I was playing MTG with a friend last night when we had a slight disagreement about the wording of some cards. Sometimes cards will be marked as having a special ability "for each forest you control" ... and other times cards will be worded as having a special ability "for each forest in play". There is quite the difference in the wording between those.

My belief is that when a card explicitly says "for each forest you control" I thought they are actually talking about individual forest cards, not the mana produced from those forest cards but the actual number of forest cards. So if I had a forest with Wild-Growth enchantment attached to it (which gives an extra forest mana when it is tapped) even though it produces TWO mana when tapped, it is still counted as ONE forest that I control. Is that correct?

If I were to play a card like "Howl of the Nightpack" which lets me place a two/two wolf creature token on the battlefield for "each forest I control" ... if I had a forest with wild-growth on it, would that allow me to put TWO wolf creatures down because it produces two mana, or ONE wolf creature down because it is only a single forest??

I might be completely wrong which is fine but to me it seems like the words "Forests-in-play" means that the spell works with any forest-mana that has been generated by whatever means (un-tapping / re-tapping lands, wild-growth, etc). But that "Forests you control" means the literal number of forest-cards you have no matter what enchantments or untapping/retapping of those lands takes place.

I read "forests-in-play" (or sometimes I read as "X" amount of mana) as allowing any extra special shenanigans the player might invoke to their lands to generate the final total of mana.

This has big implications for spells like Cabal Coffers and others that directly specify "lands you control" and not "lands in play".

Can anyone help point me to the section in the rule-book that addresses this? Thank you

  • 6
    "In play" doesn't exist anymore. It's the old wording of "on the battlefield".
    – ikegami
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


When cards refer to "forests," they are always referring to the land cards and not to the mana they produce; when referring to mana, they specifically say "mana" or use the appropriate mana symbol (including X where necessary to be abstract). That means that in both cases, it is referring to the principle you are thinking about in your first statement.

For example, contrast the wording on Dungrove Elder with that on Omnath, Locus of Mana. One refers to "the number of Forests you control", and the other refers to "each green mana in your mana pool".

The difference between the phrasing "you control" and "in play" is the difference between controllers - in the former, it only counts forest cards on your "side" of the board, where as in the latter, it refers to all forests controlled by all players, totaled up.

  • Can you add Omnath as an example of a card that refers to mana in the mana pool?
    – Hao Ye
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:46
  • @HaoYe I cannot, but feel free to recommend an edit if you wish. Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:47
  • 2
    Yes, it only counts as one forest because it's the card that's the forest. The mana it produces is green mana.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:52
  • 4
    @Greg Correct - Mana and Land should not be confused for each other and are not interchangeable in any way. Forests produce green mana, but forests are not mana, mana are not forests, and mana has no memory of where it came from (i.e. there is no such thing as "mana that came from a forest," only "green mana.") Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 17:03
  • 6
    @SouthpawHare Your first two sentences are correct. However, for technical accuracy, I should point out that mana does in fact know where it came from. See Imperiosaur and Myr Superion for examples of where that matters.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 17:06

There's no such thing as "Forest mana". Forest has only 2 meanings in MTG, it is a basic land type, and it is the name of a card. A card with the land type "Forest" (such as the Forest card), can be tapped for 1 green mana.

Both "Forests in play" and "Forests you control" refer to cards (or tokens) with the type "Forest" that are on the battlefield. The only difference between the 2 is that "Forests in play" refers to any Forest on the battlefield, while "Forests you control" refers to only the Forests that you control (you being the person controlling the effect in question).

From the basic rulebook:

To do just about anything else in the game, you first need to be able to make mana. Think of mana as Magic money—it’s what you use to pay most costs. Each mana is either one of the five Magic colors or is colorless.

Where does mana come from? Nearly every land in the game has an ability that produces mana. Basic lands just have a large mana symbol in their text boxes to show this—you can tap one of them to add one mana of that color to your mana pool. (Your mana pool is where mana is stored until you spend it.) Other lands, as well as some creatures, artifacts, and spells, may also make mana.

  • I'm not sure that the wording "Forests you control" refers to forest tokens... I think that would be "forests-in-play". I think the first only refers to the actual forest land cards that you have.
    – Greg
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:54
  • 1
    @Greg, First of all, "in play" doesn't exist anymore. It's the old wording of "on the battlefield". // Gendolkari is correct. "Forest you control" means "Forest permanents you control", which means "Forest cards and tokens on the battlefield you control." And to be clear, it refers to the type (land subtype) Forest, not the name Forest.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 17:00
  • When you say "forest cards and tokens" ... do the tokens mean green-mana that's been generated or do tokens means tokens that act as a forests with the ability to tap for mana. That's a big difference...
    – Greg
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 17:02
  • 2
    @Greg, No, a mana isn't a token. Tokens are created by abilities of the form "Put a XXX token onto the battlefield". They are usually (but not always) creatures.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 17:05

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