Magic The Gathering Turns Explained: MTG Phases Guide

October 19, 2022 · Your Playmat
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MTG is one of the most legendary card games. Like in Pokemon cards, there are laws, rules, legends, and, most importantly, players. So, millions of players get together in different parts of the world to fight against themselves and bring other players to their knees.

However, to achieve an incredible level of skill in casting spells and being able to deflect them, each player must go through a long stage of training and honing their skills for combat.

This article is about the phases in the MTG game, and we will tell you about each of them in detail, show the essential aspects, and how to act correctly during each phase.

However, to do this, you must be familiar with the game at a minimum level and be able to stack a deck for combat. If you decide to start learning the game, take your deck in hand, and let's get started.

What Are The Current MTG Phases?

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If you're new to the world of Magic: The Gathering, you might wonder what the fuss is about. After all, it's just a card game. WRONG. Magic is so much more than that. It's a complex, ever-evolving game with something to offer players of all skill levels. In this block, we will look at the current phases in MTG and how they impact the game.

The current phases in MTG are as follows: 

  1. Preparation phase - This is when players can cast spells and activate abilities. It's also when players can draw cards and refill their mana pools;
  2. First main phase - This is when players can play land cards and cast creature spells;
  3. Combat phase - This is when creatures can attack and block. It's also when players can cast spells that target creatures;
  4. Post-combat main phase - This is the same as the first main MTG phase;
  5. End step - This is when players can activate abilities and cast spells.

Players will go through these stages repeatedly until someone wins the game. The key to winning is to make strategic choices during each phase that will put you in a position to win.

Your choices during each phase will directly impact the game's outcome, so it's essential to choose wisely!

1. Preparation Phase

The preparation phase is the first phase of MTG in which each player may take several actions in any order, including playing lands and casting spells. Once both players have passed on taking any more steps, the main phase begins.

The most important thing to keep in mind during the preparation phase is that you need to play enough lands to be able to cast the spells you want to cast during the main stage. You can play one land per turn, and you should try to play lands that produce mana of the correct type to pay for the spells you want to cast. For example, if you're going to cast a creature that costs three mana of any type, you'll need to have at least three lands in play that produce mana. 

You can also use lands to activate abilities. Some creatures have abilities that allow them to tap for mana, and some artefacts and enchantments have abilities that allow them to produce mana as well. These kinds of abilities are called "mana abilities". They can be activated anytime, even during other players' turns. 

During the preparation phase, you can also cast instants and sorceries. Instants and sorceries are spells that resolve and then go to your graveyard immediately after they're finished resolving. They typically have a one-time effect, like dealing damage or drawing cards. After you've cast an instant or sorcery, it's gone forever and can't be used again.

You can also cast any number of creatures or planeswalkers during the preparation phase. Creatures and planeswalkers stay on the battlefield until they're destroyed or returned to your hand (usually due to an opponent's spells or abilities). They typically have ongoing effects, like producing mana or dealing damage when they attack.

2. First Main MTG Phase

One of the most critical phases in a game of Magic: The Gathering is the pre-combat main phase. This is the phase where players can cast spells and activate abilities, and it's crucial to understand how it works if you want to be a competitive player. This block will briefly overview the pre-combat main phase and how it works.

The pre-combat main phase basic steps are as follows: 

  1. The first thing that happens during the pre-combat main phase is that any effects that would occur "at the beginning of the combat phase" trigger and resolve. This is usually referred to as the "beginning of combat step." Note that this step doesn't include anything specifically related to combat; it's just a time when certain things can happen.
  2. After any beginning of combat step effects have resolved, players may cast spells and activate abilities freely until they pass Priority, even if those spells or abilities would typically not be able to be cast or activated at that time.
  3. Once both players pass Priority in succession while no player has cast a spell since the last time a player gave Priority, the pre-combat main phase ends, and combat begins.

The pre-combat main phase is one of the essential phases in MTG because it's when players can cast spells and activate abilities freely. Understanding how it works to take advantage of it in your games is critical. 

3. Combat Phase

According to MTG order, this turn is one of the most critical aspects and consists of three steps:

  1. The Declare Attackers Step. This is where things start to get interesting. Players choose which creatures will be attacking and which ones will be held back in the declare attackers step. This is often where combats are decided, as a well-timed blocker can often turn the tide of battle. A few special rules apply in this step, such as flying creatures being able to attack creatures without flying.
  2. The Combat Damage Step. This is when the creature attacks happen. Each creature deals damage equal to its power to the creature or player it's attacking. If a creature's power is greater than the creature it's attacking, then the excess damage is dealt to the player that creature is attacking. This is also when "first strike" and "double strike" come into play, as creatures with those abilities deal their damage first.
  3. The End of Combat Step. This is where things wrap up. Any creatures that were destroyed during combat are put into their owner's graveyard, and any life lost during battle is regained. This is also when "aftermath" cards are used, as they are put into play from your graveyard during this step. Players can also cast spells and activate abilities at this point if they have something that needs to be done before the next turn begins.

As you can see, there are many moving parts to combat in Magic: The Gathering. But don't let that discourage you! With a bit of practice, you'll be able to master the art of combat in no time.

4. Post-combat Main Phase

According to MTG order, this turn is a crucial time to regroup and strategize for the remainder of the game. This is the time to assess the battlefield, retrieve any spent cards, and prepare for your opponent's next move. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your post-combat main phase:

  1. First and foremost, look at the battlefield and assess the situation. What creatures are still alive, and which ones are dead? Which player has the advantage in terms of creature numbers? Are there any cards that can be played to swing the tide in your favour?
  2. Secondly, retrieve any spent cards. If you have any creatures that were killed in combat, or if you used up all of your mana during the combat phase, now is the time to retrieve those cards from your graveyard and put them back into your hand.
  3. Finally, think about your opponent's next move. What do they have on their side of the battlefield that could pose a threat to you? What cards do they have in their hand that could be played to their advantage? By thinking about these things, you can better prepare yourself for what's to come.

5. End Step

The fifth and final phase of each turn in MTG is the end step. This is the phase where players can do a few things: untap all their permanents and check for any "state-based actions".

Untapping permanents means they can be used again; for example, if a creature has already attacked this turn, it will need to be untapped before it can attack again.

State-based actions are things like "creatures with 0 or less toughness are put into their owner's graveyard," and they're checked every turn to see if anything needs to be done.

That's everything that happens during the end step! Once the end step is over, the next player's turn begins.

All About Player's Priority

mtg card management

Priority is the system that determines when players can take actions during the game. The player with Priority may cast a spell, activate an ability, or take any other action on their turn. If multiple players have Priority at the same time, the active player (the player whose turn it is) still has Priority, meaning they get to take action first. 

When a player casts a spell or activates an ability, that player gains Priority. Once that player passes on their opportunity to act, the next player gains Priority. This process continues until all players have had a chance to perform and pass on their turn.

If all players pass in succession without taking action, the MTG phase or step ends, and the next one begins. However, if at any point during this process a player casts a spell or activates an ability, that player immediately regains Priority.

A Player's Priority is crucial to understand in MTG because it determines when players can take action during the game. If you want to get into MTG or are already playing, understanding a Player's Priority is crucial for success!

 Another Sufficient Aspect Of MTG Gameplay

Many players buy playing cards and wonder how long they will last. If they are damaged, many simply buy a new set and do not worry. However, there is also a group of people who enjoy collecting character cards. They know the current auction prices of cards and understand their real value. And their main task is not to play cards, but to protect them from damage like dust, dirt, grease or mechanical damage.

In this case, a quite reasonable question may arise: "How can these cards be saved?". And the answer is pretty simple: “You should consider card sleeves.”

This is a special item that allows you to insert a card into a protective case and keep it for an infinite amount of time. There is also the double-sleeve method, which gives double protection to your cards and protects against damage even more.

All you need is to buy the required number of protective cases for your collection cards and insert them into them. The cost of such sleeves can reach up to $40 for 60 pieces, however, in different stores there may be completely different prices for protectors.

Bottom Line

As you can see, on the one hand, playing MTG phases is not tricky, but if you look at it from the other side, the game requires attention and consistent execution of all steps.

However, if you follow the rules and learn them well, as well as how to build a quality and strong deck to play, you can always enjoy playing with your friends or opponents and be able to show a decent level of casting spells and battling.


How Much Does An MTG Booster Cost?

A booster pack of MTG cards typically costs $4.99. A booster pack contains 15 random cards, including land cards, creature cards, spell cards, and artefact cards. Booster packs are the most common way for players to obtain new cards for their collection.

Where Can I Find Rare MTG Cards?

In fact, you can find rare cards in many places. So, the easiest option would be to buy a booster and hope for good luck. However, you can also buy special event packs that have guaranteed rare cards, or buy rare cards from the auction house.