Turns & Phases

Every turn in Magic consists of 5 phases, divided into multiple steps. Knowing what happens in every one of them and which cards you are able to play is crucial to understanding the game.

Priority


Players can only cast spells and use abilities when they have priority. The first player to get priority at the beginning and end of each step is the active player (player whose turn it is). When he passes the priority, the opponent may cast spells and use abilities he can use as instants. Players generally don’t get priority during the untap and clean up steps.

Beginning Phase


The beginning phase consists of Untap, Upkeep and Draw steps. The active player untaps all his permanents during the Untap step, then the upkeep abilities are put on the stack, and after they resolve and both players pass priority, the active player draws a card. 

First (“Pre-Combat”) Main Phase


The two main phases are the only time players can creature, enchantment, planeswalker, artifact and sorcery spells and play lands. Unless casting those before combat benefits you in a way, it’s as a general rule of thumb better to do it after combat, to bluff your opponent.

Combat Phase


The “longest” and trickiest phase in Magic consists of 6 steps! It’s important to pay attention here as passing the priority at the wrong time or playing your spell too early or too late can easily lose you the game Remember, both players need to pass priority to move into the next step!. 

First, the active player will announce the Beginning of the Combat Phase (1), and then Declare the attackers (2). Right after that, the defending player will Declare Blockers (3)(remember, the attacking player selects the order in which defenders receive damage if you choose multiple blockers). In the First Strike Damage (4) phase, only creatures with First or Double strike deal damage, the others do it in the following Damage step (5) if they survived (Double Strike units deal damage in both steps). The last step is End Of Combat (6).

Second (“Post-Combat”) Main Phase


This phase plays out exactly the same as the first one. The only reason not to use up the remaining mana is using it on instants or abilities during your opponent's turn, or if you intend to bluff you can. If you use all your mana you become "tapped out" and your opponent will feel a lot safer playing out his spells and attacks during his turn.

End Phase


End Phase starts with an End Step, which is the last time players receive priority before the Cleanup step, where all “Until End of Turn” effects get removed, damage is “healed” from surviving creatures, and if the active player holds more than 7 cards in his hand, he has to discard the surplus.

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