With this question, I would like to shed some light on the Lion's Eye Diamond card, and some of its possible uses. It is an incredible card, which in some ways is similar to the Black Lotus, but which unfortunately cannot be completely associated with it, for obvious reasons.

First, it is possible to note that the Oracle card text and the original card text are noticeably different. At first glance, it would seem that the only current use for this card is the ability to use the three mana for some activated ability of the cards that are already in play.

In fact, I think I can exclude the possibility of "starting to cast a spell". With this last expression, I mean in the sense that, having chosen a spell from the hand, and with the Diamond already on the battlefield, you can cast it thus excluding it from the hand – and thus sidestepping this way the wording "discard your hand" as regards the spell you would cast with the help of the Diamond.

In other words, I don't think it's possible to use this card as a mana source anymore, and with the rules associated with mana sources only: this is also because, unlike the original text, Oracle says that the ability of this card can now only be played as an instant.

But even this use seems really strange to me ... Before the errata, it was a mana source, and now, even if it remains largely such, it must be used as an instant ... There remains, in my opinion, no other possibility of using this card for the activated abilities of the cards already in play.

I would want to know if what is reported here is correct, and if any expert – or, who has ever played with this card – has any idea how it can be used differently from the way shown here.

  • 4
    I suggest looking at the edits I have recently made to this question and some others that you asked, and using them to help improve your questions before you post them. In particular, we strongly prefer titles that contain the actual question in short, and not just a mention of the broad topic. And writing longer questions in paragraphs with blank lines in between helps readers follow along with what you are saying.
    – murgatroid99
    Dec 30, 2019 at 15:35
  • As for the blank lines,ok I will take this into account. But,as for the titles...well,I should note that Murgatroid and some of you here at Stack Exchange particularly like "question-marked titled questions". Ok,then I'll do as you like. Dec 31, 2019 at 9:52
  • However,please allow me to point out that,in general,a more exhaustive summary of a given question is obtained avoiding to bring back the parts with question-marks,which repeat what is already in the body,and constitute only its end.It would be better to focus titles on the general theme,also because,f. e.in the case of this question,we are not only talking about how we can spend mana,but also about other things:about all the card in general(TextChanges).But I understand that it is important for you to avoid duplication,so reporting the question-marked parts in titles it is strongly preferred. Dec 31, 2019 at 9:57
  • This isn't about duplicates. The point of the title is to communicate what the question is asking to people who see it on the front page or in a search, so that they can tell whether they can answer it, or whether it will have the answers they are looking for. Summarizing the question like I did is the best way to do that.
    – murgatroid99
    Dec 31, 2019 at 15:03
  • Yes, I will do as it is strongly recommended. I just wanted to say that reading the word "title" - expecially for a "new contributor" - can automatically make him think he has to give a general idea of the proposed topic with that question, much more than it suggests to have to write the "heart"(the part with the question mark) of the question as a "title". But, once you know what is required with the "title", then things will be done in the required way. Jan 3, 2020 at 9:37

4 Answers 4


Lion's Eye Diamond was not errataed to make it harder to use, it was errataed to maintain its original functionality

Lion's Eye Diamond is old. It was printed in Mirage, which was released in 1996, only three years after Magic was first printed. As such, it predates the Sixth Edition Rules, the largest rules revamp Magic has ever seen. The Sixth Editions Rules restructured how a turn works, implemented the stack (replacing a previous concept of spell resolution called "batching"), and notably for our purposes, changed when you were allowed to get mana.

Before the Sixth Edition Rules, you had to have your mana available before you started to cast a spell. But the Sixth Edition Rules created mana abilities which did not use the stack, and could be used during casting when you are asked to pay for mana (Mana Sources, like Lion's Eye Diamond's ability were not what mana abilities are now. They acted more like instants that produce mana).

The intention of Lion's Eye Diamond was to force you to discard your hand before getting the mana, so that you couldn't use the mana to cast spells. The Sixth Edition Rules made it possible to use LED while a spell was already in the process of being cast, circumventing that intention. So LED was given errata that required it to be cast at instant speed, returning it to its original functionality.

  • Thanks Lupus,finally you can give an excellent answer! Until now, you have limited yourself to criticizing them,immediately marking them as inadequate,or reading them as duplicates of other pre-existing questions(f.e. see the question about Abzan Priest and its text,which in my opinion,and other users too,is ambiguous).Despite these things -which do not concern this question of course- your answer is the best here.I particularly like the part where you say:-The 6th Edition Rules made it possible to use LED while a spell was already in the process of being cast,circumventing that intention ". Jan 3, 2020 at 9:35
  • This is exactly the basis of the fact that it made me think about the possibility of using the LED to cast spells from your hand before having to discard them due to the ability of the LED. Today this is no longer possible ...... but the errata entered to deal with this situation can really put beginners in difficulty ... and not only beginners! Jan 3, 2020 at 9:46
  • Just a small criticism: the fact that LED is old doesn't mean anything: Ancestral Recall is an old card too...Although, yes, it's true: Lupus meant that LED is a card that has had to pass all the checks due to the numerous changes that the game has undergone over the years. Jan 3, 2020 at 9:46
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    @Massimiliano good to know that 100+ answers is considered "limiting myself to criticizing them" Jan 3, 2020 at 9:48
  • Do you rate my questions good? I do not know this since now..., how could I? 100+ means that? If so, excuse me. Ok, after all I'm only telling silly things...really thank you! Jan 3, 2020 at 9:54

Yes, you're right, you cannot use Lion's Eye Diamond to cast spells which are currently in your hand. The rulings below the card even admit that it's a strange one:

The ability is a mana ability, so it is activated and resolves as a mana ability, but it can only be activated at times when you can cast an instant. Yes, this is a bit weird.

Other than activated abilities, or decks who want their graveyards to be filled (e.g. for Bridge from Below, another card which Gatherer admits is a bit weird.) and care less about the hand, there are some exceptions: most notably cards with Madness or Flashback. In both cases, you can just activate the Diamond, causing you to discard your hand. A card with Madness can be cast for its Madness cost because it's being discarded; a card with Flashback because it's now in your graveyard.

  • Yes, cards with Madness and Flashback abilities are now available to cast...this is really great, and clever. Needless to say that... it hadn't occurred to my mind!! ... I no longer need to demonstrate my lack of intelligence in this game! But perhaps it is more the fact that, given the times in which you have literally managed to "turn the rules of this game like a sock" in my eyes, then I always prefer to turn to you for any "special solutions", or even apparently simple uses of hard or trivial cards. Dec 30, 2019 at 10:43
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    Interestingly enough, both Lion's Eye Diamond and Bridge from Below seem to be the only cards in Gatherer with a Yes, this is weird comment. Dec 30, 2019 at 22:14
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    Re "you cannot use Lion's Eye Diamond to cast spells from your hand", You can; you are merely unlikely to have any cards in your hand. For example, if you have the means to draw cards in the same step/phase as you cast LED, you will have cards in your hand to cast, and nothing stops LED's mana from being used for those. For example, you could cast a spell that causes you to draw cards and use LED in response to it. For example, you could use a card that causes one's mana pool not to drain at the end of steps/phases.
    – ikegami
    Dec 30, 2019 at 23:01

If you have a LED on the field and a card you want to cast in your hand, you cannot cast it using LED's mana, as Glorfindel points out.

However, you can still draw cards after the LED ability resolves, and use the floating mana to cast the spells. You can for example pay 2U (using lands, not LED) to cast Divination from your hand, hold priority (not resolving the Divination), crack LED, discarding the rest of your hand, now let Divination resolve (if your opponent allows it of course), draw two cards, and use the three floating mana from LED to cast a spell you just drew.

Notably, the famous Storm deck for legacy runs the combo of Infernal Tutor with LED. If you do the steps above but using the Tutor instead of Divination, the Hellbent ability will always trigger, letting you pick any card from your deck (e.g. Brain Freeze or Grapeshot if they can finish the game on spot) and cast it using LED-produced mana.


Glorfindel mentioned Madness and Flashback, and Mephy mentioned using it while a card draw effect is on the stack. There are a few more ways to use it:

Have a permanent that allows you to draw cards. For instance, if you have Alchemist's Apprentice on the battlefield, you can sacrifice LED, then sacrifice Alchemist's Apprentice to get another card that you can cast.

Cast cards from your library. For instance, Elsha of the Infinite allows you to cast the top card of your library.

Cast cards from exile. For instance, you can cast Act on Impulse, sacrifice LED, then cast one of the cards you exiled with Act on Impulse.

I believe that you can also use it during your upkeep. So you could pay upkeep costs, or you could do something like cast Slaughter Pact, then during your next upkeep sacrifice LED to pay the 2B. This would let you use any Pact regardless of whether you have lands that produce the correct color of mana.

  • Of course... the controller of LED is able to use it in lots of ways...there's no doubt about it. Really thank you all, because this is exactly what i'm expecting from experts: talking about some of the several possible interactions with this really interesting card. Jan 3, 2020 at 9:42
  • Okay, you're all right. But I keep wondering ... what would happen, then, if I ... ehm, I.. ... would cast a .... LED ZEPPELIN instead? As they say,too ... :-"If you can clarify, please do!" ... .......... And here my question is: in which song do they say it? Answers are accepted! Jan 7, 2020 at 16:03

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