Trample vs Protection

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I'm an old-school player who left the game for several years, and has recently come back. There are a huge number of rules changes that I'm in the process of learning. Most of which I find excellent. A few seem completely wrong. I'll start with one that bothers me the most -- Trample & Protection. I quote from the comprehensive rules:

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502.9. Trample

502.9b The controller of an attacking creature with trample first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it. If all those blocking creatures are assigned lethal damage, any remaining damage is assigned as its controller chooses among those blocking creatures and the player or planeswalker the creature is attacking...

502.9d Assigning damage from a creature with trample considers only the actual toughness of a blocking creature, not any abilities or effects that might change the final amount of damage dealt.
Example: A 6/6 green creature with trample is blocked by a 2/2 creature with protection from green. The attacking creature’s controller must assign at least 2 damage to the blocker, even though that damage will be prevented by the blocker’s protection ability. The attacking creature’s controller can then choose to assign the rest of the damage to the defending player.
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In my opinion, 502.9d is flat out wrong. It is in direct contradiction with 502.9b which states:

1) The controller of an attacking creature with trample first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it.
2) If all those blocking creatures are assigned lethal damage, any remaining damage is assigned as its controller chooses among those blocking creatures and the player or planeswalker the creature is attacking...

"Assigning damage from a creature with trample considers only the actual toughness of a blocking creature … "

If a creature has protection from a source of damage, no amount of damage from that source can destroy that target. Therefore the toughness of that creature is infinite with respect to that source, and thereby no damage should roll-over onto the player.

Let’s look at this a second way, using “the stack”. Furthermore, let’s continue your example from above. You attack me with a green 6/6 trample against my blocking 2/2 protection from green creature.

1) You attack, I block. No other effects are used.
2) Damage goes on the stack.
3) We check for effects.
4) Trample is static, protection is static. There are no triggers. There is no stack. (405.1. A static ability does something all the time rather than being activated or triggered.)
5) Trample rolls any extra damage onto the player or planeswalker, AND protection reduces all the damage to zero. There is no extra damage.
6) Damage resolves. Blocker takes zero, player/planeswalker takes zero.

Finally let’s look at this a third way. Rule 502.9b states –

“The controller of an attacking creature with trample first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it.”

The “trample” ability allows the attacker to divide the damage of a single attacking creature into “chunks” of damage. Continuing with your example above, your power 6 attacking creature attempts to assign 2 damage to my blocker. My static ability immediately plays reducing the damage to zero. 4 damage has yet to be assigned. Continuing with rule 502.9b –

“If all those blocking creatures are assigned lethal damage, any remaining damage is assigned as its controller chooses among those blocking creatures and the player or planeswalker the creature is attacking. When checking for assigned lethal damage, take into account damage already on the creature and damage from other creatures that will be assigned at the same time…”

My creature hasn’t been assigned lethal damage, because there is no such thing from your attacker. In fact, my blocker has been assigned zero damage, even taking into account the 2 damage your attacker attempted to throw at it. Therefore the process repeats. You attempt to assign another 2 damage to my blocker. My static ability immediately plays reducing it to zero. 2 damage has yet to be assigned. And we repeat again until the damage left is zero.

Protection is protection. 502.7e – “Any damage that would be dealt by sources that have the stated quality to a permanent or player that has protection is prevented.” If my creature is protected from something, it’s completely protected … not partially protected.

-- John
In my opinion, 502.9d is flat out wrong.

Your opinion is flat out wrong. Read the rules again. Trample modifies how damage is assigned. Protection modifies how damage is dealt. There is no interaction between Protection and Trample.

This may be different to what you're used to, but that's how the rules are now.
DCI Level 2 Judge Please use autocard when you ask a question about specific cards: [c]Serra Angel[/c] -> Serra Angel
Magic is not a game of opinions. It is a game of rules. The rules say it only considers the toughness. Since the "damage prevention step" no longer exists (thank god), the trample rules follow this method rather than the pre-6th edition method.
Though it doesn't appear like you necessarily require it--you seem to be doing quite well on catching up on your own--[thread=973044]The Returning Player Rules Primer[/thread] is available if you want to make things a bit easier on yourself.


Protection doesn't stop damage from being assigned to the creature; it only stops damage being dealt to it. Thus, Trample goes about its merry way assigning damage as it wants; Protection comes around later to save the creature from actually being dealt any damage, but by that time it's too late--Trample has already done its thing.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

If a creature has protection from a source of damage, no amount of damage from that source can destroy that target. Therefore the toughness of that creature is infinite with respect to that source, and thereby no damage should roll-over onto the player.

What? What does "toughness with respect to that source" mean?

In any case, trample doesn't talk about the blocking creatures' toughnesses "with respect to" the attacking creature; it talks about "lethal damage", which is specifically defined as "damage equal to the creature's toughness", taking into account "damage already on the creature and damage from other creatures that will be assigned at the same time"
Let’s look at this a second way, using “the stack”. Furthermore, let’s continue your example from above. You attack me with a green 6/6 trample against my blocking 2/2 protection from green creature.

1) You attack, I block. No other effects are used.
2) Damage goes on the stack.
3) We check for effects.
4) Trample is static, protection is static. There are no triggers. There is no stack. (405.1. A static ability does something all the time rather than being activated or triggered.)
5) Trample rolls any extra damage onto the player or planeswalker, AND protection reduces all the damage to zero. There is no extra damage.
6) Damage resolves. Blocker takes zero, player/planeswalker takes zero.

I don't think you quite grasp what "the Stack" means nowadays. The sequence under current rules is:

1) Combat Damage Step begins (I'm attacking with a trampler; you're blocking with a protected creature)
2) I assign the damage from my creature, assigning "lethal damage" to your creature, and the rest to you. You assign your creature's damage to mine. Damage goes on the stack. This is when the assignment is checked for legality, and the only time Trample applies.
3) SBEs and triggers are checked. There are none, so I get priority. I have nothing I want to do, so I pass. SBEs and triggers are checked again, there are still none, so you get priority. You have nothing you want to do, so pass.
4) Since we've both passed in succession, the top object on the Stack - the combat damage - resolves. The damage assigned to my creature and to you is dealt as assigned. The damage assigned to your creature is prevented by the protection effect. This is the only time Protection applies to this sequence.

Trample "rolling over" is how it used to work ten years ago.

Finally let’s look at this a third way. Rule 502.9b states –

“The controller of an attacking creature with trample first assigns damage to the creature(s) blocking it.”

The “trample” ability allows the attacker to divide the damage of a single attacking creature into “chunks” of damage. Continuing with your example above, your power 6 attacking creature attempts to assign 2 damage to my blocker. My static ability immediately plays reducing the damage to zero.

Stop right there. Protection's damage prevention, as with any prevention or replacement effect, applies only as the event it modifies occurs, not before. At the point combat damage is being assigned, Protection is as relevant as you planning to play Giant Growth with damage on the Stack, or my intending to play Mirrorweave targeting a 1/1 Elf (thereby removing your creature's protection) with damage on the Stack.

Trample and Protection apply at different points in the process. The former deals with assigning damage (and doesn't care what will happen to that damage later); the latter deals with damage that is being dealt.
M:tG Rules Advisor
Thank you gentlemen for your responses. I humbly (and unfortunately) understand the difference between the rules now and the rules back in ancient history, and I do see why you guys are right, and I am wrong. My issue really lies with the assignment of the damage. In I guess pre-6th-edition rules (not sure exactly), all of the damage would be assigned to the blocker. Whatever was leftover after killing the blocker would hit the player. Protection would nullify any and all of the damage regardless of trample, first strike, or whatever. That isn't the way it works now.

I do appreciate the responses, and thank you for that link on the rules changes. I have a loooong way to go.

-- John
We'd suggest starting with the Returning Player Rules Primer so you can see what else has changed over the years.
5)Trample rolls any extra damage onto the player or planeswalker, AND protection reduces all the damage to zero. There is no extra damage.

Also note that protection does not reduce the damage to zero, it prevents the damage. It matters in some cases
Level 2 Judge Atlanta, GA
I do appreciate the responses, and thank you for that link on the rules changes. I have a loooong way to go.

Fortunately, you're on the right track.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Thank you gentlemen for your responses. I humbly (and unfortunately) understand the difference between the rules now and the rules back in ancient history, and I do see why you guys are right, and I am wrong. My issue really lies with the assignment of the damage. In I guess pre-6th-edition rules (not sure exactly), all of the damage would be assigned to the blocker. Whatever was leftover after killing the blocker would hit the player. Protection would nullify any and all of the damage regardless of trample, first strike, or whatever. That isn't the way it works now.

I do appreciate the responses, and thank you for that link on the rules changes. I have a loooong way to go.

-- John

It's usually considered part of the 6th Edition rules changes, but it was actually implemented with the release of Urza's Saga, a few months before the rest of the 6E changes. The main reason was that 6th Edition itself had no creatures with Trample, and they wanted the change to coincide with a set that did have such creatures to make sure people would be aware of such an important change.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
I've been introducing quite a number of people to Magic, both «new» and «returning» players. I found out Trample, Protection and Regeneration are among the most difficult concepts to grasp.

About Trample, I'd like to insist on what RMSGREY already said:

...trample (cares) about "lethal damage", which is specifically defined as "damage equal to the creature's toughness", taking into account "damage already on the creature and damage from other creatures that will be assigned at the same time"

You must realize that, if some other source has already dealt 1 damage this turn to your 2/2-Pro-Green, only ONE point of damage must be assigned to it by the 6/6-Trampler and 5 dmg may be thrown at defending player.

Wlecome back to Magic 2008!

Tax evasion is nothing but legitimate self-defense against the theft that is tax collection.

But does Can't be the target of spells or abilities you opponents control stop trample in it's tracks?
No. Trample doesn't have anything to do with targeting, so being untargetable is no help whatsoever against it.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Me and a shop owner argued about this.. and he said fine your right i'm wrong.. I told him that Trample is an ability your right, but it targets my creature not you.. it just allows the damage to carry over. He still doesn't believe that works that way. Needless to say I beat him and he thinks I cheat now.
Me and a shop owner argued about this.. and he said fine your right i'm wrong.. I told him that Trample is an ability your right, but it targets my creature not you.. it just allows the damage to carry over. He still doesn't believe that works that way. Needless to say I beat him and he thinks I cheat now.

Trample is an ability, but it doesn't target ANYTHING. Not you, your opponent or any creature, including itself.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
Trample is static.
If something targets, it will always use the word "target" somewhere--if a keyword involves targeting in some way, it will use the word "target" in its reminder text. Trample does not use the word "target" in any way, shape, or form, so it doesn't target.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Me and a shop owner argued about this.. and he said fine your right i'm wrong.. I told him that Trample is an ability your right, but it targets my creature not you.. it just allows the damage to carry over. He still doesn't believe that works that way. Needless to say I beat him and he thinks I cheat now.

Trample doesn't target.

MTG Rules Advisor
 

ok well, im lost then taking in all that has been stated i undersstand how it can be misconstrued but what does LETHAL mean?... it means it kills something it dies its dead, so if a trample creature assigns damage say the 6/6 vs the 2/2 example. damage would check for lethal damage there isnt any damage to actually kill it thus it would not roll over it would continuously check for LETHAL damage, i dont know i guess that makes sense to me , not discrediting anyone elses say or opinion but its not lethal ubnless the creature dies to the damage which it does not so therfore NOT lethal

In Magic: The Gathering, "lethal damage" means "An amount of damage greater than or equal to a creature's toughness." So, 2 damage is lethal damage to a 2/2, even if the 2/2 has protection from the damage's source.


Think on it as "potentially" lethal damage, not "already dead" lethal.


Also, Trample and Combat Damage don't work the way you think they do. Trample is not "deal too much damage to the blocker and then roll over the excess", it's more like "first assign damage among the blocker(s) and the player, and then it is dealt as assigned". When assigning damage, you take in acount only the blocker's toughness, how much damage it already received (or it is receiving from other creatures it is also blocking), and if the attacker also has deattouch; but not things like damage prevention, regeneration, or being indestructible.

[<o>]
yea once again i get that, thats the pretty well standard explaination from a game rule, standpoint i guess that i think of it like a charging rhino isnt going to stop and look at a guy standing in his way and brush him asside, hes going to full on attack the guy standuing there, so all of his damage should theoretically be assaigned and not split at the point it comes into conflict with somthing it doesnt agree with..., if i cant win the way i play then ill change the rules so i can win kind of an instance i guess in this case lol
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