance between the block and the sacrifice for your opponent to activate something, though thanks to the stack they probably can't stop you since you can use your sacrifice ability in response to whatever they do.

Finally, you are correct that in general a blocked creature whose blocker has disappeared will deal no combat damage. As always in Magic, there are tons of abilities that can mess with everything I've said, including First Strike (which will add an extra Combat Damage Step into the sequence) and Trample (which can allow a blocked creature whose blocker is gone to still deal damage to your face).


When you sacrifice a blocking creature, it does not deal combat damage, but the attacking creature it is blocking is still considered "blocked" and won't deal combat damage to you unless it has trample. You essentially get to chose whether to have your creature deal damage or whether to sacrifice it. The relevant rules are as follows

510.2. 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.

509.1h An attacking creature with one or more creatures declared as blockers for it becomes a blocked creature; one with no creatures declared as blockers for it becomes an unblocked creature.

510.1c A blocked creature assigns its combat damage to the creatures blocking it. If no creatures are currently blocking it (if, for example, they were destroyed or removed from combat), it assigns no combat damage.

702.19c If an attacking creature with trample is blocked, but there are no creatures blocking it when damage is assigned, all its damage is assigned to the player or planeswalker it's attacking.

Exception 1: if the blocking creature has sufficient toughness, indestructible, regeneration, etc, it can both deal damage and be sacrificed but that is a result of it surviving combat, not of anything in how combat damage works.

Exception 2: if the blocking creature has first strike or double strike and the attacking creature does not, the blocking creature can both deal damage and be sacrificed for an effect by sacrificing it during the first strike combat damage step (after first strike damage has been dealt but before regular combat damage has been dealt).

Historic note: before 2010, combat damage went on the stack and you could both have a creature deal combat damage and sacrifice it for an ability.


The "simple" way I see this is kinda silly, but it works. Look at the cards during combat like a somewhat real battlefield:

  1. Opponent declares attack, monster now run towards YOU (monsters always go towards you or planeswalker, unless something say otherwise).

  2. You declare you do not want to be hurt, so you order your minions to block.

  3. Attacking and blocking creature now meet, both ready for impact, attacker lift axe to strike, blocker raise shield to block.

  4. Attacker swings to deal damage, attacker blocks to soak the damage. Nothing can really be done now.

  5. Regeneration effects are now in play. Creatures that are not regenerated and has taken fatal damage will be dead after this step.

  6. Any "when creature dies" effect can now execute.

This "list" is basically the whole attack pace broken down to show how it more or less works. A great way to explain how the stack works for new players during attack pace. The same idea can also be adapted to explain how the whole stack idea works out throughout the game as a whole. While I admit it likely has its flaws, it at least provides a general idea. In the end the attack pace is two parted, declare attack and declare block, everything else goes between or after those two steps (usually). You can for example not declare to block an attacking creature, then snipe it with a card that say to destroy attacking creature.

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