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How does Lava Burst work with hexproof/shroud ability?

Lava Burst text says:

If Lava Burst would deal damage to a creature, that damage can't be prevented or dealt instead to another creature or player.

However, hexproof / shroud ability also say:

This creature can't be the target of spells or abilities ...

So how does it actually work? Can Lava Burst damage a hexproof / shroud creature, or can't that creature be targeted at all?

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Murgatroid99 covered the important parts, but I wanted to add the easy to remember acronym for Protection just for reference. D.E.B.T. Can't be Dealt Damage by, Enchanted by, Blocked by, or Targeted by whatever it is protected from. Hexproof literally means "Can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponent controls." As you can see, there is some partial overlap there. +1 to you for looking up some of the rules text before posting. – Rainbolt Apr 14 '14 at 14:19
@Rusher, This question has nothing to do with Protection. Prevention isn't Protection. And the "E" of DEBT is really Enchanted/Equipped/Fortified by. – ikegami Apr 16 '14 at 13:48
@ikegami I never said Prevention was Protection. Damage prevention is a component of Protection, and therefore related to the question. – Rainbolt Apr 16 '14 at 14:25
@Rusher, By that logic, my company's policies are on topic since damage prevention is also a component of them. Your comment is very very very confusing. – ikegami Apr 16 '14 at 14:38
up vote 10 down vote accepted

No, Lava Burst cannot damage a creature with shroud or an opponent's creature with hexproof. An opponent's creature with hexproof or shroud can't be the target of anything you control, period. The "cannot be prevented" text only means that prevention effects do not prevent or change that damage. The relevant rules here are:

  • 615.1. Some continuous effects are prevention effects. Like replacement effects (see rule 614), prevention effects apply continuously as events happen -- they aren't locked in ahead of time. Such effects watch for a damage event that would happen and completely or partially prevent the damage that would be dealt. They act like "shields" around whatever they're affecting.

  • 615.11. Some effects state that damage "can't be prevented." If unpreventable damage would be dealt, any applicable prevention effects are still applied to it. Those effects won't prevent any damage, but any additional effects they have will take place. Existing damage prevention shields won't be reduced by damage that can't be prevented.

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To clarify a bit, cards talking about preventing damage mean it very specifically and literally. So Lava Burst doesn't mean it's unstoppable, that you can't do anything that'd in any way avoid the damage being dealt, it just means that damage prevention effects (like protection, and things that actually say "prevent damage") won't work. – Jefromi Apr 14 '14 at 3:48
I should point out that at least in this case, protection would also mean that the spell couldn't have targeted the creature. – murgatroid99 Apr 14 '14 at 5:11
Ack, yes - wish I could edit to clarify that. I really just wanted to emphasize that "preventing damage" is a nice specific thing, not a fuzzy description. – Jefromi Apr 14 '14 at 5:24
Lava Burst can damage a creature with hexproof if it's your creature. – corsiKa Apr 14 '14 at 15:37

It's quite simple: Hexproof and Shroud don't prevent damage; they prevent targeting. Lava Burst cannot target something with Hexproof, something Lava Burst must do far before it tries to deal damage.

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