Modern Rules Problems – Spellskite

Modern continues to be a popular format, and as players continue to discover the format, cards from the past are returning to prominence. Today, we’re going to be looking at Spellskite, a card that’s been printed fairly recently, but is still generating a lot of questions. So let’s take a look at it.

Spellskite in General

Spellskite’s ability can target any spell or ability, not just a spell or ability with a target. So you can legally play the ability targeting something like a Supreme Verdict, it just won’t do anything when it resolves because Supreme Verdict doesn’t target anything.

The target can only be changed if Spellskite is a legal target for the spell or ability. For instance, you could use Spellskite’s ability targeting Go for the Throat, but when Spellskite’s ability resolves, the target will not be changed, because Spellskite is not a legal target for Go for the Throat.

This also means that if Spellskite has hexproof or protection from the relevant color, you won’t be able to change the target of the spell or ability either, since Spellskite would not be a legal target for it.


Spellskite and Equipment

You can activate Spellskite’s ability targeting an opponent’s equip ability. However, the equip ability has a restriction of only being able to target a creature you control. So if your opponent activates the equip ability of their Batterskull, you can activate Spellskite’s ability targeting the ability. But when the ability resolves, since your Spellskite is not a legal target for the ability, the ability will do nothing and the target for the ability will remain unchanged.

Using the attach ability of a card like Cranial Plating works the same way. The Plating’s attach ability can only target a creature you control, so if your opponent activates the attach ability of the Plating, Spellskite can’t change the target of the attach ability to Spellskite.


Spellskite and Auras

I do have some good news regarding auras, however. An aura spell on the stack targets, so you can use Spellskite’s ability on an aura like Splinter Twin to change the target of the Twin to your Spellskite, rather than your opponent’s creature.. Note that auras only target while they’re on the stack. They don’t target anything while they’re on the battlefield, so you can’t move an aura that’s already on the battlefield with Spellskite’s ability.

Daybreak Coronet deserves a special mention here. The Coronet can only be attached to a creature that already has an aura attached to it. So for Spellskite to be a legal target for the Coronet, Spellskite must already have an aura attached to it. Activating the ability if Spellskite has no auras attached to it just means that the target for the Coronet will not be changed.


Spellskite and Multiple Target Spells

Spellskite interacts interestingly with spells with multiple targets that could target Spellskite. For instance, let’s look at Electrolyze. If Electrolyze has only one target, you can use Spellskite to change the target of it to Spellskite. But if Electrolyze has two targets, you can only change one of the two targets to Spellskite. An Electrolyze cast this way has two targets. You cannot target the same creature or player more than once. So you can change one of the targets to Spellskite, but you won’t be able to change the other target to the same Spellskite, since Electrolyze is already targeting Spellskite.

This also means that you can cast Electrolyze targeting Spellskite and something else, and your opponent won’t be able to change the other target of Electrolyze to Spellskite. It’s a sneaky way of ensuring that you can kill an opponent’s Noble Hierarch, even if they have a Spellskite on the board.

Let’s say your opponent casts Kolaghan’s Command, choosing the third and fourth modes.  Since the Command uses the word ‘target’ twice, that means that the Command can target the same thing multiple times. You can change both targets of the Command to Spellskite to protect your other artifacts and/or creatures. This is different from Electrolyze, since Electrolyze uses the word ‘target’ once.

For instance, if the Command is cast with “destroy target artifact” targeting Spellskite and “deal 2 damage to target creature or player” targeting a Kitchen Finks, you can use Spellskite to change the target from the Finks to the Spellskite, resulting in the Command targeting Spellskite with both modes. It even works just fine if Spellskite isn’t targeted at all: you just need to activate Spellskite’s ability twice to change both targets of the Command to Spellskite.


Spellskite and the Splinter Twin Deck

The Splinter Twin deck (which runs Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Splinter Twin in hopes of making a large number of Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, or Restoration Angel tokens and attacking with them) has quite a few cards it can run, and Spellskite can interfere with some of the combo pieces but not other parts. So let’s look at each piece and see if Spellskite can interfere with it.

We established above that Spellskite can steal Splinter Twin while it’s on the stack, but it wont’ work against Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker’s ability. Kiki-Jiki’s ability can only target a nonlegendary creature you control, so you can’t use Spellskite on Kiki-Jiki’s ability.

Let’s look at the other half of the combo. Pestermite‘s ability can target any permanent, so you can use Spellskite to redirect Pestermite’s trigger to Spellskite. But it won’t work against Deceiver Exarch’s or Restoration Angel’s triggered ability. The Angel’s ability and the Exarch’s untap ability can only target a permanent you control (just like Kiki-Jiki’s ability), so Spellskite cannot change the target of them.



Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about how Spellskite works and what it can and cannot affect. Join me next time, when I talk about another popular Modern card, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

Written by Nathan Long

Written by Nathan Long


Nathan Long
DCI Level 2 Judge