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Subject: Complete beginner question here ! rss

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Jam Inajar
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Hi..just started playing this week ! why do spells go into a stack and get played in reverse order out ?? And when exactly and by whom can they be played ?? Thankyou in advance for any help
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Dan Regs
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Instants can be cast whenever you have priority. Priority is itself another issue entirely. Suffice to say that each player gets priority in each phase and step, and also after each spell is cast.

Sorceries, creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers can be cast when you have priority in your main phase when the stack is otherwise empty.

As for why the stack exists. It's really the simplest way to allow players to play spells 'in response' to other spells - or in response to everything else that uses the stack like triggered or activated abilities.

It's also infinitely easier on judges and players than the 'Batch' system that was used before it - but that's going back to prior to 6th edition.
 
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Max Maloney
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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One of the things that makes Magic much better than other CCGs and LCGs is the ability to respond to what your opponent does.

Many of these games force you to watch the other players turn and make limited (or even no) decisions during this time.

In Magic, many effects are able to be played during your opponent's turn. More specifically, they are able to be played in response to your opponents action. Primarily, these are spells that say Instant and abilities printed on permanents in play (such as artifacts and creatures).

Here is a specific and common example:

Your opponent casts a spell that is an Enchantment targeting his Creature. The Enchantment will make his Creature quite dangerous and put you in a bad position. You might use a spell which can kill his Creature in response to him casting the Enchantment. Thus, he announces his Enchantment is being cast and you kill his Creature before it resolves. Now his Creature is dead and, with no Creature to enchant, his Enchantment fizzles and goes to his graveyard as well.

The only way this works is if you resolve things in reverse order. Otherwise, you're not able to respond in the same tactical manner. Note that in my example, he might have responded to your spell with something that saved his creature and you might have responded to that.

The Stack is simply a way of describing this in a manner that is easy to understand. Imagine a stack of the spells being cast. When players stop casting, the Stack is resolved from the top down, which means the most recently cast spells first.

The Stack can get quite complicated in more advanced games of Magic and manipulating it is a skill universal to high-caliber players.
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Nico
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But I don’t want to go among mad people
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Oh, you can’t help that, we’re all mad here.
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For example:
- You cast a creature spell
- Our opponent casts a counter spell as reaction to cancel your creature

Now this is the stack (from top to bottom): Counter, Creature
And now the spells are resolved from top to bottom: The counter spell is the first and cancels your spell. You won't get the creature. After that the stack is empty and you can play another spell to put it on the stack.

The stack is really useful with more spells in reaction to each other (for example to counter another counter).

Edit: The example of Max is much better.
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If it weren't for the stack, it would sometimes devolve into working out who shouted first.

E.g. multiple 'Night Soil' cards in play under the control of different players. (More modern examples exist.)

As already mentioned, it also allows you to respond to effects.

E.g. Giant Growth/Lightning Bolt.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Life before the stack was very very ugly.
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Lee Borkman
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As a near-beginner, I find that "the stack" can generally be ignored in kitchen-table play. I have never mentioned the stack even once when explaining the rules to my SO. It seems that the stack is a highly precise and technical way of implementing/explaining the simple (and necessary) idea that Spell X can be countered/amended/augmented by spells that are played *after* Spell X.

I'm aware that my rustic and imprecise notion of "the stack" is going to get me into trouble when really tricky card interactions pop up, but for kitchen-table play with our basic cube, my SO and I do okay.

LBB
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Bjork wrote:
As a near-beginner, I find that "the stack" can generally be ignored in kitchen-table play. I have never mentioned the stack even once when explaining the rules to my SO. It seems that the stack is a highly precise and technical way of implementing/explaining the simple (and necessary) idea that Spell X can be countered/amended/augmented by spells that are played *after* Spell X.

I'm aware that my rustic and imprecise notion of "the stack" is going to get me into trouble when really tricky card interactions pop up, but for kitchen-table play with our basic cube, my SO and I do okay.

LBB


You're free to ignore the stack, but you are either not going to play by the rules, or you are going to run into some nasty timing issues, even if you are only playing Core.

For example, without the stack (meaning that everything resolves as a separate action this doesn't resolve properly.

I lightning bolt your 2/2 bear.
You play Giant Growth

Without the stack, the bear is dead before you play Giant Growth. With the stack, you can save your bear. That's a pretty big difference, so keep it in mind.
 
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Lee Borkman
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Bjork wrote:
As a near-beginner, I find that "the stack" can generally be ignored in kitchen-table play. I have never mentioned the stack even once when explaining the rules to my SO. It seems that the stack is a highly precise and technical way of implementing/explaining the simple (and necessary) idea that Spell X can be countered/amended/augmented by spells that are played *after* Spell X.

I'm aware that my rustic and imprecise notion of "the stack" is going to get me into trouble when really tricky card interactions pop up, but for kitchen-table play with our basic cube, my SO and I do okay.

LBB


You're free to ignore the stack, but you are either not going to play by the rules, or you are going to run into some nasty timing issues, even if you are only playing Core.

For example, without the stack (meaning that everything resolves as a separate action this doesn't resolve properly.

I lightning bolt your 2/2 bear.
You play Giant Growth

Without the stack, the bear is dead before you play Giant Growth. With the stack, you can save your bear. That's a pretty big difference, so keep it in mind.


No, I play this correctly. The last card in the list (Giant Growth) resolves first. I just don't bring computing-related notions like "the stack" into it. Reading the technical rules about "the stack" is mind-achingly intimidating. I would never in a million years explain the rules that way to my girlfriend. I just made it clear, by explanation and example, that we can keep playing spells and counter spells, and that the last one played get dealt with first. indeed, it's really unnecessary to even spell this out... after all, there would be no point to counter spells if they couldn't be played *after* the spells that they are countering. The stack is a highly precise way of describing that which is usually obvious, ie before a spell produces an effect, any counter spell played after it has to be taken into account.

Or am I nuts?
LBB
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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No, not nuts, you just haven't played long enough. I don't see how the concept of a stack of spells resolving from top to bottom is 'highly technical' but everyone has a different perception.
 
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Jerry Martin
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I actually find the stack easy to explain. It's really nice that it is called the stack. Take any card that is involved in the stack and physically pile them in a stack of cards. As each spell is cast put it on top of the pile. Then resolve them from the top down.

It gives a visual representation of what is happening and anyone can see what is happening.

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Paul W
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Quote:
As a near-beginner, I find that "the stack" can generally be ignored in kitchen-table play. I have never mentioned the stack even once when explaining the rules to my SO. It seems that the stack is a highly precise and technical way of implementing/explaining the simple (and necessary) idea that Spell X can be countered/amended/augmented by spells that are played *after* Spell X.

I'm aware that my rustic and imprecise notion of "the stack" is going to get me into trouble when really tricky card interactions pop up, but for kitchen-table play with our basic cube, my SO and I do okay.


Yep, I agree. You can play magic casually without getting into technicalities about the stack. Simply saying "the opponent has a chance to respond before your spell takes effect" covers most cases.

Although there isn't much to it, explaining through jargon (even jargon as seemingly simple as a phrase like "the stack") throws up walls for some people...I see it fairly often when teaching technical concepts to people intimidated by technology.
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