Can I cast a Manic Vandal if there are no artifacts in play?

Manic Vandal says

When Manic Vandal enters the battlefield, destroy target artifact.


You can't cast a spell unless it has legal targets.

When a spell resolves, it will be countered if all of its legal targets are gone.

However, your Manic Vandal spell (the thing that you cast to create Manic Vandal the creature) doesn't actually target. Instead, it just summons a creature. Then, after he enters the battlefield, Manic Vandal's ability -- "When Manic Vandal enters the battlefield, destroy target artifact" -- triggers, and you put the effect "Destroy target artifact" on the stack. If there are no valid targets, nothing is destroyed. But you still get to keep the Manic Vandal creature.

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    Keep in mind that if you have just one artifact in play, you will have to destroy it, even if you don't want to. Beware when, for example, you have permanents passively changing the types of other cards that could turn yours into, say, an artifact creature... (No example, sorry) – Eregrith Feb 15 '12 at 14:15

I think it's right to say there are no "targeted creatures" in Magic. Instants/sorceries have targets, and confusingly Auras are cards which are destined to become permanents, but "fizzle" if their target becomes invalid while they're still a spell on the stack. But to date creature spells are exempt from being countered because of lack of legal targets.

Be advised though, that if a creature says something like "when [this] comes into play, destroy target creature", and there are no other creatures in play... no ifs or buts, it has to target and destroy itself!

  • That was actually my original question, but I saw that answer in the Gather so I thought I would clarify on the extreme case of no targets. Thanks! – Jim McKeeth Feb 10 '12 at 17:00
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    Aura spells have targets just like instants and sorceries (may) have targets. Once the Aura spell resolves, then it creates an Aura permanent, which does not have a target but instead is "attached" to the thing it enchants. – David Z Feb 10 '12 at 19:18
  • David, very true - I was just remarking on the oddness of a spell card that has a target while it's on the stack going on to become a permanent. I hadn't thought about it before, but it's a striking exception to the normal rule. I should probably edit my answer to prevent any possible confusion though, cheers! – thesunneversets Feb 10 '12 at 20:11
  • It gets weirder with abilities that put Auras onto the battlefield without ever specifying a target -- you still get to attach the Aura to a thing but it's never "targeting" it. – Alex P Feb 10 '12 at 20:34

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