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Attacking player has 6/3 first strike, The blockers are 2/2 first strike, and 4/3 without first strike - do we all die, or does the 6/3 get to live?

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    The setup is different, but does this answer answer your question?
    – Cadence
    Dec 9, 2021 at 1:17

2 Answers 2

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The 6/3 attacker will live, because the creature without first strike will die before it gets to do any combat damage.

When any creatures with first strike are involved in combat, whether attacking or blocking, there are 2 separate combat damage steps. In the first one, only creatures with first strike will deal damage. In the second one, only creatures without first strike will deal damage.

So in first first combat damage step, the 6/3 and the 2/2 will assign and deal their damage simultaneously. The 6/3 will take 2 damage (and live), while the attacking creature gets to split its 6 damage between the 2 blockers, enough to kill them both. Then when state-based actions are checked before the second combat damage step, the 4/3 will die for having 3 (or 4) damage, without ever dealing damage.

510.4. If at least one attacking or blocking creature has first strike (see rule 702.7) or double strike (see rule 702.4) as the combat damage step begins, the only creatures that assign combat damage in that step are those with first strike or double strike. After that step, instead of proceeding to the end of combat step, the phase gets a second combat damage step. The only creatures that assign combat damage in that step are the remaining attackers and blockers that had neither first strike nor double strike as the first combat damage step began, as well as the remaining attackers and blockers that currently have double strike. After that step, the phase proceeds to the end of combat step.

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    You might want add a bit more detail about blocking order and the rules for damage assignment. Just saying 'the attacker gets to split its' damage between the two blockers' skips over some subtle but important details. For example, if the attacker chooses the order "2/2 then 4/3" and the defending player increases the toughness of the 2/2 to a 2/4 before damage, then the attacker will have to assign at least 4 damage to the first creature, so the 4/3 will survive and kill the attacker in the second combat phase. If the order was reversed the 4/3(5) would die but the 6/3 and the 2/2 would live.
    – pbuchheit
    Dec 9, 2021 at 15:32
  • As a side note, in the first phase Double strike creatures also deal damage
    – yesennes
    Dec 9, 2021 at 20:28
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Usually, the 6/3 first strike attacker lives while the other two creatures die. I say "usually" because it's possible it doesn't. What happens is:

  1. Blocks are declared. The first strikers deal damage first.
  2. The 2/2 does two damage to the 6/3. "Usually" the 6/3 attacker will do 2 damage to the 2/2, and 3 damage to the 4/3, plus one more overkill damage that's irrelevant. However the player can also, e.g., assign 6 damage to the 2/2 and 0 damage to the 4/3.
  3. Now all units that have taken damage equal to or greater than their toughness die. "Usually" the 2/2 and 4/3 both die at this stage, but if the attacker assigned damage differently, then it's possible one or the other (but not both) survive.
  4. After first strike, regular damage is dealt. If the 4/3 survived, then it does 4 damage to the 6/3 attacker, and the 6/3 dies.

In other words, the player controlling the 6/3 first strike can choose between these three options:

  • Both the 2/2 and 4/3 die, the 6/3 survives.
  • Both the 2/2 and the 6/3 die, the 4/3 survives.
  • The 4/3 dies, both the 6/3 and 2/2 survive.

They're almost always going to take the first option, but the other two can in theory happen.

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    @Jontia I don't understand your question. It's allowed, of course, but if other cards are involved then all sorts of combat results are possible.
    – Allure
    Dec 9, 2021 at 9:44
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    @Jontia combat damage on the stack has been removed over 10 years ago when Magic 2010 was released. It's not possible anymore to play instants after damage has been assigned and before damage is dealt Dec 9, 2021 at 9:59
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    @IvoBeckers wow that long. Sad times.
    – Jontia
    Dec 9, 2021 at 10:16
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    @Jontia yup, and no more sacrificing Mogg Fanatic while his combat damage is on the stack to double up.
    – Andrew
    Dec 9, 2021 at 15:20
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    @Jontia Responses can still be useful for saving creatures before damage is dealt. The attacker declares what order to assign damage to the blockers, then players can play combat tricks, and then damage is assigned. The attacker must assign damage to each blocker one at a time, in the order previously declared, and must assign at least a lethal amount before moving on to the next blocker. The defending player can guarantee that increasing toughness will matter by doing it to the first blocker in the declared order.
    – Douglas
    Dec 9, 2021 at 19:17

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