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I cast Scavenging Ooze with 3 open G mana and there are three creatures in the graveyard, my opponent has open R mana and I suspect they have a Lightning Bolt in hand. If I use the Scavenging Ooze's ability to exile a creature three times gaining 3 life and putting 3 +1/+1 counters on it, what happens if they respond by targeting the Ooze with a Lightning Bolt?

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    There is a distinction between mana and lands. Presumably, you mean that you have untapped forests and your opponent has an untapped mountain. If you actually mean mana, then that's a different story, of course. But it's relatively uncommon to have mana floating around like you describe.
    – Arthur
    Aug 29 '20 at 5:28
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The way to save your Ooze is to activate the ability one time. Two things can happen:

  1. your opponent casts the Lightning Bolt. You respond to that by activating the ability two times; they'll resolve before the Lightning Bolt resolves, and your now 4/4 Ooze isn't killed by it. Then, the first activation will resolve and you have a 5/5 Ooze (with 3 damage marked on it).
  2. your opponent does nothing, and the ability resolves. You have a 3/3 Ooze, and activate the ability one time. The opponent could cast Lightning Bolt while the ability is on the stack, but again you activate the ability one more time, that resolves before the Lightning Bolt does, and just like the first case, you'll end up with a 5/5 Ooze with 3 damage marked on it.

(If they don't cast Lightning Bolt at all, which is probably the best decision for them, you can activate the ability a final time.)

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    Re "The way to save your Ooze is to activate the ability one time". That's not actually necessary. You could literally say "I activate the ooze 3 times" because the Tournament Rules define the following shortcut: "If a player adds a group of objects to the stack without explicitly retaining priority, they are assumed to be adding them to the stack individually and allowing each to resolve before adding the next. If another player wishes to take an action at a point in the middle of this sequence, the actions should be reversed to that point"
    – ikegami
    Aug 28 '20 at 15:48
  • (Outside of tournaments, the onus is on your opponent to ask for clarification as to what you meant.) If the opponent truncates the proposed shortcut of activating the ooze 3 times to cast Lightning Bolt, simply perform the remaining activations in response.
    – ikegami
    Aug 28 '20 at 15:51
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    @ikegami The reason it is necessary to activate them one at a time is because if he puts them all up at once, the other player can Bolt the Ooze with all three abilities on the stack. At that point the Ooze is a 2/2 and will die. If he does them one at a time, he forces the red player to cast the Bolt (and have it fail to kill the Ooze) or to not cast the Bolt at all. Aug 28 '20 at 19:45
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    @NicholasMansfield did you read the TR quote? "I activate ooze three times" is proposing a sequence of game states where at most one activation is on the stack at a time
    – Caleth
    Aug 28 '20 at 20:43
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Some "trick" not made clear in the other answer, is that you can target the same card in the graveyard multiple times before it resolves. This can be done since the exiling from graveyard is not part of the cost, so until the abilities resolve the target remains in graveyard - and legal.

On resolving however this means only the "last" added trigger resolves, and the rest is countered since there is no legal target. To visualize it (scooze = scavenging ooze):

situation: 2 creatures in a graveyard. (say elvish mystics and deathrite shaman)

action done:                              | stack          | graveyards
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
activate scavenging ooze on mystic        | scooze trigger | elvish mystic
                                          |                | deathrite shaman
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
cast firebolt (on scooze)                 | scooze trigger | elvish mystic
                                          | firebolt       | deathrite shaman
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
activate scooze targeting mystic again    | scooze trigger | elvish mystic
                                          | firebolt       | deathrite shaman
                                          | scooze trigger |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
activate scooze targeting shaman          | scooze trigger | elvish mystic
                                          | firebolt       | deathrite shaman
                                          | scooze trigger |
                                          | scooze trigger |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<priority passed by everyone>
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
last scooze trigger resolves              | scooze trigger | elvish mystic
    scooze has +1/+1                      | firebolt       |
                                          | scooze trigger |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
next scooze trigger resolves              | scooze trigger |
    scooze has +2/+2                      | firebolt       |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
firebolt resolves                         | scooze trigger |
    scooze has +2/+2                      |                |
    and 3 damage counters: 2+2-3 = 1      |                |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
first scooze trigger has no legal targets |                |
and hence fizzles                         |                |

End result is that scooze would survive with 1 "effective toughness", and 2 +1/+1 counters. Next turn it would have 4 toughness.

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    this is important because even if you put the ability on the stack 3 times at once and your opponent thinks they can kill your ooze by casting lightning bolt in response to that, they actually can't because you can just re-target the cards you previously selected if you have enough mana. It does waste a ton of mana, though. Aug 29 '20 at 6:05
  • Not an answer, but I approve of this useful information :)
    – ikegami
    Aug 30 '20 at 5:05
1

If I use the Scavenging Ooze's ability to exile a creature three times

If you mean the same creature card (technically, when they're in the graveyard, they're creature cards, not creatures) three times, Scavenging Ooze's Gatherer page says:

If the target card is an illegal target when the ability tries to resolve, it won’t resolve and none of its effects will happen. No +1/+1 counter will be put on Scavenging Ooze and you won’t gain life. Notably, this means that if you activate Scavenging Ooze’s ability multiple times targeting the same creature card, only the first instance of the ability to resolve will have any effect.

So this would not save Scavenging Ooze. If you use Scavenging Ooze's ability on three different creature cards, this will not save it either. The way you've worded it (you use Scavenging Ooze's ability, then your opponent casts Lightning Bolt), if your opponent casts Lightning Bolt while Scavenging Ooze's ability is on the stack, the Lightning Bolt will resolve first, and so Scavenging Ooze's ability will resolve after Scavenging Ooze is already dead.

So to save Scavenging Ooze, you should wait until your opponent casts Lightning Bolt, then use Scavenging Ooze's ability on at least two different creature (since Scavenging Ooze starts out a 2/2, it only needs two more toughness to survive Lightning Bolt) while Lightning Bolt is on the stack. The Scavenging Ooze's ability will resolve first, it will gain toughness, then Lightning Bolt will resolve.

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