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Targets, Hexproof, Shroud

Targets, Hexproof, Shroud Russian

Last Modified 01.07.2018

Now that we know everything about casting spells, activating abilities and managing triggered abilities, it is time to dedicate a wee bit of our attention to the concept of “targets”.

Targeted spells and abilities

114.1. Some spells and abilities require their controller to choose one or more targets for them. The targets are object(s), player(s), and/or zone(s) the spell or ability will affect. These targets are declared as part of the process of putting the spell or ability on the stack. The targets can’t be changed except by another spell or ability that explicitly says it can do so.

So, an object, player or zone can become a target. Spells and abilities can be targeted. An instant or sorcery spell, an activated or triggered ability is targeted if and only if the word “target” is used in their text. Currently, exceptions to this are Aura spells and some abilities with certain keywords:

The words “every”, “any”, “all”, “choose”, “name” alone don’t indicate targets. The only important word is “target”.

Cultural Exchange

Cultural Exchange targets a player not creatures. So you can chose any creatures.

Cached Defenses

Cached Defenses doesn’t target, because there is not word “target” in its text. A player may put counter on any creature.

Angel of Serenity

Angel of Serenity itself doesn’t target, unlike its triggered ability. There are no targeted creature spell in Magic!

It’s impossible to cast a targeted spell or activate a targeted ability without choosing all legal targets.

Wild Swing

Wild Swing destroys only one permanent, but you may not cast Wild Swing without choosing three different legal targets.

Scatter to the Winds

Scatter to the Winds may not be cast for Awaken cost if there is no legal target on the stack.

Deathrite Shaman

All abilities of Deathrite Shaman are targeted. It may not be activated if there is no a suitable card on the graveyard.

114.9. Spells and abilities can affect objects and players they don’t target. In general, those objects and players aren’t chosen until the spell or ability resolves. See rule 608, “Resolving Spells and Abilities.”

114.9a. Just because an object or player is being affected by a spell or ability doesn’t make that object or player a target of that spell or ability. Unless that object or player is identified by the word “target” in the text of that spell or ability, or the rule for that keyword ability, it’s not a target.

114.9b. In particular, the word “you” in an object’s text doesn’t indicate a target.

Bitterblossom

The word “you” in Bitterblossom’s text isn’t targeting.

Whitemane Lion

The Lion’s triggered ability doesn’t target although it does influence a creature.

Burrenton Forge-Tender

Burrenton Forge-Tender’s ability does not target, so you may activate it even if there are no red sources around.

Usually a permanent is a target, but any object, player or zone may be a target.

114.2 Only permanents are legal targets for spells and abilities, unless a spell or ability

(a) specifies that it can target an object in another zone or a player,

(b) targets an object that can’t exist on the battlefield, such as a spell or ability, or

(c) targets a zone.

Life from the Loam

Life from the Loam’s targets are land cards in the graveyard.

Remove Soul

Remove Soul may target only creature spell. It does’t deal with creatures (=permanents).

Circu, Dimir Lobotomist

Two triggered abilities target a library (not a player!).

114.1a An instant or sorcery spell is targeted if its spell ability identifies something it will affect by using the phrase “target [something],” where the “something” is a phrase that describes an object, player, or zone. The target(s) are chosen as the spell is cast; see rule 601.2c. (If an activated or triggered ability of an instant or sorcery uses the word target, that ability is targeted, but the spell is not.)

Example: A sorcery card has the ability “When you cycle this card, target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.” This triggered ability is targeted, but that doesn’t make the card it’s on targeted.

Comet Storm

Comet Storm targets because there is word “target” in its text. Some players are confused by word “choose”, but it is not a symptom of targeted spell.

Wrath of God

Wrath of God targets nothing (and deals no damage), so it easy copes with creatures with Shroud and Protection from white.

Dirge of Dread

Dirge of Dread itself doesn’t target, unlike its triggered ability which is targeted.

114.1b Aura spells are always targeted. These are the only permanent spells with targets. An Aura’s target is specified by its enchant keyword ability (see rule 702.5, “Enchant”). The target(s) are chosen as the spell is cast; see rule 601.2c. An Aura permanent doesn’t target anything; only the spell is targeted. (An activated or triggered ability of an Aura permanent can also be targeted.)

Permanents are on the battlefield. Spells are on the stack. The difference is obvious. Different zones — different objects, a different attitude to targets. Briefly, targets exist only for the objects on the stack. For example, mana abilities not go on the stack and never have targets.

Runner's Bane

As aura casting a player must choose legal target. For Runner’s Bane it must be creature with power 3 or less. Legality of target is checked twice: as the spell casts and as it resolves. If before resolution the target creature gets protection from blue or its power becomes more than three, the Runner’s Bane will be countered.

Acidic Slime

The second sentence of rule 114.1b usually ignored, but it’s very important. These are the only permanent spells with targets. As a player casts Acidic Slime he doesn’t choose any targets, because Acidic Slime not targeted. And only then Acidic Slime resolves and enter the battlefield its ability triggers and player have to choose a target for it.

Robe of Mirrors

The Robe of Mirrors’s spell is targeted, but Robe of Mirrors’s permanent is not. Otherwise it would be targeting a creature with Shroud, which is impossible. If an Aura is entering the battlefield by any means other than by resolving as an Aura spell, it can be attached to the permanent with Hexproof and Shroud, if it can legally enchanted it.

114.1c An activated ability is targeted if it identifies something it will affect by using the phrase “target [something],” where the “something” is a phrase that describes an object, player, or zone. The target(s) are chosen as the ability is activated; see rule 602.2b.

114.1d A triggered ability is targeted if it identifies something it will affect by using the phrase “target [something],” where the “something” is a phrase that describes an object, player, or zone. The target(s) are chosen as the ability is put on the stack; see rule 603.3d.

Story Circle

There is no word “target” in the text of Story Circle’s ability, so its’t targeted. A player can choose as a source of damage any object: with protection from white, shroud or Hexproof.

Restoration Angel

Whether he likes it or not, the player must choose a legal target (if any) when the trigger of the Restoration Angel goes on the stack. A player will decide if the target creature exile or not as the trigger resolves

Oblivion Ring
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Oblivion Ring is a permanent spell which isn’t an aura. It can’t be targeted spell. The trigger of the Oblivion Ring targets. Emrakul is a great target for this trigger. Emrakul’s ability only protects her from colored spells not from permanent’s ability.

114.1e. Some keyword abilities, such as equip and provoke, represent targeted activated or triggered abilities. In those cases, the phrase “target [something]” appears in the rule for that keyword ability rather than in the ability itself. (The keyword’s reminder text will often contain the word “target.”) See rule 702, “Keyword Abilities.”

There can be only one way out: if you are in doubt, if the ability represented by the keyword is targeted, look at the rules.

Blazing Torch

The rule for Equip [cost] is: “[Cost]: Attach this permanent to target creature you control. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.”.

Arcbound Ravager

One of the parts of the ability with key word Modular is a targeted triggered ability: “When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may put a +1/+1 counter on target artifact creature for each +1/+1 counter on this permanent.”.

114.3. The same target can’t be chosen multiple times for any one instance of the word “target” on a spell or ability. If the spell or ability uses the word “target” in multiple places, the same object, player, or zone can be chosen once for each instance of the word “target” (as long as it fits the targeting criteria). This rule applies both when choosing targets for a spell or ability and when changing targets or choosing new targets for a spell or ability (see rule 114.6).

Fulgent Distraction

You must target two different creatures for Fulgent Distraction.

Agony Warp

The same creature may be legally targeted twice for Agony Warp.

114.5. Spells and abilities that can have zero or more targets are targeted only if one or more targets have been chosen for them.

Repel the Darkness

Repel the Darkness may have zero, one or two targets. If no targets were chosen, it is not targeted.

Mizzium Mortars

If you don’t pay the overload cost, Mizzium Mortars will have a single target. If you pay the overload cost, the spell won’t have any targets.

114.8. Some objects check what another spell or ability is targeting. Depending on the wording, these may check the current state of the targets, the state of the targets at the time they were selected, or both.

Spellskite

There are no special requirements for the target of Spellskite’s ability. That spell or ability may has no targets at all. This fact can surprised many players. “Why? How so? Spellskite changes spell target”. Yes, it does, but this is an effect not the target’s description. If target spell or ability has no target then as Spellskite’s ability resolves it does nothing.

114.8a. An object that looks for a “[spell or ability] with a single target” checks the number of times any objects, players, or zones became the target of that spell or ability when it was put on the stack, not the number of its targets that are currently legal. If the same object, player, or zone became a target more than once, each of those instances is counted separately.

Swerve

Swerve doesn’t check whether the current target is legal or not, it only wonders whether it’s the only target.

Fireball

You cannot target a spell that has multiple targets even if all of its targets but one have become illegal.

Agony Warp

You may also not target a spell that targets the same object or player multiple times.

114.8b. An object that looks for a “[spell or ability] that targets [something]” checks the current state of that spell or ability’s targets. If an object it targets is still in the zone it’s expected to be in or a player it targets is still in the game, that target’s current information is used, even if it’s not currently legal for that spell or ability. If an object it targets is no longer in the zone it’s expected to be in or a player it targets is no longer in the game, that target is ignored; its last known information is not used.

Hindering Light

Hindering Light may target a spell that has multiple different targets as long a at least one of them matches the conditions — targets you or a permanent you control. For instance, Prey Upon targets creatures controlled by different players.

If the target spell no longer targets you or a permanent you control, Hindering Light will be countered.

114.8c. An object that looks for a “[spell or ability] that targets only [something]” checks the number of different objects or players that became the target of that spell or ability when it was put on the stack (as modified by effects that changed those targets), not the number of those objects or players that are currently legal targets. If that number is one (even if the spell or ability targets that object or player multiple times), the current state of that spell or ability’s target is checked as described in rule 114.8b.

Zada, Hedron Grinder

The ability of Zada, Hedron Grinder triggers whenever the player casts an instant or sorcery spell that targets only Zada and no other object or player.

If the player casts an instant or sorcery spell that has multiple targets, but it’s targeting only Zada with all of them ( Seeds of Strength), Zada’s ability will trigger.

Target change

114.6 Some effects allow a player to change the target(s) of a spell or ability, and other effects allow a player to choose new targets for a spell or ability.

114.6a If an effect allows a player to “change the target(s)” of a spell or ability, each target can be changed only to another legal target. If a target can’t be changed to another legal target, the original target is unchanged, even if the original target is itself illegal by then. If all the targets aren’t changed to other legal targets, none of them are changed.

Goblin Flectomancer

The ability of this goblin functions in “all or nothing” manner: you either change all targets or leave everything as is.

114.6b If an effect allows a player to “change a target” of a spell or ability, the process described in rule 114.6a is followed, except that only one of those targets may be changed (rather than all of them or none of them).

Sideswipe

Sideswipe allows changing any number of targets of a target spell.

114.6c If an effect allows a player to “change any targets” of a spell or ability, the process described in rule 114.6a is followed, except that any number of those targets may be changed (rather than all of them or none of them).

Grapeshot

Storm allows choosing new targets for each copy. They do not have to be changed.

114.7 Modal spells and abilities may have different targeting requirements for each mode. An effect that allows a player to change the target(s) of a modal spell or ability, or to choose new targets for a modal spell or ability, doesn’t allow that player to change its mode. (See rule 700.2.)

Cryptic Command
Spellskite

Casting Cryptic Command a player chooses modes “Counter target spell” and “Draw a card”. his cunning opponent activates ability of his Spellskite, targeting Cryptic Command. As it resolves nothing happens because Spellskite is illegal target for “Counter target spell” mode, but the opponent may not change mode to “Return target permanent to its owner’s hand.” It’s forbidden by rules.

Spells and abilities do not resolve through the loss of legal targets (Fizzling)

608.2b. …If all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal, the spell or ability doesn't resolve. It's removed from the stack and, if it's a spell, put into its owner's graveyard.…

If all of spell's targets become illegal, it doesn't resolve. The spell has no effect. Nor those that were associated with the targets, nor those that is not tied to the targets.

If the spell has at least one legal target, it resolves, but does nothing with illegal targets.

Cryptic Command

When casting Cryptic Command, you choose “return target permanent to its owner’s hand” and “draw a card” as modes, and as the Command resolves the permanent is an illegal target. In this case, the Command doesn't resolve and you do not draw a card.

If however you choose “counter target spell” and “return target permanent to its owner’s hand”, even if the permanent is an illegal target, the Command will resolve because it still has a legal target. The target spell will be countered as the Command resolves.

In Magic slang they say in this case the spell “Fizzled”.

Multani's Presence
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Cancel

Emrakul cannot be countered, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be targeted with a countering spell. If you target the Emrakul spell with Cancel, Cancel will resolve safely, but produce no effect. In this case, Multani’s Presence’s trigger will not go off.

In case with a fizzling Cryptic Command, Multani’s Presence’s ability doesn't triggers too. The spell doesn't resolve and you will not get a card.

114.4 A spell or ability on the stack is an illegal target for itself.

Progenitus
Cancel
Swerve

A player casts Progenitus, his cunning opponent targets it by Cancel (it’s OK since protection functions only on the battlefield). If the player has Swerve in his hand, he can save his Progenitus by changing target of Cancel to Swerve. Cancel may not target itself, but may targets any other legal spell on the stack. A spell leaves the stack as the final part of resolution, so then the player resolves Swerve and changes target of Cancel, Swerve is still on the stack and it’s a legal target for Cancel. Swerve resolves and leaves the stack. As Cancel resolves it’ the only target left stack, that’s mean Cancel fizzles. Progenitus resolves and enters the battlefield.

Shroud

702.18a. Shroud is a static ability. “Shroud” means “This permanent or player can’t be the target of spells or abilities.”

This ability has no other meaning, no hidden tricks or anything. It doesn’t prevent damage to a creature with Shroud, nor makes it impossible to destroy the permanent with Shroud, nor counter a spell of a permanent with Shroud. All it does is prevent targeting.

Thundermaw Hellkite

Thundermaw Hellkite’s ability doesn’t target. An opponent’s flying creature with Shroud that falls under its effect will take damage and become tapped.

Day of Judgment

Day of Judgment deals with creatures with Shroud easily. It doesn’t target.

Contagion Engine

Contagion Engine will put -1/-1 counters on a creature with Shroud as it targets a player, not a creature.

Aura Graft

An Aura permanent doesn’t target, so if there is a possibility to attach it to a creature with Shroud, it is legal. Only an Aura spell targets. Giving an enchanted permanent Shroud is pointless if you just want to make it drop the Aura.

Sai of the Shinobi

An Equipment permanent doesn’t target either. As Sai of the Shinobi’s trigger resolves, you may attach it to a creature with Shroud, but you cannot attach it through the targeted ability “Equip”.

Mana Leak

Shroud is a static ability that functions only from the battlefield. Countering a spell of a permanent with Shroud is feasible by any mage.

Birthing Pod

A creature with Shroud may be sacked.

Chord of Calling

A creature with Shroud may be tapped for Convoke.

Xathrid Gorgon

A creature with Shroud that has been dealt damage by a source with Deathtouch will be destroyed as any other (unless it has Indestructible).

Hexproof

702.11b. “Hexproof” on a permanent means “This permanent can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.”

702.11c. “Hexproof” on a player means “You can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.”

Angelic Overseer

A creature with Hexproof cannot become the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.

You may target it with your own spells and abilities as normal.

Just as Shroud, Hexproof by itself doesn’t save the creature from taking damage or getting destroyed. It doesn’t influence the spell on the stack: a spell of a permanent with Hexproof may be countered. All it does is prevent targeting the opponent’s permanent.

Protection

A permanent with protection from [quality] may not become the target of spells with that quality, or of abilities from sources with that quality.

Runed Halo
Mistbind Clique

For instance, if you control Runed Halo for which Mistbind Clique was called as it entered the battlefield, your opponent will have to target himself with her triggered ability and tap his own lands.

Note that protection doesn’t save from spells of mass removal that do not target and do not deal damage.

Homework

May a player cast Banisher Priest if his opponent controls no creatures?

Solution ⇓

Banisher Priest is a creature. There is no creature spell in Magic that has target. So, it does not matter, if the opponent controls a creature or not. Priest’s trigger targets, but it will trigger and try to go on the stack after the Banisher Priest enters the battlefield.

Your opponent casts Naturalize targeting an artifact. Can the target be changed to an enchantment through Imp’s Mischief?

Solution ⇓

Sure. Naturalize is not a modal spell, and artifacts and enchantments are both legal targets for it.

Is Perilous Predicament a legal target for Redirect?

Solution ⇓

Yes. But Redirect does nothing with Perilous Predicament, since it has no targets.

A player activates ability of Saffi Eriksdotter and chooses Saffi itself as a target. What happens?

Solution ⇓

As the ability resolves Saffi is already on the graveyard, so the ability looses the only target and fizzles.

An opponent attacks with Boggart Ram-Gang, You block with Drove of Elves. Will the elves get a -1/-1 counter?

Solution ⇓

They will. Combat damage certainly doesn’t target, and Wither is just a Static ability that modifies the rules for dealing damage. Static abilities never target.

May your opponent choose Pincher Beetles under his control to “Fight in Arena” if you control Arena? How about if he does?

Solution ⇓

No way. Your opponent must target a creature, and this target must be legal. This is the case where Shroud is effective. It doesn’t matter who controls Arena.

May any of Helix Pinnacle’s abilities be countered with Trickbind?

Solution ⇓

Sure, the activated and the triggered one. Note that Shroud is an ability of the enchantment permanent, not of its abilities.

Can your Stonecloaker return your Calciderm to your hand?

Solution ⇓

Certainly. Stonecloaker’s ability doesn’t target (there is no “target” word in its text), so as it resolves you may choose your Calciderm. Quite a good combo there.

A player casts Planar Outburst for Awaken cost targeting a Plains his control. Cunning opponent cast a Volcanic Upheaval targeting the same land. What happens?

Solution ⇓

Nothing happens. Rather Planar Outburst is countered due to losing the only target. The curious can read more about the Awaken.

A player controls the only Sphinx of the Final Word. May the cunning opponent cast Evangelize?

Solution ⇓

No. Despite the fact that the controller of the Sphinx chooses a target, Evangelize is controlled by the opponent and spells an opponent controls can’t target the Sphinx because of Hexproof, so the opponent can’t cast the spell.

Translated by Witas Spasovski