The Same Old Song

Anne and Ned are playing in a PPTQ. Anne controls a Soulfire Grand Master. During her end step, Ned targets it with Magma Spray. Anne activates the Grand Master’s ability, then casts Swan Song targeting the Magma Spray, leaving her with only one remaining Island untapped. While she is pulling the bird token out of her deck box, she absentmindedly puts the Swan Song in her graveyard.

Ned then untaps, draws, and casts another copy of Magma Spray. Anne taps her Island and looks through her hand for the Swan Song. At this point she realizes she put it into the graveyard by mistake and calls for a judge.

What do you do?

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

Good afternoon, judges. We had quite a lively discussion this week. Nearly all of you avoided the trap of treating Soulfire Grand Master’s ability as if it were a trigger. Excellent job! (We thought this would trip up more of you, but I guess Knowledge Pool is succeeding too well for our own tricks to work!) So we know that Anne has committed a Game Play Error – Game Rules Violation. And we know that Ned has committed GPE – Failure to Maintain Game State by allowing her error to persist through several actions.

And that leaves us with the sticky bit: the fix. Fundamentally, we have three options. We may apply a partial fix if one is applicable, rewind the game to the point of the error if no partial fix is available, or leave the game as-is if we neither partial fix nor rewind without excessive disruption. This is the partial fix in question:

IPG 2.5
If an object changing zones is put into the wrong zone, the identity of the object was known to all players, and it can be moved without disrupting the state of the game, put the object in the correct zone.

Swan Song was supposed to go to the hand, but went to the graveyard. This condition is quite unambiguously met. However, there is the matter of “without disrupting the state of the game.” From Anne’s actions, she has clearly indicated that she knew Swan Song was supposed to be in her hand and thought it was. From her perspective, there is absolutely no disruption from putting the Swan Song where it is supposed to be. The question is whether Ned’s perception of the game state is different and if this is sufficient to stop us from putting the Swan Song back. Here are the things Ned knows:

  • Anne cast Swan Song following a Soulfire Grand Master activation last turn.
  • Anne has some cards in her hand and tapped an Island following his Wild Slash being cast.

So we can say fairly unequivocally that Ned should expect there to be a Swan Song in Anne’s hand if he was paying attention to immediately prior actions. And if he wasn’t paying attention before, he has no reasonable expectation that there must not be a Swan Song there now, given his knowledge of Anne’s current hand contents and actions. Since Anne is certain the Swan Song should be there and Ned is, at worst, uncertain whether it should be, the disruption is quite minimal. This being the case, the Knowledge Pool team agree that we will apply the partial fix in this situation.

That being said, many of you raised valid concerns about applying this partial fix, and we applaud your analysis of the situation. We here at the Knowledge Pool feel comfortable with the partial fix, for the reasons stated above, but this does not mean your reservations are unjustified.