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I just played a game of MTG Arena where Questing Beast attacked while I declared my Linden, the Steadfast Queen as a blocker. I sacrificed my Alseid of Life's Bounty and gave Linden, the Steadfast Queen protection from green. My opponent played Embercleave and assigned it to Questing Beast. If I correctly saw the situation, only the Embercleave damage was applied on the Linden, the Steadfast Queen which is exactly what I though would happen but after both "First strike damage" and "Damage" were applied, Linden, the Steadfast Queen perished and I can't make a sense of it why.

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    What "Embercleave damage" are you referring to? – murgatroid99 Feb 9 at 19:18
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    I would guess because Questing Beast has an ability that removes protection from damage abilites? "Questing Beast only stops combat damage from being prevented by effects that specifically use the word “prevent.”" And having death touch might play a role as well. – Joe W Feb 9 at 19:22
  • @murgatroid99 I meant the one damage in each damage phase added by +1/+1 to the creature. – eXPRESS Feb 9 at 19:46
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    @eXPRESS that's not really how it works, it's 5 first strike damage and 5 normal damage from questing beast. Because he has deathtouch and stops damage prevention (protection is damage prevention), the 1 damage on first strike is enough to kill Linden and the other 9 hits you. – Andrew Feb 9 at 19:56
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    @Andrew Thanks for clarification. :) I wish there was some play log in Arena to investigate the game after playing so one can better understand these more complicated or unusual plays. – eXPRESS Feb 9 at 19:59
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The primary issue here is that Questing Beast has an ability that overrides protection, so it deals damage even though your creature has protection from green. That ability is

Combat damage that would be dealt by creatures you control can't be prevented.

The relevant part of the protection rule is 702.16e:

Any damage that would be dealt by sources that have the stated quality to a permanent or player with protection is prevented.

You can see that they use the same wording: protection causes damage to be prevented, and Questing Beast's ability says that the damage can't be prevented. When there is a conflict like that, it is resolved by rule 101.2:

When a rule or effect allows or directs something to happen, and another effect states that it can’t happen, the “can’t” effect takes precedence.


When you saw that "only the Embercleave damage was applied", that is not actually what happened. Embercleave itself does not deal any damage, it just increases Questing Beast's power and toughness, so Questing Beast itself deals more damage. The reason Questing Beast only deals one damage to your creature is because of the interaction between deathtouch, which Questing Beast has inherently, and trample, which Embercleave grants to it.

A creature dies if it is dealt damage by a source with deathtouch, even if it is less damage than the creature's toughness. And trample allows you to assign any damage in excess of what is needed to kill the blocking creature, to the defending player. In combination, since any one damage dealt by the creature is lethal, the rest of the damage can be assigned to the defending player.

In this specific scenario, the attacking player assigned 1 of Questing Beast's first strike damage to Linden, and the other 4 to you. After that damage was dealt, Linden died because of deathtouch. Then in the regular damage step, there was no longer a blocking creature, so the attacking player could assign all 5 of the damage to you.

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    @eXPRESS questing beast has deathtouch, you need to assign letal damage before the rest goes to the next blocker, or the player in trample, deathtouch says one point of damage is enough to be lethal, so that's all they had to apply to her, the other 4 from first strike and 5 from the regular hit can go to you. – Andrew Feb 9 at 19:51
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    @Andrew Does that mean that if I had any creature with trample and deathtouch and it attacked, always only 1 damage will be assigned to all its blockers? So if opponent used multiple creatures, min(power of my creature, number of assigned blockers) of creatures would die if not otherwise protected/indestructible? – eXPRESS Feb 9 at 19:57
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    @eXPRESS technically you can choose to apply more but most don't since it's usually a waste (a few Kaldheim cards, like Aegar, give benefits to doing 'overkill' damage) But Deathtouch means 1 damage is lethal, and trample means you can assign any left over damage to the defending player or planeswalker, so yes. It's why deathtouch and first strike or trample work so well together. – Andrew Feb 9 at 20:00
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    @eXPRESS in this situation anywhere from 1 to 5 of the first strike damage could have been assigned to Linden, and the other 4 to 0 assigned to you, the defending player.. Doing any more than 1 would be wasting the damage that could be done to you. The 5 damage from the normal hit of double strike has to be done to you, Linden is already dead after first strike and can't take that hit. – Andrew Feb 9 at 20:02
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    "Embercleave itself does not deal any damage" To emphasize this point, if Linden had had protection from red, the protection from red would not have affected how much damage would be done to Linden, even without the damage prevention prevention. – Acccumulation Feb 10 at 2:04

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