M20 New Set Digest

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New Cards

Q: Amy plays Ancestral Blade while Nicole controls a Plague Engineer for which the chosen type is Soldier. What happens?

A: The token that enters the battlefield from Ancestral Blade’s trigger enters as a 0/0 due to being shrunk by Plague Engineer. However, state-based actions are not performed until the ability finishes resolving. By that time, Ancestral Blade will be attached to the token, so the Soldier lives as a 1/1.

Note: This is also what naturally happens for living weapon cards.

Q: Amy plays Healing Salve to gain 3 life while she controls Boon Reflection and Angel of Vitality. What happens?

A: Both the Angel and Boon Reflection have replacement effects that want to modify the life gain event. The order they apply is decided by Amy because she is the affected player (the player gaining life). If she applies Angel of Vitality first, she gains 8, whereas if she applies Boon Reflection first, she only gains 7.

Q: Amy plays Reverse the Sands while she controls Angel of Vitality. She is at 5 life and Nicole is at 10 before they switch. What happens?

A: Exchanging life totals is accomplished by having each player gain or lose the appropriate amount of life to arrive at their new life total. Replacement effects like Angel of Vitality can and do interact with such gains and losses of life. Amy ends up at 11 after the Angel increases the amount of life she gains to 6.

Note: Effects that double, exchange with something else or otherwise set a player’s life total are similarly handled by having the player gain or lose the appropriate amount of life to arrive at their new life total. All of these are affected by Angel of Vitality’s ability, provided, of course, that the change increases the player’s life total.

Q: Amy controls a Starfield Mystic and tries to put a Holy Strength on her Grizzly Bears, but her opponent kills Grizzly Bears in response. Does Starfield Mystic get a +1/+1 counter?

A: No. Holy Strength is put into its owner’s graveyard with no effect because its target is no longer in play. Because Holy Strength was never on the battlefield, it doesn’t cause Starfield Mystic to trigger.

Q: Who chooses where in the library the target of Aether Gust is placed?

A: Aether Gust specifies that the card’s owner is the person to move it. Accordingly, that player will make any choices related to this move, including the one Aether Gust offers of whether to put it on top or bottom.

Q: How does Atemsis, All-Seeing work with split cards?

A: A split card has a single converted mana cost in your hand. That cost is equal to the combined converted mana cost of both halves. So Warrant//Warden would count as a CMC 7 card, not a 2 and a 5.

Q: How does Embodiment of Agonies work with…

  • Evermind? Evermind has no mana cost. Therefore it does not contribute towards the total number of counters.
  • Split cards? A split card in the graveyard has one mana cost: the combined mana cost of both halves. Spite // Malice, therefore, will count as 6UB, the same mana cost as Vampire Charmseeker.
  • X spells? Although X is considered to be 0 when determining Fireball’s converted mana cost in your graveyard, it counts just fine as a mana symbol. XR and R are thus different mana costs.
  • Phyrexian/hybrid mana symbols? Hybrids and Phyrexian mana symbols are different from their normal equivalents. Thus, Mental Misstep and Dream Salvage are both considered distinct mana costs from Brainstorm.
  • Arcum’s Astrolabe? A mana cost of S is different from 1.
  • Hardened Scales? Embodiment of Agonies’ ability counts the mana costs, then puts all the counters on Embodiment of Agonies at once. Thus, Hardened Scales only increases that number by one. It doesn’t effectively double it.

Q: How big is Corpse Knight?

A: A question this straightforward has to have a trick, and indeed, the trick is right on the card. Many Corpse Knights were misprinted as 2/3, but this is incorrect. Per the Oracle, the proper p/t for this card is 2/2.

Q: Amy controls Mystic Forge. Can she play Darksteel Citadel from the top of her library?

A: No. While several people (myself included, even as I try to be technically correct) carelessly use “play” and “cast” interchangeably, they are in fact, two different terms with two distinct rules meanings. “Cast” specifically refers to the act of casting a spell, while “play”, somewhat confusingly can refer to playing a land or as a blanket term for either playing a land or casting a spell. Mystic Forge uses the word “cast”, so you cannot use it to play lands. A template like Experimental Frenzy’s, that uses the word “play” is required to play lands.

Q: Amy plays Scapeshift and gets Field of the Dead plus 6 other lands with different names. What happens?

A: Scapeshift puts all 7 lands onto the battlefield at the same time. After this, the game sees if there are any triggered abilities that need to go on the stack. Since the last time the game has checked, 7 lands have entered the battlefield, so Field of the Dead triggers seven times. Assuming nothing else happens, when those triggers resolve, Amy will get 7 Zombies.

Q: Amy controls Warden of Evos Isle. How much does Daggersail Aeronaut cost to cast?

A: Abilities of permanents generally only work when the card that has them is on the battlefield. There are exceptions to this, but none of them apply here. Daggersail Aeronaut does not have flying on the stack, and thus costs the full price.

Advanced Note: Flying itself also does not fall under any of the exceptions, so you may be wondering how Warden of Evos Isle can work at all. The reason is because a card like Wind Drake has flying all the time. That ability doesn’t do anything unless Wind Drake is on the battlefield. In the same way, Daggersail Aeronaut has “this has flying as long as it’s your turn” all the time, but that ability, too, does nothing unless Daggersail Aeronaut is on the battlefield.

Q: Amy discards Circular Logic to Bag of Holding. What zone does Circular Logic end up in? Can Amy get it back with Bag of Holding’s ability?

A: Circular Logic has madness, which replaces discarding it with exiling Circular Logic. Because of how madness is worded, this is still considered to be discarding Circular Logic, so Bag of Holding’s triggered ability will trigger when this happens. Madness also has an inherent triggered ability that triggers from this as well, giving Amy the option to cast Circular Logic. Because Amy controls both triggers, she chooses the order in which they are put on the stack. If she has the Bag of Holding exile trigger resolve first, Circular Logic will already be exiled, so Bag of Holding won’t be able to find it and exile Circular Logic itself. The smarter way to order them is for the madness “you may play this card” trigger to resolve first, then Bag of Holding’s trigger. Since there’s no spell to counter with Circular Logic, you can decline to play it and have it go back into its owner’s graveyard. From there, you can exile it with Bag of Holding’s ability so that you will have access to Circular Logic when you later use Bag of Holding’s “return to your hand” ability.

Note: Ordinarily, when an object changes zones, it becomes a new object with no connection to its previous existence. There is an exception to this rule that covers the case where a player discards a card with madness, then exiles it and declines to play it, as here. Effects that look for the discarded card can find it in this case. If not for this exception, it would not be possible to exile Circular Logic with Bag of Holding at all. Note too that this exception only applies if the card wasn’t cast. If Circular Logic were cast, the zone change from exile to the stack would not fall under this exception, so Bag of Holding would not be able to exile it either.

Rules and Policy Changes

Q: How do mulligans work?

A: Core 2020 is the first set that officially introduces the London mulligan (so named because it debuted at Mythic Championship London earlier this year). Stores in the WPN were granted permission to roll this change out early, but if yours isn’t like mine and you haven’t spent the last month getting used to it, here’s how mulligans work now.

If you decide to mulligan, you draw 7 cards and then put N of those cards on the bottom of your library, where N is the number of times you’ve mulliganed. So if you decide your opening 7 isn’t going to get you there, you shuffle in, then draw 7, then put one on the bottom. You can keep that 6 card hand or you can go to 5, which is accomplished by shuffling those 6 into your deck, then drawing 7 and putting 2 on the bottom of your library. You can repeat this process until you go to 0.

Some quick hits:

  • You no longer get to scry after taking mulligans.
  • You choose the order the cards go on bottom of your library if there are more than one.
  • Your cards aren’t considered to be your “opening hand” until you say that you’re keeping. Thus, Leylines need to be in the hand you keep, and also cannot be among the cards you put on bottom of your library to start in play.

Q: Amy mulligans to 6, and takes a London mulligan properly. Afterwards, she looks at the top card of her library. When you ask her about this, she says she forgot you don’t get to scry anymore. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: Old habits die hard, so expect to see a few hybrid mulligans while everyone is getting used to the new rules. Amy looked at a card she was not entitled to see. This is a Warning for Looking at Extra Cards. Have her shuffle this card into her library. Remember that the bottom card of her library is known, so have her leave that card on bottom and shuffle the rest.

Q: Amy draw 8 cards for her opening hand accidentally. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: Amy’s mistake in drawing her opening hand makes this a Mulligan Procedure Error rather than a Hidden Card Error. The fix for this no longer allows a player the option of revealing their hand to the opponent to remove a card. The only fix is now to take a forced mulligan. Amy is forced to shuffle her 8 cards in and draw 7, one of which she must put on bottom of her library. She may take further mulligans from this point.

Note: Because the new mulligan procedure has you start at 7 cards for each potential opening hand, this is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix no matter whether this is her first hand or a mulligan. If she is taking a mulligan, the forced mulligan takes her to one less card in hand than the hand she mis-drew would have been.

Q: Amy plays Divination while Nicole controls Narset, Parter of Veils. After drawing, Amy calls a judge and says she forgot about Narset. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: Before, this would have been a Hidden Card Error. Now, HCE has been changed to exclude cases where the opponent controlled a continuous effect that changed the game rule that was broken. This being the case, drawing these cards is treated as a Game Rule Violation. You may either let the game state stand as-is or back up to before the error by having Amy return two random cards from her hand to the top of the library.

Another change is that the rules explicitly make allowances for giving a double GRV (i.e., one to each player) in cases where one player’s continuous effect caused another player to break a rule. Accordingly, both players should get Warnings for GRV.

Q: While resolving a Dark Confidant trigger in game 1 of her match. Amy reveals a sideboard card. The players immediately call a judge, and you determine that Amy forgot to desideboard after her last game. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: This Deck Problem would have been a Game Loss in the past, but it no longer is. Now, it is a Warning, and is handled similar to the way Hidden Card Errors are. Amy’s opponent gets to see the maindeck cards that were mistakenly left in Amy’s sideboard and choose which of the those cards replaces the sideboard card Amy just revealed. Afterwards, search Amy’s library for any other sideboard cards and shuffle in the remaining maindeck cards left in the sideboard to replace them.

Note: If Amy noticed the sideboard card, but did not call a judge in order to avoid a penalty, the infraction would be Cheating.

Q: In game 1, Amy uses Surgical Extraction on Nicole’s Arclight Phoenix. Nicole later is searching her library with a fetchland and calls a judge. Away from the table, she explains that Anger of the gods is supposed to be a sideboard card, but she has it main. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: While similar to the previous question, this one differs in one important way. Nicole’s sideboard card was first seen by Amy. Knowing that Nicole could draw Anger of the gods could thus have affected Amy’s play. For example, if Amy is on Izzet Phoenix, she may have intentionally committed less phoenixes to the board for fear of getting them permanently killed. Because of the increased advantage available, the judge has the discretion to upgrade to a Game Loss in cases where a Deck Problem may have affected the opponent’s gameplay.

Note: Many factors are at play here, including the length of time in the game since the opponent had the opportunity to see the sideboard card, the individual decks, and their specific builds. The bar of “could have affected the opponent’s gameplay” is rather low and can be quite subtle. For example, Aria of Flame is not optional, so seeing a Witchbane Orb might dissuade a player from putting that card into play or digging for it. Format familiarity is helpful here, as is skill in investigations. Don’t be afraid to ask the players (away from the table) about their intentions, as well as collateral questions like whether they noticed the card or thought it was unusual to see it in their opponent’s maindeck.

Q: During a deck check for a Standard format event, you notice that all of Amy’s basic lands are snow-covered. When you ask her about this, she says she opened one in a booster pack and thought they looked cool. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: Especially given the release of snow basics in Modern Horizons, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this scenario come up. Fortunately, there’s no feel-bad Game Loss to give out anymore. Snow basics, when they aren’t in Standard, are officially treated as their ordinary equivalents. Have Amy replace the lands with normal basics and explain that the are technically different cards, but don’t issue a penalty.

Note: The fact that this is no infraction is spelled out in the MTR rather than the IPG for some reason (MTR 6.3; the IPG gives no indication that this doesn’t count as a Decklist Problem).

Q: How much time do we have for deck construction during the prerelease?

A: Ordinarily, deck construction in a sealed event takes 30 minutes. A few sets ago, a change was made giving 15 additional minutes for deck construction for sealed events taking place their weekend of the set’s release. The rationale was that many players are encountering the cards for the first time, so they should have extra time to process and build. This time around, this extra time was also extended to prerelease events for the same reason.

Q: Amy arrives late to the start of her round. When she gets to her match, there is 49:20 left in the round. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: For years, many head judges have advocated tardiness at 0 minutes “with a heart”, meaning that a player making obvious effort to arrive to the match on time should be given a bit of leeway, even if he or she happens to arrive late. Various inconsistent implementations of this philosophy have finally given way to an official, policy-supported downgrade. If a player arrives to his or her match within one minute of the start of round, the Tardiness infraction’s ordinary penalty of a Game Loss is downgraded to a Warning.

Note: As with other Tournament Errors, a second or subsequent infraction of Tardiness is upgraded to a Game Loss. Be sure to ask if the player has gotten any Tardiness infractions in the event and remind the offending player of this when giving the downgrade.

Note: As with any downgrade from a Game Loss to a Warning, the stakes are pretty high for the players here. Exacerbating this is the issue that the difference between the two could quite literally be a few seconds. This being the case, I expect some fairly contentious debates to ensue regarding whether a player (or player’s opponent) should or should not be assessed a Game Loss for their tardiness. I have no doubts that the philosophy behind this change will continue to develop to improve the consistency in application here, but I will offer some thoughts on the fairest way to do things as I see it.

First, the stiff penalty for tardiness arises because of the significant disruption to the tournament being late causes. Once the player has arrived at their table, they are no longer causing a delay. Accordingly, the 1 minute grace period should be measured from when the player arrives at his or her seat rather than, for example, when the players call a judge or when the judge arrives at the table. Unfortunately, this requires investigation to determine in close cases. If you have the slightest doubt about whether a player has made it in time, I advise erring on the side of letting the match be decided by Magic and not assessing a Game Loss.

Q: Amy draws for the turn, and Nicole calls a judge. She points out that Amy should have first discarded due to her Rotting Regisaur. What is the appropriate infraction, penalty, and fix?

A: The root cause of the problem here is that Amy forgot a triggered ability. Thus, the appropriate infraction is a Missed Trigger. Amy gets a Warning because this trigger is generally considered detrimental. The fix is to allow Nicole to decide whether to put the trigger on the stack right now or have it be missed.

Note: This fix is rather unsatisfying considering that Amy gains significant advantage over what would have happened had she resolved this trigger at the appropriate time. For one, she knows what card she will draw for the turn when deciding to discard. For another, she has the option to discard the card she drew for turn, which she of course would not have had normally. Taking inspiration from what would happen if the infraction were HCE or GRV, some alternate fixes readily come to mind that do a better job mitigating this advantage. Unfortunately, such fixes are not supported by policy.

Note: I reached out to some highly experienced judges with excellent understanding of policy for help with this question. Specifically, I wanted to better understand the philosophy underpinning allowing a backup in similar situations where the infraction was instead Hidden Card Error or Game Rule Violation. The best answer I got was that triggered abilities are more “compartmentalized” in that they only apply at a specific well-defined point in time. They can thus be fixed in a more straightforward and easy-to-describe way than other infractions, even in cases where the physical actions taken are equivalent. That being the case, policy prioritizes fixing Missed Triggers in that way, since it’s always possible and generally reasonable. That said, another highly experienced judge I consulted said something to the effect of “That’s a good question, David. The people who decide these things are looking at that issue,” so keep an eye on the next policy update because this answer may well change.


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