I just stumbled across a card I've never seen, Piracy.

UU, Sorcery
Until end of turn, you may tap lands you don't control for mana. Spend this mana only to cast spells.

This would have been interesting back in the days of mana burn, but now it seems like this card boils down to "Tap all mana-producing lands your opponents control". I can't see a situation where the opposing player's correct response wouldn't be to simply tap all their lands. If they don't, Piracy's controller can just do it. Or can they?

Spend this mana only to cast spells.

Does this mean they can't just float the mana and not use it? I would think that you could since it says spend which implies that the restriction is only on what you actually spend the mana on.

Is my take on this card correct? (and is there anything interesting you can do with this?)

  • 2
    I think this is a bit of a rules history question - for example, mana burn was around when Piracy was printed in 1999 (and long after). The stack was just added to the rules earlier that year! The card plays a lot differently now than in 1999.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 5:37
  • 1
    Are Portal/Starter cards legal now?
    – o0'.
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 9:31

3 Answers 3


The correct response as an opponent is to tap all lands they control.

No, fizzle means to counter a spell on resolution. This is the result of a spell having zero legal targets. This spell isn't targeted, so it cannot fizzle. Since the Magic 2010 rules changes, mana burn no longer exists, so your opponents can just tap all their lands for mana to prevent someone else using the mana to cast their own spells.

If your opponents allow the spell to resolve and take no actions, the player that cast Piracy is likely the active player, which means that they would receive priority to cast spells. This would allow them to use any opponent's land to pay for casting their own spells.

No, there isn't anything interesting you can do with this spell now, it is a {U}{U} spell that taps your opponents out.

  • 3
    Nothing interesting short of really improbable scenarios, anyway. Mindslaver, control your opponent on their turn; somehow cast Piracy at instant speed during their turn (say, Alchemist's Refuge); use all the mana! (After using seven of yours to make it happen...)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 5:43
  • 5
    there isn't anything interesting you can do - I disagree. It still taps lands, which is interesting. Useful with Psychic Venom, Static Orb, storage lands, Gemstone Mine, pain lands... Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 15:48
  • @ire Would pain lands damage the owner or the person who cast Piracy?
    – user5270
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 15:58
  • 2
    @ire_and_curses, Mana Short does nearly the same thing and is an instant. Improbable scenarios withstanding, I don't see this card as interesting or useful.
    – user1873
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 17:15
  • 2
    @user1873 Oh, never mind, I think you're right - though it's an activated ability, not a triggered ability. 109.5 "... For an activated ability, this is the player who activated the ability. ..."
    – Cascabel
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 17:21

In most scenarios, it‘s an "each of your opponents" version (great) of "mana short" without emptying the mana pool (nearly useless) that‘s 1 cheaper in CMC (good) but casts as a sorcery (bad).

You can use it to pull a counter. If your opponents don’t invest the counter spell, they won‘t have the mana to use it for that turn. However you must wait till their mana pools emptied or they can cast the counter from it.

It also combines nicely with

  • Panoptic Mirror, causing it to be repeated on each of your turns. This basically pulls a counter each turn, rendering you practically immune to counter spells and most of the time other instants cast during your turn.
  • Alchemist's Refuge to cast it in your opponent‘s turn for increased effectiveness.
  • Mana Vapors, which keeps one opponent tapped out in their next turn.

It‘s most useful in multiplayer or even better in team play, because your team mates can provide mana to you. Also, tapping out multiple opponents protects your team mates from counter spells, too.

That being said, I only learnt of it by this question. Maybe I’ll add it to a side board of a teamplay deck.

  • 1
    Woa, only just noticed that the question is over 5 years old.
    – NoAnswer
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 19:13

As no one addressed the second part of the question, lets answer both and start with the first one: Everyone else is correct, when this card was printed the rules had players lose 1 life per point of mana they did not spend when their pools emptied each step. People would either tap out their mana and take a big damage hit when that mana went unspent, or would leave the mana open, giving you access to their land to pay costs for your spells. Now that mana burn is removed, there is no reason not to just tap out in response to Piracy.

For the second part, about the "Spend this mana only to cast spells" rider. Mana can have restrictions on how it is spent, Cavern of Souls for instance lets you use the colored mana only to cast a specific type of creature Ancient Ziggurat's mana can only be spent on creature spells. Piracy restricts you to using that mana to cast spells, which is one of the least restrictive restrictions on spending mana there is. You can cast any type of spell with this mana, what you cannot do is use it to pay for activating abilities, pay costs like Rune Snag, etc. You can leave this mana in your mana pool, like any other mana, and it will empty as normal, you are not forced to spend it, just restricted in what you can spend it on.

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