3

My opponent plays Vexing Devil which states:

When Vexing Devil enters the battlefield, any opponent may have it deal 4 damage to him or her. If a player does, sacrifice Vexing Devil.

When does this sacrifice happen? Is he able to play Collateral Damage on the Vexing Devil before the sacrifice resolves? My current interpretation is that the sacrifice resolves instantly on entering the battlefield so the creature is never there to use Collateral Damage on, but we wanted to verify that this was correct.

7

You do have a chance to cast Collateral Damage. Vexing Devil's ability is a triggered ability, so the ability goes on the stack when the creature enters the battlefield, and you can respond to it before it resolves. You can tell that it's a triggered ability by rule 603.1:

Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as "[Trigger condition], [effect]," and begin with the word "when," "whenever," or "at." They can also be expressed as "[When/Whenever/At] [trigger event], [effect]."

Here's how it plays out:

  1. You cast Vexing Devil.
  2. Vexing Devil resolves and enters the battlefield. Its ability triggers and goes on the stack.
  3. You cast Collateral Damage and sacrifice Vexing Devil.
  4. Collateral Damage resolves, and deals 3 damage to something.
  5. Vexing Devil's ability resolves. At this point, your opponent can choose whether or not to take the 4 damage. If they do choose to take the damage, you would sacrifice the Vexing Devil, but it is already dead.

Note that there is no time to respond during step 5. Once an opponent chooses to take damage, the damage is dealt and you make the sacrifice without doing anything in between.

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  • Selected as answer due to making clearer the key point of when I would choose to take the damage or not. – Robert Wertz May 18 '15 at 18:22
  • I'm curious about your step 5. The description states "any opponent may have it deal 4 damage to him or her". Since the source of the damage is now gone, can it still apply? – Chris Hayes May 19 '15 at 1:55
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    Yes, an object that used to be on the battlefield is a valid source of damage, and it uses the last known information of the object. I can't find hte specific rule, but it's mentioned in 119.7 ("any object referred to by an object on the stack, by a prevention or replacement effect that's waiting to apply, or by a delayed triggered ability that's waiting to trigger (even if that object is no longer in the zone it used to be in)") – murgatroid99 May 19 '15 at 2:10
  • Ah yes, I see it now, in 112.7a. "Once activated or triggered, an ability exists on the stack independently of its source. Destruction or removal of the source after that time won’t affect the ability. ... The source can still perform the action even though it no longer exists." – Chris Hayes May 19 '15 at 3:31
  • Yeah, there's that too. I thought there might be something more specific for damage sources, but maybe not. – murgatroid99 May 19 '15 at 3:34
5

It happens during the resolution of the ability. Here is what happens in detail.

  • You cast Vexing Devil.
  • Vexing Devil resolves. His ability triggers.
  • You and your opponent have the opportunity to cast instants and activate abilities. This is your absolute last chance to cast Collateral Damage before the trigger resolves.
  • The trigger resolves. Your opponent makes a choice. If your opponent chooses to take four damage, Vexing Devil is sacrificed. All of this happens during the resolution of the triggered ability

There is no point after your opponent makes the choice but before you sacrifice Vexing Devil where you could cast Collateral Damage. You can only cast spells when you have priority, and no player gets priority during the resolution of an ability.

The "If you do [...]" clause is not a separate triggered ability. If it was, it would start with "When", "Whenever", or "At".

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3

Vexing Devil's ability is a triggered ability that happens when it enters the battlefield, and goes on the stack like any other enters the battlefield trigger. No choices are made at all until the ability starts to resolve, at this point you can choose to take 4 damage and the Devil will get sacrificed or not take the damage and it sticks around.

If your opponent uses Collateral Damage before the Devil's ability resolves the Devil will be sacrificed and you will take 3 damage. If they choose to do this there is no reason for you to take 4 damage from the Devil's ability (removing the Devil from the battlefield before the ability resolves don't stop it from happening, it just makes it so the Devil doesn't get sacrificed if you take 4 damage).

There is no time during the resolution of the ability (like after you take 4 damage but before the Devil is sacrificed) where anyone has the ability to respond with any spells or abilities.

The best your opponent can do is wait to see if you take the 4 from the Devil, then if you don't cast Collateral Damage and sacrifice the Devil to that. So they can deal either 3 or 4 damage, never 7.

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  • Are you sure I have the option to avoid it? I would imagine it goes 1) I choose to take the damage. -> Sacrifice trigger goes on the stack. 2) Collateral Damage is cast and goes on the stack. 3) Stack resolves and I take 7 damage. I've already chosen to take the damage before Collateral Damage is cast. Can I "unchoose" it after CD is cast? Or does CD no longer resolve because the creature is already gone? – Robert Wertz May 18 '15 at 17:49
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    @RobertWertz As my answer now explains, you make the choice when the triggered ability resolves, which happens after the Collateral Damage is cast and resolves. – murgatroid99 May 18 '15 at 17:57
  • @RobertWertz like murgatroid said choosing to take damage happens when the ability resolves, I'll edit to make that clearer – diego May 18 '15 at 18:30

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