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If I counter a planeswalkers activation, with say something like Sinister Sabotage or Unwind, does the planeswalker return to the players hand, or do they die?

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    Can you clarify what you mean by “planeswalker activation”? Normally I would expect that phrase to mean activating a planeswalker’s loyalty ability; but that wouldn’t make as much sense in the context of this question. Do you mean casting a planeswalker?
    – GendoIkari
    Dec 21, 2019 at 4:57

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A planeswalker is a spell while it is on the stack. Any spell you counter will go to the graveyard unless the counterspell says otherwise, such as with Remand. Thus, a planeswalker will be put into the graveyard. Not sure if this is a question confused on whether planeswalkers are treated differently than other spells or not? If you had some other reasoning why you think a planeswalker might be treated differently than another spell, feel free to add it to your question! It may help newer players to understand it better in the future.

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  • And although it goes to the graveyard, it doesn't "die". That term refers to creatures that go from the battlefield to a graveyard. Dec 21, 2019 at 21:38
  • Planeswalkers can "die" (see rule 700.4), but only when moving from the battlefield.
    – murgatroid99
    Dec 22, 2019 at 0:15
  • My apologies, i didn't even realize he said "die" in the question
    – CollinB
    Dec 23, 2019 at 21:20
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You cannot counter a planeswalker activation with Sinister Sabotage or Unwind - a planeswalker activation is not a spell. You can counter a planeswalker spell when it's on the stack (i.e. when it's being cast), but not the activation after it's resolved.

To counter a planeswalker activation you need something like Stifle, which counters activated abilities. If a planeswalker activation is countered this way, it still loses (or gains, depending on the ability) loyalty counters, but aside from that nothing happens - it stays in play.

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  • Countering a planeswalker activation doesn't change the loyalty counters (they are added/removed as a cost)
    – JonTheMon
    Dec 23, 2019 at 15:32

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