In a nutshell:

  • Madness is an ability that lets you play a card when you discard it. While that intuitive explanation sounds simple, the technical machinations the rules use to do this are anything but:
    • First, upon being discarded, the card with madness is exiled instead of being put into the graveyard. This is a replacement effect.
    • When the card is exiled this way, a triggered ability triggers that allows its controller to cast it from exile for its madness cost. This choice is made as that triggered ability resolves.
    • If the player wants to cast it, the madness card is moved to the stack, and the regular process for casting a spell is followed. Otherwise, the madness card is put into its owner’s graveyard.
  • Even though it goes to exile instead of the graveyard, the madness card is still considered to be discarded.

Q: Amy activates Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy while her graveyard has 4 cards in it and chooses to discard Fiery Temper. She wants to play Fiery Temper with madness, but she also wants to transform Jace. Can she do both?

A: No. While exiling a discarded madness card was optional in the past, it’s mandatory now. Amy will exile the madness card rather than putting it in her graveyard, which means that Jace will only see 4 cards there when it checks to see if it flips.

Q: Can you stop a madness card with Counterspell?

A: Yes. You cast a spell with madness just like you cast it from your hand. The only difference is that you pay an alternate cost, and play it from an unusual zone (exile).

Q: Can you stop a madness card with Stifle?

A: Yes. The thing that allows you to cast a madness spell from exile is a triggered ability, so you can counter that with Stifle and prevent the madness card’s controller from casting it. The thing that puts the madness card in its owner’s graveyard if they don’t play it is part of this same triggered ability, so if you stop a madness card this way, it stays exiled forever.

Q: Can you stop a madness card with Pull from Eternity?

A: Yes. While the triggered ability that lets the player cast the madness card is on the stack, use Pull from Eternity to put it into their graveyard. When the ability resolves, the card with madness won’t be exiled anymore, so it won’t be possible to cast it.

Q: Does being enchanted with Wheel of Sun and Moon stop you from casting cards with madness?

A: Not if you’re savvy. Both Wheel of Sun and Moon and madness have replacement effects that want to alter where the card goes when you discard it. The affected player is the person who decides what order they apply. If you want, you can put it on the bottom of your library by applying the wheel’s effect first. If you want to cast it, applying madness first allows you to do that.

Q: Can you stop a madness card with Ulamog’s Nullifier (madness card’s controller owns one other card that’s exiled)?

A: No. Superficially, it seems like that should work, but look at what happens in detail. First, it won’t be possible to let your opponent cast the madness spell and counter it with Ulamog’s Nullifier’s ability, because by that time, the madness spell will be on the stack, so there won’t be two cards in exile for you to return to that player’s graveyard.

It’s also not possible to stop the madness card by casting Ulamog’s Nullifier in response to the madness card and using the ability to put the madness card in its owner’s graveyard. Putting the cards from exile into the graveyard happens on resolution of the ability, but that never happens. That triggered ability targets a spell, so if it gets put on the stack when there’s no spell to target, it just gets removed without anything else happening.

Q: Amy uses Word of Command to make Nicole cast Lightning Axe discarding Fiery Temper. Does Amy also choose whether to cast Fiery Temper? Does she control its casting too?

A: To see the answer, let’s examine exactly what happens as Word of Command resolves. Amy chooses Lightning Axe as the card that Nicole plays, then casts it as part of the resolution of Word of Command. Because Amy controls Nicole until Word of Command finishes resolving, Amy makes all choices during the casting of Lightning Axe, including whether to pay 5 or discard a card and which card to discard.

If Amy has Nicole discard a card with madness, it will be exiled instead of put into Nicole’s graveyard. This causes the madness ability to trigger. Nicole will have the option of casting the madness card when that triggered ability resolves, which will be after Word of Command has finished resolving. Amy will no longer be controlling Nicole at that point, so Nicole will be calling the shots for the madness card.

Q: Amy discards a Vampire Noble while she controls Falkenrath Gorger. While the noble is exiled, Nicole Just the Winds the gorger. What happens?

A: Before Nicole will get priority to cast Just the Wind, the game will check to see if any triggered abilities are waiting to go on the stack. At this time, vampire Noble has madness 2B, and it was exiled due to this ability. That causes the second half of the madness ability, the triggered ability that lets its controller cast it from exile, to trigger. Once on the stack, this ability will resolve regardless of what happens to its source, even if it loses the ability. When that triggered ability resolves, even though Vampire Noble won’t have madness at all by this point, the game will give Amy the chance to cast Vampire Noble for 2B.

Q: Amy discards Incorrigible Youths while she controls Falkenrath Gorger. How much does Amy pay to cast Incorrigible Youths?

A: This question is a little tricky. Let’s examine the process in detail. As Amy discards Incorrigible Youths, both its instances of madness want to replace that event with her exiling it. As the affected player, Amy will choose which replacement effect to apply first. Here’s the trick, though: Whichever one she applies, the other one is still applicable, because madness replaces the event of a person discarding the card, but specifically states that the new event still counts as discarding it. So to cast it for 2R, Amy will need to apply the madness 3RR ability first, then apply the madness 2R ability. The event in the game will start out as [Amy discards Incorrigible Youths], then it will become [Amy discards Incorrigible Youths into the exile zone with its madness 3RR ability], before finally becoming [Amy discards Incorrigible Youths into the exile zone with its madness 2R ability, then attempts to exile it with its madness 3RR ability (which will fail)]. Because it was exiled with the madness 2R ability, the triggered ability that corresponds to that ability will trigger and allow Amy to cast it.

Note: In a real game, the chances of a player specifying which madness ability is exiling the card is practically zero. Fortunately, the chances of this choice mattering are similarly unlikely.

Q: Amy discards Strength of Isolation into exile. Then she points to her Confessor and says “gain 1 life.” After that, Amy tries to cast Strength of Isolation, but her opponent protests that she has missed her chance to do this. How do you rule?

A: Both the madness “you may cast this card” ability and the Confessor’s ability trigger when Strength of Isolation is discarded. Amy controls both triggers, so she is able to order them however she chooses. Amy’s play is perfectly valid.

Q: Amy discards Just the Wind into exile. Then, Nicole asks Amy how many cards she has in hand. After answering, Amy plays a land, then attempts to use Just the Wind to bounce Nicole’s creature. Nicole protests that Amy has missed her chance to do this. How do you rule?

A: Madness is composed of a replacement effect that exiles the card and a triggered ability that allows its controller to cast the spell when it’s exiled this way. Nicole did not acknowledge this trigger before the time when it would have affected the visible game state, and she has taken a game action that she could not have taken with it still on the stack. This is a Missed Trigger for Amy. No penalty for Amy since getting to cast the spell isn’t detrimental, but the additional fix allows the trigger to go on the stack only if her opponent allows it, which doesn’t seem likely.

Note: When madness was first printed, it was actually possible to discard a madness card, play a land, and then use that land to help cast the madness card! Thankfully, this abomination was fixed when madness returned the first time during Time Spiral block.

Note: The triggered ability that allows Amy to cast the spell is also what puts it into her graveyard if she doesn’t. Because this triggered ability was missed, Just the Wind remains exiled.

Note: If Amy had cast an instant rather than playing a land, it would be possible that the madness trigger is still on the stack waiting to resolve. In this case, Amy would be able to play it.

Q: Amy discards Just the Wind with her Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, but rather than exiling it, she puts it into her graveyard. A short time later, before taking any other game actions, Amy points at Just the Wind, taps an Island, and says “bounce your Grizzly Bears.” Amy’s opponent protests that Amy, by putting the card into her graveyard, has missed her chance to do this. How do you rule?

A: The technically correct play is to exile Just the Wind, then cast it from exile. Putting it in the graveyard could be interpreted as a shortcut for discarding it to exile, electing not to cast it when the madness triggered ability resolves, and then putting it in the graveyard. On the other hand, it’s also possible to interpret Amy’s actions as casting Just the Wind legally, albeit a bit sloppily as far as technical details are concerned (i.e., in a way that players routinely do). As much as I hate to give the cop-out of “use your judgement,” that’s the best answer here. If I believed Amy genuinely realized what was going on and just discarded to the graveyard carelessly, I would let her have it. If I believed that Amy only realized that she could play the card after the fact, I wouldn’t. As a guide recall the following passage from the Out-of-Order Sequencing section in the MTR: “In general, any substantial pause at the end of a completed batch is an indication that all actions have been taken, the sequence is complete and the game has moved to the appropriate point at the end of the sequence.”