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Normally, whenever I take an action that involves paying for an effect that is any more complicated than tapping lands, I declare that I'm floating mana. For instance:

  • When I tap Priest of Titania with 3 other elves on the battlefield (for a total mana cost of 4), than I will typically say "I float 4 mana" before I make any plays and use this mana.
  • Even if I'm using Llanowar Elves to pay for a 1-drop, I declare how I'm floating mana.

One time, I was accused of cheating because of this habit. I tapped my Llanowar Elves and said "I float 1 to play Quirion Ranger", and I was accused of cheating, because I "didn't have 1 floating after that play".

It would seem that the person I was playing against had taken "floating mana" to refer exclusively to mana that was left over after paying a mana cost.

Have I been doing it wrong all along? Has my talk about "floating mana" before I pay costs been a miscommunication all this time?


I'm asking this now because I recently came across this passage whilst reading the comp rules:

106.4a If a player passes priority (see rule 116) while there is mana in his or her mana pool, that player announces what mana is there. If any mana remains in a player’s mana pool after he or she spends mana to pay a cost, that player announces what mana is still there.

Does that mean that talking about my "floating mana" communicates that I'm passing priority?

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Worth pointing out also I think that the DCI definition of 'cheating' requires intent. Doing something incorrect without knowing can be a penalty, but is not 'cheating.' –  Affe Sep 20 '13 at 23:58
    
Why do you activate the abilities in advance instead of part of the process of casting a spell or activating an ability? –  ikegami Sep 21 '13 at 13:45
    
@ikegami Because When I play decks like legacy elves, I will often use the same mana source to play many spells, or I'll use different types of sources to cast the same spell. I supposed that producing the mana separately from casting the spells helped me keep track of it –  Sam I am Sep 21 '13 at 16:32
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

mana floating is a slang mtg term and refers to mana left over after you play a spell.

Refers to mana added to a player's mana pool and not used immediately. For example, a player might tap all of his or her lands for mana, then play Armageddon (destroying all land in play), then use the excess "floating" mana to play some other card.

http://mtg.wikia.com/wiki/Slang#Float

Talking about floating mana does not imply that you are about to pass priority. This is because you can play multiple spells before you pass priority and you would potentially have mana left in your pool between such plays. After casting each spell you need to make it clear how much and what type of mana you still have in your pool, so talking about how much and of what types of mana are still floating seems appropriate.

In a tournament, as long as your usage is clear and consistent there should be no problems.

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As others have said, "float" generally means "produce mana I'm not using right now", for example if you're tapping something that produces four mana and only using two of it on the current spell. So interpreting your statements very literally, you were effectively claiming to have produced more mana than you actually did, which would be cheating. But of course it was entirely obvious what you actually meant, so it seems more likely your opponent was just annoyed at you for using "float" wrong and decided to call you out on it by saying you were cheating.

That said, this is generally a non-issue, since you can just tap permanents and cast spells. You don't necessarily have to announce every mana you produce. If you're just tapping things that produce one mana each it doesn't need much explanation. I don't think anyone would bat an eye if you just tapped your Elves and said "I'll cast Quirion Ranger".

For bigger things, it can certainly be helpful to count up as you go, but it's not required and needn't be anything fancy; you can just tap some things, count "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" if you so desire, and then play your Thragtusk. Similarly, noting how much mana your Priest of Titania produces is probably a polite, helpful thing (for both you and your opponent), but you can just say something like "tap this for four", and possibly count up your elves in the process if you think it's not immediately obvious.

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Whoops, commented on original ? by accident. "Cheating" as defined by DCI requires intent to gain an advantage and knowledge that what you were doing is incorrect. –  Affe Sep 21 '13 at 0:03
    
@Affe Yeah, what I'm suggesting is that the opponent decided, okay, this is annoying, I'm going to assume he means it exactly how everyone else would and is just flat-out asserting he has more mana than he really does, which would be cheating. It's obviously not actually cheating though. –  Jefromi Sep 21 '13 at 1:12
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I don't know how a judge would rule in this case (typically judges only care about things that are confusing, and any opponent paying attention would know what you meant), but yes, you are technically using the terminology wrong.

Floating mana is mana that is in your mana pool as you pass priority. It doesn't empty until you end the step or phase. Your opponent has the right to know whether it's conceivable that you could respond to their actions with an instant, and so must be able to reasonably work out how much mana you have available at any given time. For mana put into your pool that you are using immediately it's uncommon to announce verbally.

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