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Many cards, including Depths of Desire, produce colorless Treasure artifact tokens with "{T}, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool."

I have three Treasure tokens and a Cancel in my hand. My opponent plays a creature - can I sacrifice a Treasure token to pay the cost of the Cancel?

The way I see it, the Treasure token's abilities would go on the stack after the creature spell does, so I wouldn't have the mana for Cancel until the stack resolves and the creature is summoned. The only way to play it would be to sacrifice the treasures preemptively before my opponent tries to play the creature. Is that correct?

  • Edited for clarity. – Valhalla Oct 8 '17 at 18:17
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    @diego The question is less about the stack, and more about the mana ability of the Treasure Token. That said, there is demonstrated misunderstanding on how the stack works. – Drunk Cynic Oct 8 '17 at 18:42
  • Just the top card on the Stack has to resolve before you play another one. – OldBunny2800 Oct 9 '17 at 2:17
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    Note that there's no difference between lands and Treasure tokens here. Counterspells work normally anyway. – JollyJoker Oct 9 '17 at 7:41
  • Mana is special, but even if it wasn't your responses would resolve first, it is a stack not a queue. Last In, First out. – Hogan Oct 9 '17 at 18:36
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Yes, you can do this, for 2 different reasons.

First, as mentioned in Drunk Cynic's answer, treasure tokens' activated abilities are mana abilities, just like tapping a land for mana is.

605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets all of the following criteria: it doesn’t have a target, it could add mana to a player’s mana pool when it resolves, and it’s not a loyalty ability. (See rule 606, “Loyalty Abilities.”)

But also, you seem to be incorrectly thinking that once the stack begins to resolve, it finishes resolving all the way. This is not the case.

Each player gets priority after each thing on the stack resolves. This means that even if your only way of getting mana was from something other than a mana abiltiy (such as needing to activate an ability that would get you treasure tokens), you could still do that.

116.3b The active player receives priority after a spell or ability (other than a mana ability) resolves.

So you could activate a non-mana ability that gets you mana in some way, then when that resolve, you can then cast your counterspell, while the spell you are still trying to counter resolves.

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In response to your opponent, the active player, casting a creature, it is your desire to sacrifice three treasures in order to cast Cancel.

The activated ability of a Treasure token counts as a mana ability, per rule 605.

605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets all of the following criteria: it doesn’t have a target, it could add mana to a player’s mana pool when it resolves, and it’s not a loyalty ability. (See rule 606, “Loyalty Abilities.”)

Because it is a mana ability, the following applies, with emphasis added.

605.3a A player may activate an activated mana ability whenever he or she has priority, whenever he or she is casting a spell or activating an ability that requires a mana payment, or whenever a rule or effect asks for a mana payment, even if it’s in the middle of casting or resolving a spell or activating or resolving an ability.

605.3b An activated mana ability doesn’t go on the stack, so it can’t be targeted, countered, or otherwise responded to. Rather, it resolves immediately after it is activated. (See rule 405.6c.)

605.3c Once a player begins to activate a mana ability, that ability can’t be activated again until it has resolved.

You are trying to cast a spell, so you can use the mana Abilities of the treasure tokens to pay the mana cost of Cancel. Since they are mana abilities, they don't use the stack, so you don't need to mysteriously activate the abilities before your opponent casts the creatures.

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    I think your last sentence may be a tad misleading. Yes, the player doesn't need to activate the abilities before the opponent casts the creature, but the reason is not because they are mana abilities - I mean, the statement would also be true if they weren't mana abilities, because the player could activate the ability and let it resolve to produce the mana before casting Cancel. – David Z Oct 9 '17 at 2:39
  • I recall being able to counterspell instants that produce mana. – Joshua Oct 9 '17 at 16:23
  • @DavidZ That sentence is directly answering the thought process posed by the question. – Drunk Cynic Oct 9 '17 at 16:26
  • @DrunkCynic Sure, I'm just saying it's an imprecise answer. – David Z Oct 9 '17 at 16:42
  • @Joshua Yes, because an instant that produces mana is a spell on the stack, not a mana ability. One it resolves, the mana is added, but after it is cast, the other player gets priority. – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Mar 31 '18 at 18:37

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