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Monday, June 28, 2010

M11 Official Rules Change: Deathtouch

You remember how Deathtouch changed so dramatically last year? The big thing was it got to ignore the "creature queue", the order in which you'll do damage to your opponent's creatures. The nice thing about that was if you made a mistake in the blocking order you didn't have to worry about it as deathtouch would let you pick at whichever creature(s) you wanted in any order.

Here was the revised text for Deathtouch, circa M10:
Deathtouch (Creatures dealt damage by this creature are destroyed. You can divide this creature's combat damage among any of the creatures blocking or blocked by it.)

That changes for M11.

Here's the revised Deathtouch text for M11:
Deathtouch (Any amount of damage this deals to a creature is enough to destroy it.)

That's much simpler, isn't it? It gets across what deathtouch does very succinctly (2 lines compared to over 4).

But it also has some major rules implications.

First of all, Deathtouch now constitutes "Lethal Damage." Why is that important? Read the new Trample wording (which apparently took effect with Archenemy):
Trample (If this creature would assign enough damage to its blockers to destroy them, you may have it assign the rest of its damage to defending player or planeswalker.)

Let's say Avatar of Might (an 8/8 with Trample and nothing else equipped or affecting it) goes up against Bestial Menace's tokens (a 1/1, a 2/2, and a 3/3). You put the creatures in that order when they block it. Avatar of Might has to assign 1 point to the 1/1, 2 to the 2/2, and 3 to the 3/3 before it could hit the opponent for 2 damage.

Now let's say instead you equipped Avatar of Might with Quietus Spike (which grants Deathtouch). Even under the old Deathtouch rulings, even though 1 damage would be enough to destroy each creature, you still had to assign an amount of damage at least equal to each creature's toughness before "trampling over." On the flip side, though, you could have assigned any of that 8 damage to any 1, 2, or 3 creatures if you wanted to make absolutely sure you destroyed one of the tokens.

Under the new Deathtouch rules, you don't get to ignore the "creature queue". You must deal with the 1/1 before moving on to the 2/2, and you have to deal with the 3/3 before you can trample over. However, now 1 damage is considered lethal damage. How does this change the damage calculations?

Under the old Deathtouch rules, you had to assign 1 damage to the 1/1, 2 damage to the 2/2, and 3 damage to the 3/3 in any order before you could trample over for the remaining 2 damage.

Under the new Deathtouch rules, you must assign at least 1 damage to the 1/1, then must assign at least 1 damage to the 2/2 (since any amount of damage from a Deathtouch source is now considered "lethal damage"), and then must assign at least 1 damage to the 3/3 before trampling over. If all goes according to plan, you get to Trample for 5 damage!

So to summarize, what changes with Deathtouch?
1) Deathtouch still counts 1 point of damage as enough to destroy a creature.
2) Deathouch now counts as "lethal damage."
3) Deathtouch does not let you skip around in the creature queue order.
4) Deathtouch now lets you "creature trample" by allowing you to only have to assign 1 damage to a creature before proceeding to the next one in line in the "creature queue."

Aaron Forsythe explained the reason for the change was because they felt the version from last year was a cobbled together piece that attempted to make Deathtouch work the way it did before the big M10 rules changes (the internal timeline from idea to print was a matter of weeks, not months). In the last year, they've come up with a better way to not only shorten the reminder text but also allow players to logically understand how Deathtouch works without too many extra rules.

So what do you think? Do you still have questions about how Deathtouch works? Leave a comment and let me know!

Until later, take care!


  1. An 8/8 deathtouch-attacker is blocked by 3 creatures: Would Eel-Umbra on victim number 1 save all 3 blockers ?

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. if a 2/2 trample deathtouch is blocked by a 3/3, does the defending player take 1 damage?

  4. Anon:

    First, sorry for not getting to this question. I don't check the "Comments" section, well, hardly ever. But since I've seen a few more recently I'll be sure to re-check it every so often.

    Second, That is correct. 1 point of damage on a Deathtoucher is enough to be "lethal damage" during combat, so you'd do 1 damage to the 3/3 (killing it if the damage isn't prevented) and 1 "trample damage" to the defending player.

    Again, sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I hope you decide to read the blog more! If you're in the Chattanooga or Hixson area (or surroundings), feel free to drop by on a day we're there. I've just updated the schedule so you'll know when we will and won't be there. E-mail me if you're interested in dropping by! (CardGameNut@gmail.com)