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The text on Hammer of Purphoros reads:

Sacrifice a land: Put a 3/3 colorless Golem enchantment artifact creature token onto the battlefield.

I know that this doesn't allow me to destroy my opponent's lands but I would like to know why. What wording would allow me to do that? "Destroy target land"?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Sacrifice" and "Destroy" are 2 separate things, though they both result in sending a permanent to the graveyard. You can only ever sacrifice a permanent that you control:

701.14. Sacrifice

701.14a To sacrifice a permanent, its controller moves it from the battlefield directly to its owner’s graveyard. A player can’t sacrifice something that isn’t a permanent, or something that’s a permanent he or she doesn’t control. Sacrificing a permanent doesn’t destroy it, so regeneration or other effects that replace destruction can’t affect this action.

And you are correct about the second part, a card like Pillage would let you destroy an opponent's land.

"Sacrifice" happens only when an ability tells you to "sacrifice" something (or keywords whose rules require sacrificing, such as Annihilate). "Destruction" can happen either from abilities that say "destroy", or from state-based effects such as a creature having taken too much damage. Things like "Indestructible" can prevent Destruction, but not Sacrificing.

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it might be worth adding a note about destruction being a state based action and clarifying that "indestructible" as an example has no bearing on sacrificing. Just incase anyone gets the idea that a Darksteel Citadel would give them unlimited golems –  Patters Apr 8 at 14:00
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@Patters, Destroy is not a SBA. Destroy has noting to do with SBAs (except that some SBAs instruct you to destroy things, just like some SBAs instruct you to remove counters). Destroy is a keyword action (just like "sacrifice", "move", "cast" and "draw"). You are to perform keyword actions when instructed. Just like "sacrifice", "destroy" is simply a wrapper around "move". Having a separate word allows one of the actions to be replaced (e.g. by regeneration) or prevented (e.g. by indestructibility) without affecting the others. –  ikegami Apr 8 at 14:20
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@Patters, Rather, I think it's worth mentioning that while Hammer uses "Sacrifice..." as part of a cost, "Destroy target..." cannot be part of a cost. Costs cannot target. –  Brian S Apr 8 at 16:08
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Is there a rule that says that costs cannot target? I haven't seen that, though it makes sense. –  GendoIkari Apr 8 at 16:18
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I think it's meaningless to debate whether there is or should be an explicit justification in the rules that "target" cannot occur in a cost, because the rules are not meant to govern what can be printed on cards. The rules are to determine how cards are played. –  David Z Apr 9 at 3:30

What wording would allow me to do that?

Move {some land} to {a zone}[1].

Other than abilities, some keyword actions instruct you to do this, which brings us to your next question.

"Destroy target land"?

Yes, because destroy is defined as move {permanent} from the battlefield to its owner’s graveyard.

You'll never see "target" in a cost, though. There would be problems with doing that, and there would be no gain over simply choosing (e.g. "destroy a land").

That said, you'll never see "destroy" in a cost either. A cost is something you must pay; it should not be a benefit under normal circumstances. Furthermore, destruction can be nullified by regeneration. It should not be possible to avoid paying a cost in that fashion.

I know that [Sacrifice a land] doesn't allow me to destroy my opponent's lands

Sacrifice is defined as move {a permanent} you control from the battlefield to its owner’s graveyard. It would work if it wasn't limited to a permanent you control.


  1. Note that "return" is sometimes used as a synonym for "move".
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