A couple weekends ago, I had the privilege of Head Judging the third NYSE Open, one of the largest Vintage tournaments in the United States! (NYSE stands for New York Stax Exchange, which I thought was pretty cute.)
It turns out that Vintage players are a pretty fun and relaxed group, and I had a great time. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to my excellent judge staff for a set of strong performances: Chris Rumore, Chris Connett, Brian Paskoff, and Mani Cavalieri! Adam Shaw was a fantastic scorekeeper who remained unperturbed in the face of several issues. I had never worked with Nick Detwiler before, but he proved to be an outstanding TO and I’m excited for my next opportunity to judge one of his events. Finally, Nick Coss and his crew did a phenomenal job both in front of and behind the scenes.
As expected, the event was full of fun moments. For example, this was the first tournament where I used a megaphone for announcements instead of a microphone — and it worked pretty well! Then there was the group of Montreal players who wanted nothing more than to drive home, but their buddy made it into the Top 8, then Top 4, then the finals… Sadly, he lost to Dredge when it mattered most, but whatcha gonna do?
Rather than give a full tournament report, though, I wanted to focus on one very interesting judge call from the day. It went a little like this.
Arthas taps his Volcanics and casts Time Walk.
Nova responds with “Red Elemental Blast, targeting Time Walk.”
Arthas takes this opportunity to try casting “Gush, returning my Volcanics to my hand.”
Nova counters back: “Flusterstorm, targeting your Time Walk. Two copies target Gush, one copy targets Time Walk.”
Arthas taps his Mox Emerald and says, “I’ll pay for the Flusterstorm so Time Walk isn’t countered.”
Nova replies, “No, it’s still countered. The original Flusterstorm is targeting it too.”
Arthas calls for a judge…which is you! Arthas wants to take back tapping his Mox Emerald, since he thought there was only one Flusterstorm targeting the Time Walk.
How do you rule?
What principles do you use to make this ruling?
Do you have any other questions for the players? (While I believe I’ve given you all the information you need to make a ruling, it’s always help to picture what might happen at the table.)
If you have a “snap” or knee-jerk answer, be honest with yourself: write that down! Then think about it for a few minutes and see if your answer changes. Write that down too!
Once you’ve thought about it for a few minutes, consider the following variations to the base scenario. How do these variations interact with the principles you’ve spelled out? Do you need to outline some additional principles to cover these alternate situations?
Variation 1: Suppose Nova simply said, “Flusterstorm. Two copies target Gush, one copy targets Time Walk.” That is, she doesn’t articulate what the original Flusterstorm is targeting. Does this change your ruling?
Variation 2: Suppose Nova says, “Flusterstorm. Two copies target Gush, one copy targets Time Walk,” and puts her Flusterstorm card on top of Time Walk. Does this change your ruling? How does this situation compare to Variation 1?
Variation 3: Suppose both players agree Nova said, “Two copies target Gush, one copy targets Time Walk.” However, Arthas claims she didn’t say anything else, while Nova is adamant she was clear about what the original Flusterstorm was targeting. Now what?
Variation 4: Suppose you pull Nova away from the table, and ask her if she deliberately chose her words to try and make Arthas forget about the original Flusterstorm. Nova replies that she did. Does this change your ruling? How?
Share your thoughts in the comments! Let’s have a discussion 🙂
Next week, I’ll share how I handled the situation, discuss the principles I used to make my ruling, and explore the history of what policy says about situations like this!