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Some lands have an ability to become a creature, but they usually say they are still a land. If a land is a 3/3 creature, and a land, can you target and kill it with a Lightning Bolt to send it to the graveyard, or does it remain in play as a land?

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5 Answers 5

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From the Magic Comprehensive Rules (oops big edits. I accidentally googled old version of the rules. These rules are effective as of May 1, 2011):

119. Damage

119.1. Objects can deal damage to creatures, planeswalkers, and players. This is generally detrimental to the object or player that receives that damage. An object that deals damage is the source of that damage.

119.6. Damage marked on a creature remains until the cleanup step, even if that permanent stops being a creature. If the total damage marked on a creature is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed as a state-based action (see rule 704). All damage marked on a permanent is removed when it regenerates (see rule 701.11, "Regenerate") and during the cleanup step (see rule 514.2).

For absolute clarity, here is part of the rules on "State-Based Actions"

704.3. Whenever a player would get priority (see rule 116, "Timing and Priority"), the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based actions, then performs all applicable state-based actions simultaneously as a single event. If any state-based actions are performed as a result of a check, the check is repeated; otherwise all triggered abilities that are waiting to be put on the stack are put on the stack, then the check is repeated. Once no more state-based actions have been performed as the result of a check and no triggered abilities are waiting to be put on the stack, the appropriate player gets priority. This process also occurs during the cleanup step (see rule 514), except that if no state-based actions are performed as the result of the step's first check and no triggered abilities are waiting to be put on the stack, then no player gets priority and the step ends.

So the sequence goes like this.

  1. You cast Lightning Bolt (when you have priority), spell goes on the stack.
  2. You have priority. If you pass:
  3. Opponent has priority. If they pass:*
  4. Lightning Bolt resolves. Three damage is applied to land creature.
  5. If it's your turn, you have priority, if it's opponent's turn he/she does. Regardless. WHOOP WHOOP game checks for state based effects first.
  6. State based effect: damage on land creature >= toughness. It is destroyed.

You certainly can "kill" a land, but "kill" is not the proper Magic term. Over the years Magic has become very specific about the terms used to describe cards, abilities and effects just to avoid "intuitive" confusion like this (how can you kill a land???) The term your friend was looking for was:

701.6. Destroy

701.6a To destroy a permanent, move it from the battlefield to its owner's graveyard.

There are plenty of magic cards which have the words destroy target land in the rules text.

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Man, I love me some Magic Comprehensive Rules. Is it wrong that they often get me kind of excited? –  thesunneversets Jun 10 '11 at 19:01

If you change a card's type, it loses it's existing types [CR 205.1a]. "It's still a land" makes it so it gains the creature type without losing the land type [CR 205.1b]. As such, it is both a creature and a land.

So:

  • It can be chosen as a creature (e.g. Murder) and as a land (e.g. Craterize).
  • It can't be chosen as a noncreature (e.g. Bramblecrush) or as a nonland (e.g. Abrupt Decay).
  • It has all traits of a creature. (For example, it has power and toughness, it is destroyed if it's toughness is non-positive, and it is affected by summoning sickness.)
  • It has all traits of a land (For example, it can produce mana if it has the basic super type.)
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If you change a card's type, it loses it's existing types [CR 205.1a]. "It's still a land" makes it so it gains the creature type without losing the land type [CR 205.1b]. Since it's still a land, it can still produce mana (if it's a basic land), it can still be chosen as land (e.g. for [mtg:Craterize]), and it can't be chosen as a nonland (e.g. [mtg:Abrupt Decay]). –  ikegami Sep 1 '13 at 19:27
    
"For example, [...] it is destroyed if it's toughness is non-positive" Rather, it isn't destroyed, but it is put into its owner's graveyard. This is mostly relevant for the purposes of indestructibility and regeneration; it can save your creature from lethal damage, but not from having 0 toughness. –  Kevin Sep 3 '13 at 16:52
    
"For example, it can produce mana if it has the basic super type." -- The Basic supertype does no such thing. The five basic land types (Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, Forest) do grant an implicit mana ability, but those are subtypes (not supertypes), and may appear on cards without the Basic supertype. –  Brian S Dec 5 '13 at 15:12

The consensus here is that land-creatures that are dealt fatal damage go to the graveyard, just like any other creature. That's the way we've always played it among my friends, and this seems to be what that "turn all lands into 2/2 creatures" card is for -- that and a couple general-damage spells can really hurt.

In addition to being creatures, these cards are also still lands and are affected by land-targeting effects (like Strip Mine). Because it is a land it is not affected by cards that target "non-land", like Abrupt Decay. (Hat tip to Ian Pugsley and Rawgramming for these examples in comments.)

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That is the way I always played too, but recently someone protested because it says "it is still a land" and you can't kill land. I figure if it has a toughness then it can take damage. –  Jim McKeeth Jun 10 '11 at 3:34
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In the future, ask the person where in the rules does it say "you can't kill land?" –  ghoppe Jun 10 '11 at 3:57
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It should be mentioned that man-lands (as they are called) when they are creatures are vulnerable to destroy effects that target either lands or creatures (i.e. both Terror and Strip Mine). –  Ian Pugsley Jun 10 '11 at 13:02
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@JimMcKeeth there are some cards where it being a land still matters, for example Abrupt Decay cannot kill it even though it is a creature, as it is still a land. Abrupt Decay states "non-land", which is why this happens. The person protesting may have had a similar experience and mistakenly believed that lands cannot be destroyed at all as a result. –  Patters Dec 5 '13 at 9:40

Yes. There's no reason why a land creature shouldn't be destroyed by any of the various ways that destroy creatures. Being a land doesn't confer some kind of special immunity on creatures.

Of course, you can't normally destroy a land with a Lightning Bolt, but that's only because you can't target a land with a Lightning Bolt, and even if you did, it wouldn't have a toughness score to make sense of the damage assigned to it. Suppose someone targeted your land creature with a Bolt, and in response you removed the effect that was turning your land into a creature (by Disenchanting Living Lands, perhaps). At this point the land is once again an illegal target for the Bolt, so the burn spell would be countered by game rules and your land would be safe!

Bonus Answer: Of course, every rule in Magic has its exceptions. If you want your creature land to survive taking lethal damage from a Lightning Bolt, you can always play Consecrate Land on it!

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...or Teferi's Response. That card is such a blowout! (If you manage to cast it) –  AndSoYouCode Dec 6 '13 at 7:31
    
Yep, I remember Teferi's Response. Wasn't that a (typically extravagant, but not especially effective) attempt by Wizards to stop the tournament scene from being completely overrun by Rishadan Ports? –  thesunneversets Dec 7 '13 at 9:32

I think it may depend on the effect and the version. For example, if you look at Living Lands, the ruling is right there on the card:

Treat all forests in play as 1/1 creatures. Now they can be killed, enchanted, and so forth, and they can be tapped either for mana or to attack. The living lands have no color; they are not considered green cards.

Creeping Tar Pit, on the other hand, has the wording that you heard:

... Until end of turn, Creeping Tar Pit becomes a 3/2 blue and black Elemental creature and is unblockable. It's still a land.

Now, I'm not up on current rules, but to me, the key is to take that last sentence in context. This is what I see:

  • becomes a creature
  • is a land

I believe that "becomes a creature" indicates that it can be targeted by effects that affect creatures, and that "is a land" indicates that it can also be targeted by effects that affect lands. (In other words, it isn't converted into a creature; it is a land and also a creature.)

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You are correct that creature does not replace land, it is a land and a creature. However, whether it can be destroyed or not doesn't depend on the effect which turns the land into a creature: if it is a creature and has damage > toughness on it, it is destroyed. –  ghoppe Jun 10 '11 at 3:56
    
@ghoppe, I looked at the objection as "but the card says it's a land [and thus not a creature?]." Except I don't think the card says that ... and of course if it's a creature then it's just like other creatures (except that the land effect is removed once the land is placed in the graveyard). –  Dave DuPlantis Jun 10 '11 at 4:01
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If it's a Land, it's a Land on the battlefield or in the graveyard. If an effect makes forests in play a creature until the end of the turn, it's also a creature until end of turn. Creatures can be destroyed by damage, and, indeed, the rules specifically state that damage dealt to a creature stays on the permanent even if it stops being a creature. See my answer for the comprehensive rules. –  ghoppe Jun 10 '11 at 4:09
    
@ghoppe, I didn't mean to give the impression that I was contesting the creature part anywhere ... and obviously damage greater than a creature's toughness (normally) sends a creature to the graveyard. I was countering the objection that "it's still a land" meant that it was somehow not also a creature (despite the effect that made it a creature). –  Dave DuPlantis Jun 10 '11 at 4:34
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@DaveDuPlantis I think your example is a little bit confusing, because both effects - Living Lands and Creeping Tar Pit - do exactly the same thing (except for the color of the resulting permanent); they make the permanents in question both creatures and lands. It's a change in templating, but it's not a change in functionality; the way you've worded your answer draws out the contrast and suggests that the two are somehow different. –  Steven Stadnicki May 24 '12 at 21:28

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