With abilities that allow a player to pay for optional effects, is that payment made as the ability resolves or as it goes onto the stack?

If it's made as it resolves, do you have the opportunity to use mana abilities at that time to pay for it, or do you need to fill up your mana pool prior to the ability resolving?

A good example of a card that does this is Dromar, the Banisher. This has a triggered ability with the option to pay. How about with static abilities that give the opportunity to pay, such as Archangel of Tithes? When exactly do you have the opportunity to pay that?

2 Answers 2


112.2c Each paragraph break in a card’s text marks a separate ability.

603.1. Triggered abilities begin with the word “when,” “whenever,” or “at.”

Dromar's triggered ability is all one ability. It resolves all at once. "If you do" is not a separate trigger phrase.

  1. Dromar's ability triggers.
  2. Dromar's ability resolves. Follow the instructions of the ability in order:
    1. You may pay [cost]. You may also activate mana abilities at this time.
    2. If you do, choose a color.
    3. Return all creatures of that color to their owners' hands. (If you didn't choose a color because you didn't pay the cost, no creatures match.)

116.1d A player may activate a mana ability whenever an effect asks for a mana payment (even in the middle of resolving an ability). No player gets priority in the middle of a resolving ability.

Archangel's static ability functions when you declare attackers or blockers. In other words, you declare and pay at the same time.

  • You attack with X creatures and pay {X}.

No player gets priority in between when you declare and when you pay. This is covered by rules 508.1 through 508.3, which are too lengthy to quote, but you can find them in the Comprehensive Rules if you want a more detailed explanation.

  • Thanks for this. Just as one addition, where can I find in the rules the section that mentions using mana abilities during resolution, if and when abilities provide the option to pay?
    – Samthere
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 16:08
  • 1
    @Samthere Added the rule. Coincidentally, there are two rules that say, "No player gets priority in the middle of a resolving ability." The new rule that I added covers both that and what you asked for, so I didn't have to increase the number of rules quotes in the answer. Hurray!
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 16:15
  • Also during resolution: 608.2f. If an effect gives a player the option to pay mana, he or she may activate mana abilities before taking that action. ...
    – Samthere
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 23:22

When these abilities trigger, they go on the stack, and regardless of whether you choose to pay the optional cost, all targets are chosen.

On resolution you choose to pay the cost, mana abilities do not use the stack and can be activated as part of the resolution of the spell. You do not have to fill your mana pool before the ability resolves, you can fill your mana pool during the resolution of the spell. The same is not true of casting cards like Dark Ritual however. These must be cast before the ability resolves while it is still on the stack. This is also true of lands which have abilities which are not mana abilities, e.g. fetchlands like Scalding Tarn which must be activated and resolved before resolution of the triggered ability

  • So for Dromar, is there no time to react once a player declares that they will pay for the optional ability? Or does the ability go back on the stack separately? The way I understand it is: Dromar deals damage -> triggered "you may pay" goes on stack -> "you may pay" is resolved, player chooses to pay -> paid ability goes on the stack -> paid ability resolves. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 11:34
  • you dont get to know whether they pay until its too late. you dont even get to know the colour until its too late
    – Patters
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 12:30
  • You might want to note that Archangel of Tithes's ability is payed when attackers/blockers are declared, and you can never use things like fetch lands or Arbor Elf to pay for them, you can only use mana abilities.
    – diego
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 12:47

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