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Supposing my opponent is tapped out, has no floating mana, and has nothing on the battlefield capable of directly generating mana at instant speed (No Moxen or Loti, for example), or of untapping their lands, or otherwise being self-evidently relevant.

Is there any risk of the opponent acquiring new mana, or otherwise casting non-zero-mana spells? Are there any zero-mana instant-speed spells?

Can you think of any abilities, that could really subtly end up with mana available, but might not be obvious at first glance?

Basically, does "tapped out + no obviously relevant abilities on the battlefield" equal "I am guaranteed that I can play un-hindered?"

Ideally, it would be good to know the answer for any given format (Standard, Modern, etc.)

  • Plus no mana in their mana pool, right? – doppelgreener Jan 31 '17 at 14:20
  • @doppelgreener indeed :) – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Jan 31 '17 at 14:21
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    Lotus is a word in English borrowed from Latin which borrowed it from Greek; the English plural would be lotuses, Latin plural would be loti, and the Greek plural would be lotoí (the Greek word is lotos rather than lotus) – lotii isn’t a word in any language that I’m aware of. – KRyan Jan 31 '17 at 15:56
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    The plural form of lotus (as an English word) is lotuses or lotus, not loti, according to Merriam-Webster. Since it is used in an English context ("Black Lotus", "Lotus Petal", "Gilded Lotus", etc.), and not in a Latin one it seems one of the English plurals would prevail instead of the Latin one. – Olivier Grégoire Feb 1 '17 at 15:58
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You asked two different questions. For both, we are assuming that the opponent is tapped out with no relevant mana abilities on the field.

It possible for my opponent to generate mana at instant speed?

Yes, players can generate mana at "instant speed" (mana abilities technically don't use the stack and can't be responded to like an Instant spell). As an example, see Simian Spirit Guide.

Am I guaranteed that I can play unhindered?

Even without cards that can generate mana, like Simian Spirit Guide, the answer is no. Cards like Force of Will can disrupt you for an alternative cost. Cards like Pact of Negation or Slaughter Pact allow your opponent to pay later.

Three of the four cards I mentioned are legal in both Modern and Legacy. Standard rarely has effects like this, but it happens every now and then. After all, every Modern card was Standard legal at some point.

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    Cards like Pact of Negation make understanding the deck your opponent is playing even more important, so you can accurately guess what "Gotcha!" cards like that they're running! – monoRed Jan 31 '17 at 14:41
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    Excellent answer, demonstrating exactly the sorts of behaviours that I was imagining could conceptually exist. – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Jan 31 '17 at 14:41
  • Having effects like this in decks that usually don't can be useful. I remember a situation where I had only an untapped Gaea's cradle with no creatures, my opponent attacks with Phyrexian Negator, met by a Vine Dryad and Giant Growth. He played a land before attacking which was a mistake. – JollyJoker Jan 31 '17 at 15:52
  • @JollyJoker Ah, their turn 2: dark ritual->negator, land, attack, crap lost both lands? – Yakk Jan 31 '17 at 20:48
  • @Yakk T1 land, Ritual, Negator, T2 land, attack but yes – JollyJoker Feb 1 '17 at 5:47
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As an extension of Rainbolt's answer, anything that depends only on Phyrexian mana could be played.

E.g. Mental Misstep

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Another extension to both Rainbolt's and Brondahl's answers; as it is somewhat relevant.

You say their field is clear of any creatures that are "capable of directly generating mana at instant speed". First thing that pops into my mind is the Convoke mechanic used in Stoke the Flames or Chord of Calling. It can tap creatures to assist in paying for the spell on cast, each creature tapped contributes (1) mana of that creatures color, usually going towards the generic cost. This is very relevant with things like Chord or Stoke.

While you did mention them being tapped out, this is still relevant in situations where they have so much as an untapped token creature on the board.

Some other possibly relevant mechanics:

Dredge, Energy (about halfway down the page), Trap spells, or just graveyard interactions in general.

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Phyrexian costs can be paid with 2 life instead.

I can't think of any Phyrexian counterspells, but Mutagenic Growth can buff a creature for +2/+2 for 2 life.

Modern Infect uses this as a defence mechanic.

  • There's already an answer that points out Phyrexian mana: boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/34084/6692 – Rainbolt Feb 1 '17 at 15:46
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    @Rainbolt yes but all it does is points it out, it doesnt explain what it is or how it works. – Skeith Feb 1 '17 at 15:52
  • Mental Misstep, as mentioned in the link answer, is a counter that can be played with only phyrexian mana, though of course it would have to be responding to a very specific list of spells due the the CMC restriction. – Andrew Dec 30 '17 at 16:44

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