I tap a Diamond Valley I control to sacrifice one of my creatures, and my opponent responds by removing my creature with Swords to Plowshares (or similar spell). Do I still get the increase in life from Diamond Valley?

  • 1
    Swords to Plowshares is a bad example removal spell for this question, as it also causes the controller to gain life, and is only different for creatures with different power and toughness. I've edited it to Doom Blade
    – Zags
    Oct 2 at 15:28
  • 1
    I rolled back the edit to the question as the answer on it refers to Swords to Plowshares. As the fact that Swords to Plowshares also gives life has no impact on the answer there is no reason to change it to a card that doesn't give back life.
    – Joe W
    Oct 2 at 15:35
  • @JoeW technically swords to plowshares doesn't destroy/kill (cause to die) a creature, but exiles it, so doom blade would have still been more accurate without also editing the other language to be more generically about removal
    – Andrew
    Nov 21 at 19:16
  • @Andrew regardless the question should not be changed to use a different card as an example after an answer has been provided using the cards given.
    – Joe W
    Nov 21 at 19:26
  • @JoeW agreed, but the wording around the card should be changed to be more correct in that case.
    – Andrew
    Nov 21 at 19:31

2 Answers 2


Your opponent cannot do this. Diamond Valley sacrifices a creature as part of its activation cost, not part of its effect. By the time your opponent has the ability to respond to Diamond Valley being activated, your creature is already in the graveyard. Swords to Plowshare would not be able to do anything there.

Be sure to alway go by the official Oracle wording for cards, not whatever is printed (especially for older cards). Diamond Valley says:

{Tap}, Sacrifice a creature: You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature's toughness.

If instead the “sacrifice a creature” part were after the colon, then it would be part of the effect, and when it resolves you would have to sacrifice a creature. If your opponent had responded by destroying your intended creature, you’d have to sacrifice a different creature instead.

Finally, if instead it said “sacrifice target creature” instead, then if your opponent responded by destroying the target creature, the ability would fizzle and do nothing when it resolves because its only target is no longer legal.

  • Cards do not say "sacrifice target creature", because in general anyone's effect could target anyone's creature, but only a creature's controller can sacrifice it. Costs also don't use targets, because half the point of targeting is to allow for response. Nov 26 at 6:07

The oracle text for Diamond Valley reads:

{T}, Sacrifice a creature: You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature's toughness.

The general pattern is: anything before the : cannot be responded to - it's a cost that you pay in order to activate the ability. You do all the things before the : all at once, without interruption (assuming you can legally do so). Nothing happens in between you tapping the Diamond Valley and sacrificing the creature, and those things don't happen in any particular order.

Things can happen between the two sides of the :. In particular, normally, your opponent(s) can respond. Paying the cost creates an "activated ability" which your opponent can respond to, just like responding to a spell that you cast, or like responding to a "triggered ability" (something that happened because of text on a card starting with "When" or "Whenever"). But this is not responding to any of the actions you took in order to pay the cost; it's responding to the activated ability.

When your opponent responds to the activated ability by casting whatever removal spell, that spell cannot target the creature you sacrificed, because it has already been sacrificed and is no longer on the battlefield. ("Sacrificing a creature" can't be prevented by making the creature indestructible or preventing damage to it.) However, that spell can still target any other legal target, and its effect will take place before the activated ability resolves (i.e., before you gain life from the Diamond Valley).

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