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I have recently started playing MTG after a few years of inactivity. Decided to jump into Standard as I always loved the format because it was in my perspective a lot fairer for the newcomer.

I used to play Esper control and today I faced a Temur Emerge deck. Now I was completely lost with the emerge mechanic. My opponent casted an Elder Deep-Fiend and when I prepared myself to counter it he said that I couldn't counter. He tried to explain to me everything but I was left with the same thought: "WTF". From everything I find I know that I cannot do anything about the casting cost, but why can't I counter the creature itself?

Like I said, it's a new mechanic to me and for some reason the explanation I got didn't truly make sense to me.

Can you guys shine some light into this matter?

  • Was your opponent claiming that you wouldn't have the mana to cast your counter spell, because of the triggered ability? i.e. he was going to tap your mana sources before you could tap them to pay for the counter? – Drunk Cynic Oct 28 '16 at 20:42
  • You can always tap your lands in response to the triggers and play cards at instant speed. – Neil Meyer Oct 29 '16 at 9:18
  • He claimed that everything happened before and that I wouldn't be able to do anything against it. To which after reading the card I thought I could still prevent the creature from landing with a counter (I did have enough on top of the lands that he tapped). He said that I couldn't. – A Salcedo Nov 1 '16 at 18:48
  • @NeilMeyer , so you are telling me that I could have use my lands for instants before the casting ability? i.e. to pay for the counter prior? – A Salcedo Nov 1 '16 at 18:49
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Your opponent was incorrect, you can counter creatures with Emerge. All Emerge does is gave the spell an alternative way of casting the spell, but you are still casting it.

Your opponent may have gotten confused because even if you counter their emerged spell the cast trigger will still occur, and their creature is still sacrificed. In order to stop that you need a card like Summary Dismissal that specifically counters abilities.

702.118. Emerge

702.118a Emerge represents two static abilities that function while the spell with emerge is on the stack. “Emerge [cost]” means “You may cast this spell by paying [cost] and sacrificing a creature rather than paying its mana cost” and “If you chose to pay this spell’s emerge cost, its total cost is reduced by an amount of generic mana equal to the sacrificed creature’s converted mana cost.” Paying a card’s emerge cost follows the rules for paying alternative costs in rules 601.2b and 601.2f–h.

702.118b You choose which creature to sacrifice as you choose to pay a spell’s emerge cost (see rule 601.2b), and you sacrifice that creature as you pay the total cost (see rule 601.2h).

  • So he will still sacrifice and tap the permanents, but I can counter the fiend itself? – A Salcedo Oct 28 '16 at 19:42
  • @ASalcedo That is correct – diego Oct 28 '16 at 19:42
  • Oh that little s... It's good to know before I go there tonight and hopefully play him. – A Salcedo Oct 28 '16 at 19:43
  • Both answers are well received guys. Thank you. Marking this one for the rules and the dismissal recommendation. – A Salcedo Oct 28 '16 at 19:45
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You can counter the Fiend, but you can't use a normal counter spell to counter the tap effect.

EDF reads:

When you cast Elder Deep-Fiend, tap up to four target permanents.

That is a triggered ability, it is not a spell. So, after casting EDF (either normally or using Emerge) the stack is (1 top):

  1. Tap up to 4 target permanents (ability)
  2. Elder Deep-Fiend (spell)

Now, it is true that once he declares he is going to cast EDF using Emerge that you can't do anything until it is on the stack; so you can't kill the Emerge sacrifice.

  • Really appreciate the answer. I'm sure I can find something out there against the ability also. – A Salcedo Oct 28 '16 at 19:45
  • 1
    Summary Dismissal is good for on-cast triggers in standard right now – Michael Snook Oct 29 '16 at 1:05

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