I have Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and my fried has Viper's kiss:

Enchanted creature gets -1/-1, and its activated abilities can't be activated.

When Ulamog attcks is that an activated ability or or is it a creature spell that can be countered?


It is neither. It is a triggered ability:

603.1. Triggered abilities have a trigger condition and an effect. They are written as “[When/Whenever/At] [trigger condition or event], [effect].”

Ulamog has two triggered abilities — one for when he's cast, and one for when he attacks — and indestructible, a keyword ability.

Viper's Kiss has no effect on any of these abilities. It will give Ulamog -1/-1 making it a 9/9, but Ulamog will still exile cards.

Spells are only ever cards (or copies of cards) that are on the stack. Abilities never count as spells.

Activated abilities also have a specific formatting you can recognise them by:

602.1. Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as “[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]”

An example of activated abilities is found on Elvish Mystic: note the presence of a cost (tap Elvish Mystic), colon :, and effect (add green mana). An activated ability has all three of these; an ability without these is not an activated ability.

  • It might be useful to explain what an activated ability actually is too – diego Dec 5 '16 at 13:46
  • @diego Thanks, good suggestion. I've expanded the answer to say what those are. – doppelgreener Dec 5 '16 at 13:59

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