Harsh Judgment

July 20, 2014

Hello again everybody, I hope last month’s article about M14 changes (My last article) was useful to you.
However, as I stated last time, we didn’t have the full rules text
when I wrote the article, but we do now, and it happens that a few
more rules changes were enclosed in. We also had some changes in the
card database, the tournament documents, and the judge documents, so
it’s a good opportunity to review all of these and their practical
applications.

Magic Comprehensive Rules:
Let’s start with the changes to the game rules. The full document is
quite long (as much as a phonebook), but fortunately for us, the rules
Manager Matt Tabak highlighted the most important changes
(The Phonebook).
Here is their summary:

Three cards made reference to cards from a given set and used set
symbols to make the difference. They now affect all cards that were
originally printed in those sets. To make it easier, keep in mind that
every single card from the three affected sets are original printing
but the Arabian Night Mountain.

Before: I control an Arabian Night Mountain and a Fourth Edition Bird Maiden.
You play a City in a Bottle. I exile my Mountain and keep my
Bird Maiden.
Now: I control an Arabian Night Mountain and a Fourth Edition Bird Maiden.
You play a City in a Bottle. I keep my Mountain and exile my Bird Maiden.

– Some abilities in Magic that we call linked abilities: when a card
has two or more abilities and the effect of the second one
depends of the first one. The most famous linked abilities are of
the Imprint sort: the effect of the second ability changes based on what
you exiled with the first one.
So, now we have Strionic Resonator that could copy the first ability
of a linked pair. What is the second one supposed to do?
A new rule has been added to answer this question, and states that if
an ability is supposed to use an exiled card for information, but
there are more than one, it uses all of them and just piles up the
information.

Before: I play Isochron Scepter, use Strionic Resonator on the Imprint
triggered ability, and exile Impulse and Lightning Bolt. I activate
Isochron Scepter. The world implodes.
Now: I play Isochron Scepter, use Strionic Resonator on the Imprint
triggered ability, and exile Impulse and Lightning Bolt. I activate
Isochron Scepter. I may play a copy of Impulse and/or Lightning Bolt.

– A new rule has been created to handle Banisher Priest and [card]Colossal
Whale[/card]. It states that if an effect would make an object to change
zone, but that the event that should bring it back already took place,
then there is no zone change. It’s similar to how Sower of Temptation
works. So you can’t do the Oblivion Ring‘s trick with them.
In addition, when the Priest or the Whale leaves the battlefield, the
exiled creature immediately returns. There is no triggered ability
going on the stack. This makes these cards more intuitive in
multiplayer: if Bob plays Oblivion Ring on my Tarmogoyf and then loses
(or concedes!), I’ll never get my ‘goyf back, because the “return to
the battlefield” triggered ability ceases to exist as soon as Bob
leaves.
Please keep in mind that these rules only apply to the new cards. The
old ones (Oblivion Ring, Fiend Hunter and their ilk) aren’t affected
and will continue to work as before.

Before: I play Oblivion Ring, put the first ability on the stack, took
away the Oblivion Ring with Boomerang in response, and had the target exiled forever.
Now: I play Banisher Priest put the first ability on the stack, take
away the Banisher Priest with Boomerang in response, and the target is never exiled to begin with.

– The way the keyword Convoke works changed. When you play a spell,
you first calculate the mana cost, then activate the mana abilities,
then pay. Convoke was previously used when calculating the mana cost:
you could then tap creatures to lower it. That would allow you to tap
more creatures than needed, because cost lowering abilities don’t have
a limit. That wasn’t really useful, but that was surely not intuitive.
Now, Convoke is used during mana payment: for each mana in the card’s
cost, you can pay a mana or tap a creature.

Before: When casting a spell with Convoke, you could tap Wild Cantor
to lower its mana cost, and then sacrifice her to pay it.
Now: Because both kind of payment would happen at the same time, you
have to choose between tapping your Cantor or sacrificing it. Note that
you can still add a fifth -0/-1 counter on your Wall of Roots and tap
it for Convoke as while both would kill the creature, this is not the
same as sacrificing it.

– Delve is changed in the same way as Convoke: exiling a card from
your graveyard doesn’t lower the mana cost but is done in replacement
of part of the payment.

Before: You could “overpay” your Tombstalker if for any reason you
needed to empty your graveyard, for example to weaken an opponent’s
Tarmogoyf.
Now: You could only exile as many card as the generic part of the mana cost.

Oracle:
This the data base
(Database)
that lists every single card text. Those are often changed when bugs
are found or to adapt the cards to rules changes. Here is an overview
of the relevant ones, which are still minor, as while Wizards have no
problem with changing rules, they don’t like to directly change the cards’
text:

– Duplicant is adapted to the new linked abilities rules that I
explained earlier. The game could perfectly work with a creature
having two sets of values for power and toughness, but the result is
really counter intuitive. So instead the text of the card has been
changed to only care about the last exiled creature.

Before: You could only exile one creature with Duplicant because The
Fork of Doom (Strionic Resonator) didn’t exist.
Now: You can now exile two creatures if you use the Resonator on
Duplicant‘s enter the battefield ability, but it will still only get
power, toughness and types of one of them (the one you chose with the
original ability, as the copy will resolve before).

-Chaos Orb doesn’t destroy tokens anymore to be closer to it’s
original text who mentions “cards” (which are now called “non-token
permanents” when we’re dealing with the battlefield).

Before: Seriously, if you play Chaos Orb, you certainly had house
rules about it. I mean this is closer to an Unglued card than a real
card.
Now: You’ll still likely use house rules anyway.

– Venarian Gold had a bug and by the rules the card didn’t work. That’s fixed.

Before: You had no idea that this card existed and didn’t care at all
that it didn’t properly work.
Now: You already forgot what this card was supposed to do.

Tournament Rules :
This document (The Document)
deals with players, spectators, judges and organizers’ behavior. It
explains how Magic tournaments are run and list sets of obligations and
interdiction for each of us. It doesn’t deal with how the cards work,
but how people have to behave when there is an event, being a
Prerelease or a Pro Tour. It evolves over time to adapt to best
practices or cover new issues arising.

– The document now deals better with what happens when a player wants
to leave a limited event (draft or sealed deck) with cards that are
currently in his possession but will likely be given to another player
during the event.
First, the player needs to involve a judge. If he wants to leave the
event before the first round, he has to call a judge before the first
round pairings are displayed. He will then be treated exactly as if he
never registered and will not get any planeswalker points for it.
The player then leaves with the cards he had in his possession, as well
as any sealed booster or drafted cards. If he wants to be re-enrolled
later in the event, the Head Judge is under no obligation to fulfill
this request.
So, for example, in Sealed Deck we usually perform pool swap between
players to make it far more difficult to rig a pool. But if you open
some sick cards that you really, really want to keep, you will raise
your hand before the deck swap, call for a judge, and ask him to be
dropped from the event. You’ll keep what you have right now, and the
swap procedure will be performed without your pool. You obviously
won’t play any match.
In Booster Draft, if you open (or get passed) a booster from which you
want to keep more than one card (let’s say the Mythic and the foil),
same thing: you call for a judge and ask to be dropped. You’ll be
removed from the event, as well as the booster you have between your
hands, your previous picks, and your sealed boosters. The draft will
continue without you.
Some of you are now asking yourself “How do we deal with that rule
when there is a redraft”?
In some communities, as part of the prize structure, drafters agree to
put back every rare, mythic and foil card into a common pool, that is
redrafted based on standings. This is not something that follows any
official rule. It’s a gentlemen’s agreement; in which everybody involved
promises that they will not leave the venue with the cards they drafted
but give them back for the redraft process. If someone breaks his
promise, it’s between him and his fellow players – he never broke any
official rule, and will not get any official punishment for that. So
I advise you to only do “redrafts” with people you trust, and be
confident that they will staying true to their words whatever the
value of the cards involved.

Infraction Procedure Guide :
The last revised document
Infraction Procedure Guide)
is used by judges in competitive and professional events to fix and
penalize mistakes and problematic behaviors. Like the tournament
rules, it is updated to reflect best practice or cover new problems.
It doesn’t apply to regular events, like FNM, Prereleases or weekly
drafts, which use a different document focused on education. We’re
talking here instead about Pro Tour Qualifiers, Grand Prix Trials, and
every important event and/or being part of the official professional
circuit.

The change is relevant to what happens when you draw a card by
mistake. I’m not talking about cheating (it didn’t change: try that
and we’ll kick you out of the tournament), but legitimate mistakes:
drawing 4 on a Brainstorm, drawing for a Howling Mine that has been
disenchanted two turns ago, etc. Such mistakes happen quite often, as
drawing is something that happens all the time in Magic (at least once
per turn), and that we don’t have automatic card dealers yet at Magic events.
The penalty for having too many cards in hand is usually a game loss:
the player who has too many cards in hand loses the game currently
being played, and if the match is not over, a new one starts.
This is because drawing cards is one of the most potent actions you can
do in Magic, it’s hard for the opponent to notice if he only pays
attention to the game and doesn’t watch closely over every of your gestures,
and it’s hard to fix it without giving an advantage: the most fair fix
is to put the extra cards on top of the library, but if we don’t know
which cards have just been drawn, we’ll put random ones, and that’s still a
potential important advantage.
So if we don’t have a way to fix that without giving you an advantage,
and your opponent had no way to prevent that and little way to notice,
we’ll give you a game loss, as it’s the most fair thing we can do.

However, we have situations in which your opponent is more likely to
notice and could have prevented you to draw too many cards. In this
situation, because we feel the responsibility is shared, and because
we don’t want to reward your opponent for waiting a little more to
call a judge so you get a harsher penalty (which, by the way, is
cheating), the penalty is downgraded to an official warning, of which
judges keep track of to detect any pattern, but that will not have an
impact on your game.
For example, if you drew because, earlier in the game, something has gone
wrong (you tapped three Forests to play Divination), your opponent
could have stopped that. He didn’t. He shares the responsibility. So, no
game loss for you.
With the same reasoning, a new exception has been added: if before
drawing, you asked confirmation and got a clear answer, you’ll still
get no game loss. That rewards good communication, and we, judges,
love players who talk to each other about the game state, especially
when they are about to perform important stuff.
So from now, help yourself and grow the habit of always asking for
verbal confirmation before any draw. If you draw more than one card,
also state the number. Some day, at some point, it will save you a
game. And you’ll be glad you read this column.

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