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Please clarify this situation.

My opponent has a 3/3 creature and in his turn plays an enchantment that adds +1/+1 to his creature.

I react to this with an instant, Smite The Monstrous, which states: "Destroy target creature with a power of 4 or greater."

He argues that his creature's core power is really 3, the +1 enchantment is not a permanent change - if the enchantment is exiled/countered, the creature would revert to the 3/3.

I disagree (of course), since at the time the instant was played, the creature in fact had 4 power.

Please break our disagreement and cite rules if you can. Thanks!

closed as unclear what you're asking by David Z, Ken Herbert, Joe W, Benjamin Cosman, Thunderforge Sep 26 '16 at 0:20

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    Please clarify when you cast it. With the enchantment on the stack or after it resolved – Ivar de Bruin Sep 19 '16 at 6:23
  • Yep, if the enchantment is still on the stack then you can't Smite it, because at that time it is still a 3/3. But if the enchantement resolved making it a 4/4 then you can use smite to destroy it. – Lyrion Sep 19 '16 at 9:08
  • I am voting to close as unclear so we can get some clarification on Ivar's question. If you do not know the answer to that question or don't understand it, please let us know as well, since it may mean we can provide you with an understanding of something critical that is the deciding factor in this situation, which you'd benefit from. (No harm in not understanding the question, since it's a thing we're well used to helping people understand.) – doppelgreener Sep 19 '16 at 11:14
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if the enchantment is exiled/countered, the creature would revert to the 3/3.

This sentence is ambiguous. If the Enchantment spell was countered, the creature was never 4/4 in the first place. If the Enchantment was destroyed while enchanting the creature, then the creature would revert to 3/3. Let's go through both situations:

  • When your opponent plays the enchantment card it goes to the stack.
    At this time it's a spell, not an enchantment.

  • You then have a chance to respond to it.
    In this case, you need a counterspell to counter the enchantment spell. (Something that says "target spell")
    (You can't cast Smite the Monstrous because the creature is still 3/3 at this time.)
    If you do, the spell is then countered.

The creature was never 4/4 because the enchantment spell was countered. It never became an Enchantment and never did its thing.

  • Alternatively, you can let the spell resolve. It then becomes an Enchantment and will make the creature 4/4.

  • At a later time, when you have priority to play spells, you can cast Smite the Monstrous. Since the creature is 4/4, it is destroyed.

It doesn't matter if a bonus to power/toughness is temporary; it's 4/4 at this time. The whole point of playing the Enchantment was to give the creature +1/+1. You can't just pick and choose when it benefits you. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.
(If I had a dime for every time a player tried to do that...)

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    I think OP here means counter as saying he used his "smite the monstrous" and not actually a counterspell. – Lyrion Sep 19 '16 at 9:09
  • @Lyrion Then he used the wrong term and I think that should be explained anyway. – Dennis_E Sep 19 '16 at 9:30
  • if the enchantment is exiled/countered, the creature would revert to the 3/3. - That was a VALID part of my question. If the Enchantment was resolved, and later on countered, the creature WOULD in fact revert to a 3/3. This underscores the change is not permanent. At the time it was resolved, I had nothing to counter it, only the Smite to exile the creature. – Octomjbber Sep 21 '16 at 1:59
  • It's because "counter" has a specific meaning in MtG. Countering a spell means it never happens and the creature was never 4/4, so it doesn't "revert to 3/3". You don't counter an enchantment, you counter a spell. "Exile" also has a specific meaning. You don't need to exile the enchantment, just destroying it is enough. I know what you mean, but people can get confused when you use the wrong words for stuff. – Dennis_E Sep 21 '16 at 6:39
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When you play Smite the Monstrous, your opponent's creature is a valid target because his power is 4 or greater. Whether that power comes from the creature itself, an instant (Giant Growth), enchantment (Unholy Strength) or an activated ability (Timberwatch Elf) is besides the point.

What DOES matter is whether the effect is already applied to the creature in question. If your opponent has a 3/3 and casts Giant Growth, you have to wait until this spell resolves and is off the stack before that creature becomes a valid target for Smite the Monstrous.

  • As we are both Noobs, we don't really use the stack phase, we just resolve everything at once. However, given the multiple explanations, I can see the relevance of doing such, even with just 2 players. – Octomjbber Sep 21 '16 at 1:58
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    @Octomjbber The stack is a pretty vital part of Magic. For a basic understanding of what the stack is and how it works, see also this answer I gave to a similar question: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/32468/… – steenbergh Sep 21 '16 at 7:49

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