When playing Twilight Drover with multiple counters, I have the following questions which also apply to other creatures:

  1. How many times can I play the activated ability within one turn when it does not have the TAP symbol? I want to clarify as some people say once and other people say as many times as long as I have mana for it.
  2. Can I only play the activated ability on my turn or can I also play it when it is not my turn?
  3. If the creature had two different activated abilities and neither ability had the TAP symbol nor asked you to only choose one, then can you play both of the abilities or only one of them?
  4. Can any of the activated abilities be countered?

1 Answer 1


1: Activated abilities always have the pattern "cost:effect", and as long as you can pay the costs, you can activate it as often as you like. There are a few exceptions where you have a limited number of activations per turn, but those will always be printed on the card. Note that the TAP symbol is a cost like any other, and if you manage to untap your permanent, you can use that ability again without issue.

2: You can activate non-mana, non-Planeswalker abilities at instant speed. Again, exceptions are printed on the card.

3: There are no such restrictions, except for Planeswalker abilities.

4: Yes, but very few cards do that, like Stifle. An ability is not a spell, so cards that counter spells do not work on abilities.

  • 3
    Easy +1, of course, but a tiny caveat: abilities can also be countered for lack of a target, the same as spells. For instance, suppose there were a card that read 'sacrifice a creature: ~this~ deals 3 damage to target creature and 3 damage to that creature's controller'. Then if e.g. you sacrificed a creature targeting an opponent's Grizzly Bears, and they bounced the Bears in response, then they wouldn't take 3 damage because the ability is countered. Jul 7, 2013 at 17:54
  • For your #2 answer, you state non-mana abilities. Does that mean I can only use the activated ability of the Twilight Drover on my turn and can not activate it when it is not my turn? On a side note I read there are some exceptions to your #1 answer, such extort. If i read correctly, Extort can only be activated once.
    – Damainman
    Jul 7, 2013 at 18:28
  • 1
    @Damainman No, by default you can abilities whenever you could play an instant, that means whenever you have priority, which also happens on enemy turns. The timing of mana abilities have special rules, you can use them pretty much anytime; for example the abilities of basic lands are mana abilities. And Extort is not an activated ability, it's a triggered ability that you can only activate when it says you can, and only once.
    – Hackworth
    Jul 7, 2013 at 18:33
  • @StevenStadnicki Yes, rules can counter spells and abilities as well, but I didn't read his question that way. I suppose he meant "countered by spells or abilities"
    – Hackworth
    Jul 7, 2013 at 19:10
  • 1
    @Damainman That is correct.
    – Hackworth
    Jul 8, 2013 at 6:57

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