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01.11.2015

Judge School
MTG cards

The tricky Spellskite’s ability can change many targes, but sometimes it’s completely useless. Do you want to know when?


Spellskite

When New Phyrexia set was released, the majority of questions was about the one card. Try to guess which one. Bingo! That was Spellskite. And which question was the most common? I think you already know: “Can I steal an equipment by Spellskite?” No! You can’t d that just by changing the target of equip ability. I’m going to explain why. Although... let’s start from the begining.

Spellskite has an activated ability. This ability is targeted. So you can activate it at any moment when you have priority and there is a legal target for it in the stack. You are not able to “just” activate it without a target.

For activation of Spellskite’s ability it doesn’t matter how long you control Spellskite and whether it is tapped or not. There are no restrictions on the amount of activations, thus you can activate it any times as you wish, as long as you can pay the activation cost and there is a legal target for it.

Let’s look on the cost carefully. You can see a blue phyrexian mana symbol in the activation cost. That means you can pay this cost either with {U} or by paying 2 life. Here we should remember the rule, which prohibits to pay more life then you have, i.e. if you have 1 life you must not pay 2 lifes, even if an effect allows you to survive with negative amount of life.

Spellskite isn’t targeted by its own ability, target changing is an effect, which is created as the ability resolves, and it will be preformed as much as possible. If the effect is unable change the target, the ability will still resolve, but the target will remain unchanged. Therefore, you can activate Spellskite’s ability even if Spellskite wouldn’t be a legal target for the spell or ability.

There are no special requirements for the target spell or ability. The spell or ability may has no targets at all. Why a player wants to activate the Spellskite’s ability in that case? There are some reasons, but one of them is lying on the surface: a player can pay life for the activation cost.

Mindslaver

What am I driving? There are brilliant cads, which allow a player to control another player during that player’s next turn. If you tricky opponent “enslave” you by one of those cards and you control Spellskite, then... things look black. Any spell has a “you win the game” effect for your opponent, since he can activate the Spellskite’s ability until he has opportunity to pay it by your life.

 

Spellskite

You should remember that there are some effects, which can prevent you from activating Spellskite’s ability:

Extirpate Pithing Needle

Extirpate has Split second, which doesn’t allow you activate non-mana ability, while this spell is on the stack. Spellskite is absolutely useless against this kind of spells.

It is pretty obviously that Spellskite’s ability is not a mana ability, so, if your opponent has “installed Needle on Spellskite”, you can’t activate its ability until you solve the “Needle problem”.

So you can activate Spellskite’s ability practically at any time and target practically any spell or ability. What happens on resolution?

Illegal target

If Spellskite is an illegal target for the spell or ability, then on resolution of the Spellskite’s ability the target will remain unchanged and the original spell or ability will resolve according to enemy plan.

Sword of Body and Mind Annex ?ondemn

You can’t “steal an equipment” just changing a target of equip ability, i.e. the legal target for this ability is only a creature controlled by the same player who controls the ability.

The enchant ability restricts what an Aura spell can target and what an Aura can enchant. Annex can’t enchant nonland permanent. Hence, Spellskite is an illegal target for it.

Unless Spellskite is attacking, it wouldn’t be a legal target for condemn. As Spellskite’s ability resolves the target of condemn remains unchanged.

If changing one target of a spell or ability to Spellskite would make other targets of that spell or ability illegal, the targets remain unchanged.

If Spellskite leaves the battlefield before its ability resolves, the targets remain unchanged.

Several targets

Effect of Spellskite’s ability allows change only one target of spell or ability. If a spell or ability has multiple targets, you choose which target you’re changing to Spellskite when Spellskite’s ability resolves.

By activating Spellskite’s ability multiple times, you can change each target of a spell or ability with multiple instances of the word “target” to Spellskite. The target of the spell or ability won’t change unless Spellskite fulfills all the targeting criteria.

Hex Seeds of Strength

According to rules, the same object can be a legal target only once for each instances of the word “target” in the text of a spell or ability. Thus Spellskite can change one of Hex’s target unless  Spellskite already is one of those targets.

Unlike Hex, text of Seeds of Strength contains word “target” three times. By activating Spellskite’s ability tree times, you can change all three target of the spell to Spellskite.

Fireball Arc Trail

If a spell or ability has a variable number of targets, you can’t change the number of targets. About Fireball in details.

You can’t change both targets of Arc Trail to Spellskite, since Arc Trail’s text explicitly states “another creature (or player)”.

Spellskite Leeching Bite Spellskite

Using two Spellskite you have a chance successfully change both targets of a spell, which require two different creatures as targets.

And the last two examples before good-bye.

Inferno Titan Livewire Lash

In order to escape retargeting the trigger from your Inferno Titan to enemy Spellskite, you should choose at least 2 targets, one of them must be Spellskite. Then you tricky opponent can’t retarget the second target of Inferno Titan’s ability to the same Spellskite.

An ability that triggers when a creature “becomes the target of spell” triggers only when the creature wasn’t the target of that spell before. If you retarget the same spell to Spellskite equipped by Livewire Lash hundred times, you will get only one trigger.



Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

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