I have a creature with protection from green in play along with another creature. My opponent plays a green spell that targets a creature I control chosen at random and does damage to it. Does the protection make the creature with protection an invalid target for said spell (automatically targeting my only other creature), or is there a 50/50 chance the protected creature will be targeted resulting in the spell being countered?

Edit for clarification (targeted @ the discussion in the comments) The situation is slightly different than depicted (was posted via phone, couldn't easily provide links etc)

I have a Woodlot Crawler in play along with another creature. My opponent plays Scab-Clan Giant, and its ability triggers. Question is whether my Woodlot Crawler is a legal target for the triggered ability.

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    It really depends on the wording of the spell that will be causing the damage. Can you add the exact wording?
    – Pow-Ian
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:04
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    @Rainbolt if it is a card that says target random creature then protection holds because it is targeting, if it is a card that says one of your opponent's creature's then I would argue it does not target and protection and hex proof would not stop the spell. The same way Wrath of God can destroy a creature with protection from white, but Desert twister can't destroy a creature with protection from green. I was just seeking clarification that the wording of the card was not paraphrased to say target random creature when it actually said a creature your opponent controls
    – Pow-Ian
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:48
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    @Pow-Ian If it doesn't literally say "target" then you are having a different conversation than the rest of us. I disagree than the question is unclear in its use of the word. It's in the title, and in the body (multiple times).
    – Rainbolt
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:54
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    @Rainbolt that is exactly what I was trying to clarify.
    – Pow-Ian
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:56
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1 Answer 1


The Comprehensive Rules don't explicitly mention random targets. However, we can still use them to get an answer. The bottom line is that the creature with protection can't be chosen as the target, making the other creature automatically the target.

Now, as you point out, "target creature [you] control chosen at random" could mean you must target a creature you control that is also a valid target, or it could that you target a creature you control without filtering on legal targets. Even if you try to pick from all creatures, the game itself will restrict you to legal targets.

CR 601.2 details the exact process for casting a spell. The key sentence is as follows:

If, at any point during the casting of a spell, a player is unable to comply with any of the steps listed below, the casting of the spell is illegal; the game returns to the moment before that spell started to be cast (see rule 717, "Handling Illegal Actions")

As pointed out in comments, 601.2c specifies that the casting becomes illegal specifically when you try to target an invalid target, whether it's because of protection as in this case, or hexproof/shroud. At this point, it's as if the spell was never cast, so the spell can never wind up targeting the creature with protection. It can only wind up with a legal target.

The ruling for Goblin Test Pilot confirms this (emphasis mine):

To choose a target at random, all possible legal targets (including creatures and players) must have an equal chance of being chosen. There are many ways to do this, including assigning each possible legal target a number and rolling a die.

  • I think your second paragraph doesn't really make sense. There isn't a well defined meaning in Magic for "all possible targets without regard for whether they are legal targets." Any object or player either is or isn't a valid target. It would probably be better to quote the part of rule 601.2c about "without violating any rules or effects that say that an object or player can't be chosen as a target." (protection is such a rule).
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:30
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    That was the point: even if we allow, for sake of argument, the invalid targets to be chosen by the dice or whatever, the game itself undoes that choice. I'll admit it could probably be phrased a bit better. Nov 20, 2014 at 19:34
  • That illegal actions quotation talks about undoing the entire casting of the spell, not going back to the previous step and redoing the target choices.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:35
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    @murgtroid99 If you were to only choose between legal targets, you would be violating the totally random choice required by the card. I think Michael's explanation that the legal choice is merely a consequence of rolling back the game state until a legal one happens to be randomly chosen is correct.
    – Rainbolt
    Nov 20, 2014 at 20:58
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    601.2c doesn't apply. If it applied, it would mean that you would be prevented from casting Goblin Test Pilot if you randomly picked an illegal target, but the ruling you quoted contradicts that.
    – ikegami
    Nov 21, 2014 at 14:45

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