Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Basics Part 5

Magic the Gathering is turn-based game. You start your turn, when it ends the opponent's turn starts and so on.
In most card games the turn is simply composed of you playing a card. In magic the turn is a lot more complex.
In this post I gonna explain the different phases of a magic turn and what you must/can do in each of them.

There are 5 phases in a magic turn: Beginning phase, First Main phase, Combat phase, Second Main phase, End phase. 

Beginning Phase

The Beginning Phase has three steps.
The untap step: You untap all your tapped permanents (lands, creatures, etc).
The upkeep step: This step exist only for the cards that have "In the beginning of your upkeep ...." to take their effect.
The draw step: You draw a card from your deck. 

First Main Phase

There are two main phases, the first is before the combat phase and the second is after. What you can do is equal in both.
This is the phase where you play your cards. Creatures, lands, sorceries, artifacts can only be played in your main phase.
your opponent can only play instants because is not their main phase.
This is also the phase where you can play a land card, but only one per turn don't forget. 

Combat Phase

This phase has five steps.
The beginning of combat step: This is like the upkeep step, it only happens something if a card says it. It's also the last chance to do something (like playing a instant to destroy your opponents creature) before the attackers are declared.
The declare attackers step: The attacking player chooses which creatures are going to attack and what is the target of them (it can attack the player or a planeswalker that player controls for example). The player show their decision by tapping the attacking creatures and put them closer to the center of the table, this is mainly for the opponent see what creatures are attacking easily.
The declare blockers step: The defending player decides which of his creatures are going to block which of the attacking creatures. Every attacking creature that is not blocked will do their damage directly to the player (or planeswalker).
The damage step: In this phase every creature deals it's damage. Creatures that are dealt more damage than it's toughness go to the graveyard, and the life points of the players that takes damage are actualized. All damage occurs at the same time in this phase.
The end of combat step: Another step alike the upkeep step, nothing happens unless someone plays a instant or some card says that at the end of combat something happens. 

Second Main Phase

This is equal to the first main phase, except that you can only play a land in this phase if you haven't played one already in the first main phase. 

End Phase

This phase is divided in two steps.
The end step: This is another step like the upkeep step, only if a card says "In the end step..." something happens. It's also the last chance to either player play a instant.
The cleanup step: First thing in this step is to check if the active player (the player this turn belongs) has more than seven cards in hand. If that is true he must discard cards until he has only seven in hand.
After this all damage heals from creatures and all effects that last until the end of turn finish.

And after this it's the opponents turn and all phases start from beginning.

Most of the basics you need to know to play magic are covered now in the Basics series of posts. The following posts of this series will explain better some concepts that are important but more complicated.


  1. off topic: are there regional differences between magic cards?

  2. The only difference that may exist is the language of the cards.

    The effects of the same card are the same in every corner of the world.

  3. I played Yu-Gi-Oh some time ago. The phases there are similar.