Placement Effect

At a local standard PPTQ you are the only judge, Anise is playing against Nutmeg. On Anise’s turn, she draws a Temple of Malice and plays it, laying her hand down in a single stack next to her library. As she is scrying the top card, she sets it down on the table to think about it. Nutmeg notices that she actually put it directly on top of her hand. Anise calls a judge when this is pointed out. Nutmeg tells you, “Judge, on my turn, I Thoughtseized her and wrote down everything,” (he shows you his notes) “and I know she just drew that Temple.”

What do you do?

Judges, you can discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Since Anise put the card she was Scrying directly on top of her hand, it is considered drawn and this falls under Game Play Error – Drawing Extra Cards which comes with a Game Loss. Many of you correctly noted that the downgrade path for DEC is:

Originally posted by IPG 2.3 (emphasis added):
If the identity of the card was known to all players before being placed into the hand, or was placed into an empty hand, and the card can be returned to the correct zone with minimal disruption, do so and downgrade the penalty to a Warning.

This situation does not meet the downgrade clause since saying the opponent being able to say ‘that one’ isn’t the same as the opponent knowing the identity of the card. We cannot also know the identity (i.e. name) of the card by the process of elimination. While it was nice for Nutmeg to volunteer up the notes that he made, these don’t help with a positive identification of the card. Instead they help us figure out which card it’s not which is not how we apply policy.

There was also a fair amount of discussion on what exactly it means for a card to be considered drawn. This scenario was designed specifically so that this wasn’t an ambiguous situation. The card was placed directly on top of the hand. This means that it’s not easily distinguishable from the rest of the hand. While it’s likely the top card of that piled is the extraneous card, it’s not certain. In many cases, Nutmeg won’t be watching every single move that Anise makes. That can make this situation quite abusable. It would be quite easy for a player to slide that card on the bottom of the hand without the opponent seeing. Try it some time! (but not during an actual game of Magic)

Dave Tosto had a great thing to tell the player while issuing the ruling, and I’ll repeat it here: “I understand this is frustrating, and I know you weren’t breaking the rules on purpose. But judges have to apply policy consistently to make sure that all tournaments are run fairly.” One of the goals of the judge program is to have players be able to expect that the same thing will happen regardless of the tournament and the judge.

In his discussion of a similar situation at Pro Tour Brussels, Riccardo wraps up this issue neatly in an article on his blog:

Riccardo Tessitori
When you think about deviating, you really need to think about all the possible consequences; even when you believe that your choice affects only one match, it has the potential of affecting many other matches (as players and spectators will remember it, and use it as a future reference); be wise, and think about long term effects.