For further context, it has to do with Ghost Town in my landfall deck. It has the ability "0: Return Ghost Town to owner's hand."

If I activate it during an opponent's upkeep and they respond by destroying it(such as Field of Ruin), is there a rule preventing me from activating Ghost Town's ability again to keep it on the top of the stack?

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can do this.

There is no limit to the number of times you can activate an ability other than being able to pay the cost. It doesn't matter if the other activations are still on the stack or if they have resolved already.

Some activated abilities have a built-in limit, where they say something like "activate this ability only once each turn". An example is Aggressive Mining.

117.1b A player may activate an activated ability any time they have priority.

602.2. To activate an ability is to put it onto the stack and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect.

If things do happen as you suggest, then the stack will look like this:

  • Ghost Town's ability
  • Field of Ruin's ability
  • Ghost Town's ability

First Ghost Town will resolve and return to your hand. Then Field of Ruin's ability will fizzle and leave the stack without resolving because it has no legal target anymore. The searching for land part will not happen. Finally the original Ghost Town's ability will resolve, but it will not do anything upon resolving because it cannot find the Ghost Town on the battlefield anymore.

  • 1
    Wouldn't this allow building an infinite (but pointless) stack?
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 4:57
  • Well an arbitrarily large stack, yes. Though if you have something like Burning-Tree Shaman it wouldn't be pointless.
    – David Z
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 5:01
  • 3
    Goblin Cannon is a nice example of a card that depends on the ability to activate multiple times in order to be even close to useful (or even make sense: sacrificing the card you activate is usually a cost, not part of the effect).
    – Arthur
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 7:01
  • @WeckarE.Yes. You activate the card 10 million times. It resolves once, returning to your hand. The 999,999 other times resolve doing nothing. This wouldn't take any extra time or have an effect on the game so there's no problem with this being the case. Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 14:27
  • 1
    @WeckarE. The way to handle this gets into shortcuts and such... you can declare that you are activating it some finite number of times that you choose. But if you tried just to repeatedly activate it one at a time before any resolve, with no reason to do so, you would get into slow play tournament rules.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 23:13

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