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I'm watching this video from the Judge's Corner on YouTube: Targeting - Judge's Corner #10. One example shows these cards being played:

video snapshot

Middle first, left second, right third. The video says that once they resolve the left card wont have a valid target so it can't even be played. Does this mean that the card just stays in the persons hand as if it didn't happen?

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  • I can't get that video to load, is what is happening the Shambleshark is in play, it gets targeted by Assassin's Strike, and then in response it gets targeted by Ranger's Guile?
    – diego
    Dec 23, 2014 at 17:50
  • @diego, yes, that looks to be the case.
    – Colin D
    Dec 23, 2014 at 17:52
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    If the video says "so it can't even be played", it's wrong. It has been played (cast), and it was perfectly valid to do so. You wouldn't be able to cast AS targeting SS after RG resolved, but that's not relevant to the scenario.
    – ikegami
    Dec 23, 2014 at 18:19
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    The video's description is accurate and matches the answers below, so I'm not sure what the confusion is.
    – Hao Ye
    Dec 23, 2014 at 21:03
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    @HaoYe The confusion may have come from "The video says that once they resolve the left card wont have a valid target so it can't even be played." The part in bold is not actually in the video (and if it was, it would be wrong, as ikegami already explained).
    – Rainbolt
    Dec 23, 2014 at 22:02

2 Answers 2

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No that is not what that means. What happens is

  1. Your Shambleshark is on the battlefield
  2. You opponent casts Assassin's Strike targeting Shambleshark. At this time this is perfectly legal, so Assassin's Strike goes on the stack.
  3. You respond with Ranger's Guile targeting Shambleshark as well.
  4. Your Ranger's Guile resolves granting Shambleshark +1/+1 and Hexproof
  5. Your opponent's Assassin's Strike tries to resolve, but when it does it checks to see if it still has a legal target. When it does this it sees that Shambleshark now has Hexproof and is no longer a legal target. Assassin's Strike then gets countered due to a lack of legal targets, this works just like any other countering; the card has no effect (so you won't discard a card either) and goes to the graveyard.

This is all because of this rule (relevant parts only):

608.2b If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal. ... The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word "target," are now illegal.

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The spell is countered and put into the graveyard, it is not returned to the players hand.

This is covered in section 608 of the comprehensive rules.

Specifically:

608.2b

If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal. A target that's no longer in the zone it was in when it was targeted is illegal. Other changes to the game state may cause a target to no longer be legal; for example, its characteristics may have changed or an effect may have changed the text of the spell. If the source of an ability has left the zone it was in, its last known information is used during this process. The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word "target," are now illegal. If the spell or ability is not countered, it will resolve normally. However, if any of its targets are illegal, the part of the spell or ability's effect for which it is an illegal target can't perform any actions on that target or make that target perform any actions. The effect may still determine information about illegal targets, though, and other parts of the effect for which those targets are not illegal may still affect them.

Example: Sorin's Thirst is a black instant that reads, "Sorin's Thirst deals 2 damage to target creature and you gain 2 life." If the creature isn't a legal target during the resolution of Sorin's Thirst (say, if the creature has gained protection from black or left the battlefield), then Sorin's Thirst is countered. Its controller doesn't gain any life.

In your case, Assassin's Strike no longer has a legal target because Shambleshark now has hexproof.

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