My opponent has Kykar, Wind's Fury, a 1/1 Spirit Token, and 5 lands (that produce any mana.) The only creature I control is a 6/6 Trample, Ward {1}.

Opponent has a Switcheroo in hand and their goal is to exchange control of a 1/1 Token with the only creature I control. Is my opponent able to do this in any way? (without exchanging their Kykar)

There was some confusion about when targeting happens, when paying mana costs happen, when Ward 'triggers', if ward is an additional cost or just paying for the ability, using Kykar's ability to sacrifice a token for mana, and being able to target the new token being created from Kykar's 1st ability.

I've seen several topics discussing each of these effects and abilities individually but not all together.

2 Answers 2


Sadly, I don't think it will work.

  1. Cast Switcheroo, targeting the 1/1 and the 6/6
  2. Two triggers happen: Kykar sees the spell cast, and the 6/6 sees it is targeted by an opponent's spell.
  3. In AP/NAP order they go on the stack; first is Kykar's ability, then the Ward 1
  4. Ward 1 has to resolve, but since you only have the original 1/1 that was targeted by Switcheroo, if you sacrifice it to pay the ward cost, Switcheroo does nothing (since you can't exchange control with nothing). So either Switcheroo is countered by Ward, or it does nothing.
  5. Kykar creates another 1/1.
  • 8
    So if you manage to play Switcheroo on your opponent's turn instead, then this would work due to the AP/NAP order being switched.
    – GendoIkari
    Jan 23 at 19:54

The rules for Ward are in 702.21, the most basic meaning of the ability is 702.21a:

702.21a Ward is a triggered ability. Ward [cost] means “Whenever this permanent becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter that spell or ability unless that player pays [cost].”

This answers a lot of your questions, ward triggers whenever a creature with ward becomes the target of a spell (this will include if a spell that was already cast changes target onto something with ward, say with Deflecting Swat). Ward is not an additional cost but it's own triggered ability that you can pay for or not, so it is paid for at a different time than the spell itself. A lot of the time players will short cut this by treating it as an additional cost, since usually the ward trigger is the top thing on the stack when a creature with ward is targeted.

Effectively for this situation Ward {1} works like a Force Spike/Mana Tithe cast while Kykar's trigger is still on the stack. Becaused of this JonTHeMon's answer is correct in how the ability would resolve, assuming your opponent has no other way to make mana, the new token from Kykar will come in to play after the ward trigger resolves, meaning it cannot be used to pay for the ward cost.

UPDATE: Based on the edit to the question there's a few more points.

First, as part of casting Switcheroo, both targets need to be chosen. This means a few things, first that the new token Kykar would create is not going to be in play when targets need to be chosen, so it cannot be one of the targets, the only legal targets are Kykar, the 6/6 and the existing 1/1 token.

Second Exchange is a keyword action in magic even if most players don't realize that it is. This means that the full rules on it are in the CR in section 701, specifically 701.10:

701.10 Exchange

701.10a A spell or ability may instruct players to exchange something (for example, life totals or control of two permanents) as part of its resolution. When such a spell or ability resolves, if the entire exchange can’t be completed, no part of the exchange occurs.

Example: If a spell attempts to exchange control of two target creatures but one of those creatures is destroyed before the spell resolves, the spell does nothing to the other creature.

This means if you sacrifice the first token after it is targeted by Switcheroo to pay the ward cost, even though there will be an identical token in play when Switcheroo tries to resolve, it's not the same creature that was targeted by the spell, the spell no longer has enough legal targets, so Switcheroo will fizzle.


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