Can you respond to Notorious Assassin with spells?
Asked by acedev 4 years agoHello, my friend believes that ALL mana abilities can't be responded to except for stifle, and when I responded to his Notorious Assassin destroying my Voiceless Spirit , I used Vapor Snag to return it to my hand, protecting it from destruction. He thinks this can't be done and nothing can be used in response to his assassin's ability. Is this true or not? Where can I look for the official rules of MTG updated to Kaladesh? Thank you for your time.
November 16, 2016 12:51 p.m.
I think the confusion here stems from misunderstanding what a mana ability is; while it's true that mana abilities can't be responded to, Notorious Assassin's ability is not a mana ability and you can absolutely respond to it with Vapor Snag. Mana abilities are abilites that create mana and don't have a target, such as Elvish Mystic's ability or the ability of an Island to create mana.
You can also find the comprehensive rules on the MTG site here, although personally I find it easiest to search MTG Salvation for a concept and it'll have the relevant rules on the page, so for example here's the page on mana abilities.
November 16, 2016 1:12 p.m. Edited.
Your friend misunderstands what a "mana ability" is. A mana ability is an ability that makes mana (Elvish Mystic, Inspiring Vantage, etc.), not an ability that costs mana. It's true that no one can respond to mana abilities, but Notorious Assassin doesn't have any mana abilities. It just has a regular activated ability, and any player is allowed to make responses to it.
November 16, 2016 1:16 p.m.
605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets all of the following criteria: it doesnt have a target, it could put mana into a players mana pool when it resolves, and its not a loyalty ability. (See rule 606, Loyalty Abilities.)
November 16, 2016 1:42 p.m.
The question has already been answered, but I'd like to emphasize that what a card does has little to do with whether you may cast it (the only requirements are things like choosing legal targets).
From here, how would a rule even look like that would allow Stifle but not Vapor Snag? It could hardly be "players may only cast cards named Stifle in response to activated abilities", as that would make Squelch and similar cards quite useless. And going into "counter effects are allowed, but blinking effects not" is highly against how the rules work in general.
What's really restricting what cards you may play is their speed - Instants can be played any time you have priority, while all other spells can normally only be cast when you could cast a Sorcery (which is a shortcut for during your main phase, when you have priority and the stack is empty). Cards that aren't spells (such as lands) can't be cast at all. Of course, there are a bunch of exceptions to this short summary, but it covers the gist of it.
As for a rules reference, Lame_Duck already posted some links, however I personally prefer this page, which is the official, timely updated and searchable web version. It's pretty slow to load due to the amount of text, but the advantages outweight the downsides for me.