Lets say my opponent is attacking with Necropede and Phantasmal Dragon. There are no other creatures on the battlefield. I cast Doom Blade on the Necropede. Is my opponent forced to choose a target for Necropede's triggered ability even if he or she does/will not plan to put a -1/-1 counter on it?
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Regardless of whether or not the "may" ability is chosen by Necropede's controller, a target still must be chosen for Necropede's ability (assuming one exists). Thus, Phantasmal Dragon will be chosen as a target and must be sacrificed, and Necropede's ability eventually fizzles. See the following:
Yes, your opponent has to choose a target for the Necropede's ability.
The controller of a "may" ability chooses whether or not to use the ability at the time that the ability resolves. However, the targets of a may ability are chosen at the time the "may" ability is put on the stack, and choosing the targets for the Necropede's "may" ability will trigger the Phantasmal Dragon's sacrifice condition.
(Comp rules reference forthcoming.)