Purely hypothetical suition questiopn

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My opponent last night only had 1 non-land peremant out, a snap-caster mage and I had 2 rest in peace, I then went to play detention sphere he then in response destroyed his snapcaster mage and said now I much choose my target after it entered the battlefield I must choose a target, hoping to make me get rid of both my rest in peace, then we realized it said MAY name a card. he said if the card didnt say may he plan would of work is that true? Im a little confused by the situation
If Detention Sphere didn't say "you may", that would have worked.

The Detention Sphere spell itself doesn't target anything, so while that spell is on the stack, they can respond with Murder or whatever (you didn't mention what was used to destroy the Mage). Then the Sphere resolves and its ETB ability is put on the stack. A target must be chosen at that time, and if only you control a legal target, you must target a permanent you control. Then, when it resolves, you choose to either exile the target and everything with the same name or not (and you're only given that choice because of the "you may").
If Detention Sphere didn't say "you may", that would have worked.

The Detention Sphere spell itself doesn't target anything, so while that spell is on the stack, they can respond with Murder or whatever (you didn't mention what was used to destroy the Mage). Then the Sphere resolves and its ETB ability is put on the stack. A target must be chosen at that time, and if only you control a legal target, you must target a permanent you control. Then, when it resolves, you choose to either exile the target and everything with the same name or not (and you're only given that choice because of the "you may").



Are you sure the choosing-a-target is mandatory and the exiling is optional?  I was under the impression that choosing the target is optional - you may choose not to target anything, but if you do target anything, you exile it.

Would matter very very rarely, but suppose the only nonland permanent in play was my own Skulking Ghost - I am under the impression that if I opt against on the 'may' clause of the Detention Sphere, I don't even choose a target (and my Skulking Ghost survives).


I suppose it comes down to whether it is meant to be read as "You may (exile target nonland...)" (where may is the modifier for the whole activity that follows), or "(You may exile) target nonland...", where you must choose the target and the only decision is whether or not to exile.
That's not how the game works. Whenever a spell or ability is put on the stack that has the word "target", a legal target must be chosen if possible at the time it's put on the stack. The choice for the "may" only happens on resolution which comes much later.
If Detention Sphere didn't say "you may", that would have worked.

The Detention Sphere spell itself doesn't target anything, so while that spell is on the stack, they can respond with Murder or whatever (you didn't mention what was used to destroy the Mage). Then the Sphere resolves and its ETB ability is put on the stack. A target must be chosen at that time, and if only you control a legal target, you must target a permanent you control. Then, when it resolves, you choose to either exile the target and everything with the same name or not (and you're only given that choice because of the "you may").



Thanks for the explanation. am I correct in assuming Detenion Sphere would remain on the battlefield even if i didnt choose a target?
You have to choose a target, but you can opt to not exile. The D-Sphere will then simply stay on the battlefield looking pretty.
That's not how the game works. Whenever a spell or ability is put on the stack that has the word "target", a legal target must be chosen if possible at the time it's put on the stack.



I don't contend that.  I contend whether this goes on the stack at all.  I read the whole passage after "You may" as a player's choice: you may have this happen and choose a target and put this effect on the stack, or you may decide that nothing is happening at all here.

I might be wrong (I probably am), but if so, not for the reason you state.  I'm not implying the targetting is chosen at resolution time.  I'm implying that there is no resolution time (and no targetting) because the player had the option of whether to put the effect on the stack entirely.
603.5. Some triggered abilities' effects are optional (they contain "may," as in "At the beginning of your upkeep, you may draw a card"). These abilities go on the stack when they trigger, regardless of whether their controller intends to exercise the ability’s option or not. The choice is made when the ability resolves. Likewise, triggered abilities that have an effect "unless" something is true or a player chooses to do something will go on the stack normally; the "unless" part of the ability is dealt with when the ability resolves.
The specific placement of the words "target" and "you may" are irrelevant. They place those such that the wording reads naturally, but the choice of targets (if the ability requries any) is always mandatory and always happens as the ability is put on the stack, while the "you may" choice is always made on resolution.

Detention Sphere's ability could equally have been worded this way:
When Detention Sphere enters the battlefield, chooose target nonland permanent not named Detention Sphere. You may exile that permanent and all other permanents with the same name as that permanent.

The only time you don't choose a target is if there's absolutely no legal choice available. For example, if Detention Sphere is the only nonland permanent on the battlefield as its ability is put on the stack. In this case, the ability is just removed from the stack, but the Detention Sphere remains on the battlefield.
603.5. Some triggered abilities' effects are optional (they contain "may," as in "At the beginning of your upkeep, you may draw a card"). These abilities go on the stack when they trigger, regardless of whether their controller intends to exercise the ability’s option or not. The choice is made when the ability resolves. Likewise, triggered abilities that have an effect "unless" something is true or a player chooses to do something will go on the stack normally; the "unless" part of the ability is dealt with when the ability resolves.



Thank you.  I told you I was probably wrong! When I was browsing the rules I couldn't find that passage.


Poor, poor Skulking Ghost.  He even gets spanked when people have no intention of spanking him. 
603.5. Some triggered abilities' effects are optional (they contain "may," as in "At the beginning of your upkeep, you may draw a card"). These abilities go on the stack when they trigger, regardless of whether their controller intends to exercise the ability’s option or not. The choice is made when the ability resolves. Likewise, triggered abilities that have an effect "unless" something is true or a player chooses to do something will go on the stack normally; the "unless" part of the ability is dealt with when the ability resolves.



Thank you.  I told you I was probably wrong! When I was browsing the rules I couldn't find that passage.


It also took me a while to find it, but I knew it was there.
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