The game in slow motion

Magic has a very tight timing system: at any given time, it is always perfectly clear which single player can take actions or announce choices, and everybody else must stay silent. We say that the player who is allowed to act has priority. Priority bounces back and forth as players sling spells or decline to do so, even though most of these passages are implied. However, for a full understanding of the game flow, it is useful for a fledging judge to slow down the pace of the game[1] and track priority as it is yielded around.

But there's more happening among the lines here. Triggered abilities and state-based actions fire off as players receive priority, roughly at the same time but with completely different behaviors. Countless occurrences of these events happen during each game, so it is crucial to master this part of the rules, even though - or perhaps "just because" - they're quick and transparent during game play, except when they aren't.

At last, we will talk about special actions, that are game actions that use a completely different timing than spells and abilities.





  1. In his mind, unless he wants to be abused by every other player involved in the game.
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