Tapping a creature in response to it's ability

  • #1
    I have a creature with a {t}: deal 1 damage to target creature ability.

    My opponent has an enchantment that allows him to tap creatures I control.

    If I tap my creature to use the ability, can he tap my creature in response to keep me from using the ability? I said it was illegal because tapping was a cost. He refused to believe me.
  • #2
    Anything before the color is a cost, and can not be responded to.
  • #3
    You are correct. You tap your creature to pay the cost of its ability, so your creature is already tapped by the time he gets an opportunity to activate his ability. Also, if he activated his ability first you would be able to respond and activate your ability since his ability taps your creature as an effect.

    In short, there is no possible way to stop you from activating your ability with the use of his ability; the best he can do is force you to use it a less-than-ideal time.

    For reference, the sequence of events in this case is:
    1. You have priority and choose to activate your ability.

      1. You announce the ability, putting it on the stack.
      2. You choose a target creature.
      3. You determine the total cost to be {T}.
      4. You pay the cost by tapping your creature. Now the ability is done being activated.
    2. You get priority.
    3. You pass priority to your opponent.
    4. Your opponent really wishes you hadn't activated that ability, but since your creature has been tapped since (1d) there isn't a lot he can do about it.
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  • #4
    you're correct. tapping the creature is a cost to activating the ability. neither player gets priority during the process of casting a spell/activating an ability. by the time either of you receive priority, the creature is tapped and the ability is on the stack.

    Quote from Candlejack
    Anything before the color is a cost, and can not be responded to.

    i think you mean colon, not color. Grin
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  • #5
    Since the creature is already tapped, he cannot tap it again. Well actually he can, but it will have no visible effect on the game.

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  • #6
    Quote from Abhi Koh
    Since the creature is already tapped, he cannot tap it again. Well actually he can,

    No, actually, he really can't. Tapping a tapped creature is an impossible action. Such an action simply cannot be performed. This has three consequences:
    • If the rules text of an effect contains such an impossible action, the action will be ignored and skipped.
    • If a player is given a choice during the reolution of a spell or ability, a choice consisting of only an impossible action cannot be chosen.
    • If a cost includes that impossible action, then the cost cannot be paid.
    For example, imagine Twiddle having the text "Tap or untap target creature" and you want to tap a creature of your opponent. In response, he taps it himself. Now when this imaginary Twiddle resolves, you have no choice but to UNTAP the opponent's creature, because you cannot choose to tap the creature again. That's why the real Twiddle contains the word "may", so you can simply choose to do nothing.
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  • #7
    Then why do some spells say "tap target creature" and others say "tap target untapped creature"

    example azorious guildmage vs Backlash

    Look at the ruling for Abyssal Hunter
    Last edited by David Hicks: 1/10/2010 10:13:50 AM
  • #8
    The requirement for targetting changes. "Tap target creature" can target any creature, tapped or untapped. Tap target "untapped creature" can only target untapped creatures. It's like Tap target "green creature" - you can't target the spell or ability unless it fullfills that requirement.

    That in the end the ability won't do anything is irrilevant it's merely a requirement for the targetting.

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  • #9
    Yeah, I believe that's what I said. He CAN tap your creature (Its a legal target) but It will have no "visible" effect as your creature is ALREADY tapped.

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  • #10
    Quote from Abhi Koh
    He CAN tap your creature (Its a legal target) but It will have no "visible" effect as your creature is ALREADY tapped.


    That's still misleading at best.

    When a player says "I tap your dude", he is not actually tapping the dude right away. He is activating an ability, or casting a spell, that targets the dude, and that spell or ability will attempt to tap the dude when it resolves. You are conflating those separate events into one, which makes your statement incorrect or misleading.

    Tapping a tapped permanent is an impossible action. Period.

    However, targeting a tapped permanent with a spell or ability that would eventually attempt to tap the permanent is not an impossible action. Later, when the ability resolves and instructs you to tap the target, the impossible action is ignored and nothing happens.
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  • #11
    Quote from David Hicks
    Then why do some spells say "tap target creature" and others say "tap target untapped creature"

    example azorious guildmage vs Backlash

    Look at the ruling for Abyssal Hunter


    This has to do with legal targets. When it comes to Backlash, you can't cast the spell unless there's an untapped creature to target. If the creature becomes tapped before resolution of Backlash, Backlash no longer has a legal target, and is countered.

    Azorious Guildmage can target any creature though, tapped or untapped.

    Also, some abilities require you to tap an untapped creature you control. This is because you can't tap a tapped creature, just like you can't untap an untapped creature.

    See rules 107.5 and 107.6

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  • #12
    Quote from Abhi Koh
    Yeah, I believe that's what I said.

    Well, you first said that the creature can't be tapped, then you said it actually can be tapped again (your choice of words, not mine). I felt the need to clarify your post.
    He CAN tap your creature (Its a legal target) but It will have no "visible" effect as your creature is ALREADY tapped.

    I know what you want to say, but your choice of words is at least confusing. He CANNOT tap the creature, but he can TRY (i.e. he may play the ability that upon resolution would tap the target creature). But it won't even have an "invisible effect" on the game. The only thing that happens is that the impossible action is skipped.

    Now please stop repeating that a tapped creature can be tapped.
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  • #13
    Quote from HendrikHaese

    For example, imagine Twiddle having the text "Tap or untap target creature" and you want to tap a creature of your opponent. In response, he taps it himself. Now when this imaginary Twiddle resolves, you have no choice but to UNTAP the opponent's creature, because you cannot choose to tap the creature again. That's why the real Twiddle contains the word "may", so you can simply choose to do nothing.


    granted, i've just started playing again after a 7 or 8 year hiatus, but it was my understanding that when it came to instant speed effects it worked exactly the same as spells on the stack. meaning that, in the situation you describe, if you tap my royal assassin with your twiddle and in response i tap my assassin to destroy something that my assassin will tap and then because you've stated that you want to "tap" with your twiddle, it simply fizzles. if the twiddle untapped the assassin, because legally you couldn't declare "tap", it would simply "reset" the assassin for me, correct? which would seem like an unintended punishment for using twiddle in many situations.

    i didn't think you could change your spell target/effect once you'd already declared it.

    however, like i said, i'm not up to speed yet on all the current rules changes.
  • #14
    Quote from Zom B
    granted, i've just started playing again after a 7 or 8 year hiatus, but it was my understanding that when it came to instant speed effects it worked exactly the same as spells on the stack. meaning that, in the situation you describe, if you tap my royal assassin with your twiddle and in response i tap my assassin to destroy something that my assassin will tap and then because you've stated that you want to "tap" with your twiddle, it simply fizzles. if the twiddle untapped the assassin, because legally you couldn't declare "tap", it would simply "reset" the assassin for me, correct? which would seem like an unintended punishment for using twiddle in many situations.

    i didn't think you could change your spell target/effect once you'd already declared it.

    however, like i said, i'm not up to speed yet on all the current rules changes.

    Twiddle doesn't ask the player to make a decision about tapping or untapping. It simply states that it will tap or untap the target, whichever is appropriate upon resolution of the spell.

    The Oracle text of Twiddle now says "You may..." so that if the result would be unfavorable, Twiddle's controller can simply choose not to perform the action.
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  • #15
    A spell goes on the stack.. its been paid for... but can be countered. An ability goes on the same stack and can't be countered by counter spells. tapping a creature to stop a tap effect was the only way to help create a solution for such effects. Royal Assassin taps to destroy a target creature.. i use my creature to tap it... royal Assassin goes on the stack then my tap spell/creature ability goes on the stack. i tap a creature that requires to tap as a cost but you say it has already been payed for.. so in result my tap effect even though resolves first does nothing because of a cost which couldn't be paid due to it being tapped.. (in response to you declaring it tapping i tap it to stop its effect from being paid using the card). i am going by official rules of MTG. Stack rules, ability rules and the Golden Rule (do what the card says). tapping is part of the cost so using a tap spell while trying to pay the cost prevents such cost from being forfilled due to an interference effect... the ability is stopped, unable to forfill the cost from the card. i will except the ruling set down by MTG regardless but i am protesting that a card must be able to forfill its own ability without help.. hint tapping to tap a creature... it doesn't say when Royal assassin is tapped destroy target creature.. it says tap royal assassin (using his own tap ability) destroy target creature... now what if i lightning bolt royal assassin after he has tapped and is still of the stack.. by stack rule he dies before his effect happens as long as lightning bolt is on top (last played).. Royal assassins ability does not happen.. its just death to him and there is no effect from him... just dust.. STACK+GOLDEN RULE= Awesome game.. don't take the fun out of it. Slant

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    Last edited by Woapalanne: 2/4/2011 12:47:35 AM
  • #16
    Quote from Prof23
    A spell goes on the stack.. its been paid for... but can be countered. An ability goes on the same stack and can't be countered by counter spells. tapping a creature to stop a tap effect was the only way to help create a solution for such effects. Royal Assassin taps to destroy a target creature.. i use my creature to tap it... royal Assassin goes on the stack then my tap spell/creature ability goes on the stack. i tap a creature that requires to tap as a cost but you say it has already been payed for.. so in result my tap effect even though resolves first does nothing because of a cost which couldn't be paid due to it being tapped.. (in response to you declaring it tapping i tap it to stop its effect from being paid using the card). i am going by official rules of MTG. Stack rules, ability rules and the Golden Rule (do what the card says). tapping is part of the cost so using a tap spell while trying to pay the cost prevents such cost from being forfilled due to an interference effect... the ability is stopped, unable to forfill the cost from the card. i will except the ruling set down by MTG regardless but i am protesting that a card must be able to forfill its own ability without help.. hint tapping to tap a creature... it doesn't say when Royal assassin is tapped destroy target creature.. it says tap royal assassin (using his own tap ability) destroy target creature... now what if i lightning bolt royal assassin after he has tapped and is still of the stack.. by stack rule he dies before his effect happens as long as lightning bolt is on top (last played).. Royal assassins ability does not happen.. its just death to him and there is no effect from him... just dust.. STACK+GOLDEN RULE= Awesome game.. don't take the fun out of it. Slant


    I think you're not fully understanding how priority works and how costs are payed. When the controller of Royal Assassin has priority, he can choose to activate its ability by paying the cost (tapping the Assassin) and choosing a legal target. This results in the ability going on the stack. Before that ability resolves, priority must pass to the opponent. It is at this point that the opponent could cast lightning bolt or use a tap spell/ability (which won't do much to stop the ability, since its already on the stack). Abilities exist independent of their source, so even though Bolt would resolve and cause the Assassin to leave the battlefield before the "Destroy target tapped creature" ability resolves, there is nothing to stop that ability from resolving just because Assassin is dead.

    Wizards does its best to make rules that are intuitive, but not everything will make sense from a logical point of view. The rules have to be consistent even it they don't always work from a flavor perspective (e.g., How can a Squadron Hawk carry a Sword of Body and Mind or wear Argentum Armor??) :p

    As you stated, you can't use a counterspell on an activated or triggered ability because they are not spells... but there are some effects that can counter abilities (Stifle, Trickbind), and there are ways to cause the game to counter those abilities (you could give the targeted creature protection from black, or untap the creature, or give it shroud, etc.). Hope this helps!
    Last edited by bimmerbot: 2/4/2011 12:33:29 AM
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