The importance of shuffling (piles are not enough!)

Shuffling: it’s time-consuming, it’s annoying, if you have small hands like me it can be downright painful… and if you play in tournaments, it’s something you’re going to have to get used to doing a lot. You’re expected to shuffle your deck at the beginning of each game, each time you look at your deck during a game (such as resolving a search effect like Maze’s End), or any time a card instructs you to do so, like Elixir of Immortality. There are various methods of shuffling, but what method you use isn’t particularly important, as long you use a method (or combination of methods; side shuffle, riffle, mash) that leaves the deck sufficiently random: that is to say, reasonable to believe that no player could know the approximate or relative position of any of the cards in the deck. Be aware that if a judge determines your shuffling isn’t sufficient, you could receive a penalty! If you play at Competitive REL events like Grand Prix Trials and Pro Tour Qualifiers, get used to shuffling your opponent’s deck as well.

Now, let’s talk about “pile shuffling,” where a player takes cards from the top of the deck, one at a time, and lays them out face down in a numbered series of piles. Pile “shuffling” is not random, and therefore IS NOT actually shuffling! The reason being is that if the exact order of the deck is already known, all “pile shuffling” does is redistribute the cards, but the player still has perfect knowledge of which card is in which position in the deck. That’s not to say that doing a pile shuffle will earn you a penalty, but since you have to present a thoroughly shuffled deck anyway, you may as well save time by only using methods which properly randomize.

Today’s Tournament Tip written by Jen Wong

Posted in Tournament Rules | Comments Off

Courser of Kruphix and Shock Lands from the library.

In a block that loves using the scry mechanic to foretell the future, Courser of Kruphix goes one further: it lets you play with the top card of your library revealed at all times. In addition to the Courser’s synergy with cards like Domri Rade, it has some additional abilities: if that top card is a land, you can play it (as your regular land drop for the turn), and you’ll gain a little extra life in the process.

Suppose you control a Courser, Domri Rade, and three lands, and the card on top of your library is a Stomping Ground. It’d be nice to know whether the next card down is a creature, and if so what mana it costs, so you can decide whether to put your Stomping Ground onto the battlefield tapped or untapped before you cast any creatures this turn. However, the game rules aren’t quite so convenient.

When is the next card in the library revealed? When the top card changes. When you play a land, this happens when the land enters the battlefield. This means that any choices you have to make before the land is already on the battlefield — such as those made “as [this permanent] enters the battlefield” — happen while the card is still on top of your library. So in the case of the Stomping Ground above, you’ll have to decide whether or not to pay two life, then put the land onto the battlefield and reveal the next card.

Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong

Posted in Prevention and Replacement Effects, Static Abilities | Tagged , | Comments Off

Brimaz vs. Silent Arbiter.

Silent Arbiter and Brimaz actually work well together. Normally, when Silent Arbiter is on the battlefield, no more than one creature can attack or block.

Now Brimaz’s little friend attacks alongside Brimaz, as a result of his triggered ability. This works because Silent Arbiter sets up an attacking (or blocking) restriction. It merely prevents attacks from being declared by more than one creature. He is not able to prevent Brimaz from triggering. Although two creatures will be attacking, only one of them “attacked.” However, Silent Arbiter’s effect will still be active and your opponent will only be able to block one of them!

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola

Posted in Combat Phase, Static Abilities, Triggered Abilities | Tagged , | Comments Off

Brimaz blocking with other creatures & the damage assignment order.

When Brimaz blocks a creature, he has a friend arrive and help him with the blocking. Questions arise and sometimes players do not know how to order the blockers.

The way this works is that as blockers are first declared, the attacking player chooses the order that the blockers will be assigned damage later. Then once the trigger from Brimaz blocking resolves, that 1/1 cat gets inserted somewhere in that blocker order. But who chooses? The attacking player gets to make that decision!

So let’s look at a real-life example. You’re attacking with a Ghor-Clan Rampager that has a +1/+1 counter on it, and your opponent blocks with Brimaz and Soldier of the Pantheon. Realizing any damage to the Soldier will be prevented, you logically order the blockers with Brimaz first, then Soldier. After that, Brimaz’s trigger resolves and puts a 1/1 cat into combat blocking your Rampager. As the attacker, you can put it anywhere you want in the blocking order. I’d recommend putting it first or second, since putting it at the back will be pretty pointless in this situation!

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola and Josh Stansfield

Posted in Combat Phase, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

How to properly fill out a constructed deck list.

Hello everyone! Anyone who has played in a Competitive REL event with a constructed deck has already experienced the joy of filling out a deck registration sheet. Anyone who has judged a Competitive REL event with constructed decks has experienced the kill-joy associated with handling those lists. :)

There are some aspects of the Wizards officially published deck list that can be confusing. The biggest problem I’ve seen is people not realizing that the “Name” section is vertical on the left side of the sheet. It’s highlighted, but that prints out as grey, making it easy to miss. Also notice that this area is formatted as Last name before First name. You may wonder why the name field is set up this way. Well the answer is actually a good one. Judges arrange the lists in alphabetical order by last name, and place them in an accordion file with landscape orientation. This leaves the last name as the most upper-left thing visible, making sorting through lists easier for judges.

Another thing people might never notice is that the right column is labeled for basic lands. This is a bit outdated, as there’s not a particularly good reason to separate basic lands from the rest of the deck on the sheet. Best practice is to simply list all the nonland cards first in the left column, followed by all the lands (either in the same column or all together in the upper right column).

Notice that the sideboard section is in the bottom right (not the upper right!). If you happen to write it all in the upper right before you realize it, just draw a box around that with an arrow pointing to the sideboard section. Judges are pretty smart and will be able to figure out what you meant. ;)

Please write legibly, using complete card names and arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 18) rather than hashmarks (I, II, III). Writing “Bob” on your list may SEEM obvious for your modern deck, but you’re just asking for trouble, and only saving a couple seconds vs. actually writing “Dark Confidant.”

The boxes for “Main Deck” and “Sideboard” totals are also not particularly important (we care about the cards registered, not the number you write there), but if you’re running 61 or 62 cards, it can be helpful to acknowledge you realize that by writing 61 or 62 in that box, so judges don’t have to wonder whether you might have made a mistake (because 60 cards is so ubiquitous at Comp REL tournaments).

Last notes: The “Deck name” and “Deck designer” fields are completely irrelevant. Don’t bother filling them in, and please, PLEASE, don’t write inappropriate things there. Judges can and will issue Unsporting Conduct penalties for writing (or drawing) rude/vulgar things on your deck list.

Thanks for reading!

Today’s Tournament Tip written by Josh Stansfield

Posted in Tournament Rules | Comments Off

Brimaz blocking flyers.

Brimaz, King of Oreskos can be quite a confusing card. Things become very strange when he takes to the skies.

When Brimaz has flying somehow (perhaps he’s wearing Fleetfeather Sandals) and blocks a flyer, his ability does in fact trigger like normal. His vigilant friend will arrive and also be blocking the flyer. Though this may seem strange, the block is actually legal. The reason is that a creature without flying generally can not block a flyer, though if a creature is put into play blocking another creature, it will be a legal block! Make sure that you don’t forget about vigilant friends if you ever attack with a flyer against an opponent with a Brimaz who took to the skies!

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola

Posted in Combat Phase, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Brimaz vs. Sphere of Safety

Brimaz, King of Oreskos is a quite powerful hero. There are many powerful interactions featuring this fabled feline. This week, we will be looking at a few of them in detail!

To start off, Brimaz is quite strong against Sphere of Safety. Though you need to pay the cost to attack with Brimaz, Brimaz’s friend will be able to enter combat toll-free. This is because Sphere of Safety only stops creatures from being declared as attackers without paying the mana cost. If the creature is put directly onto the battlefield attacking, it didn’t actually “attack,” so it skips through the toll booth on a one way path to the red zone.

Today’s Rules Tip written by James Arriola

Posted in Combat Phase, Costs, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off

Congratulations, Paul Baranay!

One of our valued contributors to the Rules Tip Blog, Paul Baranay, was recently promoted to Level 3! All of us at the Rules Blog wanted to congratulate Paul on this awesome milestone, and we couldn’t think of a better way than by saying it here on the blog where he’s helped so much!

Congrats on L3, Paul, and thanks for all you’ve done, all you do, and all you’ll do in the future for the Judge program and the Rules Tip Blog!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Blood Moon in a Modern Environment

Hello everyone! Today’s tip is a bit different. I’m going to link to an article by our very own Nathan Long because it clearly answers a lot of questions people have about Blood Moon, specifically as it pertains to the Modern format. Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Medomai and double strike.

I’ve seen this question pop up quite a few times recently, so I think it’s high time to answer it for all to see! What happens if you give Medomai, the Ageless double strike (e.g., if you bestow it with Ghostblade Eidolon)?

Well, the important factor here is how double strike works. When a creature is unblocked, it’s pretty common practice to just shortcut to dealing double the creature’s power in damage. This is usually fine and approximates the outcome, but in cases like Medomai’s, where there’s a trigger from dealing combat damage, it’s important to be aware that double strike really does mean “two strikes” as opposed to “double damage.” When a creature with first strike or double strike is in combat, there’s a second combat damage step created immediately after the first. So Medomai deals 4 damage in the first damage step and triggers to give you an extra turn. Then in the second damage step, Medomai deals 4 more damage, and again triggers to give you an extra turn! So that means after this turn ends, you’ll take 2 extra turns before your opponent gets to take a turn. Of course, Medomai can’t attack during either of those extra turns, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to make use of them anyway!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Josh Stansfield

Posted in Combat Phase, Triggered Abilities | Tagged | Comments Off