A question that I’ve been asked a lot is, “When is the last time I can tap a creature to prevent it from attacking?” So today, let’s use Feeling of Dread as our example card. When is the last time I can cast the Dread to prevent a creature or creatures from attacking?
The last chance you’ll get is during the beginning of combat step. The beginning of combat step is the first step of the combat phase, and the last time you get priority before attackers are declared (which is at the beginning of the declare attackers step). You could cast the Dread earlier in the turn (for instance, you could cast it during their first main phase). But, by casting it during their main phase, they can still cast sorceries, move equipment to another creature, or cast a hasty creature after the Dread resolves. And if you wait until after attackers are declared, your Dread won’t stop them from attacking. Trying to tap an already attacking creature doesn’t remove it from combat, so casting the Dread after your opponent has already declared attackers won’t really accomplish much.
So if you want to stop your opponent’s creatures from attacking, cast the Dread during your opponent’s beginning of combat step. Attackers haven’t been declared yet, and they won’t be able to go back to their precombat main phase to cast noninstant spells or move their equipment around.
To answer the question about “what if my opponent doesn’t give me a chance to do anything before he turns his creatures sideways??” see Number 2 on this page of frequently asked questions.
Today’s Rules Tip written by Nathan Long