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When I first read Reduce to Ashes:

Reduce to Ashes deals 5 damage to target creature. If that creature would die this turn, exile it instead.

I thought "ok, a way to deal with indestructible", but then I thought again and wondered. Because indestructible will stop you dying, and the exile only kicks in after you die.

So does it work?

marked as duplicate by doppelgreener, Toon Krijthe, Joe W, mmathis, Becuzz Oct 15 '18 at 13:39

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    If you want a red spell that does that, look for [mtg:Burn from Within]. – Circeus May 8 '16 at 0:57
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The creature will not die or be exiled.

The ability Indestructible is defined in rule 702.12b:

A permanent with indestructible can’t be destroyed. Such permanents aren’t destroyed by lethal damage, and they ignore the state-based action that checks for lethal damage (see rule 704.5g).

So, if you resolve Reduce to Ashes targeting an indestructible creature with 5 or less toughness, this is how it plays out:

First, Reduce to Ashes deals 5 damage to the creature. For the rest of the turn, if that creature would die, it is exiled instead.

Then, State-based actions are checked. In particular, rule 704.5g says

If a creature has toughness greater than 0, and the total damage marked on it is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event.

But the creature has indestructible, so it can't be destroyed and nothing happens.

Then, since the creature wouldn't die, the replacement effect never happens. Rule 614.7 says

If a replacement effect would replace an event, but that event never happens, the replacement effect simply doesn’t do anything.

However if the creature dies for some unrelated reason (if its controller sacrifices it, for example), then the replacement effect will kick in, and the creature will be exiled.

4

Reduce to Ashes can exile an indestructible creature, but it can't kill such a creature.

You are correct in that Reduce to Ashes can't kill an indestructible creature. However, it will still exile that creature if it dies in another way.

700.4. The term dies means “is put into a graveyard from the battlefield.”

This usually happens as the result of the destruction of a creature, but there are other ways too:

701.14a To sacrifice a permanent, its controller moves it from the battlefield directly to its owner’s graveyard. A player can’t sacrifice something that isn’t a permanent, or something that’s a permanent he or she doesn’t control. Sacrificing a permanent doesn’t destroy it, so regeneration or other effects that replace destruction can’t affect this action.

704.5f If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.

Indestructibility does not prevent a creature dying, only its destruction, which is one way to make a creature die.

702.12b A permanent with indestructible can’t be destroyed. Such permanents aren’t destroyed by lethal damage, and they ignore the state-based action that checks for lethal damage (see rule 704.5g).

So if you damage an indestructible creature with Reduce to Ashes, and later that turn it dies because of a sacrifice or its toughness goes to zero, it will be exiled.

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No, the indestructible creature doesn't die, so the replacement effect of Reduce to Ashes doesn't happen.

702.12. Indestructible

702.12a Indestructible is a static ability.

702.12b A permanent with indestructible can’t be destroyed. Such permanents aren’t destroyed by lethal damage, and they ignore the state-based action that checks for lethal damage (see rule 704.5g).

704.5g If a creature has toughness greater than 0, and the total damage marked on it is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event.

700.4. The term dies means “is put into a graveyard from the battlefield.”

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