FINAL JUDGEMENT: What’s All This Madness?

I’ve gotten many questions lately about Madness, especially the”until next time you pass” part of it. It’s pretty straightforward if you break down all the steps… And I’ll show you how to break it down.

First off, let me apologize for being somewhat absent recently. I’ve tried to keep up with”Ask the Judge,” but writing full-fledged articles is a bit more time-consuming, and the business of defending the country has kept me occupied.

I’ve gotten many questions lately about Madness, especially the”until next time you pass” part of it. It’s pretty straightforward if you break down all the steps: First, let’s refresh on what Madness is.

The ability has two abilities that are part of it: The first one is,”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.” Even if you have no intention of playing the spell, you can remove it from the game. It still counts as being discarded, so it’ll trigger Megrim and whatnot.

The second part is,”Whenever this card is removed from the game this way, until he or she passes next, he or she may play it at any time he or she could play an instant as though it were in his or her hand by paying the Madness cost rather than paying its mana cost. When he or she passes next, he or she puts it into his or her graveyard.”

Now it gets a little trickier. The second part is a triggered ability. If you’ve removed the card, then a triggered ability goes on the stack. When that ability resolves, it sets up the”until he or she passes next…” part. From then on, you follow all the normal rules for playing a spell with an alternate cost. Don’t get tripped up on the”…passes next…” part. It’s not set up until after the trigger resolves. To wit (this example inspired by reader Mark Tidd):

  • David has a Wild Mongrel.

  • Ariel targets it with Fiery Temper.

  • David chooses to respond by discarding a Circular Logic to pay for the Mongrel’s activated ability. At the time he discards it, he chooses whether or not he wants to invoke the replacement ability of Circular Logic’s Madness. He does indeed.

  • The next thing that goes on the stack is the Circular Logic’s triggered ability.

  • David passes back to Ariel, who also passes.

The stack looks like this (top to bottom):

Ariel is the active player, so she gets priority. She passes, giving David priority. David now has choices. He can:

  1. Play the Circular Logic, targeting Fiery Temper.

  2. Play some other instant or ability.

  3. Pass.

If he chooses (1), he puts the Circular Logic on the Stack, chooses a target and pays its costs. If he chooses (3), the Mongrel’s pump ability resolves. If he chooses (2), he once again gets the same choices. He could once again pump the Mongrel with a Madness spell, setting the whole ball rolling again, or he could play some other instant (or ability).

What’s important is that if he wants to play the Circular Logic, he must do so before he passes back to Ariel. He can’t wait to see if he wants to play some other spell. Assuming he doesn’t play the Circular Logic (maybe he doesn’t have any blue mana), another trigger goes on the stack when he passes. When that resolves, the Circular Logic is moved from the Removed From Game Zone to the Graveyard. Of course, if he doesn’t play the Circular Logic, he’s going to have to do something else to have his Mongrel survive.

Let’s make it a little more complicated: We’ll use the same example, only now Ariel has a Megrim in play. Since mana will become important, let’s assume that David has two islands and two mountains left untapped. Both Circular Logic and Megrim trigger when David discards to the Mongrel; the active player’s triggers go on the stack first. After he passes, the stack will look like this (once again, from top to bottom):

  1. Circular Logic’s Madness trigger

  2. Megrim’s trigger

  3. Mongrel getting +1/+1

  4. Fiery Temper targeting Mongrel

But David’s not done yet. With four things on the stack, he decides to once again activate the Mongrel, this time discarding a Violent Eruption. Now we have:

  1. Violent Eruption’s Madness trigger

  2. Megrim’s trigger (B)

  3. Mongrel getting +1/+1

  4. Circular Logic’s Madness trigger

  5. Megrim’s trigger (A)

  6. Mongrel getting +1/+1

  7. Fiery Temper targeting Mongrel

David passes, and the Violent Eruption trigger resolves. David decides to play the Violent Eruption, so he puts it on the stack, chooses targets, divides up the damage, and pays the 1RR. Now Ariel decides to force his hand: She plays Syncopate for 1 on the Violent Eruption. David doesn’t yet have the opportunity to play the Circular Logic, because its Madness trigger has yet to resolve. It’s still sitting safely (at least from Ariel’s point of view) in the RFG zone; by the time David has the opportunity to play the Circular Logic, the Syncopate will have resolved and not be a valid target. David decides to pay the one. Syncopate finishes resolving.

The Violent Eruption resolves, doing the damage that David divided up. The Megrim B trigger resolves, doing 2 damage to David. The Mongrel goes to 3/3. The Circular Logic trigger resolves. David doesn’t have the mana to play the spell, so he passes. Another trigger goes on the stack. Both players are tapped out at this point; so they’re not going to add anything else to the stack. The Circular Logic goes to the graveyard. Megrim (A) does 2 damage to David. The Mongrel goes to 4/4. Finally, the Fiery Temper resolves doing three damage to the Mongrel.

I wonder if I could turn this into a Judge Quiz question…With Ariel at four life and David at two…hmm.

Anyway, you can get through even the trickiest parts of Madness by just breaking down the individual steps, and understand which elements of the ability are triggers and which is a replacement. Know the Stack, and know the game.

And that’s my Final Judgement.


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