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Scenario: I have Bloodthirsty Aerialist and a Blood Burglar on the board. I attack with both and both get a blocker assigned to them.

Does Bloodthirsty Aerialist's ability trigger before damage because of Blood Burglar's Lifelink? As in does Bloodthirsty Aerialist get a +1/+1 counter on it before the damage is done against the blocker?

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The scenario unfolds as follows:

  1. You declare bloodthirsty Aerialist and Blood Burglar as attackers.
  2. Your opponent declares blockers for these creatures.
  3. All damage is dealt. At the same time, Blood Burglar's lifelink causes you to gain 2 life.
  4. Bloodthirsty Aerialist's ability is triggered and goes on the stack (but doesn't resolve yet).
  5. State based actions are checked. If either of these creatures have enough damage on them to die, they are put into the graveyard.
  6. Bloodthirsty Aerialist's ability resolves (assuming players pass priority). If Bloodthirsty Aerialist is not on the battlefield, the ability does nothing. If the creature is on the battlefield, it gets a single +1/+1 counter.

Bloodthirsty Aerialist will only deal 2 damage to the creature that blocks it, and if it is dealt three damage, the +1/+1 counter won't be placed on it in time to save it from dying.

  • Re "All damage is dealt. At the same time, Blood Burglar's lifelink causes you to gain 2 life.", Technically, this description could be understood to mean the life gain is something that happens in addition to damage being dealt, but the life gain is the effect of the damage being dealt. The following is a more accurate description: All damage is dealt simultaneously. This has the effect of marking damage on the creatures and you gaining two life (because of lifelink). – ikegami Aug 16 at 17:30
  • @ikegami I have never heard before an idea of "dealing damage" as a thing that happens before the effects of that damage are applied. "Dealing damage" is synonymous with "resolving the effects of damage" as far as I know. – GendoIkari Aug 16 at 17:30
  • @Gendolkari, That's my point. But that's not the what the answer says. It says two things happen in step 3: damage being dealt and life being gained. – ikegami Aug 16 at 17:32
  • @ikegami I see, I misread part of your comment. Although looking it up; I see 120.4; which seems to imply that resolving effects of damage is technically a separate step from dealing damage. – GendoIkari Aug 16 at 17:33
  • @Gendolkari, I'm just saying it could be clearer. And I've often come across many questions about when life link actually happens, so it's not just a nit. – ikegami Aug 16 at 17:34
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In Short The Bloodthirsty Aerialist would not get any +1/+1 counters until after the damage resolved just like Aetherfox stated above.

Longer Description You won't gain any life until all damage is dealt and then you would gain life due to the lifelink ability. After that resolves then the Aerialist's ability would trigger (Due to the lifelink gaining you life.) and be put on the stack, but if the Aerialist is dead it can't gain any +1/+1 counters (It would be dealt damage before the ability activated.)

  • Minor nitpick, Lifelink is a replacement ability and not a triggered ability. Which means that you gain the life as the damage is being dealt, not as part of a triggered ability afterwards. It used to be triggered but got updated in the 2010 rules update. – DenisS Aug 16 at 22:46
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    @DenisS It's not even a replacement ability, it is a defined part of what "dealing damage" means. Just as much as, say, players who receive damage losing life. – Arthur Aug 17 at 6:20
  • @Arthur true, although it functions closer to a replacement effect rather than triggered because the life gain happens simultaneously. – DenisS Aug 18 at 23:11
  • Thanks for the comment and I did know this and I just didn't how to say it so if you have any edits please add them. – Jokus Aug 21 at 23:51

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