SOI Policy Changes

The New Docs

IPG | MTR

With such large changes in the Oath of the Gatewatch IPG, the goal of the Shadows over Innistrad update was to refine and clarify those sections, and, indeed, that’s what we get. With the exception of a couple of small additions that I’ll get to later, all the updates here are in/related to Hidden Card Error and Deck/Decklist Problem. Let’s dive in!

Hidden Card Error

Hidden Card Error was an interesting experiment in trying a more philosophical approach to a penalty, with mixed results. One group were very happy about how intuitive it felt; another had a hard time reconciling what the infraction was trying to do with some odd corners. Also, the abstractness of the infraction was encouraging people to wedge errors in there just because they eventually led to a card incorrectly going somewhere. It became clear that we needed to be more explicit, while trying to keep the infraction feeling intuitive.

Step one was to pull all the pregame errors back out. They were derivable from Hidden Card Error, but it was asking too much. The Vancouver Mulligan introduced a lot of complex nuance into the process, and having to wedge the “you can mulligan again to prevent this” into Hidden Card Error was confusing. So, now we have a new infraction – Mulligan Procedure Error – that handles all the ways in which a player can make a mistake before the game has even begun.

One thing to note is that Mulligan Procedure Errors only apply before the game begins. Specifically, drawing for the first turn is not a Mulligan Procedure Error and is handled as a Hidden Card Error. First-turn draws being part of pregame procedure was a bit of a hack to keep it out of Game Loss territory, and now that the penalties are much closer, it can go back to a more natural place.

The definition of Hidden Card Infraction is much the same, but has been tightened up, with better definition of terms (such as “set”) and a clearer line between Hidden Card Error and Looking at Extra Cards. Note that there can never be a bright line – the two are closely related when something like a Scry is involved – but there should be enough guidance to help make judgment calls. The Philosophy section is beefed up with some general guidance, including more emphasis on root-cause infractions and how to determine what constitutes a set. Of note is more flexibility in using prior knowledge to figure out eligible cards. If the hand was revealed to an effect a few turns prior, what players wrote down or remember can be used to figure out what cards we’re working with.

The remedy has been broken down into a more procedural approach, and cuts back on some of the more heavy-handed solutions. In particular, library reveals should be few and far between, just when a hand or morph gets shuffled back in during the game. We also pulled in a few bits of technology we weren’t planning on introducing for a while that I believe help smooth out the corners and address some player concerns.

Here’s a summary of the remedies for the most common situations:

  1. If they did something out of order (loot-instead-of-rummage, items switched on the stack) reveal the hand and the opponent chooses the cards to put aside until we reach the correct point for that card to be there.
  2. If they didn’t reveal a card, reveal the hand to the opponent who chooses what card they just failed to reveal. Perform operations on that (which may include shuffling it back into the library if it doesn’t meet the criteria for being put into the hand).
  3. If they have too many cards, reveal and choose as before.

To see some practical examples of this in action, see Revisiting The Hidden Corners of HCE.

We’ll continue to make small tweaks as we find the right balance between complexity and correctness. I’m optimistic that this is close, though, and curious to see what corners get found.

Deck/Decklist Error

The Deck/Decklist downgrade change in the last IPG didn’t generate nearly the commotion that Hidden Card Error did, but there were some improvements to be made. In particular, it wasn’t completely clear that if your card was in my deck, it should just offset. A technical reading left open the option of giving just me a Game Loss! There was also a problem if the missing card was in your sideboard, as it wasn’t clear what card should be used (random seemed best).

There was also a bit of a disconnect if the card was still in your previous opponent’s deck, as you’d get a Warning and they’d get a Game Loss. That couldn’t be fixed entirely, but it could be mitigated in many circumstances by observing that if it was in a different sleeve during the game, it obviously wasn’t part of the deck and we could just ignore it. (Different sleeves in the sideboard are still a problem, as they can still be swapped in and out). If it happens to be in the same sleeve, and you didn’t catch it in your opening hand, it unfortunately has to remain a Game Loss.

Quick Hits

  • There’s been a bit of confusion recently over identifying triggers that affect the game on resolution. The key is that you’re acknowledging the specific trigger, not generally saying “trigger” and letting your opponent figure it out. “Trigger” while pointing at the card is usually sufficient to get the meaning across. Also, Eldrazi Mimic highlighted a small gap: if I point out that trigger, do I also need to confirm that I’ve chosen yes? Barring responses, we’re going to assume you did, since if you were planning to choose no, why did you point it out in the first place?
  • Once you start involving random elements, a simple backup isn’t simple. Speaking of simple backups, you can use one in conjunction with fixing a forgotten choice. So, if I Terror your Voice of All, at which point we remember that no color got named, you can put the Terror back in hand before having the player choose.
  • The rule that you must use all checklists or all double-faced cards in your deck has been relaxed to a per-card-name basis. So, you can have all of your Jace, Vryn’s Prodigies be checklist cards in your deck and all of your Things in the Ice be the actual card without problems.
  • Don’t do a deckcheck if the players have drawn opening hands. The dangers of something going wrong are too high. Just make a note and swoop for a midround or in a later round.

Finally

Several judges have written me asking if we’re going to add a shortcut to deal with Madness, and players who just put it the card in the graveyard. The answer is no, for a couple of reasons. The first is that we don’t do shortcuts for block mechanics (we avoid mentioning specific mechanics, but we made an exception when Scry became evergreen). The second is that the purpose of shortcuts is to provide a default answer when there’s ambiguity, and there’s no ambiguity in this situation. The player is most likely signalling that they’re declining to use Madness and that’s fine. If they try to then cast it out of their graveyard, well, that’s where you’ll need to use judgment. For example, if they discard, it touches the graveyard and they say “and I’ll Madness it”, I don’t think we need to get into the weeds over the technicalities here. The important thing is that just putting it into the graveyard is not inherently an error.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions, and everyone who calmly talked about the changes and their implications! In particular thanks to Jeff Morrow, Bryan Prillaman, Jess Dunks, Matthew Johnson, Jennifer Dery and Dan Collins, who all provided terrific feedback. Enjoy the release events! One! Step! Beyond!

35 thoughts on “SOI Policy Changes

  1. Hi, as a non english-born speaker, i’d like to be sure about the point n°1 : “If they did something out of order (loot-instead-of-rummage, items switched on the stack) reveal the hand and the opponent chooses the cards to put aside until we reach the correct point for that card to be there. ”

    The remedy applies only if the error is caught in the middle of the resolution right ? Ie in loot-instead-of-rummage, the player already draw but didn’t discard yet, he reveals his hand, the opponent choose a card that can’t be discarded and the player discard one of the other cards ?

    And also, the link for the Hidden Corner of the HCE leads to a “page not found” :(.

    1. Reading the Revisiting HC corneers of HCE (the link still not works but the arrow at the bottom of the page does) i had my answer so don’t bother replying me :p Thank you anyway !

  2. I have a concern with the fact that we’re encouraging players to not write down their opponent’s hand, or at least misrepresent what they have written down.

    There is a clear advantage to having “forgotten ” which cards were revealed if we do end up in an HCE situation. If this comes up do you support believing the player committing HCE if they have reasonable evidence that the other player should know about some of the cards but just forgot?

    1. This is not usually an issue in practice. Reconstructing player hands has been happening forever in various GRV scenarios, and the collaborative effort usually gets pretty close. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

    2. Personally I think it causes a distinct advantage for the player that gets to write the hand down. Having been a former yugioh player, it was against the rules to write down what was revealed (I believe it has since been changed but I haven’t posted in so long, idk) having to use your memory should be a requirement. It’s not that hard to remember where in your opponents hand after they reveal it to you. I did it for years playing yugioh.

      Personally I feel that writing down your opponent’s hand if a form of cheating even though it’s possible to do, I still consider it cheating as it gives you a distinct advantage and not every color has a card effect to where their opponent reveals their hand. Unlike yugioh where there were spell/trap/monster cards that could be ran in any deck, this not creating an advantage for anyone. An example (not ask if the following statement will be true as this is an example) is black usually has a card that allows you to look at your opponent’s hand and, therefore running black creates an advantage for players as they get to see their opponents hand and write it down and then a red player is at a disadvantage because they don’t have a card that allows them to look at their opponents hand. Being able to write down your opponent’s hand is very advantageous, as it gives you information to plan around and okay around what you know your opponent has and your opponent may not be running the color that allows for an even playing field.

      So personally I think that writing down your opponent’s hand should be against the rules as it creates an unfair advantage.

  3. So let say I ve pointed out the trigger of the mimic. In response my opponent cast dismember on my Reality Smasher (the creature made my mimic trigger).
    I don t say anything. Do we suppose I ve decide to copy during resolution anyway?

    Thanks

    1. “Assuming there are no responses”

      We don’t make a decision either way there, though unless they give an indication they choose to use it, the continuing presence of the creature would suggest not.

  4. Can we just rename Mulligan Procedure Error back to ID@SOG? I know i’m being pedantic, but I could have drawn 8 cards for my opening hand and commited a MPE in which I wasn’t mulliganing, plus players are more likely to recognize the old penalty name, which is still in WER as an added bonus.

    1. It involves a lot of things that are not drawing at this point, so that name became increasingly misleading.

      1. Would something like Pre-Game Procedure Error be a more accurate way to cover everything here?

      2. Pregame procedure also covers sideboarding, shuffling, determining who goes first, presenting decks. Of the 6 steps in pregame, only the last two are covered by the infraction!

  5. There are two areas of the new policy which I find problematic.

    The first is the new rule in MTR 2.8 against performing deck checks on players once they have drawn their opening hands. On the one hand, unscrupulous players will be incentivised to rush through pre-game procedures in order to foreclose the possibility of getting deck checked. On the other, I find the argument in favour of this change to be quite weak: preserving opening hands while performing a deck check is not a particularly difficult task for any competent judge–indeed, simply snapping a photo of each player’s opening hand before grabbing the decks is enough to prevent any problems. In contrast, the dangers of allowing the players any measure of control over when they are deck checked should be self-evident.

    The second is the addition to the philosophy section of Hidden Card Error in IPG 2.3 which instructs us to take account of “information about cards previously known by the opponent, such as cards previously revealed while on the top of the deck or by a previous look at the hand” when determining how to apply the remedy. This means, for instance, that if player A takes meticulous notes of player N’s hand while resolving a gitaxian probe, noting the presence of cards X, Y, and Z, then if player N subsequently commits HCE by drawing two cards at once, cards X, Y, and Z will be excluded as possible choices when A gets to apply the Perish the Thought fix. As a matter of policy, making use of this information is therefore precarious because it effectively rewards ignorance or failure to pay attention, which is not something I think we ought to be encouraging.

    1. If you think a player is rushing to avoid deckchecks, swoop in when the game ends. Or do a midround, or make a note to get there for the next round. There are lots of ways of dealing with this.

      I think using notes will be fine. Players are usually able to agree what’s been previously seen, and that’ll just make it easier.

      1. An intentionally cheating player who is aware that they will get deck checked in the near future could make their deck temporarily legal, which seems like a concerning possibility. This is particularly relevant in sealed. It would then be up to the opponent to make sure nothing untoward happens after the game/match finishes.

    2. I also think it’s worth mentioning that for your HCE objection you’re assuming an awfully narrow set of circumstances. The player trying to gain an edge this way is either willfully giving up knowledge by not writing notes, or is good enough to memorize the contents of a hand and still play well. They also have to have knowledge of this exact interaction *and* have to have the HCE error come up in the first place. It’s a long list of things to go ‘right’ for a player for this to be a major concern, I feel.

  6. Is there an official policy change/clarification about how DFCs will work in competitive/professional REL drafts? What is the official policy? Is it a game of cat and mouse where the DFCs opened are public information, but you’re not allowed to look around the table? How is this going to work with some packs now having 2 DFCs in the same pack (one Rare/Mythic, one Common/Uncommon)?

    1. Official policy is in the MTR. You’re generally allowed to look around the table. I’m sure Riccardo will be providing additional guidance at the Pro Tour.

  7. Very disappointed to not see any clarifications on the biggest rules issue in SOI: Drafting in a competitive setting with double-faced cards. There’s so much grey area and potential exploits here and very little rules guidance…

  8. How are we to rectify the new rule not to deck check people after they’ve drawn opening hands with the line from the IPG that says decklist penalties are issued at the start of the next round for consistency? Suppose a player submits a 59 card decklist, but the players have resolved mulligans by the time I get to the table. What should I do?

    1. You can kill that game. Honestly, this new rule change doesn’t affect that scenario at all. What did you do under the old rules?

  9. Hi Toby!
    Section 4.2 says that the penalty for USC-Major is a Game Loss. This must be a typo, right? Still a Match Loss.

  10. I think this clears up a lot of the issues that HCE had. It is great to see that feedback is being used constructively, and that something that didn’t totally make sense at first has morphed into a rule that seems a lot more intuitive. Good job to everyone who worked on this!

  11. Hi Toby,

    In the summaries of the remedies for the most common situations, you mentioned.

    2) If they didn’t reveal a card, reveal the hand to the opponent who chooses what card they just failed to reveal. Perform operations on that (which may include shuffling it back into the library if it doesn’t meet the criteria for being put into the hand).

    So, in that case, if the card wold be shuffled back, would the player be allowed to pick another card?

    thx

  12. And also, regard to D/DLP

    [quote]
    There was also a bit of a disconnect if the card was still in your previous opponent’s deck, as you’d get a Warning and they’d get a Game Loss. That couldn’t be fixed entirely, but it could be mitigated in many circumstances by observing that if it was in a different sleeve during the game, it obviously wasn’t part of the deck and we could just ignore it. (Different sleeves in the sideboard are still a problem, as they can still be swapped in and out). If it happens to be in the same sleeve, and you didn’t catch it in your opening hand, it unfortunately has to remain a Game Loss.
    [/quote]

    Do you mean, now we have a way to downgrade the infraction of the player whose library contained card from his previous opp, at the moment when the original owner find the player, even though the player himself didn’t noticed this error?

    1. Yes, if the card is clearly not part of his deck.

      If I have blue sleeves, and an orange card suddenly appears on top, I don’t think there’s a lot of danger there!

  13. Cards that are obviously not part of the deck (e.g. cards in different sleeves, tokens) are ignored
    when determining deck legality.

    Does this now mean that any card with a different sleeve in a player’s deck box is now legal?

  14. I’m not very comfortable with the “information about cards previously known by the opponent” part in IPG 2.3, either.
    1. It feels like we are punishing players for playing technically, by lowering the penalization level of their opp’s HCE. — a Thoughtseize is defiantly better than a Blackmail!
    2. The penalization level of HCE will be partly pending on how much info the opp is recording/memorizing, that is already a strange idea itself.

    And there’s one more thing: an unrevealed morph at the end of game. In previous IPGs, players get a warning for that, but there’s no relating description now. Do we just do nothing and instruct the player to be careful next time? Or should it be a GRV?

  15. IPG 2.3 Additional Remedy says,
    “Excess cards are returned to the correct zone.”
    HCE defines with “set of cards”. This remedy should be “…returned to the correct sets of cards.” isn’t it ?

    For example, AP attacks with Dragonlord Ojutai, then looks 3 cards and all of them into AP’s hand. AP has 2 excess cards. NAP will be choose 2 cards from AP’s hand, Then return to collect “set of cards”. This “set” is “bottom of AP’s library.”. Unfortunately, Current HCE remedy will be shuffle AP’s library. It seems strange for me.

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