Mana burn

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Mana burn is an obsolete game concept in which a player would experience loss of life for having excess unspent mana when a phase ended.

Description[edit | edit source]

For instance, if a player tapped a Swamp to cast Dark Ritual, adding {B}{B}{B} to their mana pool, then cast Erg Raiders (which costs {1}{B}), and then let the phase in which Erg Raiders was cast end but didn't spend the remaining {B}, that player would lose 1 life from mana burn.

History[edit | edit source]

The rules update to Magic 2010 has removed this part from the game.[1] Players do not suffer loss of life for unused mana anymore. R&D considered the rule too complex and unnecessary.[2]

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (May 1, 2009—Alara Reborn)

  • 300. General (Obsolete)
    • 300.3. When a phase ends (but not a step), any unused mana left in a player's mana pool is lost. That player loses 1 life for each one mana lost this way. This is called mana burn. Mana burn is loss of life, not damage, so it can't be prevented or altered by effects that affect damage. This game action doesn't use the stack. (See rule 406, "Mana Abilities.")

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (August 7, 2020—Double Masters)

Mana Burn (Obsolete)
Older versions of the rules stated that unspent mana caused a player to lose life; this was called “mana burn.” That rule no longer exists.

History[edit | edit source]

Mana burn was almost removed in the Sixth Edition rules update, but Mark Rosewater fought to keep it in. Ten years later, he fought to have it removed. His reasons to remove it were that it would free up design space, do away with a rule that's confusing for new players and that it's a rule that wasn't pulling its weight.[1]

He tried it out in design by having all designers play without mana burn for a month. It hadn't come up in playtests at all during the whole month.[3]

In-world meaning[edit | edit source]

In storylines, mana burn happens when a wizard holds mana and doesn't use it to cast the spell. Such a wizard can seriously suffer from it, be killed, or even be burned to ash if the amount of mana was too big. Some victims of mana burn can also be turned into the Fallen.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b Mark Rosewater (June 22, 2009). "Magic Lessons". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (March 4, 2019). "You Know Who.". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (August 13, 2014). "why was mana burn removed from the game?". Blogatog. Tumblr.