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Is it possible to play a land card when the stack is filled with unresolved spells and effects waiting to do their work? It may be useful since MTG came out with his new (at those times...) Landfall ability (Zendikar, if I remember well...). So, I question this because some years ago I was trying to counter a spell, but my opponent played a land card – to let some landfall ability to trigger, and get some advantages from this – and at the end of this stack he finally cast his spell. I lost the game some turns later. All I’m asking is already described above, but I ask it once again: Is it possible to play a land card when the stack is filled up?

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    Note there is no limit to the Stack. It can be empty or non-empty, but filled implies nothing else can be added which is simply not true. – corsiKa Nov 30 '19 at 23:07
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Is it possible to play a land card when the stack is filled with unresolved spells and effects waiting to do their work?

No.

305.1. A player who has priority may play a land card from their hand during a main phase of their turn when the stack is empty.

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    Exception: Abilities that instruct a player to play a card or play a land. These functions even if though the stack isn't empty. – ikegami Dec 1 '19 at 0:29
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    @ikegami There are lots of spells/abilities that have a player "put a land onto the battlefield", but that is not the same as "playing a land". I can't think of anything that causes you to "play a land" directly. They're functionally equivalent for landfall/enter the battlefield effects, but very importantly different since you can only "play" one land per turn, barring other effects. – Nuclear Wang Dec 2 '19 at 14:05
  • Another super weird niche exception is that Dryad Arbor can be played when the stack is not empty if you have Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir out or cast Scout's Warning first. For newer cards they changed the template to "cast as though they have Flash" to prevent these kinds of oddities. – CALEB F Dec 2 '19 at 16:28
  • @Nuclear Wang, Re "I can't think of anything that causes you to "play a land" directly.", I don't know if any spell/abilities allows you to play a land exclusively, but there definitely some that allow you to play a land directly. See my answer for an example. – ikegami Dec 2 '19 at 18:48
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No, not usually.


Both the rules (via a mechanism called Priority) and abilities (including spells) instruct you to play a land.

The normal way to play lands is through the permission given by priority. A player is only given permission to do this when the stack is empty during a main phase of their turn.[CR 117.1, 117.1c, 116.2a]

But priority is not the only thing that instructs you to play lands. There are spells and abilities (such as Brilliant Ultimatum) that instruct a player to play a card. The stack isn't empty when these spells and abilities have you play a card, and this is of no consequence.[CR 608.2c]


117.1. Unless a spell or ability is instructing a player to take an action, which player can take actions at any given time is determined by a system of priority. The player with priority may cast spells, activate abilities, and take special actions.

117.1c A player may take some special actions any time they have priority. A player may take other special actions during their main phase any time they have priority and the stack is empty. See rule 116, “Special Actions.”

116.2a Playing a land is a special action. To play a land, a player puts that land onto the battlefield from the zone it was in (usually that player’s hand). By default, a player can take this action only once during each of their turns. A player can take this action any time they have priority and the stack is empty during a main phase of their turn. See rule 305, “Lands.”

608.2c The controller of the spell or ability follows its instructions in the order written. [...]

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  • Note: Don't confuse continuous effects (e.g. from static abilities) that modify the permission given from priority for an instruction to play a land. For example, "You may play the top card of your library if it’s a land card." simply modifies from where you can play a land when you have priority. – ikegami Dec 2 '19 at 18:47
  • Well ikigami, all these situations you described are exceptions, but they could occur. So you gave good complementary instructions about the whole situation. Next time you'll get an award, really thank you. – ManoFromBerlin Dec 4 '19 at 15:38
  • @Massimiliano, Nonsense. You can only play a land when instructed to play a land, and there two time and only two times when MTG does that. No exceptions. My answer identifies those times and specifies whether the stack needs to be empty or not at the times. (It doesn't for the first time, and it can't be for the second time.) – ikegami Dec 4 '19 at 22:13
  • @Massimiliano, In fact, there is at least one exception to the rules which contradict the answer (but not when you can play a land), but neither answer mention it. See CALEB F's comment on the other answer for the exception. – ikegami Dec 4 '19 at 22:13
  • "No exceptions"; and, some line later...."there is at least one exception to the rules" ...you can read by yourself, Ikegami, your answers are good, but you want to understand everything, and sometimes disorient the reader too. – ManoFromBerlin Dec 5 '19 at 16:44

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