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The other player plays a spell which makes me tap 3 lands. I want to play another instant on top of his instant using the 3 mana from the lands that will be tapped. Can I?

To simplify:

  1. me: I have 3 lands
  2. opponent: plays instant, taps 3 lands
  3. me: Wants to play instant on the same stack
  4. me: instant needs those 3 mana he is going to take
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3  
Can you clarify what you mean by "lose 3 mana"? Like, Mana Leak? –  Alex P Sep 15 '13 at 18:53
    
Welcome to B&CG! –  Pat Ludwig Sep 15 '13 at 18:58
    
I'm sorry, tbh I can't remeber what it is, all it did was tap 3 of my mana, I was wondering if I play a card that requires mana that is now tapped is it resolved BEFORE the mana is tapped as it is now on top of that card in the stack –  Michael Sep 15 '13 at 19:16
    

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It sounds like your opponent played a card like Early Frost, which taps (up to) three target lands. (Side note: lands are not mana, they produce mana.) When this happens, it doesn't resolve immediately; it goes onto the stack. At that point, you have the opportunity to respond with things that can be done at "instant speed", activating abilities and playing instants.

So yes, you can respond by playing an instant, tapping those three lands for mana to pay for it. You can also simply respond by tapping the lands for mana and leaving it in your mana pool, if you'd like to play something later during the current step and phase. Either way, when Early Frost actually resolves after your spell resolves, it will still tap those three target lands, but they're already tapped, so nothing really happens.

If your opponent really wants to stop you from playing an instant with that mana, the only way they can really do it is tap your lands down at a time when you wouldn't want to play your instant. For example, if it needs to get cast during combat, they could tap your lands before combat. But it's a lot more straightforward to use it to prevent casting a non-instant spell, by tapping down lands during upkeep.

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This is perfect, thank you. Unless anyone disagrees I have chosen as answer –  Michael Sep 16 '13 at 13:57
    
btw, sorry about calling it mana, I get the terminology mixed sometimes –  Michael Sep 16 '13 at 13:59
    
@Michael That's something almost everyone gets confused about. No worries. ;) –  Alex P Sep 16 '13 at 17:28
1  
@Michael Yeah, a lot of people will say "tapping mana to pay for a spell" to mean using mana-producing abilities (especially if some of it is mana-producing creatures), but in rules text, everything is very precise - cards say lands when they mean lands - and that precision can help you sort things out when you have a rules question! –  Jefromi Sep 16 '13 at 17:29

Jefromi's answer is absolutely correct.

But to clarify a small point: tapping your lands does not use the stack at all. This is important for spells with Split Second. If tapping lands used the stack, then you wouldn't be able to tap your lands once a Split Second spell was on the stack.

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Not sure how often this would ever come up, but for what it's worth, this is in general true for mana abilities, not just tapping lands. Mana abilities are anything that could produce mana, doesn't target, and is not a planeswalker loyalty ability, so for example, this covers Llanowar Elves but not Deathrite Shaman (which targets). –  Jefromi Sep 20 '13 at 23:07

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