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I was playing with a friend last night, and during one of our games i miscalculated the amount of mana needed to activate various abilities on my permanents. I ended up tapping too many lands (2 too many). Just as I pass the turn I realize that I have tapped too many lands. I inform my friend of this, and he says he knows, but that he did not wanted to tell me.

He says that it is too late, and that the lands should stay tapped. I should have paying better attention in the first place.

My question is therefore: Is it at all possible to tap lands for mana if the mana has nothing to activate/pay casting cost for?

I know I made a mistake in the first place, but what is the ruling on this kind of situation?

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Your friend would actually be facing disqualification for cheating if he did that at a tournament. He noticed you breaking a rule (failing to announce out loud that you had leftover mana after casting a spell) and chose not to say anything believing he would gain an advantage from your rule violation. –  Affe Aug 11 at 17:48
    
@Affe The infraction you just mentioned could only be Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation. Usually, a Game Rule Violation is only upgraded to a game loss if an opponent can't verify the legality or the play. A disqualification is really stretching it. –  Rainbolt Aug 11 at 21:29
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@Rainbolt Lund committed a Game Rule Violation. His opponent saying "I noticed you commit that game rule violation, but chose not to say anything because I didn't want to point it out to you" is an exact definition of cheating. The only thing to investigate is potentially if his opponent was aware it was an actual rule violation and not just a mis-play. –  Affe Aug 11 at 22:07
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@Affe Lund's opponent never said "I noticed you commit a game rule violation." He said "I noticed you tapped too many lands." The player must be aware that he or she is doing something illegal in order to receive Unsporting Conduct - Cheating. –  Rainbolt Aug 12 at 14:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can always tap any lands at any time that you have priority (any time you could do pretty much anything in the game); it doesn't matter if you have anything to spend that mana on. Note that you can either tap lands for mana as part of the process of casting a spell (or activating an ability), or you can do it as a separate action. But in either case, there is nothing to stop you from tapping for more mana than you need / intend to use.

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you don't need priority to tap lands - its a mana ability. You are allowed to use mana abilities at any time and they do not use the stack. –  Patters Aug 11 at 8:22
    
@Patters. It's true that you don't always need priority to activate mana abilties but "at any time" is not correct. To be specific this is when you can activate mana abilities: 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. –  Ivo Beckers Aug 11 at 11:13
    
true enough, my correction stands corrected :P –  Patters Aug 11 at 11:19
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Floating mana without announcing is however a violation of rule 106.4a and can be penalized. –  Affe Aug 11 at 17:50
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Fair enough, but I think it's relevant for OP to know he did actually break a rule of the game, whatever the consequences may be at his kitchen table/level of tournament. Cheating is still a DQ at R-REL, and his opponent potentially cheated. Since the rule is a bit obscure and the offense subtle, some more leeway in determining if the opponent understood a rule was broken rather than simply a mis-play may be given at Regular, but it still needs to be investigated. –  Affe Aug 11 at 21:14

Land is not mana itself, but it produces mana. When you tap it, you add mana to the mana pool. There is nothing wrong with adding too much mana to your mana pool (see the article below), but unused mana is wasted. So, your friend is correct and your lands should stay tapped, as you used them to generate mana to your mana pool. The fact that you didn't use that mana is your choice/mistake.

Basically, you made a mistake and have to live with it. (Although, if the match isn't competitive, I would say that it isn't a big deal to fix the mistake if your opponent agrees.)

As a historical aside, prior to Magic 2010, things would have been a little different. There used to be a concept called 'mana burn' in which you would lose a life for every unused mana in your mana pool. They got rid of the concept for the reasons outlined here (under 3B):

http://archive.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/42a

Basically, the rule was minor and most people weren't aware of it, so it didn't have a big impact on the core game when it was removed.

(Edited in order to address the concerns raised in the comments below.)

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Could you explain further what mana burn or the M10 rules change has to do with the situation? The question doesn't mention any mana burn occurring, the asker just didn't get to have some lands untapped during their opponent's turn or something. Were there rules preventing you from tapping excess lands back then? (I really have no idea, and currently suspect this answer might be off the mark) –  doppelgreener Aug 11 at 0:00
    
Mana burn is kind of relevant because the extra lands that were tapped added extra mana that was never spent, and according to the old rules that would have caused mana burn. –  murgatroid99 Aug 11 at 0:21
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@murgatroid99 But does that have anything to do with the question of "I tapped some extra lands, was I actually allowed by the game to do this?" Like I said: the asker never brought up mana burn, just asked if tapping those extra lands was possible. –  doppelgreener Aug 11 at 0:56
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@doppelgreener The change in the rule that I linked to tells you that it is possible to tap extra lands and that you will no longer be punished for doing so. The asker didn't mention it, but it is related to the question; I didn't explain that in the answer well enough, though, so I see why you are questioning the relevance of the answer. It is always possible to tap extra lands, but prior to M10, you would have lost life for doing so. Now it is simply a waste. There are older cards that reference such a situation, as mentioned in the linked article. –  DCJ Aug 11 at 3:18
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@DCJ Could you update your answer to directly address the question then? I'm just coming from the perspective that answers should actually fundamentally respond to the question, and whilst related stuff is worth going into sometimes, it should be part of something that otherwise answers the question. Consider something like "Sure, and since mana burn is no longer here so it won't punish you, but it will still suck." Vs "That rule (which nobody brought up) was changed". –  doppelgreener Aug 11 at 8:07

Extra mana

Following are specific sections from the comprehensive rulebook that address your primary question (emphasis added).

106.4. When an effect produces mana, that mana goes into a player’s mana pool. From there, it can be used to pay costs immediately, or it can stay in the player’s mana pool. Each player’s mana pool empties at the end of each step and phase.

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.

As previous answers have said, there is nothing that prevents you from producing more mana than you are capable of spending. The extra mana will stay in your mana pool until the next end step or phase.

Rolling back

When to reverse past actions

A game can only be reversed if it is put into an error state. A player cannot choose to roll back the game because they forgot to take an action such as using all of the mana pool. Since producing mana that you cannot use is not an illegal action, play will proceed as normal.

Illegal actions

To answer your secondary question of what to do when you find yourself about to/just have taken an action that actual is illegal, the entire action must be reversed and payments made are cancelled.

Tournament rules

In a tournament game, judges will be present to help ensure that the games are played according to the rulebook. Players will be held accountable and can be issued penalties for putting the game into an illegal state. However, it is the shared responsibility of all players in a game to make sure that no illegal actions are allowed to occur.

Casual games

Casual games are not necessarily subject to the strict interpretation of the comprehensive rules when all participants are in agreement as to how loose the rules can be followed. When playing with friends or people of different skill levels, the rules can be relaxed to promote a potentially more enjoyable game. However, a player that makes a mistake is still at the mercy of their opponents if leniency is requested.

In short

Your friend is correct that it is your responsibility to keep track of your mana pool. Of course as long as this isn't a officially judged game, different people may give you different amounts of leeway until you become experienced.

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I took a liberal interpretation of: "I know I made a mistake in the first place, but what is the ruling on this kind of situation?" There are other similar beginner mistakes that can lead to a error state which is what I was addressing in the second half of this answer. –  JRaccoon Aug 10 at 23:22
    
I think the line you should bold for emphasis is "Casual games are not necessarily subject to the strict interpretation of the comprehensive rules" –  Scott Aug 11 at 5:54
    
What happened is illegal and there would be a penalty of a Warning for Game Rule Violation at a Competitive or Professional tournament. As you quoted in 106.4a, floating mana must be explicitly announced. –  Affe Aug 11 at 17:46
    
@Jefromi Not announcing floating mana is a game rule violation. Under additional remedies for game rule violations (in the IPG), rolling back the game is appropriate if nothing that would significantly alter the game has happened since the violation. How the judge determines what is "significant" is beyond me. –  Rainbolt Aug 12 at 14:55
    
@Rainbolt Yes, I unfortunately misunderstood the situation here and talked JRaccoon into making a bad edit. –  Jefromi Aug 12 at 16:54

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