HOW COMBAT WORKS

ATTACK WITH CREATURES

Summoning a seething horde of creatures is only half the task. If you want to win Magic games, you’ve got to attack!

Your opponent starts the game with 20 life, so you’ll need to attack again and again over time to seal your victory. This is why creatures are such a good deal: they can potentially deal a ton of damage over time if left unchecked.

It’s important to note that in combat, you can’t attack your opponent’s creatures directly. You always attack your opponent, and it’s up to him or her to decide how, or even if, to block. This means it’s a good idea to check the table before you attack and ask yourself how you would block if you were in your opponent’s seat.

Since your opponent can block any way they see fit, there will always be a bit of mystery to how an attack will play out. That’s OK, just remember one simple rule: When in doubt, attack!

BLOCKING THE ATTACK

Once you’ve decided to attack, your opponent gets to choose how to block your attack. Sometimes you’ll get off easy and your attack will go undefended. When that happens, your opponent will lose some life. Other times, your attack will run straight into a block by an opponent’s creature. And then the vicious creature-against-creature battle begins!

You get several opportunities during combat to be tricky by casting instant spells or activating abilities: before attackers are chosen, just after attackers are chosen, or even after blockers are chosen. Casting an instant spell to boost your creature’s power or to take out a key opponent’s creature in the middle of combat can really wreck their plans. But keep in mind: they can do the same to you!

DEALING DAMAGE

Attacking and blocking creatures have been declared, and you and your opponent have used any nasty tricks you had up your sleeves. Now, it’s time to deal damage.

Attacking creatures that didn’t get blocked will deal damage directly to your opponent—you’re that much closer to victory! If a creature was blocked, it deals damage to its blocker instead of your opponent. Blocking creatures deal their damage back to the creatures they blocked.

If a creature is dealt damage at least equal to its toughness, it’s destroyed and sent to the ominous-sounding graveyard. (You may know it simply as the discard pile, but “graveyard” sounds so much cooler.)

AFTER COMBAT

After combat ends, any creatures that survive remain on the battlefield to fight another day. That’s one of the reasons that creatures are such a popular way to achieve victory: they remain a powerful force on the battlefield until they’re destroyed.

But don’t worry about keeping track of damage for too long—creatures heal at the end of every turn. If you have spells or other ways to deal damage, you can finish off wounded creatures before the end of the turn.