You Can’t Bounce the Dead!

Today we’ll be talking about the wording on some targeted spells and abilities- specifically, things that tell you to “return target creature to its owner’s hand”. They’ve been around since Day One with cards like Unsummon, allowing you to temporarily get rid of a threat at a low cost, or even to save one of your own creatures from a sticky situation. But the wording is very specific- “target creature”. Whenever an effect refers to a card type like that, with just the type, there’s a sort of invisible word ‘permanent’ after it. Unsummon (or a modern counterpart like Drag Under) can only ever hit a creature permanent on the battlefield. You won’t be able to use Unsummon to return a creature spell from the stack to its owner’s hand, nor can you use it as a pseudo-Recover to get a creature card back to your hand from the graveyard. The same is true of any other targeted effect: If it can hit spells, it will say ‘creature spell‘. If it can hit cards in a graveyard, it will say ‘creature card in a graveyard’, etc. Remember- the overwhelming majority of the time, cards do exactly what they say and nothing more!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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