Over the last couple of weeks we have seen Bloodcrazed Neonates name in our search terms more than once. The question normally situated with the terms is something like “what does attack each turn if able mean?” or “Does Bloodcrazed neonate force the attack step?”. The first question is fairly obvious. The second is not quite as simple, but it has a fairly easy answer.
The text on Bloodcrazed Neonate is fairly straight forward. It reads
“Bloodcrazed Neonate attacks each turn if able.
Whenever Bloodcrazed Neonate deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.”
So, what that means is if you have a Bloodcrazed Neonate in play and nothing in the game can prevent it from attacking then it must attack. Some cards that might prevent it from attacking are Island, Sanctuary, Pacifism, and ensnaring bridge. In other words when it is time for combat the creature must charge forth and attempt to deal damage.
The second question “Does Bloodcrazed Neonate force the attack step?”. The answer is no, the game does. Backing away from the neonate for moment, let’s look at the game. Magic the gathering has been designed so that no matter what players do somethings will always happen. While this can often be a complicated in this case it isn’t. In this case the portion of the game we are concerned with is the turn structure. Every phase and every step happens every turn, unless something in the game state is preventing the said phase, or step from occurring.
What that means in regards to the Neonate is that he doesn’t force the combat phase. The combat phase occurs whether there are creatures to attack with or not. If no creatures attack (or are put onto the battlefield attacking) you skip the declare blockers step and the combat damage step. That would put the players at the end of combat step.
So the Bloodcrazed Neonate is a cool little goblin who does not force the Combat Phase, but does have to attack each turn, unless something in the game prevents an attack from happening.
It has been pointed out that I did not mention anything about the turn the Bloodcrazed Neonate enters the battlefield. Unless a creature has haste or something grants a creature hast it can’t attack the turn you gain control of it (that includes entering the battlefield).