Although similar to copying a creature, copying a spell can be a little tricky. In this week’s judge tips, we are going to look at the steps to copying a spell and what to do when that spell resolves or is countered.
Like we always do, let’s go to the CR! For copying a spell, we turn to CR 706.10 – To copy a spell, activated ability, or triggered ability means to put a copy of it onto the stack: a copy of a spell isn’t cast and a copy of an activated ability isn’t activated. A copy of a spell or ability copies both the characteristics of the spell or ability and all decisions made for it, including modes, targets, the value of X, and additional or alternative costs. Choices that are normally made on resolution are not copied. If an effect of the copy refers to objects used to pay its costs, it uses the objects used to pay the costs of the original spell or ability. A copy of a spell is owned by the player under whose control it was put on the stack. A copy of a spell or ability is controlled by the player under whose control it was put on the stack. A copy of a spell is itself a spell, even though it has no spell card associated with it. A copy of an ability is itself an ability.
That’s a lot! Let’s break it down.
If you cast Cryptic Command and then I copy it with a spell that states I can choose new targets for the copy, what can I do? Cryptic Command is a modal spell and, according to the above CR, we know the modes are copied. No change there; however, since I can select the target of my copy, I can make some choices.
This means, if you chose the modes countering a spell and drawing a card, my copy allows me to select a new target for my spell and draw a card. I can’t choose any other mode as that decision is locked in.
What happens if I copy a spell that has X in its casting cost? Well, like the modes, that decision is locked in. So no changing the value of X.
It may sound redundant but, it’s important to remember “A copy of a spell or ability copies both the characteristics of the spell or ability and all decision made for it, including modes, targets, the value of X, and additional or alternative costs.”
Not too difficult, right?
So what happens when that copy resolves? Well, since it isn’t a real card, it can’t exist anywhere besides the stack.
Let’s look at CR 706.10B “If a copy if a spell is in a zone other than the stack, it ceases to exist. … this is a state-based action.”
Basically, when the spell leaves the stack, state-based actions will check and the copy will cease to exist. It’s very similar to tokens changing zones.
Do copies of spells trigger things that trigger when a spell is cast? Something like prowess? Well, that depends. If you use something like Isochron Scepter you are actually copying the card and casting. This means Prowess will trigger; however, if you copy a spell with something like Twincast, the spell is put directly on the stack and is not cast. This means no prowess trigger.
CR706.12 An effect that instructs a player to cast a copy of an object (and not just copy a spell) follows the rules for casting spells, except that the copy is created in the same zone the object is in and then cast while another spell or ability is resolving. Casting a copy of an object follows rule 601, “Casting spells” and then the copy becomes cast. Once cast, the copy is a spell on the stack, and just like any other spell it can resolve or be countered.
It should be noted, when we copy something it’s like we are making a photocopy of the object. This is true if we are copying creatures or spells.
Want to know more about copying creatures? Be sure to check out our Judge Tips article here.
Patrick Cossel is the publisher of the Forge Herald. He is a father, husband, and Level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally, Patrick is the Operations Manager of a family owned newspaper group. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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