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I heard - (from an official MtG judge) - that Wrath of God ("Destroy all creatures") destroys creatures with the Shroud ability, because it doesn't target a single creature, it targets all creatures.

Is this really true? In my opinion it is very illogical.

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That phrasing — "targets all creatures" — isn't correct, and if the judge used it, I can understand your confusion. Wrath of God doesn't target creatures at all; it wipes them out in a grand swath. – Jadasc Sep 6 '11 at 12:57
up vote 32 down vote accepted

Yes, Wrath of God will kill all creatures with shroud. It will also kill all creatures that have protection from white. It won't kill creatures that are indestructible.

To understand why this is, you have to look at the definitions of the terms.

Shroud means: "this creature can't be the target of spells or abilities".

Protection means (among other things): "this creature can't be the target of spells or abilities of the colour in question".

Wrath of God just says "Destroy all creatures". No mention of targets at all. And I think this is where your confusion is arising. Wrath of God doesn't "target all creatures and destroy them". It doesn't target anything. It just destroys them, whether they're slippery customers or not. Boom!

Indestructible creatures survive a Wrath because their ability ("cannot be destroyed") specifically interacts with the word "destroy" on the card Wrath of God. Creatures with Shroud only interact with, and care about, the word "target" on a card. If you can't find "target" written anywhere on the card, then Shroud won't have any effect on what that card can do.

As an interesting side point, take a look at a card like Copy Enchantment. This puts into play a copy of an enchantment already on the battlefield. But note that nowhere on the card does it say "target". This means that if you copy an Aura on the battlefield, you can put that copy onto a creature with Shroud... even if the original Aura would have been unable to enchant that creature when it was cast! Sometimes Magic does some pretty counter-intuitive things, but it's very internally consistent.

Hope that's clarified things more than it's confused them, for you!

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+1 extra for "Boom!" – Jadasc Sep 7 '11 at 14:19
Huh, that's an interesting note about Copy Enchantment. Auras do target the object or player you're going to enchant when you cast them as a spell, but not when they enter the battlefield by any other means, according to rule 303.4f in the Comp Rules. Neat! – adamjford Sep 7 '11 at 17:14
Note that the same enchantment shenanigans can be performed with a card like Lost Auramancers to put Aura Enchantments on creatures with Shroud or Hexproof. – ghoppe Sep 26 '11 at 14:25
Good unasked for tidbit about protection I didn't know. Thanks. – joedragons Aug 27 '15 at 14:09

Not only Wrath of God is possible of doing this: Damnation, Hallowed Burial, Infest and Pyroclasm for instance can do it as well. Because they don't target.

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Another thing to note is that all the cards mentioned except for Pyroclasm also kills creatures with protection from < color >. Pyroclasm doesn't kill them because protection, besides from making it untargetable, also prevents damage.

I've seen a lot of people missunderstanding this.

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Useful clarification - I didn't want to go too heavily into protection in my answer, in case I strayed too far from the point, but you're absolutely right. A creature with protection from all colours dies to a Wrath of God, and also from an (untargeted) effect giving it -X/-X where X is equal to or greater than its toughness; but no amount of (coloured) damage will kill it, not a million or a million million! – thesunneversets Sep 6 '11 at 13:38

First of all, there is a little rule everyone is forgetting and it is the legal target rule which simply states before a permanent can be destroyed or removed from play it has to be a legal target of a spell:

608.2b [During resolution, if] the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal.

All spells target, including those with "all" in their text. If a spell states that it does not target, then it cannot destroy anything according to the legal target rule. For a spell to affect a permanent, the permanent must be a legal target for said spell.

For example, Noxious Ghoul reads:

Whenever Noxious Ghoul or another Zombie enters the battlefield, all non-Zombie creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn.

Zombies do not get the -1/-1 counter because they are not legal targets of Noxious Ghoul's ability. Basically, because there are legal targets for every spell, spells with "all" target "all" as well.

Another basic common sense example is Crux of Fate. Crux of Fate offers a choice of either destroying all dragons or destroying all non-dragons, which means means it will either target and destroy all legal target dragons or target and destroy all legal target non-dragons.

This is basic common sense - if a spell does not target anything then it does not do anything.

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so creatures with hexproof or shroud cannot be legal targets of spells therefore are not destroyed by wrath of god – Joseph Kmiecik Aug 25 '15 at 22:15
it is a fact all instants sorceries target something otherwise you get this misconception that wrath of god doesn't target anything since if it doesn't target anything then it destroys nothing according to legal target rule now on the otherhand if wrath of god targets all creatures then if they are legal targets they will get destroyed creatures with hexproof or shroud can not be targeted so will not get destroyed basic common sense – Joseph Kmiecik Aug 25 '15 at 22:37
This answer is wrong. Wrath of God does not target anything. Neither does Noxious Ghoul or Crux of Fate. Just because a spell affects something does not mean it targets that thing. – Rainbolt Aug 25 '15 at 23:00
"All spells target" is where you've gone wrong. Not sure where you got that idea, but it's definitely NOT correct. The only spells that target are ones that have the word "target" in their text, and Aura spells because the rules for Aura spells specifically say they target. – GendoIkari Aug 25 '15 at 23:13
The common sense answer is wrong in this case because "target" is a keyword with a specific definition in the context of M:tG. Also, I would be hesitant to argue with a judge unless I myself had been certified as one - those nerds know what they're talking about. :) – Andrew Vandever Aug 26 '15 at 15:19

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