when is damage to creatures assigned

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I attacked my friend with a creature and he blocked then removed the creature from the battlefield ( for any reason im asking its all the same for sac, bounce, some removal spell, ability, ect.) He said my creature still takes its damage i told him since your creature isnt in play all you did was block my creature and the creature and you take no damage. I know back in the day when magic was first out all damage was done at end of turn so you could do this with a creature like mog fanatic (block a 2/2 and have it do 1 damage from combat then sac it to do the last point of damage to kill it) but now damage is different. Am i right that if the blocked creature isnt there for any reason no damage is delt just the attacking creature is considered now block?
Combat damage is assigned and dealt at the beginning of the Combat Damage step.

Creatures not on the battlefield at this time will not assign or deal damage.

The last chance to remove a creature from the battlefield before combat damage is dealt is the Declare Blockers step. If a creature is removed from the battlefield at this time, it will not be on the battlefield during the Combat Damage step and will not assign or deal damage.

The first chance to remove a creature from the battlefield after combat damage is dealt is after State-Based Actions are checked in the Combat Damage step, which is after combat damage has already been assigned and dealt. If a creature was dealt lethal damage, it will die as a result of State-Based Actions, and it will be too late to remove it from the battlefield. (Although technically dying does remove it from the battlefield, I don't think that's what your opponent had in mind).

In short, your opponent was wrong.
Barring first strike or double strike damage, you are correct.  If the creature is removed from combat before the combat damage step, it neither deals nor receives combat damage. 

As you stated, damage no longer uses the stack, so you can't have creature assign combat damage then remove them before the damage is dealt.

DCI Level 2 Judge

Rockford, Illinois

ok, thank you very much.
oh so with first strike and double strike he could remove it after that goes off and my creature will be hit from the first/double strike and he could remove it after that goes off but before the next damage happens (the normal hit, not sure what its considered) and return it to his hand and my creature will just take the first strike damage? (this isnt what happened but I didnt know it was possible.)
First Strike and Double Strike work by creating an additional Combat Damage step.

Each player has an opportunity to cast spells and activate abilities at the end of the First Strike Combat Damage step, before the Normal Combat Damage step begins.
oh so with first strike and double strike he could remove it after that goes off and my creature will be hit from the first/double strike and he could remove it after that goes off but before the next damage happens (the normal hit, not sure what its considered) and return it to his hand and my creature will just take the first strike damage? (this isnt what happened but I didnt know it was possible.)


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That's worded very confusingly but I think the answer is "yes".

Basically, First Strike damage gets its own combat damage step, which begins with First Strike damage (including the first hit from creatures with Double Strike) and then is a step like any other, in which either player can play instants or activate abilities. It is entirely possible to use this opportunity to Unsummon or otherwise remove a First/Double Strike creature that's already done its damage (or some of it in the case of Double Strike) before it can be hit back.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
ok thank you guys very much.
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