My Terror of the Peaks triggers when my creatures entered the battlefield. My opponent responds to the trigger with Teferi's Protection and phases out along with his board. Can I submit 0 targets or, must I choose one of own creatures/myself?

2 Answers 2


If they cast Teferi's Protection in response to the triggered ability, then you have already chosen the target of that ability. Teferi's Protection can make the chosen target invalid, and the result is that the ability deals no damage.

However, if they instead cast Teferi's Protection in response to the creature spell, then Terror of the Peaks' ability will not trigger until after they have phased their permanents out and gained protection from everything. In that case, by the time you choose targets for the triggered ability, the only valid targets are you and your permanents, and you must choose one of them.

  • Is it somehow obvious that "Your life can not change" means you can't be targeted by damage effects as opposed to meaning, any damage you are dealt is nullified? Ahh it's the protection from everything that means they can't be targeted huh?
    – DRF
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 19:34
  • 5
    Yes, "protection from [something]" means "prevent all damage that would be dealt by [something], and can't be equipped, enchanted, fortified, blocked, or targeted by [something]" I specifically mentioned protection and phasing because those are the two parts of Teferi's Protection that affect what legal targets are available.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:00

Murgatroid99 has nicely explained how protection works, but let's dig further into why Terror of the Peaks must target one of your own creatures (or yourself), and how the wording differs from other similar effects (I'll emphasize the key parts):

Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Terror of the Peaks deals damage equal to that creature's power to any target.

When this effect triggers, you must choose a valid target and you must deal the damage; nothing in there that makes the effect optional.

Some cards make an effect optional by including the word "may". See Cosi's Ravager, for example:

Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Cosi's Ravager deal 1 damage to target player.

If your opponent can't be targeted (due to Teferi's Protection or a similar effect), then while you still have to select a valid target (yourself in a 2-player game), the "may" means that you don't have to actually deal the 1 damage to yourself.

Some other cards have similar effects but specify that the target must be a creature controlled by an opponent, like Banisher Priest:

When Banisher Priest enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls until Banisher Priest leaves the battlefield.

So if your opponent doesn't have any creatures, or if they all have protection, you don't have to exile your own creature (in fact, you can't exile your own creature, even if you wanted to), since its not a valid target.

Compare this again to Flametongue Kavu:

When Flametongue Kavu enters the battlefield, it deals 4 damage to target creature.

Do not play this card when your opponent has no creatures, because you will still have to choose a valid target (one of your own creatures), or even itself if it's the only target. The good news is that killing your own Kavu with its own ETB is a great way to learn this lesson :).

Finally, some cards use the phrase "up to one" to indicate you can choose zero targets or one target for its effect. For example, Brightmare:

When Brightmare enters the battlefield, tap up to one target creature. You gain life equal to that creature's power.

If your opponent controls no creatures, you don't have to target your own (although you can, if you'd like to gain the life).

  • I suppose a final case of a similar effect is Bogardan Hellkite, which should be safe to play even when your opponent has no creatures and can't be targeted; if you choose "any number" of targets, then you can choose zero targets. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 1:42
  • @MishaLavrov: I don't think that's the case for Bogardan Hellkite - "any number" usually includes 0 in MtG, but you also have to declare how you're dividing 5 damage among the targets as you put the ability on the stack, and you have to choose targets in a way that lets you divide 5 damage among them. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 13:01
  • Bogardan Hellkite is a tricky one; I asked the mtg rules chat and they said yes, you can choose zero targets. Compare to the ruling on Stumpsquall Hydra, which says "you can still distribute the counters among any number of commanders, including none of them."
    – BradC
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 14:46
  • "When this effect triggers, you must choose a valid target and you must deal the damage" This is slightly misleading. Damage is dealt when the triggers resolves, not when the effect triggers.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 17:14

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