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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Magic School #2: "My Lightning Bolt Killed Your Creature!" "No...Not Exactly..."

This question is courtesy of the Cranial Insertion column on MTGSalvation.com.

Let's say you have a card like Sacred Ground with an ability that depends on whether a spell or ability someone controls causes an effect to go off. Your opponent has an activated manland, let's say Treetop Village. Your decide to cast Lightning Bolt, targeting the Treetop Village for 3 damage and the kill.

NOW...we all know how we'd normally remind someone of this fact later in the game. "Remember? My Lightning Bolt killed your Treetop Village."

So that leads you to believe "Oh! In that case, Lightning Bolt killed my land so Sacred Ground should put it back. Ooh yeah!"

By the game's rules, what really happened? What put Treetop Village in the graveyard?

Catch the answer...after the jump! (Just hit the "read more" link below)

One simple rule covers this whole situation, 118.5:

"118.5. Damage dealt to a creature or planeswalker doesn’t destroy it. Likewise, the source of that damage doesn’t destroy it. Rather, state-based actions may destroy a creature or planeswalker, or
otherwise put it into its owner’s graveyard, due to the results of the damage dealt to that permanent. See rule 704."

"In Layman's Terms please!"

What it's saying is that Lightning Bolt didn't cause the creature to die. Damage itself didn't cause it to die, either (for cases involving Deathtouch, where damage would kill a creature). It was the game's built-in SBA, or State-Based Actions, that did it.

And as we all know, SBAs are not spells or abilities (they're not listed as abilities; they are actions that do not use the stack).

So sorry for the Treetop Village player, but what actually sent it to the graveyard was an SBE and not the Lightning Bolt spell.

I'm keeping this one short again due to the busy schedule I've had this week. I'll have a more in-depth version next week. Until then, see you around!

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