After reading Can uncounterable spells still be countered somehow?, I am confused by a conflict between two of Magic's rules. At risk of being labelled a duplicate, I want to cover this edge case in more detail than answers to the other questions would, because the other question is very broad. Here's the situation:

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

According to the top answer on the aforementioned question, Last Word can be countered by rule 608.2b if it has no legal targets. This could happen by using Redirect to change the target of Last Word to Redirect.

608.2b [...] The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal.

I think this is wrong. Last Word can't be countered. The card's text directly conflicts with rule 608.2b. Therefore, rule 101.1 applies.

101.1. Whenever a card's text directly contradicts these rules, the card takes precedence. [...]

By rule 101.1, Last Word has precedence. It seems like it would not be countered by game rules. Instead, I think it would resolve, and rule 101.3 would apply:

101.3. Any part of an instruction that's impossible to perform is ignored.

An illegal target can't be countered, and so that instruction would be ignored. That happens to be all that Last Word does, and so the spell would resolve with no effect. The conclusion I arrived at is not the conclusion arrived at in the answer to the other question. It would make a difference if, for example, the spell had other non-targeting effects that were still possible to perform.

Why does rule 608.2b counter Last Word, and why does rule 101.1 not apply?

  • 3
    I honestly don't see why this is not a duplicate of the question you linked to. You still seem to be asking whether there is anything that can counter Last Word, which is exactly what the other question is asking.
    – murgatroid99
    May 13, 2015 at 15:14
  • 1
    Asking whether a specific thing can counter it should be, and indeed is, answered by the question asking whether anything can counter it.
    – murgatroid99
    May 13, 2015 at 15:19
  • 2
    I phrased my last comment poorly. The other question asks what ways there are of countering it. A complete answer to that will include 608.2b if it can counter it, and will not include it otherwise. Either way, any complete answer to that question answers this one.
    – murgatroid99
    May 13, 2015 at 15:29
  • 5
    @Rainbolt There's another point I wanted to make: your question essentially boils down to "This answer on another question made a statement I disagree with. Is that statement actually correct?" On this site, the proper way to deal with such disagreements is to either post a comment, as you indicate that you intend to do, or post your own answer with your own interpretation.
    – murgatroid99
    May 13, 2015 at 15:40
  • 2
    To whomever downvoted, please consider that downvotes are for questions that show a lack of effort on the part of the author, whereas close votes are for things like duplicate questions. If this was a poorly asked question with no research effort shown, please comment so that I may improve my ability to ask good questions.
    – Rainbolt
    May 13, 2015 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


608.2b is neither a spell nor an ability, it is a rule of the game, therefore it can counter Last Word. This is why all spells that can't be countered and have targets include the 'by spells or abilities' text, as opposed to Thrun, the Last Troll or Supreme Verdict which do not have targets and thus do not need that additional clause. They just say '~ can't be countered'

If it said 'Last Word can't be countered by spells, abilities, or game rules' 101.1 could apply, but it doesn't say that so 101.1 never applies.

  • facepalm I feel dumb now for asking this question. Slightly off topic, is there is no spell that can't be countered, has targets, and does not have the additional clause(s)?
    – Rainbolt
    May 13, 2015 at 14:38
  • @Rainbolt gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/…
    – diego
    May 13, 2015 at 14:44
  • 3
    "is there is no spell that can't be countered, has targets, and does not have the additional clause(s)?" In fact, there was one such situation in the past. If you controlled a Root Sliver when you cast Nameless Inversion (or any other targeted instant/sorcery with Changeling), then strictly speaking it couldn't be countered even by 608.2b. The rules team quickly errata'd Root Sliver to add the "...By spells or abilities" clause, as soon as they noticed this interaction.
    – Kevin
    May 13, 2015 at 15:09
  • @Rainbolt I checked to see if you could make it work by using Cavern of Souls on a creature with bestow, but bestow makes the spell an aura instead of a creature so Cavern of Souls can't be used.
    – Zags
    May 13, 2015 at 17:58
  • @Zags Though I can't think of a time when giving a bestow creature 'can't be countered' without the clause would matter since if their target is illegal bestows still resolve as a creature
    – diego
    May 13, 2015 at 18:27

I think you are forgetting two other rules here:

114.4. A spell or ability that is on the stack is an illegal target for itself.

114.6a. If an effect allows a player to "change the target(s)" of a spell or ability, each target can be changed only to another legal target. If a target can't be changed to another legal target, the original target is unchanged, even if the original target is itself illegal by then. If all the targets aren't changed to other legal targets, none of them are changed.

Basically, Redirect cannot change the target of Last Word to itself because a) a spell can't target itself, and b) even if it could target itself, Last Word cannot be countered and therefore would be an illegal target for itself anyway.

If something else happened like,for example, Last Word was used to counter a spell, then another player uses Dissolve on the same spell (so they can scry 1), then Last Word would have no legal target, you can consider it as resolving, because it cannot be countered, but it would have no effect as the target spell was already countered by a spell placed higher up on the stack.

  • Redirect can change the target of Last Word to Redirect (which is the situation in the question). Redirect cannot change the target of Last Word to Last Word.
    – Rainbolt
    May 14, 2015 at 4:04

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