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Tolarian Kraken says:

Whenever you draw a card, you may pay {1}. When you do, you may tap or untap target creature.

Let's say I pay {1} and target my opponent's Merfolk Looter with this ability. Merfolk Looter has a tap ability, and my opponent uses it in response to my Tolarian Kraken trigger. Does my Tolarian Kraken wind up untapping the Merfolk Looter? That is, which interpretation of the ability is correct:

  1. When you pay {1}, you have already chosen to switch the creature's state, so if it's tapped it becomes untapped and if it's untapped it becomes tapped.
  2. You may pay {1}, and then when this ability resolves, you can choose if you want to switch the creature between tapped & untapped.

Somehow in a couple of games on Arena, my opponent's Kraken wound up untapping my creature even though it's to my benefit the creature is untapped. I'm not sure if it's because my opponent misplayed, or if #1 is the correct interpretation.

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    Arena takes a lot of little shortcuts, like choosing the order in which triggered abilities go on the stack unless you have "full control" turned on. I'd guess that this is one such shortcut, which is being improperly applied. – Arcanist Lupus Jul 2 at 0:23
  • Minor point: it's not full control but an option in the gameplay menu which determines whether Arena auto-orders triggers on the stack. – Philip Kendall Jul 2 at 5:32
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When you draw a card, the Kraken's ability triggers. When that ability resolves, you can choose to pay {1}. If you do, the second part triggers, and you have to choose a target if you can. What to do with that target is not decided until resolution, whether you want to tap it, untap it, or just leave it be (the ability says "may").

| improve this answer | |
  • Historical note: Many cards used to say "tap or untap" instead of "may tap or untap", forcing the ability to change its status even if it wasn't beneficial to the ability's controller (because one can't tap a tapped permanent, one can't untap an untapped permanent, and it's illegal to choose an illegal option). This was not intentional, so the cards were erratad. Example – ikegami Jul 2 at 19:48

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