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This question is about the wording on a new card Brain in a Jar:

{1}, {T}: Put a charge counter on Brain in a Jar, then you may cast an instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Brain in a Jar from your hand without paying its mana costs.

Does this mean that we can cast a sorcery at instant speed? On an opponents turn?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

Yes, Brain in a Jar allows you to cast a sorcery at any time that you can resolve the ability, even during your opponents' turns. But technically, you're not even casting it "at instant speed". When a spell or ability instructs you to cast a spell, you go through the process of casting the spell while that spell or ability is resolving. Doing so completely ignores the standard timing restrictions of non-instant spells.

The reason this works is that the rules don't actually restrict when non-instant spells can be cast. They actually just allow you to cast the spell at certain times. So, the rule for Instants, 304.1, says

A player who has priority may cast an instant card from his or her hand.

And the rule for Sorceries, 307.1, says

A player who has priority may cast a sorcery card from his or her hand during a main phase of his or her turn when the stack is empty.

As you can see, the rules do not by default allow you to cast sorceries in as many situations as it allows you to cast instants, but neither rule says that those are the only times when you can cast those spells.

So, when you activate Brain in a Jar's ability, it essentially says "you can also cast an instant or sorcery (with a particular CMC) during the resolution of this ability".

Remember that if a spell explicitly says that you can only cast it at a certain time, or that you can't cast it at a certain time, Brain in a Jar does not allow you to avoid that restriction. So, Brain in a Jar does not allow you to cast Berserk after the combat damage step.

This difference between rules that allow you to cast spells at certain times and text that restricts when you can cast spells is the reason that cards that let you cast spells like Bring to Light have rulings like this one:

If you cast the exiled card, you do so as part of the resolution of Bring to Light. You can’t wait to cast it later in the turn. Timing restrictions based on the card’s type are ignored, but other restrictions (such as “Cast [this card] only during combat”) are not.

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Thank you for the detailed response! That cleared a lot of things up. – bmartin Mar 28 at 21:01
    
There's also "116.1. Unless a spell or ability is instructing a player to take an action, which player can take actions at any given time is determined by a system of priority. The player with priority may cast spells, activate abilities, and take special actions." It doesn't really tell you exactly when you can cast instants and sorceries and so on, but it does pretty clearly indicate that instructions from spells and abilities are outside the usual timing restrictions. – Jefromi Mar 29 at 1:24
1  
I'm not sure it actually says that. The rule basically just says that you can only do stuff when you have priority and when spells and abilities tell you to. But I don't think that's actually sufficient to conclude that timing restrictions don't apply when you're not using priority. I think you also need to reference the stuff in the answer to see that the timing "restrictions" don't actually prevent you from casting when you don't have priority. – murgatroid99 Mar 29 at 1:46
    
I definitely didn't mean it was a complete answer to the question. But nonetheless, it is pretty clear that the usual priority/timing restrictions are being set aside for the case when something instructs you to cast a spell. – Jefromi Mar 29 at 2:36

Yes, that means you can cast a sorcery at instant speed. For instance, you could cast a sorcery during an opponent's turn. Note, there are other ways to do this as well (not necessarily in standard however)

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