Let's just use Memoricide as an example since all 3 cards have the same effect. The card's oracle text reads:

Choose a nonland card name. Search target player's graveyard, hand, and library for any number of cards with that name and exile them. Then that player shuffles their library.

Perhaps it's worth noting that the oracle text is slightly different from the printed card text, which reads "name a nonland card" rather than "choose a nonland card name". I know protection prevents a card from being targeted, but from the text of the card it seems like the target of the spell is the opposing player, not the named card. My question is: Does naming a card count as targeting it? I guess intuitively it should, but I know MTG rulings aren't always intuitive. The main reason I'm asking this question is because I'm wondering if I can throw one of these cards in my deck to deal with my opponent's Emrakul, the Aeons torn. Thanks!

3 Answers 3


Yes, those cards "get around" protection.

Protection only helps with a specific set of things. Specifically, cards with protection (from x) cannot be:

  • Damaged by sources with the specified quality. (All such damage is prevented.)
  • Enchanted, equipped, or fortified by permanents with the specified quality.
  • Blocked by creatures with the specified quality.
  • Targeted by spells with the specified quality, or by abilities from sources of that quality.

("DEBT" as a helpful reminder).

In addition to the fact that Memoricide does not do any of the above 4 things, protection also won't do anything because protection is a static ability, which only permanents can have. Cards in the graveyard, hand, or library cannot actually have protection.

702.16. Protection

702.16a Protection is a static ability, written “Protection from [quality].”

604.2. Static abilities create continuous effects, some of which are prevention effects or replacement effects. These effects are active as long as the permanent with the ability remains on the battlefield and has the ability, or as long as the object with the ability remains in the appropriate zone, as described in rule 113.6.

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:

(None of the exceptions involve protection).

  • Players can gain protection, eg Teferi's Protection Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 21:58
  • @MatthewJensen fair point; took some digging through the rules to understand how it works, since the section on static abilities makes no mention of them being applied to a player. But finally I found 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."
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 22:16

Protection only applies to something in play, it is irrelevant when in the hand/deck/graveyard.


Protection, like most effects in Magic the Gathering, only function while the card is on the battlefield. The other answers cover this pretty well so I won't go over it too much, but effects that work in other zones than the battlefield specifically say they do. Reassembling Skeleton says you move the card out of the grave yard, so it can only work there, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic's third ability has the words "if ~ is in your command zone" showing that ability works there.

Lets look at some of the other parts of your question too though. The difference between Name and Choose Target, and why some of the example cards use different words. Target is pretty clear in magic, you need to be able to identify an object specifically in a specific place to target it, how Surgical Extraction requires a copy of the cards you are removing to already be in the graveyard, a zone you can target cards in (unless prevented by something like Silent Gravestone) Since this is targeting a graveyard card protection won't matter here. Slaughter Games and Memoricide ask you to choose a card name, rather than target - this is because you can pick a card that you have, as far as the game is concerned, no way to know the card is even in your opponent's deck. Players using white decks in standard play Heliod, Sun-Crowned a lot, so Necromentia gets used to remove him from decks even before you see your opponent play one - and you need to pick which cards you are looking for before you start to search so it is possible to find 0 cards with these spells, that is why you have to choose the cards by name.

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