Just out of curiosity: The rules say:

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.”)

So, are there currently abilities on cards that do have a target, but could add mana on resolve and are no loyalty abilities, thus using the stack?

I'm asking because until recently I falsely believed that all abilities that generate mana are mana abilities and are thus exceptions to the "abilities go to the stack" rule. But it wouldn't be MTG if rules didn't have exceptions to exceptions, so it'd be good to know which cards to look out for. Even if some of them are joke cards like Unglued it'd be nice to know them just for the sake of knowing.

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    The answers provide examples of things that are not mana abilities. One thing to note is that, as long as it doesn't target, it is a mana ability no matter how complicated. See Selvala, Explorer Returned for an example of something truly absurd that is still a mana ability and does not use the stack. – Zags Nov 14 at 22:07
  • In case you are wondering about triggered abilities instead of activated abilities: Vernal Bloom is an example of a triggered mana ability while Eladamri’s Vineyard generates mana while not being a mana ability. see rule 605.1b – Ivo Beckers Nov 15 at 13:33
  • While I am also interested in triggered abilities, I don't see why Eladamri’s Vineyard is no mana ability, because "each player" means that it's not targeted either. – Alex Nov 15 at 13:51
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    605.1b specifies that a triggered ability is only a mana ability if it either comes from the resolution of an activated mana ability or from mana being added to a mana pool. That's why Eladamri's Vineyard is not a mana ability. As far why they chose it to be this way, I don't know. – Manuel Hoffmann Nov 15 at 15:24
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    Oh. My god! O_O That is very good to know, because I like to play Mana Echoes, whose ability, as it turns out, is not a mana ability, either, then. – Alex Nov 15 at 15:37
up vote 27 down vote accepted

Yes, Deathrite Shaman is one such card. One of its abilities:

{T}: Exile target land card from a graveyard. Add one mana of any color.

In fact, its oracle page even addresses this ability:

Because the first ability requires a target, it is not a mana ability. It uses the stack and can be responded to. (2016-06-08)

  • Thank you for the help! :-) – Alex Nov 14 at 14:10

In addition to Ikegami's answer, I found two additional cards with abilities that add mana but are not considered mana abilities.

Soulbright Flamekin has the ability

{2}: Target creature gains trample until end of turn. If this is the third time this ability has resolved this turn, you may add RRRRRRRR.

Witch Engine has the ability

{T}: Add BBBB. Target opponent gains control of Witch Engine. (Activate this ability only any time you could cast an instant.)

Note that in both cases the abilities contain the keyword "Target". This makes the ability not a mana ability. Consider the counter case of Cabal Pit.

{T}: Add B. Cabal Pit deals 1 damage to you.

This is a mana ability because it never uses the word target.

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    Are you sure it has to specifically use the word target to count? For example, if it said "deal 1 damage to a creature that you choose"? That wording would not be used at this point in time, but the point remains, since there may be other cards that similarly don't exactly use the word target, especially if they are older. – Aaron Nov 14 at 22:24
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    @Aaron yes. See rule 605.1a quoted above. – Arcanist Lupus Nov 15 at 1:23
  • @ArcanistLupus do you mean that the activating player is not a target for cabal pit? It seems odd and I do not see how rule 605.1a is relevant. – Rad80 Nov 15 at 8:28
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    @Rad80, the activating player of Cabal Pit is indeed not a target. (How could they be? The activating player is fixed by the action of activating the ability, so there's no possibility of choice in any scenario). See rule 114. – Peter Taylor Nov 15 at 8:42
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    @DenisS Thank you for the additional examples! :-) – Alex Nov 15 at 9:33

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