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Thread: Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

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    Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

    Situation came up at a Legacy GPT yesterday where my opponent and I were both playing Death & Taxes. Opponent goes to activate his Vial on 2, so I activate my Vial on 3 in response. My Vial resolves, I put Flickerwisp into play and with the ETB ability I target opponent's Aether Vial.

    My assumption was that when the Vial is exiled, the counters on it are zero, so when the opponent's Vial's ability resolves the opponent can only put into play a 0 CMC creature. Opponent sort of agreed, but we called the judge just in case - the judge happened to be an L1 who was not very familiar with Legacy. He looked it up, said it was a "last known information" situation, and checked via text message with his L2 (who was not present at the event). L2 confirmed "last known information."

    Later in the event I was playing against BG Depths. I activate Vial, opponent goes to sac his Hexmage to remove counters. Judge confirmed that since Vial hasn't left play, it has 0 counters when it resolves. He explained that this was different than the exile situation prior (and by extension, a destroy effect) where "last known information" applies.


    Are both of these situations correct? The Wizards site does not seem to have any additional rulings in the Gatherer.

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    Re: Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

    Yes.

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    Re: Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

    Quote Originally Posted by iatee View Post
    Yes.
    Indeed. While the two situations are related, they are not the same.

    Last Known Information applies when the game looks for information and it is not available. As far as the game is concerned, zero is not the answer to the question of how many counters are on Vial if it is not on the battlefield, the answer is that information is unavailable, so we used the Last Known Information.

    In the case of removing the counters, when the game asks "how many counters are on Vial?" the answer is available and is zero, because Vial is still on the battlefield.
    "The Ancients teach us that if we can but last, we shall prevail."
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    Re: Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

    The difference comes down to whether the Vial is still on the battlefield (and the same game object as it was before) or not.

    If it is still on the battlefield, you look at the number of counters that are on it at the time the ability resolves.

    If it is no longer on the battlefield, or if it left and returned (say, via Flicker -- the zone change turns it into a new game object with no memory of or relation to its prior existence), you look at the number of counters that were on it just before it left the battlefield.

    If this seems weird, remember that you can't really fix this without breaking other things. For example, people expect pump spells + Fling to work well together, but without the ability to use last known information (i.e., what the sacrificed creature's power was at the time it got sacrificed), it wouldn't work.

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    Re: Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

    Based on how I'm understanding the rulings now, I think when it comes back from a flicker that isn't delayed it still counts as a new item, in which case the Flickerwisp situation would apply rather than "does it have counters."

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    Re: Flicker/destroy Aether Vial in response to activation

    Quote Originally Posted by RobNC View Post
    Based on how I'm understanding the rulings now, I think when it comes back from a flicker that isn't delayed it still counts as a new item, in which case the Flickerwisp situation would apply rather than "does it have counters."
    The Vial that comes back from exile -- and the amount of time it spent there makes no difference whatsoever -- is not the same game object that the ability on the stack is trying to look at. That's why the ability has to use last known information for that case, because from its perspective the Aether Vial whose counters it wanted to look at no longer exists.

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