Changes in Xs

Discussion in 'Rules Questions' started by Darth Dunk, Jul 19, 2001.

  1. Darth Dunk New Member

    Suppose I play Spoils of war. When I declare it there are, say, 2 creatures and artifacts in the opponent's graveyard, but in response he (for whatever reason) sacrifices/discards another. This is obviously not going to counter the spell or anything (due to the change in casting cost) because it's already been played, but I've also already chosen my targets and how they'll be affected. Now I have another +1/+1 counter to put onto a target. Does this;

    a) Get ignored - just use the value on declaration (that's my 50-50 guess);
    b) Make me put another counter on one of my current targets (that's my other 50-50 guess);
    c) Let me do a new target if I want;
    d) Something else; or
    e) All of the above.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. EricBess Active Member

    From Oracle:
    Spoils of War
    Put X +1/+1 counters on any number of target creatures, distributed as you choose, where X is the number of creature and artifact cards in an opponent's graveyard.

    From the comprehensive rules:
    409.1c If the spell or ability requires any targets, the player announces these. It can’t be played unless the required number of legal targets are chosen. The same target can’t be chosen multiple times. A few spells or abilities allow the player’s opponent to choose the target or require some choice that affects the number or type of targets. Those choices are also made at this time. If both players are required to choose targets, the player playing the spell or ability chooses first.

    So, in the case of Spoils of War, the choices are made about the +1/+1 counters on announcment, not resolution. If the state of the game changes prior to resoution of the spell, it will not affect the resolution of Spoils of War. So, answer 'a' is correct.
  3. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    But what about 413.2f: If an instruction requires information from the game, the answer is determined when the player carries out the instruction (and T.6 at crystalkeep seems tosay the same thing).

    It seems that on resolution, the graveyard is checked for the final value of X. The target creatures to have the counters placed on them are chosen on annoucement based on the info of the graveyard at that time, but I think X is re-checked on resolution.
  4. EricBess Active Member

    Yes, but in this case, the X must be set upon announcment. There are two reasons for this. First, X is part of the casting cost. Second, the X affects the number of targets that you can choose and the way to distribute counters to those permanents.

    I'm not sure if there is another rule that specifically overrides rule 413.2f, but the fact that the needed information affects how the spell is announced means that the X, the targets, and the distribution is locked in on announcment.
  5. Jake74 King of Worthless Trivia

    I believe X doesn't change because as part of the casting cost, the creature restriction is a cost requirement, not a spell requirement so it is set on announcement... The X counters comes from the casting cost, not the creatures...
    any help?
  6. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Determining the value of X in a mana cost is done on announcement. Nothing can change this value until it finishes resolving (at which point it defaults to zero).

    All information that Spoils of War needs is determined upon announcement, including the value of X, and how the counters will be distributed.

    Even if you wanted to recheck the number of creatures and artifacts, the information would be irrelevant, as the announcement decisions can't be changed (without a spell/ability which does so, e.g. Misdirection).
  7. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    My bad. I missed X as being part of the casting cost.

    But I still question EricBess's second reason, that it affects the number of target creatures. (to a degree). Technically, you could have X as 0 and you still must have at least 1 target creature to put "0" counters on to cast the spell in the first place.

    So what if X was NOT part of the casting cost? I think X would be determined on resolution while the target creatures are still picked on announcement. If the number of targets change, you just distribute the counters different.

    Ex. On announcement, X is 4 and you pick two target creatures for the counters ("I'm placing 4 counters on two target creatures).

    By resolution, X has changed to 6 and the target creatures has changed to 1, so the sentence reads "I'm putting 6 counters on 1 target creature).

    Bottom line: I think the determining of X is independent from the number of target creatures (except both are picked on annoucement).
  8. EricBess Active Member


    I can't think of a card off the top of my head that requires information that could possibly affect the number of targets or how those targets are effected. As such, I think it is a mute point. If someone can come up with such a card, we can revisit the question. You may be right, but I would need to see it in full context to be able to say for sure. :)
  9. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    So are you saying this does not actually apply? :confused: X does NOT affect the number of targets?
  10. EricBess Active Member

    One of us is not completely understanding what the other is saying here. I'm not sure if it is you or me.

    Anyway, here are two hypothetical cards:

    Card 1
    Deal 3 pts of damage to X target creatures where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard

    -or even-
    Deal X pts of damage divided any way you chose to any number of target creates where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard.

    Now, compare either of these to the following:

    Card 2
    Deal X pts of damage to target creature or player where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard.

    Note that these are hypothetical cards because I cannot think of any actual cards that function in this manner. There are cards similar in function to card 2, but they are worded without the 'X'.

    In the case of card 2, I agree completely that the amount of damage would depend on the number of creatures in the graveyard when the spell resolved.

    However, in the case of Card 1, under either wording, you need to choose the targets and the damage distribution on announcment. Having the number of creature cards in the graveyard change prior to resolution would not, in my opinion, alter this. But, like I said, I do not know of any cards that are worded like this, so I don't know if it has even been addressed simply because it has not needed to be addressed.

    For such a card, rule 413.2f would not apply because that information is needed to make decisions on announcment.

    Note, however, this is my opinion, not hard stated rule. If anyone knows of a specific card where this is an issue, please let us know.
  11. Darth Dunk New Member

    So if the spell or ability looks up the information as needed it would realise that it is in a quandry with regards its targets and how it is to affect them. Has everything been 'locked in' on declaration or does the spell say 'OK, I'm resolving and X is... 5'?

    I think that a card whose targetting required any kind of inormation would look up that information on declaration and it would therefore be 'locked in'. Information about targetting restrictions would be needed here and will not alter later on - for example, I play an Elven Rite (put 2 +1/+1 counters divided between 1 or 2 target creatures) targeting 2 creatures and one of them dies before resolution. As normal, I only get to put 1 +1/+1 counter on the remaining creature, even though the spell wants me to target something else or at least put another counter on my remaining target. I believe that the Spoils of War would probably attribute the counters that it wants to create on the targets it thinks it should have to those targets being removed in some way and would simply operate as per the norm for that circumstance, i.e. answer 'a' - just stay as you were.

    Do you think that this sounds about right or would a difference in targets and expected targets caused by an alteration of the expected targets rather than the traditional loss of a declared target create a different situation?
  12. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Basically, all you need to remember is...

    Choices you make on announcement do not change. When the spell resolves, anything you determined on announcement stays the same.

    Think of it like this. You play a spell with two targets, but when it resolves, one of the targets is missing. You don't get to change the target, right? It's the same for other choices made on annoucement.

    In EricBess's examples, you can see the difference clearly. The first spell requires X targets, so you determine X on announcement (so you know how many targets you get to pick). The second, similarly, needs to know how your targets will be affected, so you'd need to know how much X is. The third does not need to know X on announcement, as it has only one defined target. Thus, it is determined on resolution, which is when you'll check its value.

    Darth Dunk:
    You have the right idea. the spell tries to fulfill its instructions, using the values determines on announcement. It simply fails to do anything to the missing target.
  13. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    It's probably me... :( ;)

    Your second part of Card 1 seems to be the most applicable. Let me ask this: Your example says "divide x damage among any number of target creratures" in which case I could see how X affects the number of target creatures. Do you do the same thing for Spoils of War on annoucement? Do you say "well, X is 4 so I'm putting 1 counter on this guy, 2 counters on this guy, and 1 counter on this guy" all on announcement? Or do you wait for resolution?
  14. EricBess Active Member

    For Spoils of War, you must choose how the counters are being divided on announcement.

    Actually, that is a good question and I just realized that I quoted the wrong rule in my earlier post. The rule I wanted to quote was this:

    409.1e If the spell or ability requires the player to divide an effect (such as damage or counters) among a variable number of targets, the player announces the division as he or she plays the spell. Each of these targets must receive at least one of whatever is being divided. This doesn’t apply when the player isn’t given a choice.
  15. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Now this whole thing makes more sense... I getcha.
  16. EricBess Active Member

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing when I realised I had posted the wrong ruling. You were the one that was confused because I messed up in my explanation. :D

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