If I return my Feasting Troll King from my graveyard using its activated ability:

Sacrifice three Foods: Return Feasting Troll King from your graveyard to the battlefield. Activate this ability only during your turn.

can troll, as a creature, be countered? I know that the activated ability can be countered, but I would like to know if my opponent could counter the troll itself, using for example Essence Scatter:

Counter target creature spell.


2 Answers 2


No. That's an activated ability and not a spell, and Essence Scatter can only counter spells. You'll need something like Trickbind to counter it.

Rules 112 and 113 define what spells and abilities are, and they are distinct:

112.1. A spell is a card on the stack. As the first step of being cast (see rule 601, “Casting Spells”), the card becomes a spell and is moved to the top of the stack from the zone it was in, which is usually its owner’s hand. (See rule 405, “Stack.”) A spell remains on the stack as a spell until it resolves (see rule 608, “Resolving Spells and Abilities”), is countered (see rule 701.5), or otherwise leaves the stack. For more information, see section 6, “Spells, Abilities, and Effects.”

113.1. An ability can be one of three things:

113.1a An ability can be a characteristic an object has that lets it affect the game. An object’s abilities are defined by its rules text or by the effect that created it. Abilities can also be granted to objects by rules or effects. (Effects that grant abilities usually use the words “has,” “have,” “gains,” or “gain.”) Abilities generate effects. (See rule 609, “Effects.”)

113.1b An ability can be something that a player has that changes how the game affects the player. A player normally has no abilities unless granted to that player by effects.

113.1c An ability can be an activated or triggered ability on the stack. This kind of ability is an object. (See section 6, “Spells, Abilities, and Effects.”)



Essence Scatter counters a spell, and Feasting Troll King's activated ability does not cause a spell to be placed on the stack as it does not use the word "cast" in the description. If it were to create a spell, it would be worded something like

You may cast Feasting Troll King from your graveyard by sacrificing three Foods rather than paying its mana cost.

  • The correct template would be something like "Sacrifice three food tokens: Until end of turn, you may cast FTK from the graveyard. Activate this ability only if FTK is in your graveyard."
    – Hackworth
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 10:09
  • @Hackworth - my edited version there is pretty much the Escape template. I acknowledge it's different from the activated ability version in some way, but this is all hypothetical anyway. Is there a card which uses the wording you're suggesting? Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 10:15
  • 1
    The closest match to my template would be on Chainer, Nightmare Adept and Idol of Endurance, although they both allow casting other cards rather than themselves, so your version might be right as well. Also I missed "without paying its mana cost", but that doesnt really change the template.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 10:57
  • @Hackworth I think it depends a bit on how flexible you want it to be; your activated ability would allow you to respond to something like Disenchant attempting to destroy the foods by saccing the foods and then casting the FTK later in the turn whereas mine wouldn't. Yours is probably closer to power of the original ability, mine is more like a normal spell. Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 11:38
  • 1
    I don't know why I didn't think of flashback as a template: "You may cast this card from your graveyard by paying [cost] rather than paying its mana cost” It's on instants and sorceries, but no part of that phrasing requires that.
    – Arthur
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 14:57

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