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I've noticed an issue with banding while playing the MTG:Duels of the Planeswalkers recently. It seems that every creature possesses the ability to perform banding when blocking. This keyword was used in the card game, and has since been depreciated, and does not appear to be included in any modern rules for the game that I can find. This is the best I could find, which leads to a forum post dating back to 2006: http://mtg.wikia.com/wiki/Banding

Could somebody explain to me if this behaviour of banding is active in the modern card game and what is going on in the game? This has led to a great deal of grief when dealing with the AI but even more so with crafty human players who exploit the ability to its fullest. Thanks.

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While I did provide an answer below, as your question does relate to behavior in the video game version, I would also encourage you to check out the Board & Card Games SE site, which potentially has more experts in the card version of MtG than our site here. It may even be more appropriate to migrate it/re-ask there, as the behavior is essentially the same in both the video game and card versions. I am unsure though if there are any subtle nuances/differences which the video game does not account for, hence why I posted my answer. –  FAE Dec 2 '10 at 16:18
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Oh god, not banding. I always prided myself on knowing the rules of M:tG inside and out, and even I couldn't figure out how that ability worked half the time. –  Brant Dec 2 '10 at 16:36
    
If I have any more questions for something like this, I'll either bring it over there or to take3cards.com, a MTG centric exchange I just stumbled upon. And yes, banding was always one of those hot-button keywords that seemed to have a completely different meaning for everyone playing. Rather nice it is gone finally. –  Mkava Dec 2 '10 at 17:43

2 Answers 2

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Banding is not currently used in the 2011 rule set for Magic: the Gathering. While the current blocking rules may seem similar to Banding, the big difference between them is that Banding considered blocked creatures to be one creature. The current blocking rules treat every creature as an individual, as was the case when Banding was still an active keyword. Note the sentence "As usual per normal rules, you can always block 1 creature with any number of creatures..." in the Wikia article.

This link provides a listing of resources for the basic and comprehensive rulesets for the 2011 Core Set (aka the current version of the rules).

A basic form of the current blocking rules are as follows:

An attacking creature that is blocked deals damage to the blocking creatures. If one of your attacking creatures is blocked by multiple creatures, you decide how to divide its combat damage among them. You must assign at least enough damage to the fi rst blocking creature in line to destroy it before you can assign damage to the next one in line, and so on.

You can find the full details of the current Blocking rules in section 509 of the Comprehensive Ruleset, a small, relevant section of which I have quoted:

509.2. Second, for each attacking creature that’s become blocked, the active player announces that creature’s damage assignment order, which consists of the creatures blocking it in an order of that player’s choice. (During the combat damage step, an attacking creature can’t assign combat damage to a creature that’s blocking it unless each creature ahead of that blocking creature in its order is assigned lethal damage.) This turn-based action doesn’t use the stack.

Example: Craw Wurm is blocked by Llanowar Elves, Runeclaw Bear, and Serra Angel. The Craw Wurm’s controller announces the Craw Wurm’s damage assignment order as Serra Angel, then Runeclaw Bear, then Llanowar Elves.

509.3. Third, for each blocking creature, the defending player announces that creature’s damage assignment order, which consists of the creatures it’s blocking in an order of that player’s choice. (During the combat damage step, a blocking creature can’t assign combat damage to a creature it’s blocking unless each creature ahead of that blocked creature in its order is assigned lethal damage.) This turn-based action doesn’t use the stack.

I don't know when the last time you played was, but there were also several changes made in 2010 that may also affect your understanding of the current blocking rules, the most important of which is that combat damage no longer uses the stack. These changes are detailed in this article. Scroll down to section 5, which also uses examples which should help your understanding of the current state of the game. While it is different to the rules you may be used to, I would disagree with calling it "exploitation," especially as the game is programmed in such a way that blatantly abusing/ignoring the rules isn't really possible.

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This helped a ton! If nothing else, the linking to the last article really finalized my understanding of how much the game has changed in the last few years.. really appreciate it. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2010 changes are in the game, even if it was released mid-2009. Thanks a great deal, got my question and more. –  Mkava Dec 2 '10 at 17:41
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Very cool answer –  tzenes Dec 2 '10 at 17:51
    
@Mkava: Yes, Duels of the Planeswalkers does use the 2010 ruleset, including the stack changes. Found that out the hard way when I went to regenerate my Troll Ascetic after combat damage was calculated. :( @tzenes: Thanks. :) –  FAE Dec 2 '10 at 21:46

Banding was more for attacking than blocking. When attacking you could stack 5 banding 1/1 creatures up to make it, in essence, one 5/5 creature. This was useful when your opponent had a bunch of equal power creatures. When it came to blocking, banding allowed YOU to pick where the damage went, not your opponent. This allowed you to put all the damage agaist one banding creature and let your other 4 live.

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