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My opponent plays a Whirler Virtuoso. Can I Lightning Strike it before its ETB effect to stop my opponent from making a thopter?

marked as duplicate by Rainbolt, mmathis, Malco, Toon Krijthe, Drunk Cynic Oct 19 '17 at 20:25

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You can destroy Whirler Virtuoso and prevent them from making a thopter if they don't already have 3 energy to use.

I'm going to assume you already understand how the stack and priority work. If not, I suggest you read this explanation of those features which helped me understand them when I started.

Usually usage of Whirler Virtuoso would look like this:

  1. Whirler Virtuoso enters the battlefield.
  2. Its ETB ability goes on the stack.
  3. Its ETB ability resolves.
  4. Its ability is activated to produce a thopter.
  5. That ability resolves and they get a thopter.

The time you need to cast a Lightning Strike is between steps 2 and 3. That is the earliest time you can cast a Lightning Strike in response, and the last opportunity you have to stop them getting a thopter. Doing so plays out like this:

  1. Whirler Virtuoso enters the battlefield.
  2. WV's ETB ability goes on the stack.
  3. Your Lightning Strike goes on the stack.
  4. Your Lightning Strike resolves. (WV dies and gets removed.)
  5. WV's ETB ability resolves, still giving the opponent 3 energy.

If they already have 3 energy from something else (maybe a previous WV you destroyed this way), they can still activate that thopter-making ability just after either step 2 or step 3, before the Lightning Strike resolves. You can't stop that first thopter, but you can stop them making a second one.

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