You Make the Ruling #3: Fabulous Las Vegas Edition

Hello everyone, and welcome again to You Make the Ruling, the periodic feature where you take the driver’s seat in handling tough rules questions and tricky policy scenarios.

This YMTR features situations and scenarios from last weekend’s SCG Invitational in Las Vegas. As usual, I challenge you to think about how you’d approach the ruling or answer the question before revealing the discussion.

Good luck!

  1. Norman controls a Chalice of the Void on 2. Alice casts Wear // Tear fused, targeting the Chalice and one of Norman’s enchantments. Is the spell countered? Reveal the Answer!

    No. Most of the time, if the game wants to know information about a split card, it gets two answers. One exception is when both halves of a split card with fuse are cast: at that point, its converted mana cost becomes the sum of the two halves. Wear // Tear’s converted mana cost is therefore “3”, not “1 and 2”, rendering it immune to this particular Chalice.

  2. Abby casts Skullcrack, targeting Nick. Nick wants to know if casting the Dromoka’s Command in his hand will prevent the damage from Skullcrack. How do you respond? Reveal the Answer!

    This is a situation where the order of a spell’s instructions is incredibly important. Skullcrack voids damage-prevention effects before it actually deals damage. As such, not even Dromoka can save Nick from being whacked in the face for three damage.

  3. Andy controls Orzhov Pontiff and Viscera Seer; Nicole controls a Relic of Progenitus. Andy sacrifices Orzhov Pontiff to Viscera Seer, and Nicole asks if she can use her Relic to exile the Pontiff before it haunts something. Andy thinks that he gets to exile the Pontiff directly. What do you say? Reveal the Answer!

    Yes, Nicole can do this. Haunt on a creature means “When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.” As such, Andy is incorrect — creatures with haunt actually need to go to the graveyard in order to trigger at all.

    Furthermore, if the Pontiff is exiled before the haunt ability resolves, it’s just in regular exile; it hasn’t haunted anything. Then, the haunt ability will lose track of the Pontiff, so the game won’t move it again. All of Nicole’s creatures will enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.

  4. Natalie controls Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Arnie plays Blood Moon. What colors of mana can Urborg tap for? What about Arnie’s Steam Vents and Island? Reveal the Answer!

    This is an oldie but a goodie, and yes, it actually happened during the weekend. Urborg and Blood Moon both want to change the types of lands, so we can see they apply in the same layer. However, applying Blood Moon effect’s first would change the set of objects affected by Urborg (specifically, it would result in Urborg affecting nothing, since Urborg would lose its ability to turn lands into Swamps). Thus, Urborg’s effect is dependent on Blood Moon’s effect. So, we always apply Blood Moon first (even though it entered the battlefield second!). This results in Urborg becoming a Mountain and losing its printed ability, so nothing gains the Swamp subtype — not even basic lands. Urborg and Steam Vents can only tap for red mana; Island can tap only for blue (not black).

  5. Angelo casts Ancient Stirrings and looks at the top five cards of his library. He reveals a Wurmcoil Engine from among those cards and puts the other four on the bottom of his library. Suddenly, Nancy picks up Angelo’s deck and shuffles it. Angelo calls a judge. What do you do? Reveal Discussion!

    Although the situation is unfortunate, we cannot undo a shuffle. Assess Nancy a Warning for Game Rule Violation, and leave the game as-is.

  6. Amy and Ned are playing Standard. Amy is playing Dark Jeskai and has several cards in her hand. She announces, “Painful Truths for 3″ and taps a Swamp, Plains, and Shambling Vent. Ned says, “Sure.” Amy draws three cards, then passes the turn. A spectator intervenes and points out that Amy couldn’t produce three colors of mana. The players call a judge. How do you rule? (Amy controls three other lands: a Prairie Stream, a Smoldering Marsh, and a Sunken Hollow.) Reveal Discussion!

    Of the rulings presented here, this is by far the most complex. Thanks to Matt Karr for sharing it with me, and to Steven Zwanger and Jeremy Fain (among others) for their engaging discussion.

    On a base level, Amy has one more card in her hand than she is supposed to, which immediately should prompt us to consider Drawing Extra Cards (DEC). As it turns out, the current iteration of DEC policy contains four sections in the Additional Remedy, each of which handles particular types of errors relating to drawing extra cards, and gives us specific ways to handle them.

    The first paragraph handles situations when the identity of the card was known, or when the player’s hand is empty. Neither condition applies here, so let’s just move right along.

    The second paragraph covers situations where the extra cards were drawn due to (A) “the legal resolution of an illegally-played instruction”, (B) a Communication Policy Violation, or (C) resolving instructions in the wrong order. There’s only one item on the stack, so this clearly isn’t (C). (A) might fit: was the error that Amy failed to tap her mana correctly? Or is the problem, rather, that Amy misrepresented the number of colors she had tapped? And would that be a Communication Policy Violation, or not? Let’s set that point aside for now. If we decide the issue falls under this paragraph, we can consider a backup or leave the game as-is.

    The third paragraph tells us how to approach situations where the opponent confirmed the draw. Is that what happened here? Again, maybe, so let’s discuss this in more detail shortly. Like in the second paragraph, errors of this type can be fixed by a back-up or leaving the game state as-is.

    Finally, the fourth paragraph covers any situations that the previous paragraphs don’t handle. This paragraph’s remedy is where we find the new Thoughtseize/Perish the Thought fix.

    Overall, I feel that the third paragraph of DEC fits very well here. Amy gave Ned a chance to respond; and Ned had an opportunity to verify that Amy tapped three colors of mana, but failed to do so. Therefore, I next have to consider whether to backup the game or leave things as they are. And in this Standard especially, I lean strongly towards leaving things as they are. When choosing lands to tap for Painful Truths, players often have to make tradeoffs about which colors of mana they leave themselves available — but this choice becomes much easier if you know the top cards of your deck.

    What are your thoughts? Do you agree that paragraph three is the best fit? Would you prefer to back up the game instead of leaving things as they are? Is this actually a Communication Policy Violation? Would you take a different approach entirely? Let me know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “You Make the Ruling #3: Fabulous Las Vegas Edition

  1. Thanks for the great article!

    In case 6, you said: “When choosing lands to tap for Painful Truths, players often have to make tradeoffs about which colors of mana they leave themselves available — but this choice becomes much easier if you know the top cards of your deck.”

    If we choose to back up, why would we be backing up all the way to the tapping of land? It’s perfectly legal to cast Truths for Swamp, Plains, Vent. Can’t we just back up to Truths on the stack, X is 2?

    1. Thanks! Glad you liked it.

      When discussing this with Steven Zwanger, Steven suggested comparing this to a regular X spell, which is an approach I quite like.

      So, let’s suppose I announce “Rolling Thunder, X is 5, targeting you” but only tap six lands (let’s say two Mountains and four Islands). My opponent says “OK” and reduces their life total by five. Then a spectator intervenes. Has an error occurred? When?

      1. Not sure I agree! For rolling thunder, X=5 is an illegal choice; for painful truths, X=3 is a CPV misrepresenting free information.

        (I think? It”s not derived, is it?)

        1. If you go through the steps of casting a spell, don’t you announce what X is and then attempt to pay for it?

  2. In scenario #6, if we choose to backup, shouldn’t it only be to the point of the error? If you choose the “opponent confirmed an incorrect draw” paragraph to apply, the error is drawing the incorrect number of cards, not casting the spell. It seems reasonable to back up to this point (effectively putting a single card from Amy’s hand on top of her library), barring anything on the board that would preclude wanting to perform this sort of backup.

    If we decide instead to backup citing the CPV paragraph, it does become a bit murkier–when exactly was the CPV committed, during or after casting the spell? It’s hard to identify because (as Jacob points out) it’s not clear what part of the Communication Policy was actually violated–if any. For this reason, I don’t think I would generally call this a CPV.

    On the balance, I think I would backup citing the “opponent confirmation” paragraph, but only back up to the point where the incorrect number of cards were drawn (with Painful Truths already on the stack, paid for with two colors of mana).

  3. On scenario #6, I immediately jumped to the “opponent confirmed the card draw” option when I read it. I think a strong case could be made for this one, especially if Ned also noted down a loss of three life for Amy, de facto confirming that Painful Truths was cast for draw three lose three.

    The Communication Policy Violation angle is interesting. Do we infer Communication Policy Violations, saying in this case that Amy effectively stated “I am casting Painful Truths and one of these lands is producing a color that is neither black or white?” X is equal to the number of different colors used to cast the spell by the information on the card. It is not exactly what Amy said, though. If we are inferring, could we also infer that a player who cast Divination for 2W was committing a CPV, effectively stating that Divination can be cast for the mana in their mana pool? Yet this example is specifically a Game Rule Violation in the IPG.

    To me, it seems more reasonable to only apply CPV where a player made a statement that is demonstrably untrue on its own with respect to free or derived information. If she had said “Painful Truths, using black, white, and red,” then the argument for CPV becomes stronger.

    However, what would we do if Ned had called a judge over after Amy said Painful Truths for three, saying she only used lands that could produce black or white? Do we extrapolate Amy’s statement as “when this spell resolves, I will draw three cards and lose three life” which is detailing a hypothetical future game action?

    As the fix is the same in all applicable cases, this is a pretty academic discussion, but one where I am interested in the thoughts of others as well.

  4. Great 6th scenario. I agree on third paragraph however I would consider backup there. First of all, we don’t have fetches there, that’s great! Check out left mana – we have two blue sources and one red. If we do backup, we will give Amy opportunity to tap perfectly for her upcoming draws but also restrict her available mana for those. She will end up with UR or UU lands after back up instead of UUR and I found this as a more organic game state.

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