Special actions do not use the stack.

One of the most common phrases you’ll hear said in a Magic game is ‘in response…’ However, there are a few things that do not use the stack and cannot be responded to. Today we are going to look at special actions. These are six specific actions that players choose to perform when they have priority. Some of these special actions also have other timing restrictions on them. Taking advantage of any of these does not use the stack. These special actions are:

  • Playing a land. This obviously has the additional restriction that you can only do so during a main phases on your turn when the stack is empty and you haven’t reached your limit of lands you can play during the turn.
  • Paying a morph cost to turn a face-down creature face up.
  • Paying a cost that an effect stated you could do at some point in the future. There are not that many cards with abilities like this, and definitely not that many from the recent past. They usually tell you to pay a cost to end an effect or to prevent a delayed triggered ability from triggering later. Here is one example: Sabertooth Cobra. The player that was damaged can perform the special action of paying two mana anytime that player has priority to prevent the delayed triggered ability of the Cobra from going on the stack at the beginning of his or her next upkeep.
  • Paying a cost to satisfy a static effect in order to ignore it. Leonin Arbiter is a good example of this. Players can choose to pay two mana to ignore the Arbiter’s ability for that turn.
  • Suspending a card from your hand. The additional restriction on taking advantage of this action is that you must be able to cast the card at the time you suspend it.
  • The final special action is one that applies to the Planechase multiplayer variant. Rolling the planar die to see if the game moves on to another plane or to get the chaos effect is a special action. Similar to playing a land, this special action can only be done during one of the main phases of your turn, and requires an additional cost for each other time you’ve taken this action during that turn.
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