Battering Skulls

At a local Comp REL Legacy event, Antonio controls a Batterskull equipped to a Germ token, a tapped Stoneforge Mystic, and three tapped Plains. Narnia only controls two untapped Islands and one Flooded Strand. Antonio attacks with the Germ, both players tick down Narnia’s life total by four, and Antonio passes. Narnia draws a card and a spectator asks them to pause their match while he calls for a judge. Both players realize that they missed the lifelink from the Germ equipped with a Batterskull. What do you do?

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

As many of you correctly noted, this is a Game Play Error(GPE)-Game Rule Violation for Antonio and GPE-Failure to Maintain Game State for Narnia. Both of which come with a Warning. After we have determined the infraction and the appropriate penalty, we need to figure out what the remedy is, and this is where most of the discussion took place.

For a GRV, there are only three ‘partial fixes’ that we can consider and none of them involve changing life totals. There is a pretty strong reason why there is no life total partial fix. Life totals are one of the most important factors players consider when making decisions, and are (almost) always very relevant. Because of that, we can’t add “change life totals” to the list of partial fixes. (Note that life total discrepancies are a bookkeeping error, and are corrected without backing up.) Chuck Pierce did a commendable job in giving us an example why this partial fix isn’t possible. He pointed out that we can easily make players lose the game from this fix (if it existed) if we were to consistently apply it. Remember that consistency is key.

Since simply adjusting life totals is off the table, we can then (with the approval of the HJ) consider backing up this game state to the point of the error. There was a clarification in the recent version of the IPG that helps give us some insight on when we should back up.

Originally posted by IPG 1.4:

Backups involving random/unknown elements should be approached with extreme caution, especially if they cause or threaten to cause a situation in which a player will end up with different cards than they would once they have correctly drawn those cards. For example, returning cards to the library when a player has the ability to shuffle their library is not something that should be done except in extreme situations.

Since Narnia controls a Flooded Strand, we should not back this game up.

The only remedy here is to remind the players to play more carefully and they should continue playing from where they were before the judge was called.