Let’s start with a history lesson. Everyone loves history lessons, right?
Back in the mists of 2006, the IPG had an infraction named Failure to Reveal. It existed to deal with situations where a player failed to reveal a card, like with, say, Domri Rade (who didn’t exist in 2006, but run with it…) It also happened to deal with morph problems. These problems carried a Game Loss with them.
The thing is, that’s a pretty narrow infraction. The decision was made that it wasn’t worth devoting a half-page or so to this and it was moved into Game Rule Violation with a special upgrade clause.
That was a mistake. And it’s a mistake that cascaded for many years. Because we already had a Game Play Error infraction that carried a Game Loss with it, and that infraction was Drawing Extra Cards. (Suddenly everyone has an inkling why I’m talking about this)
Why did we opt to roll Failure to Reveal inelegantly into Game Rule Violation? Because a Failure to Reveal wasn’t drawing cards. The title itself told you why it was wrong, and nobody said “hey, that’s weird, because the two infractions share a lot in common philosophically.”
Flash forward to the halcyon days of 2015. We have a new fix for Drawing Extra Cards, so it’s no longer a Game Loss. It’s popular, and seems to be successful. Hey, we have a bunch of other situations that could take advantage of the same fix. Why don’t we throw those in there and define the infraction by a whole bunch of different mechanical situations?
That didn’t work. People got confused by all the different things in there. And, fundamentally, most of them weren’t drawing extra cards, so how can they be Drawing Extra Cards? Because we hadn’t bitten the bullet when we moved Failure to Reveal, there was no intuitiveness to the infraction. And no amount of mechanical listing was going to fix the problem because this wasn’t a mechanical grouping.
What there is is a strong philosophical similarity. What these errors all share is that they’re not fixable by someone using the publicly available information in the game. What if we used that philosophy to define the infraction rather than the mechanisms of the game?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hidden Card Error.
Hidden Card Error doesn’t represent a lot of technical change. Most of your rulings will produce the same result as they have these last few months. But it does represent a large cleanup. Drawing Extra Cards, Failure to Reveal and Improper Drawing at Start of Game have all been merged. Oh, and we threw in the morph fix as a bonus.
So, you get into a situation where a player has made an error that can’t be fixed with public information. You remedy them by revealing all the information the opponent needs and letting the opponent make the choices on how to fix it. Didn’t reveal that card from Domri Rade? Opponent looks at your hand and removes a card. Scried two instead of one? Opponent looks at those two, removes one and you scry the other. Draw seven off a mulligan? I think you can see where this is going. Shuffle your hand into your library… hey, wait, that works too.
The nice thing about this being a philosophically-driven infraction is that fixing it should be intuitive. If you find yourself applying the fix in a situation and it seems wrong, double-check. You may find that you missed something that’s accounted for. (If you do so and still find the solution unintuitive, I’d like to hear about it). And remember, the punishment is harsh, but it used to be a Game Loss. It should be harsh!
I want to highlight a key detail: the error itself should be unfixable through public information. Subsequent actions that do this don’t count. So, for example, if I cast Divination for RRR, the error here is the mispayment of costs, not the subsequent card draw, and that’s a traditional GRV. Likewise, if the player got permission to commit the error (usually drawing a card), that’s also a GRV. As I said, functionally things aren’t all that different.
Hopefully this’ll make sense to everyone. I imagine we’ll continue to iterate as we find improvements, but this should be the major restructuring. Let us know what you think!
You’ll notice that the merger creates a hole in the numbering. No need to email about that. It was intentional! My plan is to renumber in the next edition, once we’re sure that we haven’t missed anything that might require us to add an infraction back in. I only want to make Brian and his team have to mess with all the exam questions once.
There’s a few other changes worth highlighting (along with the usual cleanup and improvements for clarity). Another significant one is a new downgrade for decks that are discovered to be missing cards after the game begins. It can be challenging figuring out what’s happened after decks are presented and a card is discovered off to the side or on the floor. Who dropped it? When? Now (assuming you believe it was unintentional) you can shuffle those cards into the deck and keep the game going.
We’ve also made a few modifications in the crevasses of Game Rule Violation. You can now partial-fix cards that were supposed to change zones but didn’t, which is most often a creature that failed to die properly. And we’ve thrown up our hands at trying to come up with a meaningful technical definition on when both players should get the Game Rule Violation; if you think both players share the responsibility for the error (thanks to replacement effects or participation in the action), then they do.
There’s a few changes in the MTR (welcome, Wastes!) and one small but important one I want to call attention to, because it’s been a source of misunderstanding over the years: “The philosophy of the DCI is that a player should have an advantage due to better understanding of the rules of a game…” This has sometimes been held up as a defense of rules lawyering, which could not be further from the truth. Knowing what the rules are gives you an advantage because it opens up your decision tree; you may be aware of paths to take that other players might not be, and so that sentence has been altered to make this clearer. Of course, knowing the rules isn’t always an advantage. Sometimes you can see too many paths!
That’s it! There’s a few other small tweaks and clarifications, so check the changelogs. As always, thanks for all the feedback. Special thanks to Jeff Morrow for his advice and guidance, as well as Sean Hunt, David de la Iglesia, Will Anderson, George Gavrilita, Lyle Waldman, and the whole L4 crew, who wrestled with this one for quite a while.
Enjoy the new cards!