I have an attacking 4/4 creature blocked by an Ajani's Pridemate and a Bishop's Soldier.

  1. Is the attacking order relevant? I.e., does it make a difference to the outcome of the fight whether I attack the Pridemate first or not?

  2. Will the Pridemate die, or will the lifelink of the Bishop grant it a +1/+1 counter, ensuring it survives the turn?

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    This is a Hot Network Question and probably needs a better title. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Magic to suggest one. – Thunderforge Oct 10 at 20:42
  • @Thunderforge maybe one that has "Magic:" in the name? – UKMonkey Oct 11 at 10:34
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    @UKMonkey no tag in the title. – aloisdg Oct 11 at 13:53
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    @Thunderforge it's clear if you know just a little bit about magic and no title in the world will help anyone who doesn't. – DonQuiKong Oct 11 at 19:40
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    I gave it my best shot at a better title, but in my opinion the original title was fine. – Rainbolt Oct 12 at 18:23
up vote 23 down vote accepted

The order in which you assign damage does not matter here, and the Pridemate will die before it gets the counter from the Bishops Soldier lifegain.

Note that you do not attack individual creatures - you attack players and planeswalkers only. You probably meant the right thing though, namely that you can determine the order in which your attacking creature assigns damage to the blocking creatures. Just remember not to confuse the two things, as it may confuse others also.

508.1b If the defending player controls any planeswalkers, or the game allows the active player to attack multiple other players, the active player announces which player or planeswalker each of the chosen creatures is attacking.

Unless first strike or double strike is involved, all combat damage is dealt simultaneously, so if the attacking creature has enough power to deal lethal damage to all blockers, the order of blockers does not matter,

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. A player assigns a creature’s combat damage according to the following rules:

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.

As for your second question: You gain life from Bishop's Soldier as soon as it deals damage, but Pridemate's ability is a triggered ability, so it does not immediately take effect. It only goes on the stack the next time a player would gain priority, i.e. the right to cast spells and activate abilities:

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.”)

Only when Pridemate's ability would come to resolve would it get the +1/+1 counter. However, by that time it's already moved to the graveyard because it received lethal damage.

  • Worth pointing out that first strike can throw a wrench into this. If the Bishop's Soldier had First Strike, and the attacking 4/4 as well, then one must kill the Ajani's Pridemate first or it will indeed survive. – Allure Oct 11 at 20:29
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    @Allure Yes but I didn't want to go into too much detail, so I mentioned that things change when first/double strike is involved and left it at that. – Hackworth Oct 11 at 22:58
  1. There is no attacking "first". All damage is done simultaneously.

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. A player assigns a creature’s combat damage according to the following rules:

510.1a Each attacking creature and each blocking creature assigns combat damage equal to its power. Creatures that would assign 0 or less damage this way don’t assign combat damage at all.

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.

So what you are thinking of as an "attacking order" is actually just damage assignment order. You need to assign lethal damage to a blocking creature before you can assign more to the other blocker; but this is not an order that damage will be dealt in.

  1. The Pridemate will die because its ability is a triggered ability. You gain life at the same exact time that all damage is done. This triggers the Pridemate's ability, but that trigger doesn't go on the stack to resolve until state-based actions are checked. The Pridemate will die when state-based actions are checked as a result of having too much damage.

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.

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