13

I cast Fling, sacrificing my only creature to kill my opponent. My opponent responds with Last Word, which will win the game the other way. Last Word says "This spell can't be countered." What else can I do about it besides countering it to prevent my plans from being foiled? (I'd really like to have the last word here.)


Historic Note: before of the April 2018 rules change, uncounterable spells with targets used to actually have different wording (still visible on the printed cards) implying that they still could be countered. For example, Last Word said:

Last Word can't be countered by spells or abilities.

Meanwhile Akroma, Angel of Fury said:

Akroma, Angel of Fury can't be countered.

  • Please don't put spaces just inside your [mtg:] formatting - instead of [mtg: Fling], write [mtg:Fling]. It can break the link, at least for those of us using SOUP to fix our auto link feature. – doppelgreener May 13 '15 at 2:39
  • 1
    Even if it helps, we should optimize for the common visitor, not the power user who knows about stuff like that. – murgatroid99 May 13 '15 at 4:58
  • 1
    Am very confused why the title was changed. – Waterseas May 13 '15 at 15:36
  • 1
    @Waterseas I believe the edit was based on Rainbolt's understanding of the answer (and the relevant rules) as explained in boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/24143/409; if the ideas in that question had been correct the edit would've made sense. – Cascabel May 13 '15 at 20:48
  • 1
    An interesting example is Gilded Drake which contains Oracle text "This ability can't be countered except by spells and abilities." since the ability targets but needs to sacrifice if it fails. – Guvante May 13 '15 at 21:07
17

There is now no way to "counter" an uncounterable spell, but you can achieve the same effect by preventing it from resolving. The easiest way to do this is to cause all of its targets to be invalid:

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. 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.

There are 2 ways to do this:

  1. Change the target of the uncounterable spell. You can prevent Last Word from resolving by changing it's target, such as via Redirect. By using Redirect to change Last Word to target Redirect, Last Word will not resolve, as described in this ruling:

If you cast Redirect targeting a spell that targets a spell on the stack (like Cancel does, for example), you can’t change that spell’s target to itself. You can, however, change that spell’s target to Redirect. If you do, that spell won’t resolve when it tries to resolve because Redirect will have left the stack by then.

  1. Make the targeted object a new object. If the targeted object is a spell, you can use Ertai's Meddling will bring your spell back later when their spell is no longer on the stack. If the targeted object is a permanent (such as a creature targeted by Inescapable Blaze), exiling it and returning it to the battlefield (such as with Momentary Blink) will cause it to become a new permanent and no longer targeted by the spell.

As far as uncounterable spells in general (like Thrun, the Last Troll), there are a few other ways you can deal with them while they are on the stack (none of which are technically countering):

Finally, in the case described in the question about Last Word and Fling, you could Twincast the Fling, and have a copy that is not countered. The copy of Fling uses the additional costs paid for the original spell.


Historic Note: before the April 2018 rules change, uncounterable spells like Last Word had wording like "Last Word can't be countered by spells or abilities." Rule 608.2b used to have the spell be countered by game rules if all its targets were invalid on resolution. The only functional difference is for cards that care about what has been countered, notably Multani's Presence

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.

  • Why aren't you able to change Last Word's target to itself? – GendoIkari May 13 '15 at 0:24
  • 3
    @GendoIkari A spell is not a legal target for itself. – murgatroid99 May 13 '15 at 0:24
  • 1
    @murgatroid99 Thanks; found it in rule 114.4. – GendoIkari May 13 '15 at 0:26
  • 2
    Killing an opponent removes all of his/her spells from the stack. That is relevant to multiplayer games. – Hackworth May 13 '15 at 9:51
  • 4
    @Hackworth Door to Nothingness is my favorite counterspell. – Zags May 13 '15 at 17:53
2

Since the Dominaria Comprehensive Rules changes it does no longer say "by spells or abilities" because rule 608.2b has been changed. To quote:

608.2b One of the Dominaria changes was saying that spells can't be countered, dropping "by spells and abilities." This means that spells that fizzle* shouldn't actually be countered anymore—they just go to their owner's graveyard and don't resolve, but they don't use the keyword action of "counter" to do so. This is a nonfunctional change with the exception of one weirdo: Multani's Presence.

*Yes, fizzle. I'm a linguistic descriptivist, and people want a shorter way to express this, so I whole-heartedly endorse saying "fizzle" in non-technical contexts (for example, not in the Release Notes, where I use many more words to express this). We very briefly considered resurrecting it as an official term and rejected it.

2

Apart from the answers already given, the card Commit // Memory from Amonkhet allows you to put the spell second from top of their library.

  • Yeah, this is a way to get around "Can not be countered" as it does not counter the spell, it just relocates it. – Shadow Z. Jan 23 at 16:51
0

With regards to your question

Also, why does Last Word have this extra clause where Akroma, Angel of Fury does not?

You have to remember that

  1. Card design standards change over time.

  2. The oracle text on the gatherer is the official text on the card.

If you look at the oracle text, both cards now say

This spell can't be countered.

  • The original reason for this difference was a spell with targets would be countered by the game itself when all targets were made illegal, and they had to still word it to allow this automatic countering. – Andrew Jan 23 at 16:35
  • As for why they are now the same, this is no longer the case, spells with all targets made illegal are not longer countered by game state, they are put into the graveyard without resolving, which is different from countering, so they don't need the ability to be countered by game state anymore. – Andrew Jan 23 at 21:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.