[Outdated; Inaccurate] JJ's Rules Lesson -- Madness

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Originally by Jeff Jordan:


Since there is really only one question this week, this reply will be devoted to the new ability "Madness." You can read Paul Barclay's primer at http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/feature/7
The rest of this reply may seem a little redundant at times. This section and the next were each meant to stand alone, but are both included to get a full picture. The rules for Madness are:

502.24. Madness

502.24a Madness represents two abilities. The first is a static ability of cards that functions while the card is in a player's hand. The second is a triggered ability that functions whenever the first ability is applied. The phrase "Madness [cost]" means "If a player would discard this card from his or her hand, that player discards it, but may remove it from the game instead of putting it into his or her graveyard," and "Whenever this card is removed from the game this way, until he or she passes next, he or she may play it any time he or she could play an instant as though it were in his or her hand by paying [cost] rather than paying its mana cost. When he or she passes next, he or she puts it into his or her graveyard."

502.24b Playing a spell using its madness ability follows the rules for paying alternative costs in rules 409.1b and 409.1f.

Rule 502.24c, as printed in the FAQ, contains no new information about the functionality of Madness. It is an explanation only, and it
contains one ambiguous statement that has caused some confusion. It is not wrong, it is ambiguous and it is being interpreted differently than
Paul Barclay intended. It will be dropped from the published version of the rulebook. I include a modified version of that explanation here, without a rule number:

Anytime you discard a card which has madness, you have the option to remove it from the game (so you can play it using its madness ability) or not. If you remove it from the game, the second part of the madness ability triggers. When this ability resolves, you have the option of playing the spell for its madness cost. You can only play it in the very next "window of priority" where you could play an instant this turn. Once it has been played, it acts in every way like a normal spell. It can be countered. It will be put in the graveyard or into play when it resolves, as appropriate for its spell type. If you don't play before you pass, put it in the graveyard.


Since Madness comprises two abilities and possibly a delayed trigger, the timing is not straightforward and can be a little confusing at
times. This is most evident when several Madness cards are discarded at the same time.

At the time when you would discard one or more cards with the Madness ability, you can choose to discard them to the "removed from the game"
zone instead of the graveyard. This causes the Madness ability to trigger, as well as any other discard triggers that exist in play. Choosing to remove a Madness card is *not* playing the card, and does not require you to pay any costs.

When multiple Madness discards occur at the same time, they trigger abilities that are put on the stack in "Active Player then Non-Active Player" order, or APNAP. Each player chooses the ordering for the triggers they control, and can mix non-Madness triggers in with the Madness triggers. The triggers will resolve in reverse order.

When a Madness trigger resolves, it gives you the opportunity to play that one Madness card before passing again. Either player may play spells and abilities according to the normal timing before or after the card is played. You can still choose to not play the card by passing. This causes yet another trigger to be put on the stack, one that will move the card into the graveyard. You cannot play that spell card while waiting for that trigger to resolve.

If you choose to play the card, it goes on the stack on top of all of the unresolved Madness triggers, and it must resolve or get countered
before the remaining Madness cards can be played.

Example: During a Wheel of Fortune in Player A's main phase, he discards a Psychotic Haze and a Circular Logic. Player B discards a Fiery Temper and a Basking Rootwalla. The players decide to remove all of these Madness cards from the game, and they stack the triggers in the order listed.

The first trigger to resolve is the Basking Rootwalla's. After Player A passes (the active player always gets priority first after a resolution), Player B chooses to play the Basking Rootwalla. She can play this creature spell when the stack is not empty because the Madness effect says she can play it when she could play an instant. She pays 0, and the spell is put on the stack. When it resolves, it is put into play as a creature.

There are still triggers on the stack, so both players must pass before the next one resolves, which is Fiery Temper's. Player B again decides
to play it after Player A passes, and pays R. She chooses Player A's only creature, a 2/2 Grizzly Bear, as a target creature (she could choose the Basking Rootwalla, but that would be silly). Both players pass, and then the Bear dies. Both players pass, again.

Next comes the Circular Logic. Even though Player A would like to have used it on the Fiery Temper, that was impossible because these Madness spells must be played and resolved one at a time. So Player A now decides to not play this spell. He passes, triggering the delayed trigger to put the Circular Logic spell card in the graveyard.

Both players let that resolve, and the Madness trigger just below it for the Psychotic Haze. The stack is now empty. Player A can play a creature or sorcery spell first. He doesn't have to play the Psychotic Haze until he passes, so he can use it in response to a *new* spell. So, he can cast a 1/1 creature that will not be in play when the Psychotic Haze resolves. The Basking Rootwalla will die, and the new creature will live.

Cards in this example:

Circular Logic
Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1 for each
card in your graveyard.
Madness U

Fiery Temper
Fiery Temper deals 3 damage to target creature or player.
Madness R

Basking Rootwalla
Creature -- Lizard 1/1 1G:
Basking Rootwalla gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this
ability only once each turn.
Madness 0

Psychotic Haze
Psychotic Haze deals 1 damage to each creature and each player.
Madness B

* If you have Madness cards in the hand you discard to Lion's Eye Diamond, you can play them with the mana you get from the ability.
* You can sacrifice more Lion's Eye Diamonds for mana before you play the spell cards discarded for the first.
* If you discard more than one Madness card at the same time, can play them all. You just can't play them in response to each other. Each one must resolve before the next one is played.