# Damage assignment with multiple attackers and blockers

I'm returning to Magic and I have a scenario that I can't seem to settle. In the case where I have two 4/4 creatures which I use to attack an opponent who then decides to defend with two 1/2 creatures, how is the damage allocated? Neither the 4/4 creatures or the 1/2 creatures have any special characteristics (i.e. not flying, not trample). I'm wondering which of the following is the right way:

1. Each of the opponent's creatures block each of my creatures, and their two creatures die.
2. The damage of one of my creatures destroys one of theirs, and then the remaining damage is assigned to the next 1/2 blocker creature. My second 4/4 is then free to attack the player.

Any help in understanding the order of operations for this situation would be greatly appreciated.

The defending player chooses which creatures block which attacking creatures, so your opponent can choose to either

1. have each 1/2 block a different 4/4
2. have both 1/2s block the same 4/4

The attacking player chooses how to distribute damage of the 4/4s. If a 4/4 is blocked, it cannot deal damage to the defending player. In case 1, all 4 damage is dealt to the 1/2 blocking it, so the blockers are destroyed. In case 2, the attacking player can (but is not required to, see below) divide the damage evenly among the 1/2s, destroying them both; the other unblocked 4/4 deals its combat damage to the player. Therefore, case 1 is preferable for the defending player.

It's possible to choose another distribution of damage among blocking creatures, e.g. 4 to one of them and 0 to the other, for example if some of the damage would be prevented with e.g. Cover of Winter (thanks @CALEBF for the suggestion). But a blocked creature (without trample) can only deal combat damage to creatures blocking it. The actual rules can be quite complicated when multiple blockers are involved which can't be all dealt lethal damage; see below.

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. If exactly one creature is blocking it, it assigns all its combat damage to that creature. If two or more creatures are blocking it, it assigns its combat damage to those creatures according to the damage assignment order announced for it. This may allow the blocked creature to divide its combat damage. However, it can’t assign combat damage to a creature that’s blocking it unless, when combat damage assignments are complete, each creature that precedes that blocking creature in its order is assigned lethal damage. When checking for assigned lethal damage, take into account damage already marked on the creature and damage from other creatures that’s being assigned during the same combat damage step, but not any abilities or effects that might change the amount of damage that’s actually dealt. An amount of damage that’s greater than a creature’s lethal damage may be assigned to it.

Example: The damage assignment order of an attacking Vastwood Gorger (a 5/6 creature) is Pride Guardian (a 0/3 creature) then Llanowar Elves (a 1/1 creature). Vastwood Gorger can assign 3 damage to the Guardian and 2 damage to the Elves, 4 damage to the Guardian and 1 damage to the Elves, or 5 damage to the Guardian.

Example: The damage assignment order of an attacking Vastwood Gorger (a 5/6 creature) is Pride Guardian (a 0/3 creature) then Llanowar Elves (a 1/1 creature). During the declare blockers step, the defending player casts Giant Growth targeting Pride Guardian, which gives it +3/+3 until end of turn. Vastwood Gorger must assign its 5 damage to the Guardian.

Example: The damage assignment order of an attacking Vastwood Gorger (a 5/6 creature) is Pride Guardian (a 0/3 creature) then Llanowar Elves (a 1/1 creature). During the declare blockers step, the defending player casts Mending Hands targeting Pride Guardian, which prevents the next 4 damage that would be dealt to it. Vastwood Gorger can assign 3 damage to the Guardian and 2 damage to the Elves, 4 damage to the Guardian and 1 damage to the Elves, or 5 damage to the Guardian.

Example: The damage assignment order of an attacking Enormous Baloth (a 7/7 creature) is Trained Armodon (a 3/3 creature) that already has 2 damage marked on it, then Foriysian Brigade (a 2/4 creature that can block an additional creature), then Silverback Ape (a 5/5 creature). The damage assignment order of an attacking Durkwood Boars (a 4/4 creature) is the same Foriysian Brigade, then Goblin Piker (a 2/1 creature). Among other possibilities, the active player may have the Baloth assign 1 damage to the Armodon, 1 damage to the Brigade, and 5 damage to the Ape, and have the Boars assign 3 damage to the Brigade and 1 damage to the Piker.

• I think the last paragraph is a little weird. If you look at 510, there is no chance to do any tricks between distributing damage and the damage being dealt. So there is no threat of Artful Maneuver interfering with those damage distributions. I think maybe the best example for this is Cover of Winter. If there is an age counter on Cover of Winter, you need to deal three damage to the first creature if you want to ensure that specific creature dies. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 18:39
• Ah, you're right. I've played 95% of my games under the old rules, where such tricks were possible. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 18:48
• Oh yeah, I forgot that this was the way it had to work under the old "damage on the stack" framework Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 18:51
• You can only distribute damage evenly because a 4/4 deals enough damage to kill both blockers. If they were 1/3s then your only options would be to deal 3 and 1 or 4 and 0 - you have to deal lethal damage to the first blocker before you deal any to the second (the catch is that the attacker gets to choose which blocker is the 'first' blocker. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 6:13
• @ArcanistLupus thanks, that's indeed important to note. That particular rule is so long ... Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 7:09