I added a Stormchaser Drake to my ninjutsu deck hoping to get some free card draw. This did not work.

I'm assuming it is either the ninjutsu resolves before the creature gets to do the triggered card draw or the cost of returning an unblocked creature does not actually target the returning creature with the ninjutsu creature spell.

What is the relevant rule for why it did not work?


1 Answer 1


Stormchaser Drake only triggers on being targeted by a spell. Ninjutsu is neither a spell, nor does it target anything.

First, Stormchaser Drake only triggers when it is targeted by a spell. Being targeted has a defined meaning in Magic. If a spell or ability does not have the word "target" in its text somewhere, it does not target anything (except aura spells, which always target something) and can't trigger Stormchaser Drake.

115.1a An instant or sorcery spell is targeted if its spell ability identifies something it will affect by using the phrase “target [something],” where the “something” is a phrase that describes an object and/or player.

Ninjutsu does not have the word "target" in its text, so it doesn't target the creature it returns.

702.49a [..] “Ninjutsu [cost]” means “[Cost], Reveal this card from your hand, Return an unblocked attacking creature you control to its owner’s hand: Put this card onto the battlefield from your hand tapped and attacking.”

Second, Stormchaser Drake only triggers when it is targeted by a spell, but Ninjutsu is an ability. You activate it from your hand superficially similar to a spell, but that doesn't make it a spell.

112.1. A spell is a card on the stack. [..]

702.49a Ninjutsu is an activated ability that functions only while the card with ninjutsu is in a player’s hand. [..]

  • That makes sense, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I've seen people use the Colossal Skyturtle's bounce to bypass similar effects.
    – Warcupine
    Nov 14, 2022 at 18:49
  • It might be worth emphasizing that not only is the creature on the battlefield not the target of the Ninjutsu ability, but that returning it is actually part of the cost of activating the ability.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 14, 2022 at 18:59
  • @murgatroid99 true, targetting is never part of paying a cost. Though that's only relevant for this particular creature. If the creature was e.g. Alpine Guide, it would trigger when ninjutsu'd.
    – Hackworth
    Nov 14, 2022 at 19:10
  • @Warcupine Colossal Skyturtle is targeted, ninjutsu is not - the important part about determining if a spell or ability is targeted is if the text (or rules) for that ability include the word target. Also the bouncing is part of the cost of ninjutsu not the effect, it's on the left side of the colon.
    – Andrew
    Nov 14, 2022 at 21:59
  • @Hackworth Auras are one of the rare examples where the word target is there but not printed on the card because it exists in the rules definition for a keyword (in this case "Enchant" defined in rule 702.5)
    – Andrew
    Nov 14, 2022 at 22:17

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