While trying to build my dinosaur deck i was wondering if instants like Shock, Dual Shot, Lightning Strike may target one of your own creatures? (in this particular case some of my dino's).

According to another question here: https://boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/28550 you may not do this. However on the official magic site it states you may do it. https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/how-build/how-build-dinosaurs-2017-09-29 Section Build To Fight

Rile replaces itself, gives a creature trample, and is cheap to cast, while Dual Shot and Slash of Talons present versatile options that can be used against enemy creatures as well as your own.

  • 3
    "Attacking" doesn't meant taking an offensive action; it has a much more limited meaning.
    – ikegami
    Feb 4 '18 at 8:30

"Attacking" and "casting an instant" are completely different things.

In Magic lingo, "attack" has the very specific meaning of initiating combat. After your first main phase, you may declare creatures to attack your opponent and/or his planeswalkers, and your opponent may then block with his creatures. You are not allowed to attack yourself or your allies, and you may not attack specific creatures.

"Casting a spell" such as Shock means you select a valid target for it if necessary and pay for its cost. For example, Shock requires any one target creature (or player) as its target. Your creatures do qualify because they simply are creatures. There are spells that may target only creatures controlled by an opponent, but in that case, it would explicitely say so on the card itself.


There are two things in this question -

  1. Does casting a spell on my creatures count as attacking them?
  2. Can I target my own creatures with this spell?

So for the answers:

  1. No casting a spell on your creatures is not attacking. Attacking is something done specifically in the combat phase of a turn, where you declare creatures as attacking an opponent or an opponent's planeswalker. Creatures are never declared as attacking another creature, and can only attack opponents, unless otherwise specified (mostly silver bordered). The ability provoke forces the opponent to block with a specific creature, but you are still attacking the opponent, not the creature.

  2. This one is going to take a bit more to answer. Lets look at specific card examples -

  • Mutiny - Mutiny says "target creature an opponent controls", this card can't be used on your own creatures as the card creates a targeting restriction
  • Rile - Rile says "target creature you control" this one can only be used on your creatures, as it's text creates a targeting restriction.
  • Lightning Bolt - Lightning Bolt says "any target" meaning that while it will usually be used on an opponent's creature, one of their planeswalkers or an opponent directly, you usually don't want to do more than one point of damage per enrage trigger, there is no restriction on targeting, it can be cast at your own creatures if you choose.

The casting of a spell only cares about the targeting restrictions on the card, whether it's a damaging spell like Lightning Bolt or something beneficial like Giant Growth, you can target anything with it unless the creature or the spell itself has restrictions.

As a side note, dinosaurs were not the first cards where a player wanted to throw damage spells at their own creatures. Stuffy Doll, Swans of Bryn Argoll and Spitemare are all examples of cards that benefit their controller when they take damage, either by doing that damage back to another target, letting you use a creature only damage spell to hurt your opponent, or in the case of Swans, preventing the damage and giving you card draw, turning Lightning Bolt into a red Ancestral Recall.

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