Judge School MTG
Mana Abilities

Mana Abilities Russian

Last Modified 29.03.2020

Mana is the currency of the Magic world. Usually the cost of spells and abilities includes mana. And mana abilities produce mana. Let’s speek about it.

Mana abilities are the most amazing of all activated and triggered abilities. They do not use the stack and resolves immediately after activation or triggering. All other activated and triggered abilities in order to produce the effect need to get the stack, become the top element of the stack and will be resolved after successive passes of the players. This means that we need to learn how to accurately distinguish one type of abilityes from the other.

By the way, many novice players believe that mana abilities are those actitation costs are payed by mana. So do not be surprised that they will expect strange from Pithing Needle or Deathrite Shaman.

As usual, we open the comprehensive rules and look what it says:

605.1 Some activated abilities and some triggered abilities are mana abilities, which are subject to special rules. Only abilities that meet either of the following two sets of criteria are mana abilities, regardless of what other effects they may generate or what timing restrictions (such as “Activate this ability only any time you could cast an instant”) they may have.

605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets all of the followingcriteria:

  • it doesn’t have a target,
  • it could add mana to a player’s mana pool when it resolves,
  • and it’s not a loyalty ability. (See rule 606, “Loyalty Abilities.”)

605.1b A triggered ability is a mana ability if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • it doesn’t have a target,
  • it triggers from the resolution of an activated mana ability (see rule 106.11a) or from mana being added to a player’s mana pool,
  • and it could add mana to a player’s mana pool when it resolves.

Undoubtedly, lands have most famous mana abilities. Lands with a basic land type have the intrinsic abilities. Unfortunately, these abilities are not printed. And new payers are learned Magic like this: “Tap two forest, put down the Bear.” As a result a lot of beginners think that if land is tapped it produces mana. Some players ask if you can just tap the land, and advanced ones ask is it possible to get mana from the land and not use it. On the other hand, we have beautiful lands. Especially full screen. Undoubtedly, to game mechanics it’s more important. :)

So, common truths:

  1. Not every land has mana ability. Wooded Foothills hasn’t.
  2. Basic lands and lands with basic land type (i.e. Breeding Pool) have intrinsic mana ability.
  3. You can't get mana just tap a land. You need to activate mana ability. It leads to tapping. Just tapping the land only changes its physical status to “tapped” and could trigger some ability, but not associated with the activated mana ability (or any other).
  4. If an effect sets a land’s subtype to one or more of the basic land types ( Spreading Seas, Blood Moon), the land loses all abilities generated from its rules text, its old land types, and any copy effects affecting that land, and it gains the appropriate mana ability for each new basic land type.
  5. If aВ landВ gains one or moreВ landВ types in addition to its own (Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth), it keeps itsВ landВ types andВ rules text, and it gains the newВ landВ types andВ manaabilities.

Before you start looking for mana and non-mana abilities on the cards, let's read one more rule:

605.2 A mana ability remains a mana ability even if the game state doesn’t allow it to produce mana.

Example: A permanent has an ability that reads “Tap: Add G to your mana pool for each creature you control.” This is still a mana ability even if you control no creatures or if the permanent is already tapped.

Nothing special, but it can help us to identify unusual mana abilities:

Doubling Cube

Doubling Cube has an activated mana ability.

  • (sometimes) it gets mana;
  • it has not target;
  • it’s not a loyalty ability.

That’s “sometimes” is in parentheses is mentioned in rule 605.2. If as Doubling Cube’s abolity resolves mana pool is enpty, the ability will produce none mana, but if there is mana in mana pool, it will be doubled.

Examples of mana abilities:

Lion’s Eye Diamond

Lion’s Eye Diamond has a mana ability, but it cannot be activated if you do not have priority.

Pyramid of the Pantheon

Both abilities of Pyramid of the Pantheon are mana abilities, albeit the first does something except produsing mana and the second has restrictions.


Valleymaker’s second ability is a mana ability. It does not target. You choose the player as the ability resolves.


Overgrowth represents a classic example of a triggered mana ability.

High Tide

As High Tide resolves, it creates a delayed triggered mana ability that is effective until the end of current turn.

Extraplanar Lens

Extraplanar Lens’ second ability is a mana ability.

Note the wording of triggered mana abilities. They say “Whenever you tap a permanent for mana”. This event has a strict definition in the rules:

106.10. To “tap a permanent for mana” is to activate a mana ability of that permanent that includes the {TAP} symbol in its activation cost. See rule 605, “Mana Abilities.”

Heritage Druid

Despite the fact that Heritage Druid has an activated mana ability, its tapping while activating the ability will not be a triggering event of such kind.

Deathrite Shaman

Despite the fact that the first activated ability of Deathrite Shaman gives mana and has the tap symbol in its cost, it doesn’t trigger mana abilities because it is not an activated mana ability (it is targeted).

605.5. Abilities that don’t meet the criteria specified in rules 605.1a-b and spells aren’t mana abilities.

605.5a. An ability with a target is not a mana ability, even if it could put mana into a player’s mana pool when it resolves. The same is true for a triggered ability that could produce mana but triggers from an event other than activating a mana ability, or a triggered ability that triggers from activating a mana ability but couldn’t produce mana. These follow the normal rules for activated or triggered abilities, as appropriate.

Let’s take a look at abilities that aren’t mana abilities:

Koth of the Hammer

Koth’s second ability isn’t a mana ability because it is a loyalty ability.

Soulbright Flamekin

Soulbright Flamekin’s activated ability isn’t a mana ability even if it resolves for the third time because it targets.

Mana Reflection

Mana Reflection doubles the mana gained from mana abilities of other permanents, but it is a static ability that creates a replacement effect.

Sakura-Tribe Springcaller
Braid of Fire
Lotus Cobra

The triggering event of each of these abilities is not activating a mana ability, so none is a mana ability. More details are available about Lotus Cobra.

A spell in not an ability. It is so obvious that amazing why it’s mentioned in the rule:

605.5b. A spell can never be a mana ability, even if it could put mana into a player’s mana pool when it resolves. It’s cast and resolves just like any other spell. Some older cards were printed with the card type “mana source”; these cards have received errata in the Oracle card reference and are now instants.

Seething Song
Dark Ritual

These spells add mana to a player’s mana pool, but the player may not cast them as other spell is cast or an ability is activated, because in that moment no player has priority. But nothing prevents the player to get mana before casting or activation.

605.3. Activating an activated mana ability follows the rules for activating any other activated ability (see rule 602.2), with the following exceptions

605.3a. A player may activate an activated mana ability whenever he or she has priority, whenever he or she is casting a spell or activating an ability that requires a mana payment, or whenever a rule or effect asks for a mana payment, even if it’s in the middle of casting or resolving a spell or activating or resolving an ability.

605.3b. An activated mana ability doesn’t go on the stack, so it can’t be targeted, countered, or otherwise responded to. Rather, it resolves immediately after it is activated.

605.4. Triggered mana abilities follow all the rules for other triggered abilities (see rule 603, “Handling Triggered Abilities”), with the following exception:

605.4a. A triggered mana ability doesn’t go on the stack, so it can’t be targeted, countered, or otherwise responded to. Rather, it resolves immediately after the mana ability that triggered it, without waiting for priority.

Example: An enchantment reads, “Whenever a player taps a land for mana, that player adds one mana to his or her mana pool of any type that land produced.” If a player taps lands for mana while casting a spell, the additional mana is added to the player’s mana pool immediately and can be used to pay for the spell.

Fun fact, “mana” is a Polynesian word meaning power supposedly contained in objects.


Which of these abilities are mana abilities?

Solution ⇓

Can you “Pin a needle on Lotus Petal”? What will be the result?

Solution ⇓

You can of course, you can name the card, but it is pointless. Lotus Petal has a mana ability which cannot be blocked by the Pithing Needle.

How much mana will you gain if you activate the ability of a Forest while controlling Mana Reflection and Vernal Bloom?

Solution ⇓

Three green mana. Activating the Forest’s mana ability will trigger Vernal Bloom’s ability which will give the second mana, and another mana is given by the replacement effect of Mana Reflection when the Forest’s ability resolves.

How much mana will you gain by activating the ability of Heritage Druid, tapping the druid and two Llanowar elves while controlling Mana Reflection?

Solution ⇓

Three :). Despite the fact that Llanowar Elves have a mana ability with a tap symbol, in this specific case they are tapped as activation cost of the Hermit’s ability, which, in spite of being a mana ability, doesn’t contain the tap symbol, so it does not match the condition of the static ability of Mana Reflection.

While controlling a Forest and Heartbeat of Spring, you cast Sol Ring by paying it with mana gained from Boseiju, Who Shelters All. Then you cast Primal Command and your opponent responds with Mana Leak. What happens?

Solution ⇓

Mana leak resolves, you may pay {3}, if you don’t, the spell is countered. Thing is, Heartbeat of Spring does not copy the properties of Boseiju’s mana. All it does is give mana of the same type — colorless:

106.1b. There are six types of mana: white, blue, black, red, green and colorless.

You chose red for the Gauntlet of Power. The cunning opponent controls Infernal Darkness. You intend to get mana from two Mountains and “paint it red” with the Filterland. How much mana of what types can you gain?

Solution ⇓

When we activate the mana abilities of Mountains, even though Infernal Darkness is on the field, the Gauntlet’s trigger will go off. It is only bothered with the lands’ ability to produce mana, not with the result. So we gain 2 red mana from the Gauntlet and 2 black from mountains. Using the Filterland to gain red mana is not possible, since Infernal Darkness makes it black regardless, although the amount of mana doesn’t change. Thus, we can gain up to BBBRR. Note that the Gauntlet’s trigger will not work when the Filterland is activated, since the land isn’t basic.

Which of these abilities are blocked with Damping Matrix?

Solution ⇓

Actually, none of the abilities in this example are impacted by the Matrix :)

  • Tangleroot — The Matrix impacts only activated abilities of creatures and artifacts. This one is a plain triggered ability.
  • Radha, Heir to Keld — Radha’s first ability is triggered. It isn’t a mana one, but the Matrix doesn’t impact it. The second ability is a mana ability — not a match either.
  • Pili-Pala — Pili-pala has a mana ability, although its activation cost is rather curious.
  • Myr Moonvessel — The myr’s ability is triggered.
  • Astrolabe — Astrolabe’s ability is an activated mana one.

You judge a tournament with Regular REL. A player with Disallow in his hand asks you: “Is the Birdie’s ability activated?” What will you answer?

Solution ⇓

The best answer you can come up with is: “Yes”. :) Check out this article about judging mistakes: “The Twelve Mistake Program to Becoming a Better Judge”.

Translated by Witas Spasovski