Cards like Lightning Bolt now say:

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

Can Lightning Bolt target something that is not currently a creature or planeswalker? For example, can I deal damage to an unanimated Mutavault so that it will die if it is animated later this turn?

2 Answers 2


In the context of of damage, "any target" is limited to creatures, players, and planeswalkers, and battles:

115.4. Some spells and abilities that refer to damage require “any target,” “another target,” “two targets,” or similar rather than “target [something].” These targets may be creatures, players, planeswalkers, or battles. Other game objects, such as noncreature artifacts or spells, can’t be chosen.

Even if you could somehow target something other than these, it would not receive damage:

120.1a Damage can’t be dealt to an object that’s not a battle, a creature, or a planeswalker.

Note however that non-creature permanents can still have damage marked on them, but the only way to do this for them to have been a creature when they took the damage:

120.6. Damage marked on a creature remains until the cleanup step, even if that permanent stops being a creature. If the total damage marked on a creature is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed as a state-based action (see rule 704). All damage marked on a permanent is removed when it regenerates (see rule 701.15, “Regenerate”) and during the cleanup step (see rule 514.2).

  • 2
    It should be noted that if a creature takes damage and afterwards stops being a creature, damage is not immediately removed. It will stay marked until the cleanup step. This might matter if the permanent again becomes a creature later in the turn.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 19:46
  • 1
    Battles are also valid targets now, FYI. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 8:51
  • @JoshuaLittle edited
    – Zags
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 19:04

"Any target" is shorthand for specifically the phrase "Target creature, player, or planeswalker". Those two statements are equivalent. Which is kind of weird, because, for example, "Destroy any target" (if they make that card in the future) doesn't quite work the way you'd expect. But there you have it.

  • Dealing damage to "any target" is templated differently than cards that say "destroy target permanent" or "destroy target non-land permanent" (Vindicate, Meteor Golem, etc.), so I don't think this confusion is likely.
    – BradC
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 20:07
  • Perhaps more to the point, "any target" is specifically defined in the context of dealing damage in rule 115.4. There is no chance for confusion because there won't be a card that uses "any target" without dealing damage.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 22:34

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