Targeted spells and abilities
115.1. Some spells and abilities require their controller to choose one or more targets for them. The targets are object(s) and/or player(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”.
It’s impossible to cast a targeted spell or activate a targeted ability without choosing all legal targets.
115.10. 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.”
115.10a. 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.
115.10b. In particular, the word “you” in an object’s text doesn’t indicate a target.
Usually a permanent is a target, but any object, player or zone may be a target.
115.2 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.
115.1a 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.
115.1b 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. In different zones there are different objects and 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.
115.1c 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.
115.1d 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.
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.
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
115.1e. 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.
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.”.
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.”.
115.3. 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 115.7).
You must target two different creatures for Fulgent Distraction.
The same creature may be legally targeted twice for Agony Warp.
115.6. 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 may have zero, one or two targets. If no targets were chosen, it is not targeted.
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.
115.9. 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.
115.9a. 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.
115.9b. 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.
115.9c. 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 115.9b.
115.7 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.
115.7a 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.
115.7b If an effect allows a player to “change a target” of a spell or ability, the process described in rule 115.7a is followed, except that only one of those targets may be changed (rather than all of them or none of them).
115.7c If an effect allows a player to “change any targets” of a spell or ability, the process described in rule 115.7a is followed, except that any number of those targets may be changed (rather than all of them or none of them).
115.8 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.)
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.
In Magic slang they say in this case the spell “Fizzled”.
115.5 A spell or ability on the stack is an illegal target for itself.
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.
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.”
A permanent with protection from [quality] may not become the target of spells with that quality, or of abilities from sources with that quality.
Note that protection doesn’t save from spells of mass removal that do not target and do not deal damage.
May a player cast Banisher Priest if his opponent controls no creatures?
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.
Sure. Naturalize is not a modal spell, and artifacts and enchantments are both legal targets for it.
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?
As the ability resolves Saffi is already on the graveyard, so the ability looses the only target and fizzles.
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.
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.
Sure, the activated and the triggered one. Note that Shroud is an ability of the enchantment permanent, not of its abilities.
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.
Nothing happens. Rather Planar Outburst is countered due to losing the only target. The curious can read more about the Awaken.
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