A Dash of Depravity

Stephen is watching Angus and Natalie play their match in a Sealed PPTQ. Natalie controls a tapped Archfiend of Depravity. Angus attacks with Mardu Strike Leader, which he has cast for its Dash cost, and a 2/1 Warrior token. He puts another Warrior token onto the battlefield, combat damage is dealt, and Angus moves to the end step. He then says, “Return Strike Leader to my hand. Only 2 creatures left, so no sacrifice to the Archfiend.” Natalie untaps and draws. At this point, Stephen realizes something is wrong, pauses the match, and calls for a judge.

What do you do?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Well done, judges! As many of you recognized, this is a Game Rules Violation. The triggers on the stack were resolved in the wrong order, which resulted in Mardu Strike Leader being returned to Angus’s hand when it should have been left on the table until the Archfiend’s trigger had resolved. Since very little time has passed, the head judge should authorize a rewind, which we perform by undoing Natalie’s draw (randomly from her hand) and untap steps and returning Strike Leader to the battlefield. After we have done this, the game resumes as normal with both triggers on the stack, and Angus must choose a creature to sacrifice. Angus receives a Warning for the Game Rules Violation of making this error, and Natalie will be receiving a Warning for Failure to Maintain Game State for allowing it.

That covers what the answer is, but let’s also briefly explore what this situation is not.

This is not a Missed Trigger. For a trigger to be missed, it must go unacknowledged by both players. Angus clearly acknowledged the trigger, even if he tried to resolve it at the wrong time, so that’s out.

This is not Drawing Extra Cards. When a card is improperly put into a player’s hand from anywhere, it is Drawing Extra Cards unless there is a preceding GRV (there isn’t) or it is the result of resolving objects on the stack in the wrong order. The latter circumstance happens to be exactly the case here, so we know this isn’t DEC.