4

In trying to figure out where my head is at to day, here's the following.

Player casts Soul's Fire, such that Zada, Hedron Grinder will do damage equal to its power to Zada, Hedron Grinder.

Since a spell was cast that only targets Zada, Hedron Grinder, his triggered ability is placed on the stack on top of Soul's Fire.

In response to the triggered ability, Player sacrifices Goblin Flectomancer, changing the targets of Soul's Fire, such that Zada, Hedron Grinder will do Damage equal to its power to the opposing Player. Goblin Flectomancer resolves.

Triggered ability of Zada, Hedron Grinder tries to resolve. Will it check to see if the spell that was CAST only targeting Zada, Hedron Grinder still only targets Zada, Hedron Grinder?

If it doesn't, or is satisfied that while the spell currently targets Zada, Hedron Grinder and the opposing player it was CAST only targeting Zada, Hedron Grinder, it will then create a copy of Soul's Fire for each other creature Player controls.

Will the ability change only the first target, replacing Zada with another creature for each copy, or will it change both?

  • Consider this: what would you expect to happen if the Goblin Flectromancer changed both targets of the original spell? – murgatroid99 Apr 5 '16 at 22:07
  • @murgatroid99 That is the next complication. Since the instigating factor is "Whenever a Spell is cast," it depends on if the ability checks again before it resolves, and if it is capable of looking backwards to see what the properties were when the spell was cast. – Drunk Cynic Apr 5 '16 at 22:15
  • Spoiler: it doesn't check again. The only checks that happen upon resolution for triggered abilities are "intervening if" clauses and whether targets are still valid, and this ability has neither. – murgatroid99 Apr 5 '16 at 22:18
  • Maybe check the rulings at the bottom of this page: gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… The last sentence of the second ruling makes it seem that Goblin Flectomancer would not be able to change the targets for the copies. – Patrick vD Apr 5 '16 at 22:24
  • @murgatroid99 Had that assumption, but feeling rattled after the nonsense in the inspiring thread. – Drunk Cynic Apr 5 '16 at 22:24
5

Zada's ability will resolve, and each of the copies will only target the corresponding creature.

First, when a triggered ability resolves, two conditions are checked to see whether it will continue to resolve. Rules 608.2a and 608.2b:

  • If a triggered ability has an intervening “if” clause, it checks whether the clause’s condition is true. If it isn’t, the ability is removed from the stack and does nothing. Otherwise, it continues to resolve. See rule 603.4.

  • 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. If the spell or ability is not countered, it will resolve normally. [...]

Zada's ability has no intervening "if" clause, and no targets, so once it starts resolving, it will create the copies.

The part of Zada's ability that changes the copies' targets says "Each copy targets a different one of those creatures." It does not say to set only one target; it simply says that the spell targets the creature. The most reasonable interpretation is that it sets all of the spells target to that creature. This is backed up by a ruling on Zada:

If you cast an instant or sorcery spell that has multiple targets, but it’s targeting only Zada with all of them, Zada’s ability will trigger. The copies will similarly each be targeting only one of your other creatures. You can’t change any of the copy’s targets to other creatures.

This ruling is only conditional on what the spell targets when it is cast, not what it targets when the ability resolves. So, any time a spell with multiple targets is cast targeting Zada, the copies each target only one creature, no matter what happened to the spell in between.

  • Looks like we eventually came to the same conclusion. – Patrick vD Apr 5 '16 at 22:41
  • Yes it does. And I was actually planning to edit my answer to say some of what you said about how it doesn't mention changing targets from Zada to the other creatures. – murgatroid99 Apr 5 '16 at 22:54
  • I'm not sure the gatherer ruling really covers this scenario. Anyway, I asked the question to the Magic Judge tumblr and am waiting for a response. – Hao Ye Apr 6 '16 at 18:48
  • Can you explain why you think the ruling doesn't cover this scenario? The scenario clearly matches the precondition of the ruling ("If you cast an instant or sorcery that has multiple targets, but it's targeting only Zada with all of them"), so the outcome that the ruling should apply. – murgatroid99 Apr 6 '16 at 19:28
  • I'm not saying that the outcome doesn't apply, but the wording is ambiguous (because it's not clear what clause is being modified by "only"). If the target on a Soul's Fire was changed so that it targeted Zada and Player X, one possibility is that the copy's targets are set to Creature Y and Player X. – Hao Ye Apr 6 '16 at 21:48
1

The original spell would be redirected to hit the player, but the other copies would not change targets.

Zada, Hedron Grinder has had a ruling that specifies the targets of copies of spells made by Zada when the spell can have more than one target:

8/25/2015 If you cast an instant or sorcery spell that has multiple targets, but it’s targeting only Zada with all of them, Zada’s ability will trigger. The copies will similarly each be targeting only one of your other creatures. You can’t change any of the copy’s targets to other creatures.

This doesn't say that the copies will have the same targets as Zada, with the exception of replacing Zada with another creature. It says that the copies will each be targeting only one of your other creatures. The last line also seems to imply that even if you had another Goblin Flectomancer, it wouldn't be able to change the targets for the copies.

Because of the ruling, the copies of the spell will not have the same targets as Zada, but will be targeting only the creature it was copied for.

  • "The moment the spell is put onto the stack, its targets are selected and it is copied" isn't really accurate. Zada's ability is a triggered ability that can be responded to, so there is an opportunity for players to act in between the spell being cast and the copies being created. – murgatroid99 Apr 5 '16 at 22:03
  • Thanks. I will clarify that once Zada's ability has copied the spell, the copies are then disconnected from the original spell, but that Zada's ability can be responded to. – Patrick vD Apr 5 '16 at 22:08
  • Remember that the question specifically talks about responding to the Zada's ability, and makes no mention of doing anything to the original spell after Zada's ability has resolved. – murgatroid99 Apr 5 '16 at 22:10
  • I will change my answer. Thanks for catching that. – Patrick vD Apr 5 '16 at 22:11
  • 1
    @DrunkCynic You're right, it doesn't stop an external effect from changing the target. So if you target one of the copies with a Goblin Flectomancer ability, then you can change its targets. But the important thing here is that the copy effect doesn't care at all about the spell's current targets at the time of the effect's resolution. – murgatroid99 Apr 6 '16 at 3:02

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.