Let's assume that Alice and Bob are playing.
Alice casts Serra Avatar. Bob casts an Essence Backlash targeting the Avatar.
Alice, realizing that that would kill her, casts an Autumn's Veil.
Bob casts an overloaded Counterflux.
Can the Essence Backlash still target the Serra Avatar even if it is already countered?

  • 4
    Autumn's Veil won't stop Essence Backlash damage, even if it doesn't counter the creature. Bob could just not cast Counterflux and win.
    – Pablo
    May 7, 2015 at 16:33
  • @Pablo You're right, Essence Backlash has a specific clarification: "Essence Backlash can target a creature spell that can't be countered. If Essence Backlash resolves, it won't counter the spell but it will still deal damage." While Serra Avatar can't be countered, it can still be targeted by abilities that counter spells. Here is a relevant rules tip article.
    – Samthere
    May 11, 2015 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


It will still be targeting the Avatar but since it is no longer a legal target, due to being in the graveyard and not on the stack, the Backlash will "fizzle" (be countered due to lacking a legal target). This means that it will not deal damage to the Avatar's controller.

701.5a To counter a spell or ability means to cancel it, removing it from the stack. It doesn’t resolve and none of its effects occur. A countered spell is put into its owner’s graveyard.

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.

Note that if the Counterflux hadn't been overloaded and just targeted the Veil the Avatar would still be on the stack to get countered and Alice would then lose.


Alice will not die because an overloaded Counterflux also counters Serra Avatar, and therefore Essence Backlash does not deal damage.

In the order that you described, Counterflux is the last spell to enter the stack, and therefore the first to resolve. It counters Autumn's Veil and Serra Avatar, removing both from the stack. Essence Backlash no longer has a valid target and when it comes to resolving it, it is instead removed from the stack and does not resolve, therefore dealing no damage.

If Bob had not overloaded the Counterflux and countered only Autumn's Veil, Alice would have died from Essence Backlash. If Bob had not played Counterflux at all, Alice would still have died because even though Autumn's Veil prevents the Serra Angel from being countered by Essence Backlash, it does not prevent the damage of Essence Backlash, because the damage is not conditional upon actually countering the creature spell.

Countered spells are removed from the stack:

601.2a The player announces that he or she is casting the spell. That card (or that copy of a card) moves from where it is to the stack. It becomes the topmost object on the stack. It has all the characteristics of the card (or the copy of a card) associated with it, and that player becomes its controller. The spell remains on the stack until it’s countered, it resolves, or an effect moves it elsewhere.

A spell for which all targets are illegal at the time of resolution does not resolve and is removed from the stack without causing any effect:

608.2b If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal.[..] If all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal, the spell or ability doesn’t resolve. It’s removed from the stack and, if it’s a spell, put into its owner’s graveyard. [..]

  • So a countered spell is removed from the stack?
    – xornob
    May 7, 2015 at 15:40
  • 4
    "Counter target spell" means "Move that spell from the stack to the graveyard. It doesn't resolve" (basically)
    – murgatroid99
    May 7, 2015 at 16:00

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