When a spell is "cast"
Asked by Exodus20317 4 months ago
My friend and I could use a tiebreaker on a rules argument. I'm planning to combo Approach of the Second Sun with Unsubstantiate to allow me to return the spell to my hand instead of putting it into my library and win the game on the following turn.
The Gatherer specifically states that the first cast of Approach does not need to resolve, only be cast, but my friend argues that returning it to my hand without explicitly countering it or having it resolve means it does not count as having been "cast," and thus playing it again will not win me the game. His basis for this is that other spells that move spells from the stack to elsewhere without letting them resolve all counter the spells they target, with moving it to a different zone being a separate ability. In Unsubstantiate's case, with the physical card being somewhere beside the stack and the spell's effect never occurring as a result of that, the spell was not cast.
By my understanding, the spell is cast as soon as it is put from my hand onto the stack, so returning it to my hand without letting it resolve does not prevent it from being cast.
The casting of a spell can be broken down very finely, but the major steps are:
- Declare the spell you're casting, this moves the spell to the stack
- Declare modes (for modal spells)
- Declare intent to use abilities such as kickers, or perform actions like splicing. Basically anything that might affect the costs or effects of the spell.
- Declare all targets (if necessary)
- Calculate and pay all costs
If at any time those things are not or cannot be done the game rewinds and it's treated as if nothing happened.
Once these things are done the spell is cast. After that point it doesn't matter what happens to the spell; it can be countered by an effect that says "counter", it can be moved to a different zone, it can fizzle as the result of losing valid targets, no matter what the fact remains that it was cast.
Let's break down the language from Approach of the Second Sun's Gatherer ruling:
As your second Approach of the Second Sun resolves, it checks only whether the first one was cast, not whether the first one resolved. If your first Approach of the Second Sun was countered, you’ll still win the game as your second one resolves.
The ruling here is not "if your first Approach was countered, you still win the game." This ruling is "your first Approach does not need to resolve," then it follows with an example of Approach failing to resolve. It's providing an example, it's not limited by it, the operative fact is only that the spell need not resolve.