2005/6/1 Pithing Needle affects cards regardless of what zone they're in. This includes cards in hand, cards in the graveyard, and exiled cards. For example, a player can't cycle Eternal Dragon or return an Eternal Dragon from his or her graveyard to hand if Pithing Needle naming Eternal Dragon is on the battlefield.
2005/6/1 You can name any card, even if that card doesn't normally have an activated ability. You can't name a token unless that token has the same name as a card.
2005/6/1 If you name a card that has both a mana ability and another activated ability, the mana ability can be activated but the other ability can't be activated.
2009/10/1 Once Pithing Needle has left the battlefield, activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can be activated again.
2012/10/1 Activated abilities include a colon and are written in the form [cost]: [effect]. Triggered abilities and static abilities of the named card work normally.
This ought to cover at least a few bases of confusion on the matter.
December 23, 2012 1:45 p.m.
Pithing Needle prevents activated abilities from being activated. An activated ability is an ability that you have to cause by paying something, like loyalty counters for a planeswalker.
December 23, 2012 1:49 p.m.
Here is what constitutes an activated ability:
602.1. Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as "[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]"
Note that Planeswalker's loyalty abilities are also activated abilities.
606.1. Some activated abilities are loyalty abilities, which are subject to special rules.
Additionally, Pithing Needle does not stop mana abilities. This is what constitutes an activated ability that is a mana ability:
605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets three criteria: it doesn't have a target, it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves, and it's not a loyalty ability.
December 23, 2012 2:34 p.m.
December 23, 2012 6:54 p.m.
No, casting is not an activated ability and being able to cast it from the graveyard is a static ability.
December 23, 2012 6:56 p.m.
so you can use pithing needle on a planeswalker to stop them from getting counters?
December 23, 2012 9:13 p.m.
Holy shit people don't know what Pithing Needle does?
This is day one stuff, guys. Christ.
December 24, 2012 midnight
@funkalunk how about u go fuck urself? people have questions nobody needs ur input if thats what you have to say
December 24, 2012 12:30 p.m.
Yeah, some people don't know how pithing needle works--and we don't lose our politeness or otherwise chase them off the site.
December 25, 2012 3:46 a.m.
January 29, 2013 5 p.m.
Yup, any ability that you have to pay a cost for is an activated ability, except for planeswalkers where sometimes you add loyalty counters so you don't pay anything, but it's still an activated ability.
January 29, 2013 5:13 p.m.
Nice I figured as much but always good to double check.
January 29, 2013 5:22 p.m.
This cleared things up for me so much because for most of the time I thought pithing needle stops guilded lotus (which is why I sideboarded it in the first place) because someone who had judged frequently had told me that it was a possible move.
February 10, 2013 11:08 a.m.
Planeswalker abilities are activated abilities. Activated abilities always have a cost. The cost of using a Planeswalker ability is adding/removing Loyalty counters, or simply announcing that you're activating the ability (as with cards like Jace, Memory Adept ).
February 11, 2013 3:38 p.m.
March 25, 2013 10:06 p.m.
Nope, Wayfaring Temple 's ability is a triggered ability, which always has whenever, if, or when clauses to tell you when an effect happens. A good way to differentiate is activated abilities require a player to make an ACTION for the effect to happen, whereas triggered abilities are TRIGGERED by events within the game.
March 25, 2013 10:54 p.m.
An activated ability will ALWAYS have "cost (colon) effect". If it doesn't have a colon, it's not an activated ability.