Psychic Spiral Ruling

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Hi, I have a doubt about Psychic Spiral. If my opponent has Witchbane Orb in play, can I cast Psychic Spiral for it's frist part? Or is it invalid because of the second?


This part of the rules confuses me too much:



  • 608.2b If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal. A target that’s no longer in the zone it was in when it was targeted is illegal. Other changes to the game state may cause a target to no longer be legal; for example, its characteristics may have changed or an effect may have changed the text of the spell. If the source of an ability has left the zone it was in, its last known information is used during this process. The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word "target," are now illegal. If the spell or ability is not countered, it will resolve normally. However, if any of its targets are illegal, the part of the spell or ability’s effect for which it is an illegal target can’t perform any actions on that target, make another object or player perform any actions on that target, or make that target perform any actions. If the spell or ability creates a continuous effect that affects game rules (see rule 613.10), that effect doesn’t apply to illegal targets. The effect may still determine information about illegal targets, though, and other parts of the effect for which those targets are not illegal may still affect them. #

    Example: Sorin’s Thirst is a black instant that reads, "Sorin’s Thirst deals 2 damage to target creature and you gain 2 life." If the creature isn’t a legal target during the resolution of Sorin’s Thirst (say, if the creature has gained protection from black or left the battlefield), then Sorin’s Thirst is countered. Its controller doesn’t gain any life.

    Example: Plague Spores reads, "Destroy target nonblack creature and target land. They can’t be regenerated." Suppose the same animated land is chosen both as the nonblack creature and as the land, and the color of the creature land is changed to black before Plague Spores resolves. Plagues Spores isn’t countered because the black creature land is still a legal target for the "target land" part of the spell. The "destroy target nonblack creature" part of the spell won’t affect that permanent, but the "destroy target land" part of the spell will still destroy it. It can’t be regenerated.

Yes, if you target yourself with it (which means the second part will affect you).
You can't cast it without a legal target.

You would be a legal target for the spell, but your opponent would not be if he has Witchbane Orb.


601.2. To cast a spell is to take it from where it is (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. Casting a spell follows the steps listed below, in order. If, at any point during the casting of a spell, a player is unable to comply with any of the steps listed below, the casting of the spell is illegal; the game returns to the moment before that spell started to be cast (see rule 717, “Handling Illegal Actions”). [..]


601.2c The player announces his or her choice of an appropriate player, object, or zone for each target the spell requires. [..]

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First of all, the rule you (the OP, not 2Goth) quoted is for what happens when a spell that has already been legally cast tries to resolve. That doesn't answer your question, because you can't get to the point where that rule is even relevant until after you've done the thing that you're asking whether it's possible to do.


The rule for targeting when casting a spell is 601.2c, which I won't quote here in its entirety because it's even longer than 608.2b and most of it doesn't matter here; the basic idea is that you must be able to name a full complement of legal targets for every instance of the word target. As the main rule for 601.2 makes clear, if you can't do this (or any of the other 601.2x steps), you can't cast that spell in the first place.


Psychic Spiral has only one target - the player who you want to mill. Per 601.2, you can't cast that spell unless you choose a player to target with it. So the only way to cast if your only opponent has a Witchbane Orb is if you're willing to mill yourself with it (or a teammate, in multiplayer games that involve teams).


What the rule you originally quoted is telling you is (among other things) this: If you successfully cast Psychic Spiral with your opponent as the target and then, in response to it, the Witchbane Orb shows up (with the help of Master Transmuter or something), Psychic Spiral will be countered when it tried to resolve. In this case, no part of Psychic Spiral's effect would occur. ("You" never represents a target, so your opponent would be the only target.)

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011

eerrookk wrote:
Hi, I have a doubt about Psychic Spiral. If my opponent has Witchbane Orb in play, can I cast Psychic Spiral for it's frist part? Or is it invalid because of the second?
It is not possible to partly cast a spell; you either cast it, or you don't. And if the spell requires any target, you must choose those targets as you cast it.

Since your opponent has Withbane Orb, you cannot choose him/her as target, but you could cast Psychic Spiral and choose yourself as target.


eerrookk wrote:
This part of the rules confuses me too much:
  • 608.2b

The rule you quoted will certainly confuse you because it does not apply to the problem you submitted; this rule does not apply to the the casting of a spell, but rather to the resolution of a spell.


As you probably already know, playing a spell is a three-step process:

  1- cast the spell: pull it from your hand, choose targets, pay the casting cost, etc.

  2- then the spell will wait on the Stack, allowing players to respond to it, by countering it, for example

  3- if no one counters it, the spell resolves: it becomes 'a done deed'


When a spell resolves, it checks its targets once more: it's quite possible that some of those targets have become illegal or are simply gone.

That is what rule 608.2b is about.

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