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Managing Priority vs. Actions in MetaZoo

Hello fellow Casters and Beastie Humanoids! After all the epicness of Collect-a-Con Orlando, meeting, chatting and playing MetaZoo with so many of you awesome people, I drank a few health potions to recover some LP and I’m back with what I noticed was the most frequently asked gameplay question I received: what is priority, what are game mechanics and how do these differ from priority and phases in Magic? Let’s break it down because although MetaZoo and Magic share certain similarities, there are major differences between MetaZoo priority and Magic priority.

So what is priority? Those of you who are familiar with Mtg will know that priority is what enables a player to perform an action within the game. This is much the same in MetaZoo; any action, whether it’s contracting a page, declaring an attacker/defender, using a power or responding to another player’s action requires you to have priority in order to do so.

In MetaZoo, priority is passed back and forth between the active caster (in other words, the player whose turn it is at the time) and the opposing caster. Each time an action is performed, priority will shift to the other player, providing them a chance to respond and if there are any actions that can be performed “at any time,” these effects will go on the stack and resolve in a first in/last out order, much like Magic. However, there are times where certain triggers will resolve without the ability to respond, and these times are referred to as game mechanics. Understanding the difference between priority windows and game mechanics is absolutely crucial for competitive play. It’s also important to know that in MetaZoo, the active caster holds the advantage in most of these situations.

Example time. Let’s start with breaking down the turn in MetaZoo into “priority windows” and “game mechanics” to help explain how and when these actions occur.

Start of Turn (Priority Window)

At the beginning of each player’s turn, before Bookmarking and Awakening the pages in the Arena, there is a priority check on both Casters. This is my favorite priority window in the game because it’s just so sneaky and there’s a lot of effective plays that can be performed at this time. Now, this isn’t a main phase – you can’t just contract anything you want or declare an attack, but cards which say, “You may contract this page at any time, even if it is not your turn” or “You may contract this page anytime outside of combat” can be cast at the start of either player’s turn. This is a great way to exercise control over your opponents while they’re fatigued with spells like Haste, Paralyze and Holy Eyes. Why is this such a great priority window? Because it occurs before the active caster has a chance to awaken their aura and beasties, leaving them more vulnerable than usual.

Bookmarking and Awakening (Game Mechanic)

After Start of Turn effects resolve and each player has had a chance to perform an action, the Active player moves into Bookmarking and Awakening their fatigued pages. This is a game mechanic, which means the opposing player cannot respond or perform actions in response to either of those effects. You, as the active caster, cannot be interrupted at this time and after you finish your bookmark and awakening, priority will begin again with you. Even the all-powerful “Anytime,” pages in MetaZoo cannot be contracted while a player is bookmarking and awakening, the opposing player must just be patient and await the beginning of the main phase and the active player to take an action before they have a chance to respond.

Main Action Phase (Priority Window)

This is the longest priority window in MetaZoo. It starts after Awakening and gives priority to the active caster. After the active caster chooses to take an action, priority passes back and forth with each action taken. All pages with normal contract requirements can be contracted at this time, beasties powers can be utilized and Aura and Terra pages may be placed into the Arena. This back and forth continues until the active caster initiates combat by declaring an attack.

Combat (Priority Window)

When the active caster chooses to declare an attack, combat immediately initiates. This is very important. Unlike Magic, the opposing caster cannot act before combat is declared. You can’t say “Oh wait, before combat starts, I want to contract (x)”. Like I said, MetaZoo advantages the active caster and one of these advantages is the ability to initiate combat without “checking” with the opponent.

Smokey Spirits

Once combat begins, the only pages that can be contracted are anytime pages and pages with specific combat-related contract requirements such as Smokey Spirits, which may be contracted after an attack is declared and ends combat right then and there. The priority window closes once attacks resolve, so you can’t wait for the attacker to deal damage to your beastie and then buff your beastie with an anytime spell before it counterattacks. It just doesn’t work that way in MetaZoo. All actions must be taken before the attack resolves and damage is dealt because at that point, we move back into a game mechanic.

Attack/Counterattack (Game Mechanic)

After attackers and defenders are declared and priority is checked assuring that neither player wishes to perform an action, we move into the game mechanic of combat, which is the actual Attack, effects, and counter attack. These processes, once started, cannot be interrupted. If I’ve declared attackers and you’ve declared defenders and we both agree to move to damage, no further actions can be taken until combat resolves. This means that although you can use Smokey Spirits to end combat when an attack is declared, you cannot use it when the attack is actually dealing damage. You missed the window and now have to wait until the damage mechanic plays out and priority begins again with the active player

After every combat, another Main action phase begins until the active caster is finished contracting and attacking. This is also very important. There is no limit on the amount of combats/action phases per turn.

End of Turn (Priority Window)

Much like the start of turn, there is a priority check at the end of the Active caster’s turn but this window is only available for Any Time pages or pages that have specific contract requirements such as Nightshade; a page which may only be contracted at the end of turn, before status effect counters are calculated. This is probably the least useful priority window, not to say it isn’t strategic, there’s just not a lot you can do here. But hey, it exists and you should know about it.

End of Turn (Game Mechanic)

After the priority window closes, no more pages can be contracted. Poison, Regen, Burn and a number of other effects all have triggers that occur at the end of turn simultaneously and the active caster gets to choose in what order they resolve. If you’re the active caster and you have a Poisoned beastie who only has 10 LP, they’re going to lose that 10 LP at the end of turn but if that beastie also has the Regen trait, they will recover 10 LP at the end of turn. You, as the active caster can choose to have the Regen trigger before the Poison trigger, thereby saving your beastie.

Well, I hope this helped you understand the processes involved in a turn. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, MetaZoo is more complex than many people think. There are a ton of modifiers to consider and the advantage given to the active caster is very real. As an avid Magic player, it’s easy to think you will always have a chance to respond but in MetaZoo that isn’t always the case. So play wisely and know your mechanics. If you’ve got any questions about the game, come find me @metabroz on Instagram, I’m always happy to help. Until next time, happy casting!

1 thought on “Managing Priority vs. Actions in MetaZoo”

  1. Exactly what I was looking for. I watch you two on YouTube all the time. Ordered my first deck recently (Reptoid Ruler) and can’t wait to get playing with my brother! Thank you guys for your dedication to explaining the game!

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