Everyday Investigations

The following Document contains information originally provided by Nicola DiPasquale

The Basics


Who performs investigations?

All Judges, TO, Players, Spectators but mainly Floor Judges. If the investigation has the potential to end in a DQ the HJ needs to be involved ASAP.

What is an investigation?

The Gathering of Information

Where do investigations happen?

Normally during tournaments but can be anywhere.

When do we investigate?

Whenever we need more information.

Why do we investigate?

To ensure we are making correct rulings and preserving the integrity of the tournament.

How to investigate


Gathering Information


  1. Time Management(Be mindful of the amount of time your investigation takes)
  2. Players Involved (Separate them!)
  3. The Gamestate(Cards on Table)
  4. Witnesses
  5. Tournament Staff(Other Judges, Scorekeeper, When to Involve the HJ)
  6. Previous Opponents
  7. (In)Direct Observation
  8. Avoiding prejudice and bias

Asking Questions


  1. Things to ask yourself. “What do you want to know?” “What questions/approaches will get you that info?”
  2. Don’t be antagonistic. “So tell me what happened?”
  3. Observe Reactions/body language.
  4. Ask questions you already know the answer to.
  5. Ask Open Ended Questions (avoid ones with Yes/No answers).
  6. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to repeatedly in different ways.
  7. Look for inconstancies.

Your Decision


  1. Avoiding prejudice and bias (yes it is on here twice)
  2. Does your information make sense?
  3. Dealing with ‘He said/She said’
  4. Does the incident match the definition/philosophy of an infraction?
  5. How confident are you? Proof?
  6. Making your ruling, don’t be apologetic.


(~10min/scenario) Not all scenarios will be used. Assume Competitive REL.

  1. The Extra Card(Several Scenarios)
  2. The Nervous Drafter(D/DP Call into DQ Investigation with no DQ)
  3. The Nosey Spectator(Spectator HIV DQ)
  4. The odd deck list(USC Cheating DQ)
  5. Roll for it?(Improperly Determining DQ)

Extended Seminar Idea

Break the Seminar into two parts with the scenarios being an entirely separate seminar.

Instead of simply discussing the scenario in a group setting we could instead have a group of ‘actors’ (mentor judges) playing the part of a player who is the subject of the investigation. The Judges would then be paired with an actor and would investigate while the ‘actor’ evaluated and helped direct the judge(s).

The advantage of this layout is it would give judges who have not had much experience in investigations a way to gain some in a pressure/risk free environment.

The disadvantage of this layout is it would require a number of Mentors who are both experienced and decent actors while also taking up two seminar slots. This might be better implemented at a Pro Tour where a large number of highly experienced mentors are available.


Scenario Description: “Judge! I drew just 4 cards while resolving brainstorm.”

Is a downgrade appropriate? If yes, what is the ‘fix’?

Scenario Answer: DEC. Downgrade to a warning is an option at HJ’s discretion, if downgraded return a random card from player’s hand to top of their library.

Scenario Description: “Judge! My opponent drew a card from my library.”

What if this is the second time he has done this today?

Scenario Answer: L@EC. Determine if the library has a non-random portion then shuffle card into random portion. Involve the HJ and Investigate for Cheating – HIV.

Scenario Description: “Judge! My opponent has an extra card in his hand.”

How did the card get there and how do we determine this?

Why is it important that we determine how the card got in the player’s hand?

If we cannot determine the source of the extra card is this Cheating – Manip?

Scenario Answer: DEC. A brief investigation to determine the source of the card is important in order to maintain the integrity of the tournament. Not being able to determine the source does not automatically mean the player is cheating.

Scenario Description: “Judge! I fatesealed using Jace and my opponent looked at the card I put on the bottom.”

Would it matter if he claims he was just ‘curious’?

Scenario Answer: Cheating – HIV. The player has intentionally viewed hidden information (bottom card of his library), the potential for advantage exists.

Scenario Description: You are the HJ at a PTQ and your Deckcheck Team Lead presents you with a Decklist that contains only the words: “See Deck for Details.”

How do you find the player?

Upon locating the player he states that he did not know Decklists were required and just put that on the sheet so he could hand something in to the judge.

Would the age of the player make a difference?

Would the tournament experience of the player make a difference?

Scenario Answer: Strictly: Cheating – Fraud. The player has intentionally committed an infraction in order to avoid a penalty.

Really: Talk to the player, and GL for DDP.

Discussion points for all three scenarios:

What questions should we ask the players?

What is the appropriate infraction and penalty?

Do I need to involve the Head Judge?