A player is one of the people in the game. Players make decisions and take actions within the rules of the game to cause it to progress. In traditional magic played with cards on a table, players also manually track the results of actions "taken by the game itself".
Each player also exists abstractly in-game and can be interacted with by game mechanics: Players have attributes like life and can receive damage, accumulate or lose counters, gain abilities like hexproof, or even be controlled by another player. In the traditional flavor of the game, players are Planeswalker wizards having a duel.
- One of the people in the game. See rule 102, “Players.”
- 102. Players
- 102.1. A player is one of the people in the game. The active player is the player whose turn it is. The other players are nonactive players.
- 102.2. In a two-player game, a player’s opponent is the other player.
- 102.3. In a multiplayer game between teams, a player’s teammates are the other players on their team, and the player’s opponents are all players not on their team.
- 102.4. A spell or ability may use the term “your team” as shorthand for “you and/or your teammates.” In a game that isn’t a multiplayer game between teams, “your team” means the same thing as “you.”
Types of players
The starting player is the player who has the first turn.
- Starting Player
- The player chosen to take the first turn of a game. See rule 103.1.
The active player, also referred to as the attacking player, is the player currently taking their turn. (Compare with all other players in the game, who are nonactive players.) When more than one player have to take actions or make choices, usually the active player goes first (see APNAP).
- Active Player
- The player whose turn it is. See rule 102.1.
A nonactive player is any player who is not currently taking their turn. (Compare with the player/players who are currently taking a turn, active players.) When more than one player have to take actions or make choices, usually the active player goes first (see APNAP).
- Defending Player
- The player who can be attacked, and whose planeswalkers can be attacked, during the combat phase. See rule 506.2. In certain multiplayer games, there may be more than one defending player; see rule 802, “Attack Multiple Players Option,” and rule 805.10.
- 506.2. During the combat phase, the active player is the attacking player; creatures that player controls may attack. During the combat phase of a two-player game, the nonactive player is the defending player; that player and planeswalkers they control may be attacked.
- 506.2a During the combat phase of a multiplayer game, there may be one or more defending players, depending on the variant being played and the options chosen for it. Unless all the attacking player’s opponents automatically become defending players during the combat phase, the attacking player chooses one of their opponents as a turn-based action during the beginning of combat step. (Note that the choice may be dictated by the variant being played or the options chosen for it.) That player becomes the defending player. See rule 802, “Attack Multiple Players Option,” rule 803, “Attack Left and Attack Right Options,” and rule 809, “Emperor Variant.”
- 506.2b In multiplayer games using the shared team turns option, the active team is the attacking team and the nonactive team is the defending team. See rule 805, “Shared Team Turns Option.”
APNAP stands for active player, then non-active player. When an effect lets more than one player do something at the same time, the active player will make and announce all decisions necessary for the action first, then the nonactive player(s) will do the same in turn order, and finally all of the actions will take place simultaneously.
- Active Player, Nonactive Player Order
- A system that determines the order by which players make choices if multiple players are instructed to make choices at the same time. See rule 101.4. This rule is modified for games using the shared team turns option; see rule 805.6.
- 101.4. If multiple players would make choices and/or take actions at the same time, the active player (the player whose turn it is) makes any choices required, then the next player in turn order (usually the player seated to the active player’s left) makes any choices required, followed by the remaining nonactive players in turn order. Then the actions happen simultaneously. This rule is often referred to as the “Active Player, Nonactive Player (APNAP) order” rule.
Example: A card reads “Each player sacrifices a creature.” First, the active player chooses a creature they control. Then each of the nonactive players, in turn order, chooses a creature they control. Then all creatures chosen this way are sacrificed simultaneously.
- 101.4a If an effect has each player choose a card in a hidden zone, such as their hand or library, those cards may remain face down as they’re chosen. However, each player must clearly indicate which face-down card they are choosing.
- 101.4b A player knows the choices made by the previous players when making their choice, except as specified in 101.4a.
- 101.4c If a player would make more than one choice at the same time, the player makes the choices in the order specified. If no order is specified, the player chooses the order.
- 101.4d If a choice made by a nonactive player causes the active player, or a different nonactive player earlier in the turn order, to have to make a choice, APNAP order is restarted for all outstanding choices.
- 101.4e If multiple players would make choices or take actions while starting the game, the starting player is considered the active player and each other player is considered a nonactive player.
Mind Swords says "Each player exiles two cards from their hand." The active player (who probably cast the Mind Swords, since it is a sorcery) first takes two cards from their hand, without revealing them to their opponent(s). Then, each opponent in turn will also take out two cards. After all have chosen this way, all of the cards are revealed and exiled at the same time.
APNAP also applies when the rules (or an effect) require several players to do something that can't all be done at the same time. If multiple triggered abilities are waiting to go on the stack when a player would receive priority, the players will first put their triggered abilities on the stack in APNAP order. Since the stack resolves in reverse order, this means the active player's triggers will resolve last.
- 805.6. The Active Player, Nonactive Player order rule (see rule 101.4) is modified if the shared team turns option is used. If multiple teams would make choices and/or take actions at the same time, first the active team makes any choices required, then each nonactive team in turn order makes any choices required. If multiple players would make choices and/or take actions at the same time, first each player on the active team makes any choices required in whatever order they like, then the players on each nonactive team in turn order do the same. Once all choices have been made, the actions happen simultaneously.
- 805.6a If more than one player is instructed to draw cards in a game that’s using the shared team turns option, first each player on the active team, in whatever order that team likes, performs that player’s draws, then each player on each nonactive team in turn order does the same.
When the turn starts, the active player controls a Masticore ("At the beginning of your upkeep, you may discard a card. If you don't, sacrifice Masticore") and the nonactive player controls a Black Vise ("At the beginning of the chosen player's upkeep, Black Vise deals X damage to that player, where X is the number of cards in their hand minus 4.") affecting the active player. The active player will not be able to discard for the Masticore's ability before they take damage from the Black Vise.