I cast Stolen Goodies, the adventure half of Picnic Ruiner:

Distribute three +1/+1 counters among any number of target creatures you control.

I controlled three creatures, but I only wanted to add counters to two of them. I selected the two creatures, but clicking submit did nothing. I spent most of my timeouts trying to submit the two creatures before I gave up and clicked the third, which automatically submitted all three.

The next part of the spell was to determine how many counters to put on each creature. It automatically started each creature with 1, and clicking the down arrow wouldn't let me decrement it to zero, so I was forced to give each creature one.

What am I missing here? Is it a bug, or did I just not understand how to use the interface?

UPDATE: I played a bot match to recreate the scenario, and clicking the orange submit button with only two creatures highlighted does select the two creatures. I have to assume that I experienced a bug earlier. I accepted Hackworth's answer because he explains why I couldn't add zero counters to a creature I had selected.

1 Answer 1


I could not reproduce your first issue. The second issue works correctly as per the rules.

I could submit 1, 2, or 3 creatures at will and distribute the counters among them. You may want to submit that issue as a bug regardless.

The second issue, that you could not decrease the number of counters to zero on any of the chosen creatures, was not a bug but a correctly implemented rule:

601.2d If the spell requires the player to divide or distribute an effect (such as damage or counters) among one or more targets, the player announces the division. Each of these targets must receive at least one of whatever is being divided.

enter image description here

  • 1
    In case it matters: your user name is visible in the screenshot.
    – Allure
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 10:47
  • It's bad UI though to force the user/player to pick the creatures and do the distribution in two separate steps. The effect would be the same if they were done in a single step where leaving some creatures to get zero counters would be accepted, or if it was possible to backtrack from the distribution step and leave some creature out. The game would of course have to treat creatures getting zero counters as not targeted at all, but that's not exactly difficult to do. Well, at least the screenshot the Cancel button.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 13:14
  • @ilkkachu It's bad UI, but Arena takes a strict interpretation of the Comp Rules just in case it ever matters, and those are the steps according to the Comp Rules. First you select creatures, and then you assign counters among them. I'm not great on the gritty details in this area, but maybe your opponent can perform some kind of action in response to you selecting your targets but prior to your assigning counters or something like that? Or there might be something in the future where the distinction between those steps would be relevant for some corner case or specific card behavior.
    – Idran
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 13:55
  • 1
    @JustinHilyard No, Arena does not strictly implement the rules. In one example I know of, they fudge the spellcasting process in order to make a better UX which caused them extra dev time for a certain card. Specifically, Arena apparently determines a card's mana value while the card is in hand rather than after making all relevant choices during the spellcasting process as would be correct: magic.wizards.com/en/news/mtg-arena/…
    – Hackworth
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 14:21
  • @Hackworth There's no "after making all relevant choices" because it limits the choices available in advance. Are you saying the process is "fudged", because the UI has been modified to disallow declaration of spellcasting for the blocked mana values, rather than telling the player that it's impossible AFTER they make their choices? Because that latter would be a HORRIBLE UX choice, and would only happen in real play by your opponent spotting your mistake and telling you afterwards (or calling a judge).
    – Matt Sach
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 15:10

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