Tethmos High Priest has the heroic ability:

Whenever you cast a spell that targets Tethmos, return target creature card with converted mana cost 2 or less from graveyard to battlefield.

Suppose Divine Favor is cast, targeting Tethmos. It is countered by Negate.

The last sentence of 601.2c is:

Any abilities that trigger when those players, objects, and/or zones become the target of a spell trigger at this point; they'll wait to be put on the stack until the spell has finished being cast.

My interpretation of 601.2c is that Divine favor starts one stack, and when that stack gets resolved, another stack is processed that starts with the Tethmos heroic ability being triggered.

So in this specific case where only one instant is cast (negate), Divine Favor gets negated and has no effect. However, the heroic ability does get triggered.

Is this interpretation correct?

Is it the case in general that heroic abilities do trigger even when the enchantment is countered?

2 Answers 2


You are correct that the Heroic ability does trigger and successfully resolve, but your understanding about how and why it does is a little off.

Fist of all, there is only one Stack. The Stack is a game zone just like the Battlefield or Exile, it is always there even if there are no abilities or spells in it.

So what happens when you cast Divine Favor is you finish casting it targeting Tethmos High Priest and put it on the Stack. Then before either you or your opponent have a chance to do anything the priest's Heroic ability triggers and goes on the Stack. When you put the Heroic ability on the Stack you chose the target you want to return to the Battlefield. Once the ability is on the Stack and you pass priority your opponent has the opportunity to cast Negate, so the Stack now looks like this:


  1. Negate (targeting Divine Favor)
  2. Heroic ability (targeting something in the Graveyard)
  3. Divine Favor (targeting the High Priest)


When the Negate resolves it will counter the Divine Favor, but as you can see the Heroic ability is already on the Stack, so it doesn't care that the reason it triggered isn't there anymore, it will still happily resolve.

This is a generic case for all Heroic abilities, they only care that they were targeted by a spell, what happens to the spell after that doesn't matter.

  • 3
    Thanks for addressing the "only one stack" part. I think possibly the source of the OP's confusion was seeing the rules mention "until the spell has finished being cast" and interpreting "cast" as including resolving. But "cast" just means (essentially) paid for and put on the stack - nothing to do with resolving.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 18:09
  • @Jefromi Yes - this is a great answer as it addresses the source of confusion behind the question, clarifying that a cast spell does not resolve instantly (in addition to confirming that heroic abilities trigger before a cast enchantment is resolved). With this understanding, I think we will be looking up rules less frequently.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 19:42
  • @JoeGolton The basic rulebook also has a decent explanation of how casting and resolving spells works, on page 10 in the current version - media.wizards.com/images/magic/resources/rules/…
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 19:45
  • It's worth noting that technically, every element in a stack is the root of another stack entirely contained within its parent stack. So every stack is parent to n-1 substacks where n is the size of the original stack.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 21:27
  • @corsiKa What? There is only ever one Stack, and there is no such thing as a sub-Stack.
    – diego
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 21:30

Tethmos's ability only care that Tethmos was targeted by a spell; it doesn't care what happens to the spell afterwards.

By the time your opponent cast Negate, not only did Tethmos's ability trigger, it was already placed on the stack. Neither of those things can be undone.

Here's what happens:

  1. You cast[1] Divine Favor targeting Tethmos High Priest. Tethmos's ability triggers[CR 601.2h],[CR 603.2].
  2. The next time a player would get priority[2], Tethmos's ability is placed on the stack[CR 603.3] targeting an appropriate card in your graveyard.
  3. Your opponent casts Negate targeting Divine Favor.
  4. Negate resolves:
    1. Divine Favor is countered.
  5. Tethmos's ability resolves:
    1. Return target creature card with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
  6. [This is where Divine Favour would resolve if it hadn't been countered.]


  1. In this case, that means you place it on the stack, choose its target, activate mana abilities, and pay its cost[CR 601.2].
  2. If you had priority when you cast Divine Favor, you regain priority immediately after casting Divine Favor[CR 601.2h].

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