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Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay b/w. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)


  • If my opponent has a creature with extort out, then casts a spell that I counter, can he still pay the 1 mana to trigger extort?

And if not,

  • Does he have to choose whether to spend the mana before or after I have countered the spell?
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Note that for people playing lots of Gatecrash cards: normally copying spells doesn't trigger extort (because the copy appears on the stack), but some cards make a copy in another game zone and then cast it, which does trigger extort. Easiest way to tell is to see whether the text of the ability says "cast" (e.g. cipher spells or Isochron Scepter). –  Alex P Feb 4 '13 at 16:49
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes. If the spell wasn't countered, the following would happen:

  1. He casts the spell. (Puts it on the stack, pays costs, etc.) Extort triggers.
  2. Extort is added to the stack.
  3. Players get priority.
  4. Extort resolves. He chooses to pay the mana. Each opponent of his loses 1 life and he gains that much life.
  5. Players get priority.
  6. The spell resolves.

The spell can be countered in step 3 (in response to extort) or in step 5 (after extort resolves), but as you can see, extort has already been added to the stack at that point.

The choice of paying mana happens on resolution, so whether he chooses to spend the mana or not depends on when you counter the spell. If you counter in response to extort (step 3), he chooses after you counter. If you counter after extort resolves (step 5), he chooses before you counter.

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You say 'He casts the spell' but doesn't countering the spell prevent the 'cast'? Is a countered spell still cast? If what you're saying is true then does gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… 's ability still trigger on countered spells? –  user4861 Feb 4 '13 at 15:58
@user4861 countering a spell does not prevent the spell from being cast, it only prevents the spell from resolving; and yes, the same holds true for Talrand, Sky Summoner, countered instants and sorceries will still trigger Talrand's ability. (As is clearly stated in the last ruling on that gatherer link…) –  ghoppe Feb 4 '13 at 16:15
You can't counter a spell if it hasn't been cast yet (because the card is not a spell until it's cast). Countering the spell simply removes it from the stack. –  ikegami Feb 4 '13 at 18:51
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Absolutely, Extort triggers for spells which are countered. "Casting" a spell isn't dependent on whether that spell goes on to resolve (or "be successfully cast", if it helps to think of it in those terms). Per the comprehensive rules:

601.2. To cast a spell is to take it from where it is (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect.

So yes, when you put your spell on the stack and pay its costs, the Extort trigger takes place and is put on the stack. The triggered ability will therefore be on the stack above the originally cast spell; though the original spell can be countered either before or after the Extort ability resolves!

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I pose the same question to you then. Does gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… 's ability still triggered on countered spells? –  user4861 Feb 4 '13 at 16:01
@user4861 Read the last ruling on that card's gatherer page. :) –  ghoppe Feb 4 '13 at 16:21
@AlexP, sorry! I kind of realised that was a very laboured sentence as I finished typing it, but then I had to rush off in a hurry. I was trying to answer the OP's question "Does he have to choose whether to spend the mana before or after I have countered the spell?" which is actually fairly meaningless - the spell can be countered before or after the Extort trigger resolves. –  thesunneversets Feb 4 '13 at 18:24
I've now tried to change that statement to something a little easier to parse, FWIW... –  thesunneversets Feb 4 '13 at 18:25
@thesunneversets Yup. Fixed. That's why I deleted my comment. ;) –  Alex P Feb 4 '13 at 22:18
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If my opponent has a creature with extort out, then casts a spell that I counter, can he still pay the 1 mana to trigger extort?


According to the Gatecrash FAQ here's the official rules for extort:

702.99. Extort

702.99a Extort is a triggered ability. "Extort" means "Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay . If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain life equal to the total life lost this way."

So Extort is a triggered ability that is added to the stack when a spell is cast. Triggered abilities are added to the stack before priority is passed.

Does he have to choose whether to spend the mana before or after I have countered the spell?

The Gatecrash FAQ clarifies when the mana is paid:

You may pay {W/B} a maximum of one time for each extort triggered ability. You decide whether to pay when the ability resolves.

If the counterspell is added to the stack after the triggered ability, it will resolve first. The player whose spell is countered gets to choose whether or not to pay the extort after the counterspell resolves. Of course, this has implications if the counterspell was something like Spell Rupture.

However, as @AlexP rightly points out, the smart counterspell caster will wait for the extort trigger to resolve, and see whether their opponent decides to pay the mana for it, then decide whether or not to cast a counterspell like Spell Rupture when they receive priority.

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Both players will get priority after the extort trigger resolves. So there's no reason not to wait and see whether your opponent pays for extort before throwing down a counter (well, okay, no reason short of mind games or "My opponent is going to kill me with the trigger, but I have Fall of the Gavel so I can gain some life if I don't wait for extort to resolve"). –  Alex P Feb 4 '13 at 15:54
Very good point Alex P. The smart counterspell-er will wait for the player's extort trigger to resolve. –  ghoppe Feb 4 '13 at 16:14
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