Turn structure

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Magic: The Gathering is a turn-based game, where game flow is partitioned into well-defined parts. The active player contemplates and performs certain actions in a preordained order, then the next player does the same. This is opposed to "real-time" play as is found in some card games, most sports and most video games.

Description[edit | edit source]

A turn in a Magic game consists of five phases, in this order:

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. A phase or step in which players receive priority ends when the stack is empty and all players pass in succession.

General rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Archenemy: Nicol Bolas (June 5, 2017))

  • 500. General
    • 500.1. A turn consists of five phases, in this order: beginning, precombat main, combat, postcombat main, and ending. 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.
    • 500.2. 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.
    • 500.3. 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 (see rule 502) and certain cleanup steps (see rule 514).
    • 500.4. 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.
    • 500.5. 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; see rule 514.2.
    • 500.6. When a phase or step begins, any abilities that trigger “at the beginning of” that phase or step trigger. They are put on the stack the next time a player would receive priority. (See rule 116, “Timing and Priority.”)
    • 500.7. Some effects can give a player extra turns. They do this by adding the turns directly after the specified turn. If a player is given multiple extra turns, the extra turns are added one at a time. If multiple players are given extra turns, the extra turns are added one at a time, in APNAP order (see rule 101.4). The most recently created turn will be taken first.
    • 500.8. 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.
    • 500.9. 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.
    • 500.10. 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. See rule 614.10.
    • 500.11. No game events can occur between turns, phases, or steps.

Beginning phases and steps[edit | edit source]

When a phase or step begins, any abilities that trigger "at the beginning of" that phase or step are added to the stack in "Active Player, Non-Active Player" (APNAP) order. The active player (the player whose turn it is) puts the triggered abilities they control (if any) on the stack in any order they wish, then the non-active player does likewise for the triggered abilities (if any) they control. Priority then passes to the active player. As usual, every player then gets a chance to respond to these triggers with instants and instant-speed activated abilities when they have priority.

Ending phases and steps[edit | edit source]

When all players pass priority in succession and the stack is empty, a phase or step ends. Nothing happens between turns, phases or steps. Because a phase or step only ends when the stack is empty and all players pass priority, every player gets an opportunity to add new things to the stack before the current phase or step ends. Under the current rules (since Magic 2010), whenever a phase or step ends, all mana is emptied for all player's mana pools with no additional penalty.

Extra turns[edit | edit source]

If an effect gives a player extra turns, it does this by adding the turns directly after the current turn. [1] if multiple extra turns are created or if multiple players get extra turns during a single turn, the extra turns are added one at a time. This is done in the regular Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) order.

Extra phases and steps[edit | edit source]

If effects add a phase to a turn, or steps to a phase they work the same way as with extra turns. An extra phase is added directly after a specified phase, and an extra step is added directly after or before a specified step. If multiple phases or steps are created after the same phase or step they resolve in LIFO order. If phases (or steps) are created after separate phases (or steps) they occur in the order they would normally occur in the turn structure.

Skipping turns, phases and steps[edit | edit source]

Some effects can cause a turn, phase or step to be skipped. A turn, phase or step is skipped by proceeding past it as though it didn't exist. This means that any actions for any player that would normally happen during the turn, phase or step is skipped as well.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Blake Rasmussen. (June 17, 2014.) "Let's do the Time Warp Again", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]

External Links[edit | edit source]