If I cast Fling, can I deal damage to my opponent equal to the sacrificed creature's Power or does it only target Creatures/Planeswalkers?


5 Answers 5


The rules say (emphasis mine):

115.4. Some spells and abilities that refer to damage require “any target,” “another target,” “two targets,” or similar rather than “target [something].” These targets may be creatures, players, or planeswalkers. Other game objects, such as noncreature artifacts or spells, can’t be chosen.

So yes, if a spell says "any target", a player will always be a legal choice (assuming no other cards currently in effect restrict whether players can be targets).


Look at the original printing for fling:


Back then Planeswalkers didn't exist as a card type, spells that were meant to be able to target anything (that could take damage) had the wording "target creature or player". Fling was one of them.

When planeswalkers were created in Llorwyn block, the rules were created to allow damage to be re-directed from a player to one of their planeswalkers, so anything that could target a player could in a round-about way hit a planeswalker. Fling could be used this way too, targeting the player and announcing you were using the damage redirection rule.

In 2018 with the release of Domninaria, Wizards made a change to their rules and card wording, they removed the damage redirection for planeswalkers and errataed many cards to add the ability to target planeswalkers directly. Fling was changed at this time to replace "Target creature or player" with "any target" and as the rules state, any target includes players:

115.4 Some spells and abilities that refer to damage require “any target,” “another target,” “two targets,” or similar rather than “target [something].” These targets may be creatures, players, or planeswalkers. Other game objects, such as noncreature artifacts or spells, can’t be chosen.

  • 3
    While this is accurate, I'm personally a little wary about pointing people to a specific printing of a card to address a question that is, in principle, fully answered by the Oracle text.
    – David Z
    Apr 13, 2021 at 20:42
  • 4
    @DavidZ The whole point of showing an older printing is to show the difference from the oracle text - the original intent and use of a card vs the current wording and the rest of the answer covers the evolution of the text from that point. And because someone asked this question, it's clear that the oracle text is not as obvious to everyone as it was to those who wrote it, "any target" is actually pretty bad wording, since it really only means "player, creature or planeswalker"
    – Andrew
    Apr 13, 2021 at 21:09
  • 8
    This was helpful in two ways. First, I used to play when cards referred to "target creature or player", so the historical review helped clarify what happened to the terminology. Second, the current wording is a bit sloppy, as it doesn't literally mean any target, nor does it follow the prior convention of specifying what targets it does mean, so the exposition helps to clarify what the thinking behind it may've been.
    – Nat
    Apr 14, 2021 at 5:57
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    @Jontia: This may've changed by the era, but previously targeting "any target" would've meant any permanent (unless otherwise qualified to target non-permanents), even if the target wouldn't be affected by, say, the damage. Casting against a non-damage-able target might be done for a few reasons, e.g. to trigger on-cast effects; clear up space to draw a new card; to satisfy the need to have a target to cast a spell that has another effect; or/and in anticipation of the target becoming damage-able before resolution.
    – Nat
    Apr 14, 2021 at 13:16
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    @nick012000: Agreed, though the game's long had rules to constrain targeting to permanents, presumably to simplify descriptions. For example, a card that could only target an Elf would, unless otherwise specified, only target Elf-permanents; an Elf-spell on the stack wouldn't be a valid target despite being an "Elf".
    – Nat
    Apr 14, 2021 at 14:51

Andrew's answer is an excellent overview of the history, but I want to go one step further back, all the way to Alpha:

Alpha printing of Lightning Bolt

Back in the earliest days, burn spells would damage "one target" or the like, which implicitly meant "one target that can receive damage in a meaningful way" (that is, creatures and players; enchantments don't have toughness or life, for example, so it wouldn't make sense to damage them).

Later, the Oracle wording was changed to make it explicit that this meant "target creature or player", and this is what we see in e.g. Fourth Edition:

Fourth Edition printing of Lightning Bolt

As Andrew explains, Lorwyn added planeswalkers as a new permanent type that could be damaged, but to keep things working intuitively they weren't damaged directly: damage would be dealt to the player, and then redirected to the planeswalker. So instead of using Lightning Bolt or Fling on Jace, you'd target their controller, then redirect to Jace.

The problem was, this led to some weird unintuitive results when combined with other effects (like Runed Halo, or players having hexproof, or effects that meddle with damage redirection). So in Dominaria, the rule was amended: now planeswalkers could be damaged directly.

Except this led to a new problem: "target creature, player, or planeswalker" was long and made the text of burn spells unwieldy. Their solution was to go all the way back to the Alpha text, and define "any target" to mean "any target that can be damaged in a meaningful way" (that is, creatures, players, and planeswalkers).

So now we've come full circle:

Jumpstart printing of Lightning Bolt

  • With three images in your answer you might want to use the medium or small size images SE automatically has, just add an s or m to the file name before the extension for example i.sstatic.net/KuKsm.jpg can be i.sstatic.net/KuKsmm.jpg to be more easy to read with less space used by images.
    – Andrew
    Apr 15, 2021 at 20:31
  • 1
    @Andrew Good idea
    – Draconis
    Apr 15, 2021 at 20:52
  • In this context, it's funny that Lightning Bolt always seems to come down on a Mountain, apparently targeting a land rather than a creature or player.
    – Nat
    Apr 17, 2021 at 23:53

Fling says:

Fling deals damage equal to the sacrificed creature's power to any target.

A player is a valid target, so yes, you can damage your opponent(s). This is no different from, say, Lightning Bolt, the classic burn face spell.


You can. This comes up often in the Pauper format, when you play Affinity. You play lots of artifacts, including all your lands, and some Atogs.


You sacrifice some of your artifacts to pump up an Atog, hit your opponent with it, then fling it at your opponent. If you sacrificed five artifacts, that's 22 damage.

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