I've got a question regarding characteristics on the stack. I found the information that "each spell has all the characteristics associated with it". Does it mean that when card is on the stack as a spell, it has its mana cost, name, abilities and so on? I know that for example static abilities don't work on the stack. If I get it right, cards have their abilities on the stack, but these abilities don't work. Or maybe that is wrong?

  • I'm not sure what you're asking here. Yes spells have the color, mana cost, name, types/subtypes of the card associated with it, and the abilities exist on the card, but you can't activate abilities of a card on the stack, and static abilities only apply on the battlefield, unless they only make sense in another zone.
    – DenisS
    May 11, 2020 at 14:26
  • 1
    Not an answer to your question but some what relevant boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/38737/19387 Torrent of Lava and Lightning Storm are extreme examples of abilities that function on the stack.
    – Max Young
    May 12, 2020 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


Spells have all their characteristics on the stack, including abilities, which allows other cards to interact with them conditionally. That doesn't mean that their abilities are functional on the stack. They usually are not, though they can be.

Spells are objects:

109.1. An object is an ability on the stack, a card, a copy of a card, a token, a spell, a permanent, or an emblem.

Abilities are part of an object's characteristics:

109.3. An object’s characteristics are name, mana cost, color, color indicator, card type, subtype, supertype, rules text, abilities, power, toughness, loyalty, hand modifier, and life modifier. [..]

There are many cards interacting with spells that have certain characteristics, for example:

There are four kinds of abilities: spell abilities, activated abilities, triggered abilities, and static abilities (113.3)

In the vast majority of cases, spell abilities are abilities that take effect when the spell they're on resolves, such as Lightning Bolt, and the others only work on the battlefield.

113.6. Abilities of an instant or sorcery spell usually function only while that object is on the stack. Abilities of all other objects usually function only while that object is on the battlefield. The exceptions are as follows:

  • Are spell abilities like lightning storm gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… or is their another classification for activated and static spell abilities? If this question is to much for a comment I will delete this and make a full question. Just thought it might be worth clarifying.
    – Max Young
    May 11, 2020 at 20:14
  • Ligthning storm has a regular activated ability that happens to function while on the stack while also sitting on an instant. It's not a spell ability. The rules don't preclude instants and sorceries having activated abilities or any kind of non-spell ability really, it's just very rare. For another example, Split Second is a whole keyword mechanic whose only purpose is to give spells a static ability that works on the stack, including instants and sorceries.
    – Hackworth
    May 11, 2020 at 22:11
  • "Can't be countered" is definitely a static ability of a spell that works while the spell is on the stack.
    – Arthur
    May 11, 2020 at 23:16

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