Volcanic Eruption - Targeting in general

Discussion in 'Rules Questions' started by BigBlue, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. BigBlue Magic Jones

    Interrupt was like "First Strike" for instants... :D
  2. EricBess Active Member

    Spidey - what BigBlue says here is the key. If there was a card that could not be countered and you played "Counter target spell. Draw a card", you would still get to draw the card because a card that cannot be countered is still a legal target for a counterspell. However, I want to make one small correction. Where BigBlue says "...the counterspell effect is countered", that is not technically correct. The counterspell effect isn't countered. It happens, but because the spell cannot be countered, it "fails to do anything". The spell still resolves, so you draw a card. The key is whether or not targets are legal.

    The important thing here though is that you couldn't play the counterspell in the first place. If someone were to grant a spell this ability after the counterspell had been cast, then it would be an illegal target on resolution and you would not get to draw a card.

    The rule says that if all targets are illegal on resolution, then the spell is countered on resolution and no part of the spell resolves, even the parts that don't require targets.

    If this were incinerated, you would not draw a card. Not because it didn't attempt to regenerate, but because the wording is "If you do". With wording like that, the attempt must be successful to get the benefit. Imaging a card that said "Counter target spell. If you do, draw a card." If this card were targeting a card that could not be countered, you would not draw a card because the counter was not successful.
  3. EricBess Active Member

    Interrupts were definitely weird. I remember thinking I understood it and then having a situation where what I understood didn't work, so someone had to explain it better to me. Spiderman's explaination is pretty much accurate. Whenever a spell is cast, an "interrupt window" is opened for that spell and the only thing that can be played is an interrupt. If neither player choses to play an interrupt, then you could move on and play instants again.

    I believe that the person playing the original spell got the first chance at playing interrupts, so if I playted a spell, then responded with an interrupt, then the window would open up on my interrupt and you would lose your chance to counter my original spell altogether. I think I remember seeing this as a loophole where people would Power Sink their own spell for 0 to make sure that it went through.

    There was also a rule that interrupts could only target the spell for the window that was open and that if you used an interrupt to target a permanent (Red/Blue Elemental Blasts), then you had to play it as an instant instead.
  4. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I understand that, but that's where it's confusing, 'cause like I said before, a spell that is uncounterable should have something like "Pro-Counter" built into it as part of the inherent definition. If a spell is uncounterable, then a counter should not be able to target it. Since it can, it's confusing :)
  5. Modus Pwnens Eligible for User Title

    This is a pretty complex issue, with multiple rules interacting, so I'll try to make it as clear as possible.
    Non-judge players (no offence intended) often have trouble with this, so don't feel ashamed if you need more clarification, I'm happy to provide you with some :)
    I'll quote the Composite rules numbers if you like to look it up yourself.

    Relevant rules:
    -When a rule or effect says something can happen and another effect says it can’t, the “can’t” effect wins. (103.2)
    -If an instruction requires taking an impossible action, it’s ignored. (In many cases the card will specify consequences for this; if it doesn’t, there’s no effect.) (103.3)
    -If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible. (416.3)
    -(On resolving spells and abilities:) If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal. A target that’s moved out of the zone it was in when it was targeted is illegal. Other changes to the game state may cause a target to no longer be legal; for example, its characteristics may have changed or an effect may have changed the text of the spell. If the source of an ability has left the zone it was in, its last known information is used during this process. The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal. If the spell or ability is not countered, it will resolve normally, affecting only the targets that are still legal. If a target is illegal, the spell or ability can’t perform any actions on it or make the target perform any actions. (413.2a)

    When writing this, I just noticed that the second and the third rule seem contradictory, I'll return to that later.

    First let's take a look at the examples mentioned in the thread.
    Easy ones coming first.
    Flare and Mother of Runes
    Flare targetting Mother of Runes, Mother giving itself protection from red.
    This is simple, because it's just applying the last rule. All targets are illegal, thus Flare is countered. To the game, in this scenario there is no difference between it being countered by the game rules, or by an ordinary counterspell. Flare doesn't resolve, so no delayed triggered ability is created and therefore no card is drawn.

    Destroy 2 target mountains, draw a card
    Similar to the previous example, all targets are illegal, thus the spell is countered.

    "Protection from counterspells"
    Let's say you play a Volcanic Fallout (Volcanic Fallout can't be countered. Volcanic Fallout deals 2 damage to each creature and each player). Now let's consider the difference between Dismiss (counter target spell, draw a card) and the fictional card "Bad Dismiss" (counter target spell, if you do, draw a card). This is actually about conditional effects, but it's a nice illustration.
    If I'd play Dismiss targetting the Fallout, this would be a perfectly legal play. When Dismiss resolves, it checks if all targets are still legal (and it still is a legal target). The first instruction on Dismiss requires taking an impossible action (since the Fallout can't be countered) we ignore it. Then we move on to the next instruction, which is to draw a card. Assuming there are cards left in my library, I draw a card. Note that the difference between this and the Flare example is that Flare never resolves, so it doesn't check for any impossible instructions to ignore.
    If I'd play the Bad Dismiss, it would also resolve "normally", as just like before, it's target is still legal. We now also see why this card doesn't exist, and although I know what would happen, I'm not sure why. Assuming you all realize that no card will be drawn, this can be either because the instruction (counter target spell) is impossible, and therefore the entire instruction will be ignored, or it can be because you don't actually counter the spell, thus the condition isn't met, and hence you won't draw a card. The same reasoning applies to the Library Troll / Incinerate example.

    Remember that we know the instruction is impossible because of the can/can't rule. One effect says Volcanic Fallout can't be countered, and one says it can (the counterspell, to be specific). Rule #1 tells us that the effect from the Fallout itself wins, thus making the "countering" impossible.

    Volcanic Eruption
    The moment we've all been waiting for ;)
    I'm going on a little sidetrack here, just to make sure everything is clear. The relevant steps of playing a spell here are:
    -Announce that you are playing Volcanic Eruption and putting it on the stack (409.1a)
    -Announcing the value of X (409.1b)
    -If the spell or ability requires any targets, the player first announces how many targets he or she will choose (if the spell or ability has a variable number of targets), then announces his or her choice of an appropriate player, object, or zone for each of those targets. A spell or ability can’t be played unless the required number of legal targets are chosen for it. The same target can’t be chosen multiple times for any one instance of the word “target” on the 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). (409.1c)
    This one is critical, but very simple. You simply have to select X different mountains.
    -Pay the required amount of mana.

    At this point the spell becomes played. All of this is just to emphasize that you have to choose X mountains when you play the Eruption.

    Regardless of what shenenigans occur in between, let's see what happens if the spell tries to resolve.

    First, we check to see if there are still any legal targets left. Any targets which are either no longer mountains, no longer in play, have protection from blue or shroud are illegal. If all targeted mountains have become illegal, the spell is countered, and no damage is dealt.
    Let's assume that X was 4. One of those mountains has gained protection from blue and another one was sacrificed. The other two are still still a basic Mountain and a Badlands, respectively.
    Not all targets have become illegal, so the Eruption is going to resolve, affecting only the targets that aren't illegal (see rule #4). The instruction doesn't requires us to do something impossible, so we can't ignore it. The effect however, does require us to do something impossible, namely destroying two mountains that either have protection from blue, or aren't in play anymore. Rule #4 tells us that since these targets are illegal, the spell can't perform any actions on it. Instead of doing the impossible, we'll just do as much as possible, which is in this case destoying the normal Mountain and the Badlands, then dealing 2 damage to everything.

    When you play spectral shift to change mountains to swamps, we simply check if all targets are still legal for the Eruption (thus checking if they are swamps that can be targetted by the spell), resolve accordingly if any of those lands are, or be countered on resolution if none of them are legal (for example because they are still mountains).

    Now the difference between these two:
    -If an instruction requires taking an impossible action, it’s ignored. (In many cases the card will specify consequences for this; if it doesn’t, there’s no effect.) (103.3)
    -If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible. (416.3)

    Definitions first:
    An ability is text on an object that’s not reminder text or flavor text (see rule 400.1). The result of following such an instruction is an effect.
    In case of Dismiss, both "Counter target spell" and "Draw a card" are instructions, while the actions of countering and drawing are effects.
    With Volcanic Eruption, "Destroy X target mountains" is an instruction, as is "~ deals damage to each creature and each player for each mountain destroyed this way".

    If countering the spell is impossible (because it can't be countered), we ignore the instruction.
    If a card can't be drawn (because there are no cards in your library, or a static effect says "Players can't draw cards"), we again ignore the instruction.
    If no mountains can be destroyed (because all mountains targetted are indestructible), we ignore the instruction, but we will still deal 0 damage to all creatures and players.
    If some mountains can be destroyed, the instruction doesn't require an impossible action, so we can carry it out. The effect on destroying might try to do something impossible (because one of those mountains is no longer there), and will then only do as much as possible, thus destroying all mountains that are still in play.

    I know it's a lot of text, and I can understand if there is still some confusion, so do ask your questions if you still have some :)
  6. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    That's a lot of text :)

    So in EricBess's example above
    If the Mountains becomes illegal targets on resolution, do you still draw a card?
  7. Modus Pwnens Eligible for User Title

    You won't read it if it's a lot of text eh? If all targets are illegal, the spell is countered on resolution. You don't get to draw a card from a countered spell, so the answer would be no, no carddrawing for you.
  8. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I read it, it just gets confusing after a while :)

    So the card drawing is not independent of the destroy effect...
  9. Modus Pwnens Eligible for User Title

    In this case you'll have to differentiate between two scenario's:

    1. Destroy 2 target mountains. Draw a card.
    2. Destroy 2 target mountains. Target player draws a card.

    In the first case, if all targets are illegal, you don't get to draw a card. I reiterate: If all targets of a spell or ability are illegal when it tries to resolve, the entire spell is countered on resolution.
    Compare it with me playing Ancestral Recall, and you countering it with a counterspell. If it's countered, I don't draw, regardless of whether it was countered by another spell, or by the rules of the game.

    In the second case, if the mountains are illegal, the spell will still resolve, so you will draw a card. If you have become an illegal target as well (Gilded Light, Seht's Tiger, Replenishing your Ivory Mask, etc) and all of the targets are illegal, the spell is countered on resolution, so no card is drawn.

    The card drawing instruction is independant of the destroy effect, however, the first thing you check when resolving a spell, is whether all targets are still legal. If a spell has no legal targets, the entire spell is countered.

    Take this ridiculous example:

    Destroy target creature.
    You draw 5 cards.
    You gain 25 life.
    You win the game.

    If the targeted creature is no longer legal, nothing will happen, the spell is countered. Only if the creature is still a legal target, you'll actually draw, gain life and win the game.
  10. BigBlue Magic Jones

    ok, so now that they have called "fizzle" - countered (or so it would seem).

    Consider the following:

    "Uber-Destroy" - Instant

    Casting Cost: Instant

    Card Text: "Uber-Destroy" can't be countered. Destroy Target Creature. It can't be regenerated. Draw a card.

    If the creature became illegal (it were gone, etc)... Would this be countered and prevent the card draw?

    I'd say no, since they can/can't rule would come into play - so if the target went away, the spell wouldn't be countered since it "can't be countered"... Therefore you would draw a card.
  11. Mooseman Isengar Tussle

    Actually all targeting spells say "can't be countered by spells or abilities."
    Thus they do not break the countered upon resolution rule for have no legal targets.
  12. EricBess Active Member

    It is worth pointing out that there is a state-based effect that states (and I paraphrase) that if you try to draw a card and cannot because your library is empty, then you lose the game. This is an interesting distinction because everything Modus Pwnens says about drawing a card is correct for the reasons he states. It is a separate rule that makes you lose the game, not when you tried to draw a card, but as a state-based effect that was created when you could not and resolves the next time state-based effects are checked.

Share This Page