I cast a spell, and then my opponent casts Thassa's Intervention targeting my spell, choosing 0 for X.

Can I choose to have my spell countered? Or have I automatically paid {0}. It seems that read literally; the spell will not be countered because I actually have paid {0}; but can I choose either option?

  • How did you end up in such a situation?
    – Zags
    Jan 23, 2020 at 19:08
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    I just happened to come across Thassa's Intervention and noticed the possibility. Of course there are older cards that could have lead to the same question. So it's not based on a real situation. Though I'm sure I could construct some crazy edge case where a person would prefer their own spell to be countered (and also the opponent had a reason to play the counterspell for 0).
    – GendoIkari
    Jan 23, 2020 at 19:10
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    I've heard about a Commander combo with Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and I think Cephalid Shrine where you allow Cephalid Shrine to counter your own artifact spells (by choosing not to pay {0}) and then put the same card onto the battlefield with Mishra's ability, to take advantage of graveyard synergies or something.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 23, 2020 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can choose not to pay {0}.

Rule 118.5 says

Some costs are represented by {0}, or are reduced to {0}. The action necessary for a player to pay such a cost is the player’s acknowledgment that they are paying it. Even though such a cost requires no resources, it’s not automatically paid.

In a tournament, {0} costs are paid by default, but you can explicitly declare that you are not paying them. Specifically, one of the tournament shortcuts listed in section 4.2 of the tournament rules says:

A player is assumed to have paid any cost of 0 unless they announce otherwise.

  • There's a difference (in Magic, anyway) between paying no mana (an active agreement to a 'trigger') and refusing to pay mana (an active decline of the 'trigger'). The game can't assume one or the other, even in the case where both choices have you expend the same amount of mana (0). The same is true for killing wave for 0: you can still choose not to pay 0 life if you want to sacrifice a creature.
    – Aetherfox
    Jan 22, 2020 at 15:43
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    It should be noted, that you are assumed to be paying 0 unless you specifically say otherwise. This is a tournament shortcut to avoid the exploitation of more novice players (see blogs.magicjudges.org/rules/mtr4-2 ).
    – setbitzero
    Jan 22, 2020 at 18:29
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    @setbitzero Thanks for the link. I've added that information to the answer.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 22, 2020 at 18:43
  • What if a player sighs and puts his creature into the graveyard, and then watches in disbelief the opponent putting his Circular Logic into an empty graveyard? Jan 23, 2020 at 17:16
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    My interpretation is that they didn't "announce" anything, so they paid the cost by default and took an incorrect action by moving the creature card to the graveyard. If this happened because the opponent implied that the creature was countered unconditionally, the player should call a judge. The player should also call a judge if the opponent's play area was arranged in a way to make it look like they had cards in the graveyard when they did not.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 23, 2020 at 17:36

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