2 posts / 0 new
Last post
This issue concerns restrictions to attack based on what the defending player controls, more specifically in multiplayer games, with the attack multiple players option.


You control Sea Serpent (you have Islands), and only one of your opponents has Islands.

The rules state that first, all opponents become defending players.

802.2. As the combat phase starts, the attacking player doesn't choose an opponent to become the defending player. Instead, all the attacking player's opponents are defending players during the combat phase.

The card says it can't attack unless the defending player controls one or more Islands.

The rules also state that when referring to a specific defending player, it means the defending player the creature is attacking.

802.2a Any rule, object, or effect that refers to a "defending player" refers to one specific defending player, not to all of the defending players. If an ability of an attacking creature refers to a defending player, or a spell or ability refers to both an attacking creature and a defending player, then unless otherwise specified, the defending player it's referring to is the player that creature was attacking at the time it became an attacking creature that combat, or the controller of the planeswalker that creature was attacking at the time it became an attacking creature that combat. If a spell or ability could apply to multiple attacking creatures, the appropriate defending player is individually determined for each of those attacking creatures. If there are multiple defending players that could be chosen, the controller of the spell or ability chooses one.

The problem is that the creature only becomes an attacking creature, after the restrictions are checked.
So at the point of the attacker declaration, when restrictions are checked, it's not an attacking creature, and as such, the specific defending player cannot be determined, meaning whether the defending player controls Islands is inconclusive.

802.2a should be adjusted to refer to the would-be defending player in such cases.
As you quoted, 802.2 defines all opposing players as "defending players" as soon as the combat phase begins.

The later part in 802.2a cares about already attacking creatures, so it's irrelevant to "landhome" abilities who care about the creature before it attacks. That's where rule 802.3 comes in, specifically 802.3a:

802.3. As the attacking player declares each attacking creature, he or she chooses a defending player or a planeswalker controlled by a defending player for it to attack. See rule 508, "Declare Attackers Step."

802.3a Restrictions and requirements that don't apply to attacking a specific player are evaluated based on the entire group of attacking creatures. Restrictions and requirements that apply to attacking a specific player apply only to creatures attacking that player. The entire group of attacking creatures must still be legal. See rule 508.1.

So there's no problem.

Edit: I'm partly wrong here. 802.2a is meant to refer to creatures decalared as attackers (which is what I thought I meant by "before it attacks" but I'm not so sure now), the part I bolded is the one that's actually irrelevant since it talks about effects that care about a specific player  ("creatures without flying can't attack you" etc.) which is somewhat different than effects that care about "the general defending player".

Maybe there's a room for it to be clearer, by talking about the would-be attacking creature, or the creature as it is declared as an attacker. Or is the creature considered an attacking creature after declarations but before its legality is evaluated? 
Sign In to post comments