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Say my opponent plays Dryad Arbor. Can I counter it with a Cancel from my hand? I know that lands can't be countered because they don't go on the stack, but what about land-creatures?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

The short answer is that Dryad Arbor can't be countered because it can only be played as a land, not a spell. Here's the supporting statement from the card's Oracle rulings:

Dryad Arbor is played as a land. It doesn't use the stack, it's not a spell, it can't be responded to, it has no mana cost, and it counts as your land play for the turn.

And the card's reminder text:

(Dryad Arbor isn't a spell, it's affected by summoning sickness, and it has "{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.")

If you prefer rules over rulings, let's start with the rule saying you can't counter land:

305.1. ... Playing a land is a special action; it doesn't use the stack (see rule 115). Rather, the player simply puts the land onto the battlefield. Since the land doesn't go on the stack, it is never a spell, and players can't respond to it with instants or activated abilities.

Moreover, you'll want to note this section of the comp rules:

305.9. If an object is both a land and another card type, it can be played only as a land. It can't be cast as a spell.

Essentially, this rule is saying that the Land card type overrides the normal behavior of the various spell card types.

This rather esoteric rule isn't actually required for Dryad Arbor to work the way that it does -- simply having no listed mana cost would mean that you can't play it like a normal spell, while being of the Land type would allow it to be played as a land. My best guess as to why it's there is that the original multi-typed lands, Mirrodin's artifact lands, were much more "land" than "spell," so this was codified in the rules for playing them. I take it as not so much saying that a land with a mana cost would still be uncastable as precluding the existence of such a card altogether.

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What's the difference between rule and ruling? –  Pacerier yesterday
@Pacerier The comprehensive rules are the actual rules of the game. Rulings in Oracle are statements about how to apply those rules correctly to the case at hand. Basically answers to common judge questions. –  Alex P 23 hours ago
Ic, so rulings are the rules on how The Rules should be interpreted and have more weight than The Rules in terms of correctness and accuracy. So shouldn't you quote the rulings instead because they would have more authority over The Rules? –  Pacerier 13 hours ago

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