Rootborn Defenses without token in play

  • #1
    Rootborn Defenses
    Populate. Creatures you control are indestructible this turn.

    (Populate: Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

    Simple question: Must a token be in play in order to cast the spell? There's nothing in the text of the populate description indicating it's a "may" ability, so that would indicate, to me, that you must populate in order to resolve the spell. Meaning, if you have no token, you cannot cast Rootborn Defenses. Am I reading this correctly, or it possible to cast even when there is nothing to copy?

    Standard/Limited Moderator - My Helpdesk
    Winner - 2013 Koopa Standard Invitational
  • #2
    I'm not really sure if that applies, but:

    "416.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible."

    I try to get the semblance with Tezzeret's Gambit. You draw the cards even if you can't proliferate. Rootborn Defenses is worded the other way around, but maybe that's because the Populated' token wouldn't be indestructible the other way. I'm not really sure, we'll see when the cards will be put in the Gatherer.
    I don't know if Populate targets, so... maybe you need to Populate first for resolving :S
  • #3
    Quote from Denegaar
    I don't know if Populate targets, so... maybe you need to Populate first for resolving :S

    Populate doesn't target, since nowhere in its text does the ability use the word target.
    When you Populate, you only choose what token to make a copy of when the ability resolves. So if you were going to Populate, your opponent could respond to the ability, by killing your biggest token creature, but as long as you still have another token around, you would populate that one instead.

    So getting back to the original question here - NO you don't need a token in play to cast Rootborn Defenses.
    The Populate part of the spell will just not doing anything when the full spell resolves, since you have no token to make a copy of. But all your creatures will be Indestructible.
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