Magic: the Gathering
( Comprehensive rules )

Contents Glossary

6.  Spells, Abilities, and Effects

602.  Activating Activated Abilities

602.1  Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as "[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]"

602.1a  Theactivation cost is everything before the colon (:). An abilitys activation cost must be paid by the player who is activating it.

Example: The activation cost of an ability that reads "2, Tap: You gain 1 life" is two mana of any type plus tapping the permanent that has the ability.

602.1b  Some text after the colon of an activated ability states instructions that must be followed while activating that ability. Such text may state which players can activate that ability, may restrict when a player can activate the ability, or may define some aspect of the activation cost. This text is not part of the abilitys effect. It functions at all times. If an activated ability has any activation instructions, they appear last, after the abilitys effect.

602.1c  An activated ability is the only kind of ability that can be activated. If an object or rule refers to activating an ability without specifying what kind, it must be referring to an activated ability.

602.1d  Previously, the action of using an activated ability was referred to on cards as "playing" that ability. Cards that were printed with that text have received errata in the Oracle card reference so they now refer to "activating" that ability.

602.2  To activate an ability is to put it onto the stack and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. Only an objects controller (or its owner, if it doesnt have a controller) can activate its activated ability unless the object specifically says otherwise. Activating an ability follows the steps listed below, in order. If, at any point during the activation of an ability, a player is unable to comply with any of those steps, the activation is illegal; the game returns to the moment before that ability started to be activated (see rule 720, "Handling Illegal Actions"). Announcements and payments cant be altered after theyve been made.

602.2a  The player announces that he or she is activating the ability. If an activated ability is being activated from a hidden zone, the card that has that ability is revealed. That ability is created on the stack as an object thats not a card. It becomes the topmost object on the stack. It has the text of the ability that created it, and no other characteristics. Its controller is the player who activated the ability. The ability remains on the stack until its countered, it resolves, or an effect moves it elsewhere.

602.2b  The remainder of the process for activating an ability is identical to the process for casting a spell listed in rules 601.2bi. Those rules apply to activating an ability just as they apply to casting a spell. An activated abilitys analog to a spells mana cost (as referenced in rule 601.2f) is its activation cost.

602.3  Some abilities specify that one of their controllers opponents does something the controller would normally do while its being activated, such as choose a mode or choose targets. In these cases, the opponent does so when the abilitys controller normally would do so.

602.3a  If there is more than one opponent who could make such a choice, the abilitys controller decides which of those opponents will make the choice.

602.3b  If the ability instructs its controller and another player to do something at the same time as the ability is being activated, the abilitys controller goes first, then the other player. This is an exception to rule 101.4.

602.4  Activating an ability that alters costs wont affect spells and abilities that are already on the stack.

602.5  A player cant begin to activate an ability thats prohibited from being activated.

602.5a  A creatures activated ability with the tap symbol (Tap) or the untap symbol (Pat) in its activation cost cant be activated unless the creature has been under its controllers control since the start of his or her most recent turn. Ignore this rule for creatures with haste (see rule 702.10).

602.5b  If an activated ability has a restriction on its use (for example, "Activate this ability only once each turn"), the restriction continues to apply to that object even if its controller changes.

602.5c  If an object acquires an activated ability with a restriction on its use from another object, that restriction applies only to that ability as acquired from that object. It doesnt apply to other, identically worded abilities.

602.5d  Activated abilities that read "Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery" mean the player must follow the timing rules for casting a sorcery spell, though the ability isnt actually a sorcery. The player doesnt actually need to have a sorcery card that he or she could cast.

602.5e  Activated abilities that read "Activate this ability only any time you could cast an instant" mean the player must follow the timing rules for casting an instant spell, though the ability isnt actually an instant. The player doesnt actually need to have an instant card that he or she could cast.

       6.  Spells, Abilities, and Effects
<<  601. Casting Spells
6.  Spells, Abilities, and Effects       
603. Handling Triggered Abilities  >>
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _