Mana is a renewable resource in Magic: The Gathering. Mana is generated by some cards, most notably land, and then used to play most of the game's cards and abilities. Designed by Magic creator Richard Garfield, mana is closely related to the game's color system, and alongside it is one of the cornerstones of the game.
Mana is one of the main limiting factors on what actions players can take at any given time. It is sometimes derided for the variance it introduces to the game, particularly in the form of mana screw. However, the mana system also provides numerous benefits to the game such as pacing and variety, and is one of the key innovations credited with the Magic's overall success.
Gameplay Fundamentals[edit | edit source]
Mana is a form of magic used to pay the mana cost required to cast most of the cards in the game. It is also used to cover other costs, such as those to activate certain abilities. The most basic mana source is land, though certain spells and abilities can also produce mana. A player taps land to add mana to his or her mana pool; one's mana supply regenerates naturally when lands untap during the beginning phase of his or her turn. A player that exhausts his or her supply of mana is considered "tapped out."
The mana system allows the design of cards that differ greatly in power level. Stronger cards with higher mana cost have the inherent drawback of being unusable early, and risk leaving the user tapped out when played. Also, by requiring specific types of mana, R&D can associate mechanics with specific colors. Mana cost is one of the chief tools R&D uses to balance the game.
As they play lands, players gain access to more mana over the course of the game, allowing the use of cards in greater power and numbers. This gives each Magic duel a natural sense of pacing and drama, by ensuring games start slow but eventually build up to an epic conclusion.
Colors of Mana[edit | edit source]
There are six types of mana: the five colored (one for each of Magic's five colors), as well as colorless mana. Mana is represented by mana symbols, or letters that represent those mana symbols. There are six basic lands, which can each tap to generate one mana of the corresponding mana type, but only five basic land types. Wastes, introduced in Oath of the Gatewatch, is a basic land with no basic land subtype, and generates colorless mana.
|Symbol||Color||Basic Land Card||Mana type||Land type|
Although most colorless cards have purely generic mana costs, certain spells specifically require colorless mana to cast. In contrast, generic costs can be paid with any type of mana, colored or colorless.
Mana abilities[edit | edit source]
A mana ability is either:
- an activated ability, with no target, and excluding planeswalkers' loyalty abilities, that could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves.
- a triggered ability, with no target, that triggers from a mana ability and could produce additional mana.
|Examples of activated mana abilities
Examples of triggered mana abilities
A mana ability does not use the stack, and thus cannot be countered or responded to by either player. In contrast, non-permanent spells (instants, sorceries, etc.) that add mana to a player's mana pool, such as Dark Ritual or Seething Song, are not mana abilities, and use the stack like all other spells.
Mana costs[edit | edit source]
Mana added to one's mana pool can be specifically required to pay the mana cost of a spell or ability. However apart from that there is a wide variety of mana costs used in the game.
Converted mana cost[edit | edit source]
- See also: X.
The converted mana cost (commonly abbreviated CMC) of an object is an integer equal to or greater than zero. It is determined by converting each colored mana symbol in the spell's cost to 1 (unless it is one of the hybrid mana symbols , each of which converts to 2), then adding the results to the generic mana cost of the spell. (For example, spells with mana costs of and both have a converted mana cost of 3.)
The only case in which a spell's converted mana cost can ever vary is for spells with in the mana cost. When an object with X in the mana cost is on the stack, X equals whatever value was chosen for it when it was put on the stack. In any other location, X equals 0.
Within the worlds of Magic[edit | edit source]
Mana is the magical energy that fuels the spells of spellcasters. It is deeply interconnected with the lifeforce on every plane in the Multiverse, and it can take that role by itself as well.[note 1] When there is little or no mana in an area, things die or become emaciated and weak.[note 2]
Leylines[edit | edit source]
In Magic, leylines are ancient mana paths that flow and crisscross each other across a given landscape. All worlds have a network of leylines. They are often found rather than cast. For example, leylines formed the Implicit Maze on Ravnica, coalesce into the gods of Amonkhet and connected the hedrons of Zendikar. Nahiri created cryptoliths on Innistrad to bend the leylines to her will, and to summon Emrakul. Eldrazi are known to follow leylines. 
History and changes[edit | edit source]
Conceptual Origin[edit | edit source]
The term "mana" in association with magic is used by many different cultures, though its more recent usage in fiction and games is generally credited to science fiction author Larry Niven in his The Magic Goes Away series. The designers of Magic paid homage to Niven with the lich character of Nevinyrral and his Nevinyrral's Disk.
Purple mana[edit | edit source]
During design for Planar Chaos, the developers considered using a new sixth mana color to give the feeling of an alternate reality. They decided on purple as the color, and gave it a place in the color wheel in between blue and black. A new ally and enemy system was invented, in which each color would be enemies with the color directly across from it, allied with the two colors right next to it, and neutral towards the remaining two colors. Purple's basic land would most likely be "City," though both "Cave" and "Portal" were also very likely.
The team eventually decided to give purple enchantment removal worse than white's, direct damage worse than red's, and take away blue's countermagic and black's force-sacrifice effects to give to purple. However, when they realized that players might be disappointed with a new color that didn't really "do anything new", the team started losing interest in the idea. The concept was eventually replaced with a new class of timeshifted card.
Comprehensive Rules[edit | edit source]
Mana pool[edit | edit source]
When an effect produces mana, that mana goes into a player's mana pool. From there, it can be used to pay costs immediately, or it can stay in the player’s mana pool. Each player’s mana pool empties at the end of each step and phase.
The phrase "mana pool" has been removed from card text, starting with Dominaria . The concept continues to exist in the game rules. If a player is instructed to add an amount of mana, that player adds that mana to their mana pool.
Mana burn (Obsolete)[edit | edit source]
- See also: Mana burn.
When a phase ends, any unused mana left in a player's mana pool is lost. Up until Magic 2010, a player would lose also 1 life for each unspent mana lost this way. This was called mana burn, and because it was loss of life instead of damage, it could not be prevented or altered by effects that affect damage. Mana burn was eliminated from the game with the rules overhaul that took place during the release of Magic 2010.
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Reid Duke. (2015 July 06.) “The Basics of Mana”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (2006 June 05.) “As Good As It Gets”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (2011 May 23.) “Mana Action”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mike McArtor. (2014 November 13.) “Oh the Huge Mana Tease”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (2004 February 20.) “Starting Over”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (2004 October 04.) “Change For the Better”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (February 06, 2008.) “The Mana Bond”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (July 07, 2010.) “Target: Face”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (January 24, 2006.) “Guildpact's Leyline Cycle”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ken Troop. (April 26, 2017.) “The Hand That Moves”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ari Levitch. (July 15, 2015.) “Limits”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ari Levitch. (July 06, 2016.) “Campaign of Vengeance”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Words of Magic, by Allen Varney
- Paul Sottosanti. (January 29, 2007.) “The Color Purple”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Aaron Forsythe. (2009 June 10.) “Magic 2010 Rules Change”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.