Instants are one of the two spells that are not permanents (the other being sorceries).
After they resolve, they are put into the owner's graveyard. They're like a sorcery except that they are the only cards that can be used outside your main phases, even on your opponents' turns. They can be used during the combat phases, draw steps, end steps, upkeeps, or the main phase. The only time they cannot be used is during the untap step and certain cleanup steps.
Abilities can be used as instants unless said otherwise. This allows players to counter using creature Abilities. Instants cannot be used if the player has lost the match.
Timmy attacks with his Dwynen's Elite. You have no creatures to block with, but you do have one Mountain untapped and a Fiery Impulse in hand. After Timmy finishes declaring attackers, you may play the Fiery Impulse targeting the attacking creature. The Fiery Impulse would deal 2 damage to the it, killing it before it could deal any combat damage.
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