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Strange Magic: the Gathering rules September 11, 2008

Posted by James in : all, game rules, complecated rules , trackback

Magic: the Gathering has 148 pages of rules in their RTF file, which appears to be created by a mix of programmers and lawyers. Rules such as these are the perfect place to find loopholes and tricks. I love finding loop holes and fun tricks. One problem. Some people who write the rules make it their mission in life to make sure I’m not allowed to have any loopholes to exploit. Today I will discuss some of these rules that exist solely to keep people like me from having fun.


Wizards of the Coast made sure to make it clear that I wasn’t allowed to have too much fun with Equipment as soon as equipment was made. The card March of the Machines says right on it “Equipment that’s a creature can’t equip a creature.” That’s the first thing I wanted to do with equipment as soon as I heard of it!

Actually, what I would really like to do with equipment is have an equipment equip itself. This, of course, is probably impossible just based on what “equip” means: “To attach an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to an object means to take it from where it currently is and put it onto that object.” You can’t move an object onto itself. This could be fixed if we change the meaning of attach to something more like, “Attached cards are connected. Equipment, auras, and fortifications often affect cards they are connected to.

scimitar of sharing

First strike

The main idea of first strike is that creatures with first strike can deal damage during an early combat damage step before other creatures. Creatures with first strike don’t deal damage during the normal damage step.

Here are some fun ideas with first strike:

1. If a creature deals first strike damage, then in response to first strike damage on the stack, take away that creature’s first strike ability. That creature no longer has first strike, so it should deal damage as normal. (i.e. The creature should deal damage with first strike and as normal to get two attacks!)
2. If one creature has first strike and another doesn’t, then in response to first strike damage on the stack give first strike to the creature that doesn’t have it. Now during the normal damage step the creatures with first strike won’t deal any damage. Note that one of those creatures didn’t deal any damage at all this turn!

Unfortunately Wizards of the Coast made sure to add this rule for no purpose other than to make Magic less awesome: “502.2c Adding or removing first strike any time after combat damage has been put on the stack in the first combat damage step won’t prevent a creature from dealing combat damage or allow it to deal combat damage twice.”


1. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Is Magic: the Gathering Realistic? - December 16, 2008

[…] With all of the new unrealistic mechanics I see the game as a different game than I used to. Now I see it as the computational/logical probability game. However, the rules of Magic still support the “realism” perspective to some extent. I discussed some of these rules already in another article. Consider some of these rules to prevent “unrealistic” situations: […]

2. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » More Rules Updates that We Need - June 21, 2009

[…] There should be time after first strike has been dealt and before regular damage is dealt for combat tricks. Go here to find out about the first strike combat tricks I want to do. […]