Welcome back once more to Rules Processing. I don’t intend to always open each of my articles by looking back at the previous one but there will be times where that’s important for whatever reason, and this is one of those times. So indulge me a little before we jump into today’s topic.
I guess the big news is that, since my last article and the accompanying rules documents came out, SE has final released an updated version of the English comprehensive rules. I’ll sum up my thoughts on it in one word: disappointing. It’s basically the same document but they added the new Damage keyword and fix like one whole error, yipp-fucking-ie. I’ve added a new section to the end of my documents that is basically just a way for me to discuss changes I make, and updates coming, to my documents, and I went into a little bit more detail there about this comprehensive rules 2.0 “update.” Before I move on, I’ll quickly note that I have updated my documents a few times since their release, so if you downloaded the 1.0 version, it’s now on 1.0.4, just so you know. Some of the changes were based on feedback, so thanks to those that gave it, much appreciated. Other changes were just stuff I noticed, or thought of, so uh, thanks to me? Anyway, onwards, we have a lot to discuss today.
Moving On to the Attack Phase
Today’s main topic is all about the Attack Phase. I’ll be going into detail on each of the steps, and how it all works. I’ll also go over both party attacking and priority during the Attack Phase. Since this is (somehow) my first article where I actually go over some rules shit and break it down, I’ll quickly explain my general approach to this sort of article. Typically I like to try to strike a balance between being extremely detailed, and being digestible and accessible. What this basically means, in the simplest terms, is that I’ll probably write lots and lots of words that works for some, not for all, but also a simplified breakdown in red text, that should be accessible to most, and be a good quick reference or way to explain the particular rule or part I’m talking about. Okay, let’s get into it.
Attack Phase Breakdown
So before I write all the words about the Attack Phase, I want to unveil my Attack Phase Breakdown image I’ve basically had sitting for the best part of a year, waiting for me to finally get to this article. Now, the version you’ll see in this article will be slightly reduced in size but just click on it to be taken to the full size version (and then maybe click on that version to make it even bigger). Enjoy!
“Woah there Yoh! Just hold up now, we’re starting with priority? At least let me dip my balls in, metaphorically, to test first” is probably what some of you are thinking right now. Okay, maybe not exactly that, but some form of it. Yes, I’m starting with priority, because we can’t move between steps in the Attack Phase, or cast Summons, activate abilities etc, without priority, and rather than skirt around it, or blow it off by saying “I’ll explain it later, pinky promise guys just keep reading,” let’s just go into it first. Consider this as me kicking you into the water. No temperature test for you.
The first thing to note here, and you’ll see a similar note in my breakdown, is that when I discuss priority in regards to the Attack Phase, I like to keep it confined to the Attack Phase. Now, don’t misinterpret that as priority being different in the Attack Phase, it isn’t any different kind of priority you get or something like that, it’s simply that your options differ slightly than in the Main Phase, as the turn player. If you’re the non-turn player, well it’s actually exactly the same. I’ll do an article on priority, the stack and the other related rules stuffs another time and we’ll get proper mucky diving into all that, but for now, let’s talk about priority in regards to the Attack Phase.
This isn’t really the article to be explaining to you what priority is entirely, in terms of the concept, but while you have priority you get to do stuff. You know that trope-y thing where people sit together and there is some object determined to be what allows people to talk. You have the special object, you get to talk, you don’t, you shut the fuck up. It’s kinda like that.
Sidebar: I have no respect for your talk object. Fuck that. I’ll talk when I want. I do respect priority though, as a principled rules person of culture.
As I go through each step of the Attack Phase, I’ll explain at what point in those steps priority is given, so for now let’s focus in on: what you can do when you have it; how you pass it (stop having it); and how it allows the players to both progress through the Attack Phase steps and also resolve abilities or Summons they place on the stack.
When a player has priority during the Attack Phase, they may perform any of the following actions as many times as they want and/or are able to:
- Activate an action ability or special ability.
- Cast a Summon.
- Play a Character via Back Attack.
When a player with priority has no more actions they want and/or are able to perform, they pass priority. At this point, depending on which factors are true, things can go a few ways:
1) If the turn player has priority and the non-turn player hasn’t passed priority in this round of priority (because they haven’t received it yet), priority passes to the non-turn player.
2) If the player with priority performed any of the possible priority-based actions (e.g. casting a Summon etc.), priority passes to the other player.
3) If priority was passed from the other player and the player with priority performed no priority-based actions and the stack is not empty, the top item of the stack resolves.
4) If priority was passed from the other player and the player with priority performed no priority-based actions and the stack is empty, the game moves to the appropriate step or phase.
Okay, so quick small sidebar before we wrap up priority, there are things that happens when a player is to receive priority, like putting auto-abilities on the stack and resolving rules processes. It’s important stuff, but this article isn’t the time to talk about it. It’s a fine line between what’s relevant to know specifically about the Attack Phase and what’s just general overall rules stuff. Anyway, continuing on now.
To conclude this section on priority within the Attack Phase, I’m going to leave you with a simplified breakdown of the things covered here.
First, let’s breakdown if a player has priority.
If you have priority, you can:
- Activate an action or special ability.
- Cast a Summon.
- Play a Character via Back Attack.
- Pass priority.
Second, let’s breakdown the different things that happen when priority is passed.
When priority is passed:
- If the turn player has priority and the non-turn player hasn’t received priority in this round of priority, the non-turn player receives priority.
- If an action was performed by the player with priority, the other player gains priority.
- If both players pass priority with no action performed in between, and the stack is empty, the game moves to the next step/phase. If the stack is not empty, resolve the top item of the stack.
Woooo here we go, we’re actually getting into the Attack Phase proper now. We begin with an overview of the Attack Phase, the parts of it, and some general rules while in it.
The Attack Phase is broken up into the following 4 steps:
- Attack Preparation Step
- Attack Declaration Step
- Block Declaration Step
- Damage Resolution Step
Based on what actions the turn player and the non-turn player take (or don’t take), you can go through the various steps multiple times, or skip some entirely. However, you’ll always go into the Attack Preparation Step and the Attack Declaration Step, unless some effect says otherwise. Also, while you’re in the Attack Phase, you’ll always be in one of the steps. When the game moves to the Attack Phase in any turn, it also moves to the Attack Preparation Step. Thus, the start of the Attack Phase is also the start of the Attack Preparation Step.
While in the Attack Phase, if the turn player controls any Forwards that are required to attack compulsorily, the turn player must attack with all of these Forwards, as long as they can legally attack, and the Attack Phase cannot be brought to an end until this has been done. However, this does mean the turn player doesn’t have to attack with those Forwards first (unless an effect says otherwise), so as long as those Forwards do attack, the turn player can attack with other Forwards as well, and in any order they like.
Effects can basically change anything they want when it comes to the Attack Phase: they can make Forwards be unable to attack; force them to attack; or even have them do more damage to a player if they successfully attack. Just know that I’m mainly talking about the rules as they are, and while I will note things here and there, I won’t keep saying “unless an effect says otherwise” every single time. Assume it’s implied.
Whew, that was a bit serious, wasn’t it? Maybe take a 2 minute break from your toilet break to unwind, then continue on.
I don’t really think there is anything worth doing a red text breakdown about in this overview, so we’ll just move on…
This step is interesting. It basically exists to allow the non-turn player a chance to prevent attacks. While that’s not all it’s for, it’s probably the main intention. Although Attack Prevention Step would probably be a confusing step name, so, uh, I digress, I guess.
All that really happens in this step is priority being given to the turn player. From there, you follow the priority rules, resolve things added to the stack, and continue until the stack is empty and both players pass priority, which then moves the game on to the Attack Declaration Step. The only other relevant information you really need to know is that the turn player returns to this step after each attack, if they can or want to make another attack. It can be an incredibly relevant step sometimes, other times not so much. I guess the important thing to remember here is that if you’re the non-turn player, you have the opportunity after the turn player’s Main Phase to do things, before they attack. So if your opponent just starts turning their cards sideways, and they don’t give you the opportunity to take action before so, get them told!
Pew pew pew. It’s time to do some attacking.
The first thing that happens in this step is the turn player choosing whether to attack or not. I’ll look at what happens when they choose to attack first, then after that I’ll look at what happens when they choose not to attack.
Okay, the turn player now wants to make an attack, but what kind of attack are they making? Is it an attack with a single Forward, or a Party Attack? Well, what I’m going to do is go over this step and the subsequent steps of the Attack Phase as if the turn player is only attacking with a single Forward, then I’ll deal with a Party Attack in its own section. Better to understand the process with one Forward, then see how things change when you have multiple, right?
We’ve now established in this scenario, the turn player is doing a big rawr, and attacking with a single Forward. Let’s roll back slightly and talk about the general conditions that need to be true to declare an attack with a Forward. To attack, a Forward must be active and has to meet either of the following conditions:
- Have Haste.
- Have been under the control of the turn player continuously since the beginning of the current turn.
If one of these conditions is true, the Forward can legally declare an attack, although if an effect causes the controller to have to pay a cost to declare an attack, in this case, the cost must be paid or the Forward can’t attack. Finally, a Forward can only attack once per turn.
Let me make a few more notes before we continue on. First, when declaring an attack, unless a Forward has Brave, it’s put from active to dull when it declares an attack. Second, once a Forward has declared an attack, preventing it from attacking via abilities or Summons does not stop the current attack its making. It will prevent it from future attacks though (if it can attack more than once). Likewise, dulling or activating a Forward that has declared an attack will not prevent the declared attack.
Bang bang, we’ve now declared our attack, and the attacking Forward is considered by the game as just that: an attacking Forward. Now, the turn player gains priority and you go through all the priority shiz I covered earlier. When it’s time to move to the next step, the game moves to the Block Declaration Step, that is, unless there is no longer an attacking Forward. If the attacking Forward leaves the field or changes controller at any point after it declares the attack (including in subsequent steps after the Attack Declaration Step), then it is no longer considered an attacking Forward. So, in the case that there is no attacking Forward, but an attack was declared, the game moves back to the Attack Preparation Step. Do note that returning to the Attack Preparation Step is not the same as going back to the start of the Attack Phase, so any “at the start of the Attack Phase” auto-abilities (or similar auto-abilities) will not trigger again. Wol’s not that good, geezus.
Now let’s say the turn player didn’t declare an attack. When this happens, you continue on in the Attack Declaration Step as normal, meaning the turn player will now be given priority. Once it’s time to move steps/phases, since no attack was declared, the game moves straight to Main Phase 2.
Let’s now simplify some of what I said here down into a few breakdowns.
First, in regards to being able to declare an attack with a Forward.
A Forward must be active and either have been continuously under the control of the turn player since the beginning of the current turn or have Haste to declare an attack.
Second, in regards to which step/phase the game moves to due to priority being passed consecutively.
If the game would move to the next step/phase from the Attack Declaration Step:
- If an attack was declared and there is still an attacking Forward, move to the Block Declaration Step.
- If an attack was declared but there is no attacking Forwarding remaining, move to the Attack Preparation Step.
- If no attack was declared, move to Main Phase 2.
How do I write blocking noises? Uh, well just imagine them for yourselves, that way it saves me doing anything here.
The Block Declaration Step is basically exactly the same as the Attack Declaration Step, except, you know, a Forward is blocking, not attacking, and the non-turn player makes the decision to do it or not. Otherwise, the same. So just go back up and read what I said about the Attack Declaration Step, replacing the appropriate things, then move on to the next step. Just kidding. Whew, thought I wasn’t going to be able to make that joke for the third time. Alright, let’s get into it.
First up in the Block Declaration Step, the non-turn player decides to block or not. We’ll first dive into what happens when the non-turn player chooses to block, then get into what happens when they choose not to block. See, how immediately similar that all sounds? Well buckle up, we’re just getting (re)started.
To block, the non-turn player needs to pick a Forward that’s active. That’s it. It doesn’t need Haste or to be under the non-turn player’s control since the beginning of existence, just be active, and it can block the attack. If an effect requires the controller of the Forward to pay a cost to block with that Forward (or any Forward), then the cost must be paid or the Forward can’t block. Unlike attacking, a Forward is not put into the dull state when it blocks, also unlike attacking, which is limited to once per turn for a Forward, a Forward can block as long it’s able to, with no restriction on the amount of times.
Once a Forward has blocked, preventing it from blocking using Summons or abilities does not prevent the block from having happened. It will stop the Forward from making future blocks though. Dulling or activating a Forward will also not prevent the block, although dulling it will prevent it from making subsequent blocks, assuming it remains dull.
At this point, the Forward that blocks is now considered to be a blocking Forward, and both the attacking Forward and the blocking Forward are considered to be “in battle.”
Once the block declaring is all done, the turn player gains priority. Maybe you can guess what comes next. Yes, it’s time to move on from the Block Declaration Step. So, once all the priority stuff is done, the game will normally move to the Damage Resolution Step. However, like in the Attack Declaration Step, if no attacking Forward remains, the game moves back to the Attack Preparation Step. If there is no blocking Forward remaining, well the game doesn’t really care. The only changes that happen if no blocking Forward remains is that the attacking Forward is no longer “in battle” and there will be no battle in the Damage Resolution Step (more on that in a bit). The fact the attack was blocked, however, does not change.
What if the non-turn player decides not to block (or can’t block)? The game moves on the Damage Resolution Step, that’s what.
Once again, let’s simplify all these words into a couple breakdowns.
We’ll begin with one in regards to the non-turn player being able to declare a block with a Forward.
A Forward must be active to block.
Next, let’s look at which step/phase the game moves to when priority is passed consecutively.
If the game would move to the next step/phase from the Block Declaration Step:
- If an attacking Forward remains, move to the Damage Resolution Step.
- If no attacking Forward remains, move to the Attack Preparation Step.
Oh boii, it’s the main event.
Like the previous two steps, before the game gets to giving priority, it firsts does the stuff the step takes it name after, that being resolve damage. There are a few ways this can go, depending on how things stand once the game reaches this step.
If no block was declared, then the attacking Forward deals 1 point of damage to the non-turn player (or in the case of Ark Angel HM and future cards like it, more than 1 point of damage is dealt).
Sidebar, there might be an argument for changing “to the non-turn player” to something like “the controller’s opponent” but I doubt they’ll ever make a Forward that can attack from the non-turn player’s side of the field, the game just isn’t built for it logistically, so I’ll stick with “to the non-turn player” for now, but ya know, just be aware.
If the damage the non-turn player took included an EX Burst symbol, the non-turn player can choose to resolve it or not. If they choose to resolve it, it resolves immediately. I’ll cover EX Bursts in an article another time (feels like I’ve said that a bunch in this article), so that’s about as deep as I’ll go for now.
If a block was declared, but no blocking Forward remains, no battle happens, and the turn player gains priority.
If a block was declared and the blocking Forward remains (and the attacking and blocking Forward are still “in battle”), the attacking Forward and the blocking Forward deal damage equal to their power to each other. Damage dealt this way is considered “battle damage,” and it’s the only damage in the game (currently) considered battle damage. This is actually relevant for the Kain in Opus X, so take note. The turn player then gains priority.
Alright, so now when all the priority stuff is done, and it’s time to move to the next step/phase, there are a few things that happen:
- The attacking Forward is no longer considered an attacking Forward.
- The blocking Forward is no longer considered a blocking Forward.
- If the turn player wants (or is required) to make another attack, return to the Attack Preparation Step.
- If the turn player does not want to (or can’t) make another attack, move to Main Phase 2.
Thus ends the Attack Phase, all that’s left now is to give a breakdown (and cover Party Attacking I guess).
The only breakdown for this step is in regards to resolving the attack.
At the start of the Damage Resolution Step:
- If no block was declared, the non-turn player is dealt 1 point of damage.
- If a block was declared, the Forwards “in battle” deal damage to each other equal to their power. If instead no Forwards are “in battle,” then, no damage is exchanged.
Welcome to the party.
Now that you have an understanding of the Attack Phase, it seems only right to talk about performing a Party Attack. The difference between a normal attack and a Party Attack is that you attack with multiple Forwards in one combined attack.
When you would declare an attack in the Attack Declaration Step, you can instead declare a Party Attack. All the rules in terms of a Forward attacking still apply, essentially meaning that a Forward has to be capable of attacking on its own to be able to attack as part of a party. Now there may be cards in the future that can’t attack unless they are part of a party, but they’ll still most likely need to be able to meet all the other parameters of attacking normally. As long as all your Forwards can legally attack, then they only have to meet one other condition: they all have to share the same Element. So, for example, you could not declare a Party Attack with a Water Forward and a Fire Forward. It has to be a Fire Forward and another Fire Forward. If a Forward has multiple Elements, then it’s fine as long as it matches an Element all the Forwards in the Party share. Also, as an additional note, there is no limit to the amount of Forwards that can be in a party.
And that’s it, you’ve now declared your Party Attack and all the Forwards in the party are considered to be attacking Forwards. Do note that any Forwards with Brave in the party will not dull, but all without it will. Also, if only one attacking Forward remains from the party attack at any point, then it’s no longer considered to be a Party Attack.
Okay, so we’ve declared the Party Attack, now let’s take a look at the mechanics of blocking a Party Attack. Well, it’s actually fairly simply, it’s basically the same as blocking a single Forward. In terms of declaring a block, the same process applies, as in a single active Forward is selected by the non-turn player to block the attack. As the Party Attack is one single attack, this part remains the same. The only real difference is that if a Forward (that was to be selected to block) can block at least one of the Forwards in the party, it can block the party. So, even if a Forward could not legally block one, or all but one, of the Forwards in the party, it can still block.
Let me give you an example of that last part, to make it as clear as possible. The turn player declares a Party Attack with Zidane (1-071L) and Yuffie (1-086C). Zidane has a field ability that reads: “Zidane cannot be blocked by a Forward of cost 4 or more.” Yuffie has a field ability that reads: “Yuffie cannot be blocked by a Forward of cost 3 or more.” The non-turn player can thus block the party with a 3 cost Forward because, although it cannot block Yuffie, it can block Zidane.
I actually took that example from my Advanced Rules documents, cheap plug. I am actually using both my Advanced Rules and my Attack Phase Breakdown to help me write this, because I don’t want to miss anything (because I would). So, if no one else uses them, at least I do! Good job, me. Thanks me… Uh, moving on.
One quick note, all Forwards in the party are considered to be “in battle” with the blocking Forward when the block is declared. All the same rules still apply, so if the blocking Forward is removed from the field, or changes controller, then the Forwards in the party will no longer be “in battle” etc.
Now we come to the damage resolvings. Yes I meant resolvings. That note was more for Lossley when he checks over this, but you can pretend it’s for you if you want, I guess. (Editor’s note: I’m all for fun “words.” Just don’t try to slip an omitted Oxford comma past me and we good)
If no block was declared, then the party deals one point of damage to the non-turn player. Yup, no extra player damage (without effects) just because you attacked with multiple Forwards. Note that all Forwards in a party are considered to have dealt damage to the player, even if they cannot legally deal damage to the player.
If a block was declared, but no blocking Forward remains, well nothing different happens than what is noted in the Damage Resolution Step. No exchange of damage. Just thought you ought to know.
If a block was declared, and the Forwards in the party and the blocking Forward are “in battle,” then shit pops off. This is where the major differences are from party attacking are and things get a bit “exciting.”
Let’s first look at the blocking Forward dealing damage. The non-turn player can assign damage to Forwards in the party as they please, as long as they can legally damage the Forward(s) they assign damage to. For example, let’s say the turn player’s party has 2 Forwards, one with 3000 power and another with 3000 power, and the blocking Forward has 6000 power. The non-turn player can assign 3000 damage to each of the Forwards, thus breaking both of them. Pretty neat huh? Well, maybe not when we go the other way round and look at the Forwards in the party and how they deal damage. Look out, truck coming through.
The Forwards in the party combine their power and deal that as damage to the blocking Forward. If a Forward cannot legally deal damage to the blocking Forward their power is not included in the total. Whatever the damage dealt, all Forwards in the party are considered to have dealt that amount (even if they couldn’t legally deal damage to the blocking Forward). If the blocking Forward breaks, all Forwards in the party are considered to have broken the blocking Forward.
I’ve not really talked about First Strike, and I’ll cover it in-depth in a future article (look, I said it again!), but it’s relevant to make a note about it here. Unless all Forwards in a party have First Strike, then First Strike is basically ignored. If all the Forwards have it, then it works as normal, just with the combined power of the party.
Okay, let’s now breakdown some of this into that red text.
First, the rules of being able to Party Attack.
To form a party, all Forwards must:
- Be legally able to attack as per normal
- Share the same Element
Next, blocking a party.
A Forward can block a Party Attack if it can legally block at least one of the Forwards in the party.
Now, dealing damage with a Party Attack.
At the start of the Damage Resolution Step, when attacking with a Party Attack:
- If no block was declared, the non-turn player is dealt 1 point of damage. All Forwards in the party are considered to have dealt damage to the player.
- If a block was declared but no Forwards remain in battle, no damage is exchanged.
- If a block was declared and Forwards remain in battle, the Forwards in battle in the party deal damage to the blocking Forward equal to the total amount of the Forwards in the party that can legally deal damage. If all Forwards in the party have First Strike, this damage is dealt as First Strike damage, otherwise it’s dealt as normal. All Forwards in the party are considered to have dealt the total amount dealt to the blocking Forward. The blocking Forward deals damage equal to its power, split amongst the Forwards in the party it can legally deal damage to, as the non-turn player wishes. If the blocking Forward is broken, all Forwards in the party are considered to have broken the blocking Forward.
Okay, that last one was quite a big “simplified” breakdown, but they can’t all be a single sentence I guess.
Whew. Yes, we are done. Hope you’ve enjoyed this tour around the Attack Phase. I’ve got all sorts of stuff in the works, so I don’t know exactly which will be my next Rules Processing article, not that I would explicitly say, but I can’t even give a little tease about it. What I can tease though is that you’ll see another article from me pretty soon, not a Rules Processing one, at least not the mainline one with #4, something shorter form. For now however, we’ll part ways. Happy Halloween-(ish)!
Article & Rules Processing Material
“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
– Sun Tzu
El. Psy. Kongroo