If I play an instant that grants target creature "indestructible," can an opponent use an instant in response to destroy said creature? Would the stack resolve their ability first? If so, would I be allowed to change target for indestructible? If not, do I still pay the mana cost?

3 Answers 3


Would the stack resolve their ability first?

Yes. A spell cast in response to another resolves first (Last In, First Out).

116.4. If all players pass in succession (that is, if all players pass without taking any actions in between passing), the spell or ability on top of the stack resolves or, if the stack is empty, the phase or step ends.

would I be allowed to change target for indestructible?


When you are about to resolve a spell, the following happens:

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. [...] The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal. [...]

If your spell isn't countered by the above check, it continues on to resolve.

609.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.

do I still pay the mana cost?

You already did. The mana cost to cast a spell is payed when casting the spell. Acting in response to a spell means acting after the spell is cast, but before it resolves.

601.2. To cast a spell is to take it from where it is (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. [...]

You don't get a refund if your spell is useless. You don't even get a refund if it's countered.


The short answer to your question is yes, your opponent can destroy your creature, no you can't change targets and you have to pay the mana cost.

Longer answer. So to cast you spell, you have to pay it's mana cost. Once it is paid there are no refunds. You also declare targets at this point. At this point the stack looks like this:

Indestructible Spell (targeting creature A)

Then your opponent responds with his spell:

Kill Creature Spell (targeting creature A)
Indestructible Spell (targeting creature A)

After everyone passes priority we then resolve the top-most spell on the stack, which is to destroy creature A. So creature A dies. Now the stack looks like this:

Indestructible Spell (targeting creature A)

Assuming no one does anything and passes priority again, we then resolve the next item on the stack (grant indestructible to creature A). We always try to do as much as possible. Since A is gone, the spell does nothing. Now the stack is empty and the rest of the turn resumes as normal.


Their spell will resolve first and your creature will be destroyed, the spell granting it indestructible will "fizzle" (go to the graveyard without resolving due to lack of legal targets) you cannot redirect it to a new target, you will have already payed the cost of the spell and you will not get a refund on it.

I would recommend reading the Basic Rulebook, page 10 has information on the process of casting a spell, responding to a spell, and resolving a spell.

Basically what happens when you cast a spell the very first things you do, before the spell even goes on the stack, are choosing the target(s) of the spell and paying the cost of the spell. Once you have done that your opponent gets a chance to respond. If they do so their spell is put on top of the stack. Once nobody has anything to add to the stack spells will start to resolve (note that one of the players could cast a spell between the one destroying your creature and the one granting it indestructible if they wanted, but for simplicity we will assume that doesn't happen).

The first spell to resolve is the last one that was put on the stack, in this case the one destroying your creature. After that resolves the one you cast to give it indestructible will try to resolve, but since it no longer has a legal target it will go to the graveyard without resolving by the game rules, or "fizzle". When this happens, you do not get any sort of refund on the spell.

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