Handling Multiple Infractions

Written by Matthew Johnson

Written by Matthew Johnson

There are quite a few places where we have to deal with multiple separate infractions happening by the time that we get to the table. Sometimes it’s one thing that has gone wrong in multiple different ways. Sometimes it’s multiple things that have gone wrong but the players haven’t called a judge yet. We have a comprehensive guide for how to handle individual infractions, but writing a guide that handles any combination of these quickly becomes impractical.


Nonetheless, as judges we will come across these situations and need to be able to handle them. I’m going to cover a number of situations that come up in Magic and how we should handle them, but here is a guiding principle that I use to handle multiple infractions.


Subsequent vs Consequent

The terms “Subsequent” and “Consequent” describe different types of multiple infraction situations and are key to how to look at these situations. But what do they mean? One definition is:

Although both a consequent event and a subsequent event occur after a prior event, subsequent merely indicates something that follows an event or occurs at a later time. Consequent, however, indicates something which follows as a result of the earlier event.

Whenever there are multiple infractions, consider whether or not the later one is merely subsequent to the first one, or whether it was a result of the earlier infraction. Another way of thinking of this is: “Did the first problem cause the second problem, or were they unrelated?”


Multiple Infractions in the Infraction Procedure Guide


Infractions with the same root cause, or multiple instances of the same infraction that are discovered at the same time, are treated as a single infraction

Multiple infractions are to be treated as separate penalties unless the root cause is the same. Conceptually this is trying to express that we don’t separately penalize a second infraction that was caused by the first, since they have the same root cause (the first infraction). We should just be penalising for the original, root cause infraction.

Even though we are treating them both as a single infraction, we still have two problems to fix, so you will need to apply any additional remedies for all of the infractions. Let’s look at some situations where this may apply.


Looking at extra cards in GRVs

Situation A

Albert plays a Temple of Malady, however he already played a Forest earlier in the turn. He scrys and leaves the card on top.

Here we have two infractions, a GRV of playing multiple lands in a turn and a LEC when he scrys. When we’re fixing this situation we need to apply fixes for both of these offences. Clearly the land needs to go back to hand (a rewind, the fix for GRV) and we need to shuffle the random portion of the library (the fix for LEC). However, seeing the extra card was clearly caused by the original infraction of playing an extra land. Therefore we give a warning for GRV and not for LEC. This explains why we can apply an LEC fix when we’re giving a GRV warning. Intuitively it’s the correct way to fix a GRV which has resulted in seeing cards they should not, but it may not be obvious how that follows from the IPG.

Let’s change it up a little.

Situation B

Albert plays a Temple Garden, however he already played a Forest earlier in the turn. He scrys and leaves the card on top.

Again, Albert makes a GRV (putting an extra land into play) and he sees an additional card. Now, however, the looking at extra cards is not caused by the first error, it’s unrelated to it. It is an error that could only have been made because they were playing that extra land, but it’s still an independent error. The fix is the same in both cases, but I would give two warnings here, one for GRV and one for LEC.


Drawing Extra Cards

Drawing extra cards is another situation which commonly occurs after another infraction. Any spell or ability which draws cards will, if misplayed, result in this infraction if not caught immediately.


If the cards were drawn as part of the legal resolution of an illegally played instruction, due to a Communication Policy Violation, or were as the result of resolving objects on the stack or multiple-instruction effects in an incorrect order, a backup may be considered and no further action is taken.

This is part of the ‘additional remedy’ section on Drawing Extra Cards. The ‘legal resolution of an illegally played instruction’ refers to a previous infraction that was the root cause of this one. If the card draw was caused by the previous infraction then we don’t apply the normal additional remedy. Instead we’re just permitted to back up through this to the original infraction. The penalty is, of course, waived by Section 1.2.

This also covers cards drawn as a result of a Communication Policy Violation. This is similarly caused by a prior infraction and again we’re permitted to just back up to the original problem. This includes what previously was handled by the downgrade for a draw confirmed by the opponent. However, this player has just committed the one infraction so they will get the warning for Drawing Extra Cards.

Lets look at an example:

Situation C

Anthony attacks with a Windreader Sphinx without paying for Norman’s Propaganda. He then draws a card for the Sphinx’s ability, also forgetting about his own Spirit of the Labyrinth.

Here we have two infractions that are unrelated. Just because there was a GRV prior to the Drawing Extra Cards does not mean that it was the root cause. In previous versions of Drawing Extra Cards this would look like one of the exemptions and now it’s not the legal resolution of an illegal instruction. It’s an illegal resolution of (essentially) an illegal instruction. Therefore you should give both warnings and apply both fixes, in reverse order.

Situation D

Anne casts a Brainstorm and draws 3 cards, but forgetting about Nancy’s Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

This definitely does qualify as the legal resolution of Brainstorm, even though the Brainstorm itself was illegal. Therefore we only give the warning for the root cause (the GRV) and we just apply the fix for the GRV and a backup through the resolution of Brainstorm.


Other non-Warning Infractions

With the change for Drawing Extra Cards to not be a game loss there are now very few in-game ways to get a game loss, particularly ones which could be caused by another infraction. An example of two infractions, one of which is upgradable might be:

Situation E

Alex activates Domri Rade which has been named by Nat’s Pithing Needle. While resolving the ability Alex looks at the top card and puts it directly into hand without revealing it.

Here we have an upgradable GRV following a normal GRV, that wouldn’t have been possible without the original GRV. I would not consider it caused by the original, even though you might consider it to have the same ‘root cause’. Because the error of failing to reveal the card was not connected to the illegal activation, you would still penalise it with a game loss.


Backing up Multiple Infractions

Where you have multiple GRVs which have been committed you may need to decide whether or not you can back them up. In many cases it will be too complex for you to back up both of the errors, but it may be possible for you to back up only one of subsequent errors if you deem that the interim state is better for the game than leaving them both as-is.

Situation F

Ashe has an Island and a Scalding Tarn in play. She taps the Island to cast Brainstorm, resolves it correctly and then cracks Scalding Tarn to get a Mountain. She then casts Lightning Bolt targeting Nami’s Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. After resolving the bolt and passing the turn, Nami realises that neither spell had the additional cost from Thalia paid.

Here we clearly can’t back up through the Brainstorm. Even if you wanted to, there’s no way to recover the cards that were shuffled away with the Brainstorm. However, we could just fix the illegally cast Lightning Bolt. These are two unrelated infractions. Backing both of them up to the original error is not possible, but we can back up to before the second infraction and that would be an improvement, so we should.

In contrast, where you have several errors all caused by the original error then you should either back them up all together, or not at all. Essentially everything is part of a single error and to only back up some of the way would be a partial fix of that original error, which we don’t support.



When you have multiple infractions, stop and think. Are the subsequent problems caused by the original issues? Or are they unrelated? If they’re unrelated then apply both penalties. If not, only apply the first penalty. Fix both of them in either case, although a backup of only one of them may or may not be possible.