2

Regeneration has passed through several changes in its rulings. It now says that after the regen has been resolved, creature must tap and be removed from combat. This means a lot, and it is quite different from the old MTG ruling: for instance, old cards (just like Clay Statue, and many others) are almost completely obsolete. But it is better to take a modern card to make examples, and questions about it.

If Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon has been blocked by a 5/5 flying creature, his controller has 2 options:

  1. Leave the dragon fight and deal his 4 infect damages to the 5/5 blocker, but Skithiryx dies too, since its controller has chosen to do not regenerate it; or,
  2. Regenerate Skithiryx, and therefore remove it from the combat – but this means that dragon isn’t able to deal his 4 infect damages to the flying blocker.

Is all this example correct?

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We are able to regenerate Skithiryx and assign combat damage. Option 2 is not accurately depicting how regenerate works.

When we use an ability or spell that says "regenerate (some creature)", we are not then and there performing the regenerate procedure (tap it, remove it from combat, remove damage marked on it). Instead, we're applying a sort of shield. Next time the creature dies, the shield gets used up and the regenerate procedure happens.

Specifically, Regeneration is a replacement effect that replaces the next time the creature would be destroyed. You can read about it in the comprehensive rules under rule 701.14.

It's a bit confusing and that's part of why regenerate has faded away.

In the case of Skithiryx, this is what will typically happen in your example:

  1. I attack with Skithiryx. You block it with your 5/5.
  2. At the end of the blocking step, before combat damage happens, I activate Skithiryx's regenerate ability. Nothing happens now, but the regeneration shield is made.
  3. We advance to combat damage. Simultaneously, your 5/5 deals 5 damage to Skithiryx, then Skithiryx assigns 4 infect damage to your 5/5.
  4. Immediately after combat damage, state-based actions are checked. Skithiryx has lethal damage marked on it and so would be destroyed. The regeneration shield we created is now applied and expended: we tap Skithiryx, remove all combat damage from it, and remove it from combat (which hardly matters since combat is almost over at this stage).

So ol' Skithy deals its damage and survives, and you now have a 1/1 flier.

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  • Well, Ok,Doppelgreener, but then...what does the expression "remove it from combat" means? It is completely useless? What kind of effect do you expect from it,maybe it is useful in blocking? What happens if Skithiryx is used to block the flier instead? Is it still able to regen and deal is damage? Oh...I dislike this change in ruling... Nov 29 '19 at 16:22
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    @Massimiliano It's not a very meaninggful part of regeneration in this particular scenario. It would be relevant if someone cast Divine Verdict on Skithiryx between step 2 and 3: Skithiryx regenerates, but leaves combat, and is no longer attacking and won't assign or be assigned combat damage. I suggest if you need to learn more about that specific part of regenerate, you may want to ask a new question about that part specifically. Nov 29 '19 at 16:31
  • Ok, i'll do this, really great answer. Clay Statue flavour text - "Tawnos won fame as Urza's greatest assistant. After he created these warriors, Urza ended his apprenticeship, promoting him directly to the rank of master" - must be edited this way:"After Tawnos created these warriors, Urza ended his apprenticeship....firing and kicking him!!!". Regeneration is really in decay... Nov 29 '19 at 16:39
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    @Massimiliano As a matter of fact regenerate has altogether been removed from the evergreen keyword list. The last time we saw Regenerate was in Oath of the Gatewatch (January 2016). They're now experimenting with a new template that grants indestructible and taps the creature. Nov 29 '19 at 17:42
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    While also done for flavor reasons, I think the point of removing the creature from combat was they wanted to reduce the situations where you would unintuitively have to regenerate your creature twice. @doppelgreener mentioned casting Divine Verdict early in combat. If it weren't removed from combat, then after regenerating the creature could get blocked and have to regenerate again. That is why Deathtouch had to be supported by the rules, since previous templates would require double regeneration for a single hit.
    – CALEB F
    Dec 2 '19 at 16:19

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