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I just noticed rule 114.2 in the comprehensive rules:

114.2 Only permanents are legal targets for spells and abilities, unless a spell or ability (a) specifies that it can target an object in another zone or a player, (b) targets an object that can't exist on the battlefield, such as a spell or ability, or (c) targets a zone.

Is it not true that every spell or ability that targets also says in the text of the spell or ability what things it must target? Is there a situation in which something is not a legal target, but would be if rule 114.2 didn't exist? It seems to be like that rule could just as easily say "only creature cards in graveyards are legal targets for spells and abilities, unless a spell or ability specifies that it can target an object in another zone."

In other words, legal targets are always defined on the spell or ability itself, so what does this rule mean? How are permanents any more "targetable" than anything else?

  • I thin you mean this is redundant given 109.2. ("If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes a card type or subtype, but doesn’t include the word 'card,' 'spell,' 'source,' or 'scheme,' it means a permanent of that card type or subtype on the battlefield.") - if so, it wouldn't be the only redundant thing in the rules. – Cascabel Aug 5 '15 at 17:08
  • So you're saying the purpose of the rule is so that people don't think that "creature" could mean a creature card in a graveyard for example? I considered this, but didn't know if it was just that or if there were some way in which it actually can affect the rules/game. – GendoIkari Aug 5 '15 at 17:11
  • @Jefromi Actually I don't think that this even helps with that. If someone didn't know rule 109.2, then they could easily think that the "creature" part of "target creature" could include a creature card in a graveyard, which would then be covered as an exception to the rule under (a). – GendoIkari Aug 5 '15 at 17:14
  • In other words, it really seems like this rule is almost exactly like saying "all fish are red, except for the ones that aren't red." – GendoIkari Aug 5 '15 at 17:15
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    I suppose; I meant along the lines of "oh, it just says 'target creature', it doesn't say it can target things in graveyards so it can't". – Cascabel Aug 5 '15 at 17:17
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I think you're right that rule 114.2 has no effect, given the other rules and the cards which have been printed. (I did a cursory survey of what words/phrases follow "target" on existing cards and found nothing where this would apply. Could've missed something, but I'm reasonably confident.) But it's still useful, because it lets you understand what's targetable without having to read/remember all the other rules (notably 109.2)

This rule would matter if hypothetically a spell or ability says "target X", where X is some kind of object which could exist in multiple zones, not just the battlefield. The rule would then mean that "target X" (seemingly ambiguous, could be anywhere) actually means "target X which is a permanent". (Most directly, this would apply to a spell that said "target card" or "target object" - fortunately there are no such cards.)

But there are other rules which ensure that this situation never actually comes up. Notably, most cards explicitly target only permanents due to 109.2:

109.2 If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes a card type or subtype, but doesn’t include the word “card,” “spell,” “source,” or “scheme,” it means a permanent of that card type or subtype on the battlefield.

I think 114.2 is intended primarily as a reminder/redundant copy of 109.2, letting you know as you read the rules for targeting that most spells target only permanents, and those that target other things will say so fairly explicitly. If you've forgotten or don't know about 109.2, that can be a helpful reminder; you know that "exile target creature" means a creature on the battlefield from 114.2 as well, since it doesn't say it can target a creature anywhere else. And importantly, you don't have to have thought to read the rules about "Objects" in order to discover this.

The comprehensive rules do contain a fair number of redundant reminder-ish rules like this, presumably in order to improve clarity and help make sure you get the right idea even if you haven't quite read the entire rules.

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    ...but what about Ashnod's Coupon? Can drinks exist on the battlefield? – Cascabel Aug 5 '15 at 17:37
  • I wouldn't say that 114.2 is intended as a reminder of 109.2. It is more that the rule is relevant to both Objects and Targeting, so it is included (in a slightly different form) in both places. Similar to how the rule for losing when you can't draw a card is in 3 places, Drawing a Card, Losing the Game, and State Based Actions. – diego Aug 5 '15 at 17:44
  • @diego It's not a reminder of 109.2 as a whole, but it's a reminder of one of the primary consequences of it. (Or a copy, I'm definitely not trying to make a statement about which is the "real" rule or anything.) Edited to try to make that clearer. – Cascabel Aug 5 '15 at 17:49
  • "Target card" is an interesting hypothetical case. I guess the problem with it is that there's no legal actions would you be able to do with just any card. – GendoIkari Aug 5 '15 at 19:07
  • @GendoIkari sure there is. Put it face down on the battlefield. Put it in a graveyard. Exile it. Tear it in pieces. – corsiKa Aug 5 '15 at 20:12
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Consider a creature like Nectar Faerie. It says

{B}, {T}: Target Faerie or Elf gains lifelink until end of turn.

Now we know that spells can have lifelink, as per Soulfire Grand Master.

And we also know that there could be Faerie Tribal spells, such as Faerie Trickery.

This rule exists to clarify things like... "You could not use Nectar Faerie to give Faerie Trickery lifelink because it doesn't specifically say you can".

  • I don't think this works because what I said to Jefromi in the comments. If a person doesn't know about 109.2, which says that "Faerie" refers to a Faerie permanent on the battlefield, then that person could think that this fits under exception (a) in the rule; that the card says it can target an object in another zone (because "Faerie" could be an object in another zone). – GendoIkari Aug 5 '15 at 19:56
  • @GendoIkari This is the same as my answer, just in the form of a specific example. I think you're overthinking it - if someone thinks "creature" is just a generic term, then they're not going to interpret it as "specifying that it can target an object in another zone". – Cascabel Aug 5 '15 at 20:02
  • @Gendolkari What part of "Target Faerie or Elf gains lifelink until end of turn." specifies that it can target an object in another zone or a player? – Rainbolt Aug 5 '15 at 20:11
  • @Rainbolt I'm saying that it would fit under exception (a) if not for 109.2. – GendoIkari Aug 5 '15 at 20:12
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    @Rainbolt I believe you and I are reading (a) as meaning "explicitly specifies it can target an object in another zone" and GendoIkari is reading it as more like "specifies it can target an object which could potentially be in another zone". So we're seeing "target creature" as not falling under (a) since there's no specific mention, while he sees it as falling under (a) because the class of targetable objects includes things in other zones. – Cascabel Aug 5 '15 at 21:11
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There are a number of redundant rules I call them "reminder rules". 114.2 reminds you that 109.2 applies when targeting.

109.2. If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes a card type or subtype, but doesn’t include the word “card,” “spell,” “source,” or “scheme,” it means a permanent of that card type or subtype on the battlefield.

109.2a If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes the word “card” and the name of a zone, it means a card matching that description in the stated zone.

109.2b If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes the word “spell,” it means a spell matching that description on the stack.

109.2c If a spell or ability uses a description of an object that includes the word “source,” it means a source matching that description—either a source of an ability or a source of damage—in any zone. See rule 609.7.

I think the purpose or reminder rules are three-fold. By providing a single reference point,

  • it removes any doubt about how the rules interact in a given situation,
  • it documents emergent properties that aren't always obvious, and
  • it gives a single rule to reference for common errors.

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