Turn structure nomenclature

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When explaining the rules of MTG to new players, I feel that the turn structure nomenclature (turns, phases, steps) can be a little bit awkward because of the branching multiplicity of components (a turn is made of many phases; each the upkeep phase has multiple steps - and there are things to do within each step, such as check for triggers then draw a card... etc). 

I am not proposing any changes to the game itself - but what if the rules could be cut short by avoiding a lot of this nomenclature? 

What if the official rules said something like this:

===

A game of Magic consists of a series of turns.  During each turn, one player is the active player [then explain the turn order stuff etc...]

- One turn consists of eight "scripted actions", which are listed in bold. 
- Interspersed between the scripted actions, there are "scripted trigger checks", which are listed in italics.  Check the battlefield, graveyard and your hand for the listed phrase, and place the effect on the stack if found (active player first).  Triggers which are not related to parts of a turn ("enters the battlefield" etc...) are not listed here - they are placed on the stack when the relevant event occurs. 
- Any time you encounter three astericks, "***", both players are permitted to perform instant-speed actions (active player begins with priority).  Move on to the next item once the stack is empty and all players pass priority. 


Active player handles Phasing and then untaps
"At the beginning of your upkeep"
***
Active player draws a card
"At the beginning of your draw step"
***
"At the beginning of your [precombat] main phase"
***
(A) Active player either skips to (B), or performs ONE sorcery-speed action
***
Go To (A)
(B) "At the beginning of combat"
***
Declare attackers [Combat begins]
"When this creature attacks"
***
Declare blockers, attacker declares assignment order, defender
declares assignment order
"When this creature blocks"
***
Attackers assign and resolve damage, defenders assign and resolve damage
"When this creature deals combat damage" 
***
"At end of combat"
*** [Combat ends]
"At the beginning of your [postcombat] main phase"
***
(C) Active player either skips to (D), or performs ONE sorcery-speed action
***
Go to (C)
(D) "Beginning of the next end step"
***
Discard, then remove damage [Turn ends]
That sounds more confusing, not less.

Also, triggered abilities don't always follow the exact wording you listed. For example, there's:
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep
At the beginning of each player's upkeep
At the beginning of each upkeep
At the beginning of enchanted player's first upkeep each turn
At the beginning of enchanted player's upkeep
At the beginning of the next turn's upkeep
At the beginning of your upkeep

If "upkeep" is the name of a step, all of these make sense. If there isn't an upkeep step and there's just a rule that says "if the triggered ability looks like this, it triggers at this point in the turn", it doesn't make sense, and you wouldn't be able to treat all the above correctly.

Also, there are a lot of effects that cause players to skip some step/phase or to get an additional step/phase. Right now, these work. If the concept of steps and phases was abolished, they wouldn't.
Also, your proposal limits players to two non-instant-speed actions per turn, one per "main phase". I don't think players would like not being able to play a land, cast a creature with haste, and attack in the same turn, let alone cast two spells precombat.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Actually, that's what the "Go to (A)" is for. There's one sorcery-timing action, then a chance for instant-timing actions, then you go back to the chance for one sorcery-timing action. So you'd still be able to do multiple sorcery-timing actions per what-is-currently-the-main-phase.
The rules, if worded this way, would have to account for all triggers that include "at the beginning of ... upkeep". 

To account for effects that create an additional main phase, the rules would have to specify the subset of items in that list that constitute the "main phase", or the "combat phase".  I can see now that these "additional phases" effects are probably why Wizards originally created the concept of a phase. 

Fibonacci

Actually, that's what the "Go to (A)" is for. There's one sorcery-timing action, then a chance for instant-timing actions, then you go back to the chance for one sorcery-timing action. So you'd still be able to do multiple sorcery-timing actions per what-is-currently-the-main-phase.

Oh, okay. I don't think that was clear at all.

...Or maybe my reading comprehension just wasn't up to snuff yesterday morning. That might be it too.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

When explaining the rules of MTG to new players, I feel that the turn structure nomenclature (turns, phases, steps) can be a little bit awkward because of the branching multiplicity of components (a turn is made of many phases; each the upkeep phase has multiple steps - and there are things to do within each step, such as check for triggers then draw a card... etc). 


That all makes perfect sense to me, and is used all over the place in real life.

Books are made up of chapters, chapters are made up of pages, pages are made up of lines, lines are made up of words. Days are made up of hours, hours are made up of minutes, minutes are made up of seconds. Meals are made up of courses, courses are made up of mouthfuls.

Theres a lot to remember, sure, but its not confusing - it makes perfect sense.

In reality, players just need to remember:
- "untap, upkeep, draw"
- main phase before combat
- combat phase (we take turns doing our stuff - more advanced players use the different steps for specific actions, but often "before attackers", "before damage" or "after blockers" etc are enough, without mentioning specific steps)  
-  main phase after combat
- doing stuff when your opponent says they end their turn 

Normally knowing the order in which things happen in a turn is enough.

EDIT: I also wanted to say that your suggestion sounded terrible... but I couldnt force myself past the first paragraph. Sorry.

~ Tim
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)
lots of things are confusing at first. And while I think having an algorithm for how a turn goes is great, changing the nomenclature of turn phase step isn't necessary.

3DH4LIF3

The question is not whether the Turn-Phase-Step hierarchy is confusing/intimidating for new players, but whether the proposed change is any better - particularly once you finish adding in clauses to catch the various special cases - like cards that skip phases.

Personally, I find it easier to learn a long list of things when they're divided into named chunks than when they're just listed out.

The names of the steps and phases generally make sense - I don't think I've ever known someone who has trouble remembering when the Beginning Phase happens - and anyone who has trouble remembering when the Untap Step is and what happens during it also has trouble remembering when to untap their stuff...

I think the underlying problem is that there is quite a lot going on in a Magic turn, so any way of expressing it would get confusing and/or intimidating. There is no magic bullet for that.
M:tG Rules Advisor
Most of the steps and phases are Exactly What it Says on the Tin, but I think a case could be made that the upkeep step is poorly named. Originally, it was primarily used for upkeep costs (e.g. Lord of the Pit, Force of Nature, Phantasmal Forces). For a long time, however, it's instead just been "the step in which once-per-turn triggers happen".
I also wanted to say that your suggestion sounded terrible... but I couldnt force myself past the first paragraph.

Yupp!

STEP 1: Find your cousin STEP 2: Get your cousin in the cannon STEP: 3 Find another cousin
There is no obvious upside to this suggestion at all. It doesn't remove any of the existing complexity, all it does is describe the same rules a different way that is harder to remember and harder for cards and rules to reference (the latter point is especially true of stuff like Eon Hub, as rmsgrey points out). It would be helpful if you could clearly articulate what the advantage is supposed to be, because I simply am not seeing it.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
If you want to change the turn structure, one change I could support would be to make Combat a special action on the part of the Active Player - you potentially lose the opportunity for Non-Active Players to play instants while the stack is empty during the pre-combat main phase, but opportunities still exist during the Draw Step and Beginning of Combat Step, so the functional difference is minimal - there would have to be an "only during combat" effect that a NAP still wanted to play even with no combat happening for there to be a significant difference there.

Granting additional Combats is as simple as "you may declare an additional Combat this turn" without worrying about adding another Main Phase, land drops become "once during your Main Phase", and, in a "draw-go" situation, it saves 4 priority passes per player (all of which would be swallowed by the shortcut anyway).

There is a complication with "must attack" effects - there would have to be a rule that you must declare Combat if possible if you have any creatures that must attack, and Fatespinner's wording would get clunkier.

Overall, I think letting the main phase revert to Alpha's single main phase with Combat as an interruption is cleaner than having two Main Phases, which pretend to be different.
M:tG Rules Advisor
Having combat as part of the main phase requires redefining sorceries or they could be played in combat steps. Then you need the ability to handle cards like Savage Beating that create a second combat without a main in between, and like Relentless Assault that do have a main in between combats.

Level 1 Judge

Having combat as part of the main phase requires redefining sorceries or they could be played in combat steps. Then you need the ability to handle cards like Savage Beating that create a second combat without a main in between, and like Relentless Assault that do have a main in between combats.



The combat steps would not be part of the Main Phase - instead the Main Phase would be suspended or interrupted while Combat played out .

Savage Beating would create an additional Combat Phase following the current, without returning to the interrupted Main Phase; Relentless Assault effects would reword to "you may declare an additional Combat this turn".
M:tG Rules Advisor