Lesson 1 (Judge Classes)

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Turn Structure

Comprehensive Rules Section 5

A turn consists of five phases, in this order:

  • Beginning (Untap, Upkeep, Draw)
  • Precombat Main
  • Combat (Beginning of Combat, Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, Combat Damage, End of Combat)
  • Postcombat Main
  • Ending (End Step, Cleanup)

Each of these phases takes place every turn, even if nothing happens during the phase. The beginning, combat, and ending phases are further broken down into steps, which proceed in order. No game events can take place between turns, phases or steps.

Changing Phases/Steps

A phase or step in which players receive priority ends when the stack is empty and all players pass in succession. Simply having the stack become empty doesn't cause such a phase or step to end; all players have to pass in succession with the stack empty. Because of this, each player gets a chance to add new things to the stack before that phase or step ends. A step in which no players receive priority ends when all specified actions that take place during that step are completed. The only such steps are the untap step and certain cleanup steps.

Effects and their Duration in Steps or Phases

When a step or phase ends, any unused mana left in a player's mana pool empties. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

When a phase or step ends, any effects scheduled to last "until end of" that phase or step expire. When a phase or step begins, any effects scheduled to last "until" that phase or step expire. Effects that last "until end of combat" expire at the end of the combat phase, not at the beginning of the end of combat step. Effects that last "until end of turn" are subject to special rules.

When a phase or step begins, any abilities that trigger "at the beginning of" that phase or step are added to the stack. They are put onto the stack the next time a player would receive priority.

Additional Turns and Phases

Some effects can give a player extra turns. They do this by adding the turns directly after the current turn. If a player gets multiple extra turns, the extra turns are added one at a time. If multiple players get extra turns during a single turn, the extra turns are added one at a time in APNAP order. The most recently created turn will be taken first.

Some effects can add phases to a turn. They do this by adding the phases directly after the specified phase. If multiple extra phases are created after the same phase, the most recently created phase will occur first.

Some effects can add steps to a phase. They do this by adding the steps directly after a specified step or directly before a specified step. If multiple extra steps are created after the same step, the most recently created step will occur first.

Some effects can cause a step, phase, or turn to be skipped. To skip a step, phase, or turn is to proceed past it as though it didn't exist.

Beginning Phase

(Untap, Upkeep, Draw)

Untap Step

First, all phased-in permanents with phasing that the active player controls phase out, and all phased-out permanents that the active player controlled when they phased out phase in. This all happens simultaneously. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

Second, the active player determines which permanents he or she controls will untap. Some cards give the controller the choice to not untap them. That choice is made at this time. The player then untaps all permanents that should be untapped simultaneously. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack. Normally, all of a player's permanents untap, but effects can keep one or more of a player's permanents from untapping.

No player receives priority during the untap step, so no spells can be cast or resolve and no abilities can be activated or resolve. Any ability that triggers during this step will be held until the next time a player would receive priority, which is usually during the upkeep step.

Upkeep Step

First, any abilities that triggered during the turn's untap step and any abilities that trigger at the beginning of the upkeep step go on the stack.

Second, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

Draw Step

First, the active player draws a card. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

Second, any abilities that trigger at the beginning of the draw step and any other abilities that have triggered are put onto the stack.

Third, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

Main Phase

There are two main phases in a turn. In each turn, the first main phase (also known as the precombat main phase) and the second main phase (also known as the postcombat main phase) are separated by the combat phase. The precombat and postcombat main phases are individually and collectively known as the main phase.

Only the first main phase of the turn is a precombat main phase. All other main phases are postcombat main phases. This includes the second main phase of a turn in which the combat phase has been skipped. It is also true of a turn in which an effect has caused an additional combat phase and an additional main phase to be created.

The main phase has no steps, so a main phase ends when all players pass in succession while the stack is empty.

First, but only if the players are playing an Archenemy game, the active player is the archenemy, and it's the active player's precombat main phase, the active player sets the top card of his or her scheme deck in motion. This turn-base action doesn't use the stack.

Second, any abilities that trigger at the beginning of the main phase go on the stack.

Third, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities. The active player may play a land.

The main phase is the only phase in which a player can normally cast artifact, creature, enchantment, planeswalker, and sorcery spells. The active player may cast these spells.

During either main phase, the active player may play one land card from his or her hand if the stack is empty, if that player has priority, and if he or she hasn't played a land this turn (unless an effect states the player may play additional lands). This special action doesn't use the stack. Neither the land nor the action of playing the land is a spell or ability, so it can't be countered, and players can't respond to it with instants or activated abilities.

Combat Phase

(Beginning of Combat, Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, Combat Damage, End of Combat)

The combat phase has five steps, which proceed in the following order:

  • Beginning of combat
  • Declare attackers
  • Declare blockers
  • Combat damage
  • End of combat

The declare blockers and combat damage steps are skipped if no creatures are declared as attackers or put onto the battlefield attacking. There are two combat damage steps if any attacking or blocking creature has first strike (see rule 702.7) or double strike (see rule 702.4).

During the combat phase, the active player is the attacking player; creatures that player controls may attack.

During the combat phase of a two-player game, the nonactive player is the defending player; that player and planeswalkers he or she controls may be attacked.

Notes on the Combat Phase

In the Two-Headed Giant multiplayer variant, the nonactive team is the defending team.

Only a creature can attack or block. Only a player or a planeswalker can be attacked.

If an effect would put a noncreature permanent onto the battlefield attacking or blocking, the permanent does enter the battlefield but it's never considered to be an attacking or blocking permanent.

If an effect would put a creature onto the battlefield attacking under the control of any player except an attacking player, that creature does enter the battlefield, but it's never considered to be an attacking creature. If an effect would put a creature onto the battlefield blocking but the creature it would block isn't attacking either the first creature's controller or a planeswalker that player controls, that creature does enter the battlefield, but it's never considered to be a blocking creature.

A permanent is removed from combat if:

  • It leaves the battlefield
  • Its controller changes
  • It phases out
  • An effect specifically removes it from combat
  • It's a planeswalker that's being attacked and stops being a planeswalker
  • It's an attacking or blocking creature that regenerates (see rule 701.11) or stops being a creature

A creature that's removed from combat stops being an attacking, blocking, blocked, and/or unblocked creature. A planeswalker that's removed from combat stops being attacked.

Once a creature has been declared as an attacking or blocking creature, spells or abilities that would have kept that creature from attacking or blocking don't remove the creature from combat.

Tapping or untapping a creature that's already been declared as an attacker or blocker doesn't remove it from combat and doesn't prevent its combat damage.

Only creatures can attack or block. Only players and planeswalkers can be attacked.

Some spells state that they may be cast “only [before/after] [a particular point in the combat phase],” in which that point may be “attackers are declared,” “blockers are declared,” “the combat damage step,” “the end of combat step,” “the combat phase,” or “combat”.

  • A spell that states it may be cast "only before (or after) attackers are declared" is referring to the turn-based action of declaring attackers. It may be cast only before (or after) the declare attackers step begins, regardless of whether any attackers are actually declared.
  • A spell that states it may be cast "only before (or after) blockers are declared" is referring to the turn-based action of declaring blockers. It may be cast only before (or after) the declare blockers step begins, regardless of whether any blockers are actually declared.
  • Some spells state that they may be cast only "during combat" or "during a certain player's combat phase". If a turn has multiple combat phases, such spells may be cast at an appropriate time during any of them.
  • Some spells state that they may be cast "only before (or after) [a particular point in the combat phase]". If a turn has multiple combat phases, such spells may be cast that turn only before (or after) the stated point of the first combat phase.
  • If a spell states that it may be cast "only before [a particular point in the combat phase]," but the stated point doesn't exist within the relevant combat phase because the declare blockers step and the combat damage step are skipped, then the spell may be cast only before the declare attackers step ends. If the stated point doesn't exist because the relevant combat phase has been skipped, then the spell may be cast only before the precombat main phase ends.
  • If a spell states that it may be cast "only during combat after blockers are declared," but the declare blockers step is skipped that combat phase, then the spell may not be cast during that combat phase.

All of the above also applies to abilities that state that they may be activated only at certain times with respect to combat just as they apply to spells that state that they may be cast only at certain times with respect to combat.

Beginning of Combat Step

First, if the game being played is a multiplayer game in which the active player's opponent's don't all automatically become defending players, the active player chooses one of his or her opponents. That player becomes the defending player. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

Second, any abilities that trigger at the beginning of combat go on the stack.

Third, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

In the Two-Headed Giant variant, the nonactive team is the defending team.

Declare Attackers Step

First, the active player declares attackers. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack. To declare attackers, the active player follows the steps below, in order. If at any point during the declaration of attackers, the active player is unable to comply with any of the steps listed below, the declaration is illegal; the game returns to the moment before the declaration.

  • The active player chooses which creatures that he or she controls, if any, will attack. The chosen creatures must be untapped, and each one must either have haste or have been controlled by the active player continuously since the turn began.
  • If the defending player controls any planeswalkers, or the game allows the active player to attack multiple other players, the active player announces which player or planeswalker each of the chosen creatures is attacking.
  • The active player checks each creature he or she controls to see whether it's affected by any restrictions (effects that say a creature can't attack, or that it can't attack unless some condition is met). If any restrictions are being disobeyed, the declaration of attackers is illegal.
  • The active player checks each creature he or she controls to see whether it's affected by any requirements (effects that say a creature must attack, or that it must attack if some condition is met). If the number of requirements that are being obeyed is fewer than the maximum possible number of requirements that could be obeyed without disobeying any restrictions, the declaration of attackers is illegal. If a creature can’t attack unless a player pays a cost, that player is not required to pay that cost, even if attacking with that creature would increase the number of requirements being obeyed.
  • If any of the chosen creatures have banding or a “bands with other” ability, the active player announces which creatures, if any, are banded with which.
  • The active player taps the chosen creatures. Tapping a creature when it's declared as an attacker isn't a cost; attacking simply causes creatures to become tapped.
  • If any of the chosen creatures require paying costs to attack, the active player determines the total cost to attack. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. Once the total cost is determined, it becomes "locked in." If effects would change the total cost after this time, ignore this change.
  • If any of the costs require mana, the active player then has a chance to activate mana abilities. Once the player has enough mana in his or her mana pool, he or she pays all costs in any order. Partial payments are not allowed.
  • Each chosen creature still controlled by the active player becomes an attacking creature. It remains an attacking creature until it's removed from combat or the combat phase ends, whichever comes first.

Second, any abilities that triggered on attackers being declared go on the stack.

Abilities that trigger on a creature attacking trigger only at the point the creature is declared as an attacker. They will not trigger if a creature attacks and then that creature's characteristics change to match the ability's trigger condition.

Third, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

If a creature is put onto the battlefield attacking, its controller chooses which defending player or which planeswalker a defending player controls it's attacking as it enters the battlefield (unless the effect that put it onto the battlefield specifies what it's attacking). Such creatures are "attacking" but, for the purposes of trigger events and effects, they never "attacked". These creatures are not affected by requirements or restrictions that apply to the declaration of attackers.

If an effect would put a noncreature permanent onto the battlefield attacking or blocking, the permanent does enter the battlefield but it’s never considered to be an attacking or blocking permanent.

If an effect would put a creature onto the battlefield attacking under the control of any player except an attacking player, that creature does enter the battlefield, but it’s never considered to be an attacking creature.

If an effect would put a creature onto the battlefield attacking a player not in the game, a planeswalker no longer on the battlefield, or a planeswalker that is no longer a planeswalker, that creature does enter the battlefield, but it’s never considered to be an attacking creature.

If a creature is attacking a planeswalker, removing that planeswalker from combat doesn’t remove that creature from combat. It continues to be an attacking creature, although it is attacking neither a player nor a planeswalker. It may be blocked. If it is unblocked, it will deal no combat damage.

If the effect that puts a creature onto the battlefield attacking specifies it’s attacking a certain player, and that player is no longer in the game when the effect resolves, the creature is put onto the battlefield but is never considered an attacking creature. The same is true if the effect specifies a creature is put onto the battlefield attacking a planeswalker and that planeswalker is no longer on the battlefield or is no longer a planeswalker when the effect resolves.

If a creature is put onto the battlefield attacking, its controller chooses which defending player or which planeswalker a defending player controls it’s attacking as it enters the battlefield (unless the effect that put it onto the battlefield specifies what it’s attacking). Such creatures are “attacking” but, for the purposes of trigger events and effects, they never “attacked”.

If an ability of an attacking creature refers to a defending player, or a spell or ability refers to both an attacking creature and a defending player, then unless otherwise specified, the defending player it’s referring to is the player that creature was attacking at the time it became an attacking creature that combat, or the controller of the planeswalker that creature was attacking at the time it became an attacking creature that combat.

In a multiplayer game, any rule, object, or effect that refers to a “defending player” refers to one specific defending player, not to all of the defending players. If a spell or ability could apply to multiple attacking creatures, the appropriate defending player is individually determined for each of those attacking creatures. If there are multiple defending players that could be chosen, the controller of the spell or ability chooses one.

A creature attacks alone if it’s the only creature declared as an attacker during the declare attackers step. A creature is attacking alone if it’s attacking but no other creatures are. If no creatures are declared as attackers or put onto the battlefield attacking, skip the declare blockers and combat damage steps.

Declare Blockers Step

First, the defending player declares blockers. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

To declare blockers, the defending player follows the steps below, in order. If at any point during the declaration of blockers, the defending player is unable to comply with any of the steps listed below, the declaration is illegal; the game returns to the moment before the declaration.

  • The defending player chooses which creatures that he or she controls, if any, will block. The chosen creatures must be untapped. For each of the chosen creatures, the defending player chooses one creature for it to block that's attacking him or her, or a planeswalker he or she controls.
  • The defending player checks each creature he or she controls to see whether it's affected by any restrictions (effects that say a creature can't block, or that it can't block unless some condition is met). If any restrictions are being disobeyed, the declaration of blockers is illegal. A restriction may be created by an evasion ability (a static ability an attacking creature has that restricts what can block it, e.g. flying). If an attacking creature gains or loses an evasion ability after a legal block has been declared, it doesn't affect that block. Different evasion abilities are cumulative.
  • The defending player checks each creature he or she controls to see whether it's affected by any requirements (effects that say a creature must block, or that it must block if some condition is met). If the number of requirements that are being obeyed is fewer than the maximum possible number of requirements that could be obeyed without disobeying any restrictions, the declaration of blockers is illegal. If a creature can’t block unless a player pays a cost, that player is not required to pay that cost, even if blocking with that creature would increase the number of requirements being obeyed.
  • If any of the chosen creatures require paying costs to block, the defending player determines the total cost to block. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. Once the total cost is determined, it becomes "locked in." If effects would change the total cost after this time, ignore this change.
  • If any of the costs require mana, the defending player then has a chance to activate mana abilities.
  • Once the player has enough mana in his or her mana pool, he or she pays all costs in any order. Partial payments are not allowed.
  • Each chosen creature still controlled by the defending player becomes a blocking creature. Each one is blocking the attacking creatures chosen for it. It remains a blocking creature until it's removed from combat or the combat phase ends, whichever comes first.
  • An attacking creature with one or more creatures declared as blockers for it becomes a blocked creature; one with no creatures declared as blockers for it becomes an unblocked creature. This remains unchanged until the creature is removed from combat, an effect says that it becomes blocked or unblocked, or the combat phase ends, whichever comes first. A creature remains blocked even if all the creatures blocking it are removed from combat.

Second, for each attacking creature that's become blocked, the active player announces that creature's damage assignment order, which consists of the creatures blocking it in an order of that player's choice. (During the combat damage step, an attacking creature can't assign combat damage to a creature that's blocking it unless each creature ahead of that blocking creature in its order is assigned lethal damage.) This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

During the declare blockers step, if a blocking creature is removed from combat or a spell or ability causes it to stop blocking an attacking creature, the blocking creature is removed from all relevant damage assignment orders. The relative order among the remaining blocking creatures is unchanged.

Third, for each blocking creature, the defending player announces that creature's damage assignment order, which consists of the creatures it's blocking in an order of that player's choice.

During the combat damage step, a blocking creature can't assign combat damage to a creature it's blocking unless each creature ahead of that blocked creature in its order is assigned lethal damage. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

During the declare blockers step, if an attacking creature is removed from combat or a spell or ability causes it to stop being blocked by a blocking creature, the attacking creature is removed from all relevant damage assignment orders. The relative order among the remaining attacking creatures is unchanged.

Fourth, any abilities that triggered on blockers being declared go on the stack.

  • An ability that reads "Whenever [this creature] blocks, . . ." generally triggers only once each combat for that creature, even if it blocks multiple creatures. It triggers if the creature is declared as a blocker. It will also trigger if that creature becomes a blocker as the result of an effect, but only if it wasn't a blocking creature at that time. (See rule 509.1g.) It won't trigger if the creature is put onto the battlefield blocking.
  • An ability that reads "Whenever [this creature] blocks a creature, . . ." triggers once for each attacking creature the creature with the ability blocks. It triggers if the creature is declared as a blocker. It will also trigger if an effect causes that creature to block an attacking creature, but only if it wasn't already blocking that attacking creature at that time. It won't trigger if the creature is put onto the battlefield blocking.
  • An ability that reads “Whenever [this creature] becomes blocked, . . .” generally triggers only once each combat for that creature, even if it’s blocked by multiple creatures. It will trigger if that creature becomes blocked by at least one creature declared as a blocker. It will also trigger if that creature becomes blocked by an effect or by a creature that’s put onto the battlefield as a blocker, but only if the attacking creature was an unblocked creature at that time.
  • An ability that reads “Whenever [this creature] becomes blocked by a creature, . . .” triggers once for each creature that blocks the named creature. It triggers if a creature is declared as a blocker for the attacking creature. It will also trigger if an effect causes a creature to block the attacking creature, but only if it wasn’t already blocking that attacking creature at that time. In addition, it will trigger if a creature is put onto the battlefield blocking that creature. It won’t trigger if the creature becomes blocked by an effect rather than a creature.
  • If an ability triggers when a creature blocks or becomes blocked by a particular number of creatures, the ability triggers if the creature blocks or is blocked by that many creatures when blockers are declared. Effects that add or remove blockers can also cause such abilities to trigger. This applies to abilities that trigger on a creature blocking or being blocked by at least a certain number of creatures as well.
  • If an ability triggers when a creature with certain characteristics blocks, it will trigger only if the creature has those characteristics at the point blockers are declared, or at the point an effect causes it to block. If an ability triggers when a creature with certain characteristics becomes blocked, it will trigger only if the creature has those characteristics at the point it becomes a blocked creature.
  • If an ability triggers when a creature becomes blocked by a creature with certain characteristics, it will trigger only if the latter creature has those characteristics at the point it becomes a blocking creature. None of those abilities will trigger if the relevant creature's characteristics change to match the ability's trigger condition later on.
  • An ability that reads "Whenever [this creature] attacks and isn't blocked, . . ." triggers if no creatures are declared as blockers for that creature. It will trigger even if the creature was never declared as an attacker (for example, if it entered the battlefield attacking). It won't trigger if the attacking creature is blocked and then all its blockers are removed from combat.

Fifth, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

A creature that's put onto the battlefield blocking isn't affected by requirements or restrictions that apply to the declaration of blockers.

If a spell or ability causes a creature on the battlefield to block an attacking creature, the active player announces the blocking creature's placement in the attacking creature's damage assignment order. The relative order among the remaining blocking creatures is unchanged. Then the defending player announces the attacking creature's placement in the blocking creature's damage assignment order. The relative order among the remaining attacking creatures is unchanged. This is done as part of the blocking effect.

If an effect would put a creature onto the battlefield blocking but the creature it would block isn’t attacking either the first creature’s controller or a planeswalker that player controls, that creature does enter the battlefield, but it’s never considered to be a blocking creature.

If a creature is put onto the battlefield blocking, its controller chooses which attacking creature it's blocking as it enters the battlefield (unless the effect that put it onto the battlefield specifies what it's blocking), then the active player announces the new creature's placement in the blocked creature's damage assignment order. The relative order among the remaining blocking creatures is unchanged. A creature put onto the battlefield this way is "blocking" but, for the purposes of trigger events and effects, it never "blocked."

A creature blocks alone if it’s the only creature declared as a blocker during the declare blockers step. A creature is blocking alone if it’s blocking but no other creatures are.

A permanent that’s both a blocking creature and a planeswalker that’s being attacked is removed from combat if it stops being both a creature and a planeswalker. If it stops being one of those card types but continues to be the other, it continues to be either a blocking creature or a planeswalker that’s being attacked, whichever is appropriate.

If the effect that puts a creature onto the battlefield blocking specifies it’s blocking a certain creature and that creature is no longer attacking, the creature is put onto the battlefield but is never considered a blocking creature. The same is true if the controller of the creature that’s put onto the battlefield blocking isn’t a defending player for the specified attacking creature.


Combat Damage Step

First, the active player announces how each attacking creature assigns its combat damage, then the defending player announces how each blocking creature assigns its combat damage. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack. A player assigns a creature's combat damage according to the following rules:

  • Each attacking creature and each blocking creature assigns combat damage equal to its power. Creatures that would assign 0 or less damage this way don't assign combat damage at all.
  • An unblocked creature assigns its combat damage to the player or planeswalker it's attacking. If it isn't currently attacking anything (if, for example, it was attacking a planeswalker that has left the battlefield), it assigns no combat damage.
  • 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 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. Examples:
  • If a creature blocks two attacking creatures, the damage being dealt by the second creature is taken into account when the first creature assigns damage. Assigning 0 damage to a 2/2 receiving 2 points of damage from the other creature is sufficient.
  • Damage already marked on the creature is taken into account. Assigning 1 point of damage to a 2/2 with 1 damage marked on it is sufficient.
  • If a creature has deathtouch, the deathtouch ability is taken into account - only 1 point of damage is required to assign lethal damage.
  • It won't be taken into account that a creature is indestructible. Assigning 1 point of damage from a source with deathtouch is still enough.
  • Prevention effects are not taken into account. If the next 2 damage dealt to a 2/2 would be prevented, that 2/2 must still only be assigned a minimum of 2 damage.
  • A blocking creature assigns combat damage to the creatures it's blocking.
  • If it isn't currently blocking any creatures (if, for example, they were destroyed or removed from combat), it assigns no combat damage.
  • If it's blocking exactly one creature, it assigns all its combat damage to that creature.
  • If it’s blocking two or more creatures, it assigns its combat damage to those creatures according to the damage assignment order announced for it. This may allow the blocking creature to divide its combat damage. However, it can’t assign combat damage to a creature that it’s blocking unless, when combat damage assignments are complete, each creature that precedes that blocked creature is assigned lethal damage.
  • Once a player has assigned combat damage from each attacking or blocking creature he or she controls, the total damage assignment (not solely the damage assignment of any individual attacking or blocking creature) is checked to see if it complies with the above rules. If it doesn't, the combat damage assignment is illegal; the game returns to the moment before that player began to assign combat damage.

Second, all combat damage that's been assigned is dealt simultaneously. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack. No player has the chance to cast spells or activate abilities between the time combat damage is assigned and the time it's dealt.

Third, any abilities that triggered on damage being dealt or on state-based actions performed afterward are put onto the stack.

Fourth, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

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.

End of Combat Step

First, all "at end of combat" abilities trigger and go on the stack. Effects that last "until end of combat" do not expire until the end of the combat phase.

Second, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

As soon as the end of combat step ends, all creatures and planeswalkers are removed from combat. After the end of combat step ends, the combat phase is over, "until end of combat" effects expire, and the postcombat main phase begins.

Ending Phase

(End Step, Cleanup)

End Step

First, abilities that trigger "at the beginning of the end step" or "at the beginning of the next end step" are put onto the stack.

Previously, abilities that trigger at the beginning of the end step were printed with the trigger condition "at end of turn." Cards that were printed with that text have received errata in the Oracle card reference to say "at the beginning of the end step" or "at the beginning of the next end step."

Second, the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities.

If a permanent with an ability that triggers "at the beginning of the end step" enters the battlefield during this step, that ability won't trigger until the next turn's end step. Likewise, if a delayed triggered ability that triggers "at the beginning of the next end step" is created during this step, that ability won't trigger until the next turn's end step. In other words, the step doesn't "back up" so those abilities can be put onto the stack. This rule applies only to triggered abilities; it doesn't apply to continuous effects whose durations say "until end of turn" or "this turn."

Cleanup Step

First, if the active player's hand contains more cards than his or her maximum hand size (normally seven), he or she discards enough cards to reduce his or her hand size to that number. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

Second, the following actions happen simultaneously: all damage marked on permanents (including phased-out permanents) is removed and all "until end of turn" and "this turn" effects end. This turn-based action doesn't use the stack.

Normally, no player receives priority during the cleanup step, so no spells can be cast and no abilities can be activated. However, this rule is subject to the following exception: At this point, the game checks to see if any state-based actions would be performed and/or any triggered abilities are waiting to be put onto the stack (including those that trigger "at the beginning of the next cleanup step"). If so, those state-based actions are performed, then those triggered abilities are put on the stack, then the active player gets priority. Players may cast spells and activate abilities. Once the stack is empty and all players pass in succession, another cleanup step begins.

Turn-Based Actions

(Comprehensive Rules Section 703)

Turn-based actions are game actions that happen automatically when certain steps or phases begin, or when each step and phase ends. Turn-based actions don’t use the stack.

Abilities that watch for a specified step or phase to begin are triggered abilities, not turn-based actions.

Turn-based actions are not controlled by any player.

Whenever a step or phase begins, if it’s a step or phase that has any turn-based action associated with it, those turn-based actions are automatically dealt with first. This happens before state-based actions are checked, before triggered abilities are put on the stack, and before players receive priority.

List of Turn-Based Actions

  • Immediately after the untap step begins, all phased-in permanents with phasing that the active player controls phase out, and all phased-out permanents that the active player controlled when they phased out phase in. This all happens simultaneously.
  • Immediately after the phasing action has been completed during the untap step, the active player determines which permanents he or she controls will untap. Then he or she untaps them all simultaneously.
  • Immediately after the draw step begins, the active player draws a card.
  • In an Archenemy game, immediately after the archenemy’s precombat main phase begins, that player sets the top card of his or her scheme deck in motion.
  • Immediately after the beginning of combat step begins, if the game being played is a multiplayer game in which the active player’s opponents don’t all automatically become defending players, the active player chooses one of his or her opponents. That player becomes the defending player.
  • Immediately after the declare attackers step begins, the active player declares attackers.
  • Immediately after the declare blockers step begins, the defending player declares blockers.
  • Immediately after blockers have been declared during the declare blockers step, for each attacking creature that’s become blocked by multiple creatures, the active player announces the damage assignment order among the blocking creatures.
  • Immediately after the active player has announced damage assignment orders (if necessary) during the declare blockers step, for each creature that’s blocking multiple creatures, the defending player announces the damage assignment order among the attacking creatures.
  • Immediately after the combat damage step begins, each player in APNAP order announces how each attacking or blocking creature he or she controls assigns its combat damage.
  • Immediately after combat damage has been assigned during the combat damage step, all combat damage is dealt simultaneously
  • Immediately after the cleanup step begins, if the active player’s hand contains more cards than his or her maximum hand size (normally seven), he or she discards enough cards to reduce his or her hand size to that number.
  • Immediately after the active player has discarded cards (if necessary) during the cleanup step, all damage is removed from permanents and all “until end of turn” and “this turn” effects end. These actions happen simultaneously.
  • When each step or phase ends, any unused mana left in a player’s mana pool empties.

Additional Resources

One Turn Structure by April King

JudgeCast #52 – Every Little Step I Take by JudgeCast

JudgeCast #78 – A Spooky Combat by JudgeCast

The Steps of a Turn and Turn Based Actions by Justin Turner