Modern Rules Problems – Madness


Madness drives people crazy. And the madness ability drives Magic players crazy. Making a return in Shadows Over Innistrad, madness has brought back many questions about how it works. This article is going to go over some of the more common interactions you might run in to at a tournament.


Madness in General

Madness is a replacement effect and a triggered ability. If you would discard a card with madness, instead of discarding it to the graveyard, instead you discard it to exile and a trigger goes on the stack. When that trigger resolves, you can choose to cast the card for its madness cost. If you cast it, the card goes on the stack and behaves like any other spell at that point (so it can be countered by something like Cancel). If you choose not to cast the card, it goes to the graveyard. You don’t get the opportunity to cast it at a later time, you either cast it while the trigger is resolving or not at all.

You’re casting the card when the triggered ability resolves – this means that you get to ignore normal timing restrictions for the card. For instance, if it’s your opponent’s turn and you discard a creature or sorcery card, you’ll be able to cast it via madness when the trigger resolves, even though it’s your opponent’s turn.

Casting the card for its madness cost is an alternate cost of casting the card. Since you’re casting the card, the cost of the spell can be affected by cost increasers or decreasers. For example, if there’s a Vryn Wingmare on the battlefield and you’re trying to cast Biting Rain for its madness cost, it will cost 3B to cast instead of 2B. Likewise, if you controlled a Jace’s Sanctum, it would cost 1B to cast Biting Rain for its madness cost.

If you discard the madness card as part of a cost of casting a spell or activating an ability (for example, Tormenting Voice), the madness trigger will go on the stack once you’re done announcing the spell or ability. You’ll deal with the madness trigger before resolving the spell. But if you’re discarding the card because of a resolving spell or ability (for example, Catalog), you’ll fully resolve that spell or ability before we put the madness trigger on the stack.

Madness only works if you discard the card, and you can only discard a card from your hand. A card going from your library to the graveyard, for instance, is not being discarded, and you could not cast it for its madness cost. And you can’t just discard a card just because you want to – some spell or ability has to let you discard. You can’t just choose to discard a Fiery Temper because you want to cast it for its madness cost instead of its mana cost – something else has to let you discard it.


Madness and Converted Mana Cost

Casting a card for madness is an alternate cost, and casting a card for an alternate cost doesn’t change what the card’s converted mana cost is. For instance, if you discard a Incorrigible Youths and cast it for its madness cost, its converted mana cost is still 5, even though you paid 2R to cast it. That means your Youths can still be countered by a Disdainful Stroke, since its converted mana cost is four or more.


Madness and Processors

While the madness trigger is on the stack, the card with madness is in exile. If the madness card is no longer in exile when the trigger resolves, you won’t be able to cast it. Therefore, it’s possible to use something like Oracle of Dust to remove the madness card from exile with the trigger on the stack to deny your opponent the opportunity to cast the card for its madness cost.


Madness and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

One small rules change with Shadows Over Innistrad affected how Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy works with madness. The current rules make discarding the madness to exile mandatory instead of optional. If you have four cards in your graveyard, activate Jace’s ability, and discard a card with madness, you have to put it into exile instead of the graveyard (even if you have no intention of casting it via madness). Since you only have four cards in your graveyard at the point when Jace’s ability checks the number of cards in your graveyard, Jace will not transform.


I hope this article didn’t drive you to madness. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

Written by Nathan Long

Written by Nathan Long

Nathan Long
DCI Level 2 Judge