Thalia’s Chalice

You’re the HJ of a Legacy GPT. Ashe and Norman have recently started their match, and Norman has a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and a Chalice of the Void with one counter on it under his control. On her turn, Ashe pays 1 and casts a Pithing Needle. The following exchange happens:

Norman : “So, Chalice counters that?”
Ashe: “Oh shoot, forgot about it… yeah.”
Ashe puts the Needle into her graveyard, then looks at the board.
Ashe: “Hey, wait, you have a Thalia in play… I couldn’t have cast my Needle!”


After talking to both players, you determine that Norman was too focused on the fact that the Chalice countered the Needle, and he didn’t notice that Ashe had only paid one mana for it. Ashe simply forgot the Thalia was on the battlefield.

What do you do?

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

Pretty much everyone agreed that our friend Ashe had committed a GPE – GRV for casting the her Pithing Needle and paying the wrong amount, thanks to a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on Norman’s side of the board. But what to do with Norman?

Some suggested he should be getting a GPE – GRV too, as he controlled the effect that caused Ashe to commit her infraction. However, as several others noted, Thalia has a static ability that isn’t actively forcing Ashe to do something; as opposed to Swords to Plowshares or similar. It’s a FTMGS for Norman with a simple warning attached.

Now, to back up, or not back up? That is the question…

Most arguments in favor of backing up noted that very little time had passed and that nothing major had really happened. Some even cited CR 717.1. Had Ashe’s mistake been caught before anything else happened (Chalice of the Void’s trigger resolving), CR 717.1 would apply automatically and we’d be forced to back up, as we’d be caught in the middle of an illegal action. However, we’ve moved past that point and are currently sitting at a legal board state; the Needle is sitting in the graveyard and nothing else is going on, so CR 717.1 doesn’t apply.

The KP team feels that although few game actions have happened and the error was discovered very recently, it is not a good idea to back up. As per IPG 1.4 – Backing Up (emphasis mine):

Due to the amount of information that may become available to the players and might affect their play, backups are regarded as a solution of last resort, only applied in situations where leaving the game in the current state is a substantially worse solution. A good backup will result in a situation where the line of play remains the same (excepting the error, which has been fixed). This means limiting backups to situations with minimal decision trees.

There is very little chance that the line of play here will remain the same, as Ashe will likely not play the Needle again. A backup would have to go all the way back to before she cast the Needle, and once we get to that point, there is basically no reason for her to cast it again. Leaving the board as is isn’t substantially worse than having Norman gain information on Ashe’s hand and have Ashe make a completely different play, so our ruling is to not back up.