Swiftblade Vindicator: Trample and Double Strike!

Welcome to the end of Boros Week at the Rules Tips Blog! Starting Monday we’ll be back to your regular, unthemed posting… for now. To wrap things up with the Legion, we’re going to be covering a feisty little 2 drop in Swiftblade Vindicator. A 1/1 for RW doesn’t seem like much, so they threw on Double Strike, Trample, and Vigilance just for grins. Usually Trample on a 1/1 isn’t anything to care about, but it can come in handy on a double-striker, especially if you pump him up. How’s that? Well, let’s say you attack with your Swiftblade, and your opponent throws a 1/1 in the way to try and sponge SOMETHING up. In the First Strike Damage step, your Vindicator vindicates that 1/1, doing lethal damage. After state-based actions clean things up, that blocker is dead as a doornail. So then when the “regular” combat damage step comes around, your Swiftblade is still blocked… but it has Trample! Since there’s 0 toughness between your trampler and an opposing face, it gets to connect for the full damage- which in this case is just 1.

Let’s look at how Trample interacts with other potential blockers, while we’re at it. Say you have a regular 5/5 Trampler, blocked by a 1/1 that has Indestructible. Can you trample at all? It’s indestructible, so there’s no ‘lethal damage’ for it, right? Wrong! “Lethal damage”, as far as Trample cares, is just ‘at least as much damage as this thing has toughness’ (or “any damage at all” for Deathtouch Tramplers). It only cares that you throw the lethal damage at it- that damage doesn’t have to actually kill it. So a plain 5/5 trampler vs a 1/1 indestructible blocker can trample through for 4. Blocker stays alive, but you still connected for some damage. What about a prevention effect, though? Maybe Protection, or just an old fashioned Healing Grace. It’s a similar situation- you only have to ASSIGN the lethal damage; the game doesn’t care that it won’t kill the creature (or in this case, happen). So, 1/1 blocker with a Healing Grace shield vs a 5/5 trampler. You assign 1 damage to the blocker, and that’s lethal; you can trample over for the full 4 if you’d like. You could also assign 4 damage to the blocker to make sure it dies and only trample for 1.

Finally, let’s look at how those particular monkey-wrenches work with our Swiftblade. We’ll say we have a nice strong 4/4 Swiftblade thanks to some choice Mentoring in our past few combats, and we’ll stare down the same two examples of an Indestructible 1/1, and a 1/1 with Protection from Red (for the damage prevention). In the case of the indestructible blocker, you assign 1 damage to the blocker and 3 to the opponent, hitting them for 3. Then you get your second hit! The blocker’s still there… but it has ‘lethal damage’ already marked on it. It’s a 1/1 with 1 damage marked, so the second hit can trample completely over, doing the full 4 damage to your opponent. Nice! It’s a little messier with the Protection, though. On your first hit you assign 1 to the blocker and 3 to your opponent, as before. Then, for the second hit… that 1/1 still hasn’t had any damage actually marked on it, unlike the Indestructible case. So here, you’ll have to assign 1 damage to the blocker again, meaning you ‘only’ get through for 6 damage in this scenario, rather than 7. But hey, you’ve got a 4/4 double-striking, trampling beatstick that gets to stay back to block thanks to Vigilance- I’m sure you’ll win somehow. Happy Smashing!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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