Look Ma, No Hand!

Anya is playing against Natalie on day 1 of a Grand Prix. In game 2 of the match Anya activates her Cryptbreaker‘s first ability, discarding a card and saying “create a zombie.” She searches the Hour of Devastation Bundle box she is using for her deck box for a zombie token, and can’t find one immediately, so takes the contents out of the box and puts them on the table. She searches some more, finds the zombies, deploys them, then returns everything to the box. Returning to the game, Anya and Natalie both discover that Anya’s hand of 4 cards is missing. They call for a judge, and you find 19 cards in Anya’s deck box, separated in a group of 8 and a group of 11, divided by the tokens.

You investigate and confirm that Anya should have 4 cards in hand, based on the game state and number of turns passed.

What do you do?

Anya receives a Warning for Hidden Card Error. She put extra cards into her sideboard, and that action can’t be fixed using public information. Natalie will look at the 19 cards that were in Anya’s deck box and choose four to become Anya’s hand.

An expanded answer can be found here.

Oath Of Whoops

Andrew is playing against Nadine in a Standard PPTQ. During Andrew’s turn he says, “Oath?” tapping a Forest while holding out an Oath of Nissa. Nadine lets it resolve and Andrew draws three cards, and discards an Island and a Forest. Andrew realizes that he resolved his trigger incorrectly and calls for a judge, explaining that he thought he was playing an Oath of Jace. What do you do?

Judges feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!


Andrew receives a warning for Hidden Card Error. The root cause is adding 3 cards into a set (his hand). Return the two discarded cards to Andrew’s hand. Then have Andrew reveal his hand to Nadine, where she will select 3 cards to create the Oath of Nissa set. Instruct Andrew to continue resolving the Oath of Nissa trigger.

Drawing in, the hard way

With 12 minutes left in the last Swiss round of a PPTQ you’re head judging, two players call you over. They tell you that they intentionally drew their match during game 5, and didn’t know how to report it. You ask what happened, and Allison tells you, “Well, we’re best friends, and we both make Top 8 if we draw and the match at the next table doesn’t draw. We both know this, so after we each won a game we intentionally drew the next two after about 10 turns. The next match over did finally end with a winner, so we’re drawing the match now. Brad thinks intentional draws are always supposed to be 0-0-3, but I’m confused because we played 5 games. Who’s right?”

You talk to a judge who’s playing in the event, and he says they were playing pretty quickly the whole time he watched, but then abruptly drew the game when the match next to them ended. What do you do?

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

This week we had a GOLD scenario which means it’s not easy to solve but many of you answered correctly. There is no infraction here.
Let’s have a look at some official documents to justify this answer:

IPG 4.7 Stalling
A player intentionally plays slowly in order to take advantage of the time limit. If the slow play is not intentional, please refer to Tournament Error — Slow Play instead.


MTR 2.4 Conceding or Intentionally Drawing Games or Matches
If a game or match is not completed, players may concede or mutually agree to a draw in that game or match. A
match is considered complete once the result slip is filled out or, if match slips are not being used, a player leaves
the table after game play is finished. Until that point, either player may concede to or draw with the other, though
if the conceding player won a game in the match, the match must be reported as 2-1. Intentional draws are always
reported as 0-0-3.


MTR 5.2 Bribery
Players may not reach an agreement in conjunction with other matches. Players can make use of information regarding match or game scores of other tables. However, players are not allowed to leave their seats during their match or go to great lengths to obtain this information.

The players were not slow playing, so this is not Stalling, and while it doesn’t make much strategic sense, they’re completely within their rights to draw the current game and move on to the next at any point. Neither have they gone to great lengths to obtain this information. So, these actions are legal.
Instruct Allison that she’s right – because they each won a game before eventually drawing three games and the match, and all games that are played are expected to be reported, their match slip should list one win for each of them, and three draws, 1-1-3.

The MTR specifies 0-0-3 for Intentional Draws; this applies if players just agree to a draw without playing any games. Once a game has begun, it should be reflected on the result slip.

Thanks all for participating and see you soon!

Always double-check

At the beginning of round three at a standard Grand Prix Trial, you deck check table 5. Elspeth’s decklist says “4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy”, along with a variety of other blue and black spells and lands. Her deck, however, contains 56 cards and 4 unmarked Magic Origins Checklist Cards. Her box also contains 4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy in clear sleeves. There are no other cards which can be represented by a checklist card on Elspeth’s decklist or in her deck. What do you do?

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

Many of you correctly identified this as a Tournament Error – Deck / Deck List Problem, with a penalty of Game Loss. Unmarked Origins checklist cards in a deck that can produce multiple colors of mana could feasibly be used to represent multiple cards, so they can’t be allowed. Elspeth should clearly mark those checklist cards, the players will start game 2 without sideboarding, and Elspeth will choose whether to play or draw.

Be Patient, then Dash!

At a PPTQ you’re head judging, Art attacks Nin with a Dashed Lightning Berserker. The players calculate damage, then Art passes the turn. Nin takes her turn, then passes back the turn. Art attacks with the Berserker again on his next turn, pumping it multiple times with its activated ability. With the last of those activations on the stack, Nin calls you over and points out that the Berserker should have been returned to Art’s hand at the end of his last turn.

When you investigate further, you learn that Art had completely forgotten that he dashed this Berserker in since he cast one normally earlier in the game. You also learn that Nin noticed the issue during her turn, but decided to wait to call you until now to throw off Art’s game plan. What do you do?

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

Nin, while she noticed an infraction but didn’t call immediate attention to it, has not committed any infraction herself because players are NEVER obligated to point out their opponent’s missed triggers. Therefore she is within her right to notice the error and wait to call a judge later. She is gaining an advantage through paying more attention to the game than her opponent and knowing very well how the rules apply to the situation, both of which are legal and encouraged.

Art is guilty of GPE-Missed Trigger, and because the dash ability’s delayed trigger is generally detrimental, he will be awarded a warning. Because this is a delayed trigger that changes the zones of an object, it doesn’t expire, and will be resolved either the next time a player would get priority or at the start of the next phase, whichever Nin chooses.

Usain Ascendancy

You are the head and only judge of a Modern format Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier when two players call you to their table and explain what has happened. Nathan drew his card for turn. With just a Jeskai Ascendancy and lands on the battlefield, Nathan said “Bolt you twice” and put two Lightning Bolts on the table. He then says “Ascendancy”, draws two cards, plays a land from his hand and passes turn while putting the Lightning Bolts into the graveyard. Alice then untapped and drew her card for the turn when she realized that Nathan was supposed to discard for the Jeskai Ascendancy triggers. They then called you over. Nathan currently has one card in his hand. You believe that the mistake was unintentional and Nathan was rushing due to the time left in the round. What do you do?

Judges, discuss this scenario in the Judge Apps Thread!

Thank you everybody for the discussion on this scenario. This is the largest response we’ve ever had for a Knowledge Pool scenario, hitting 100 replies with this post! This is a Gold scenario and long time readers will recognize that often means not only a higher level of difficulty, but also sometimes include situations where multiple infractions may seem to fit. Because of that, there’s a lot of disagreement among KP readers, and it’s quite understandable. Is it a Game Rule Violation (GRV) or Drawing Extra Cards (DEC)?

The philosophy that led to the addition of the “GRV immediately prior = not DEC” phrasing in the IPG was based on the idea that the opponent, if paying attention, had a chance to see something going wrong and stop it before the card was drawn. That’s not the case here, and that’s a critical part of philosophy. A fine technical analysis leads to a conclusion that “something went wrong” when Nathan took his (poorly ordered and resolved) actions, and supports the logic that there is some sort of GRV prior to the 2nd card draw.

However, the opponent isn’t doing a precise analysis of every action; they’re supposed to Maintain the Game State, and that requires them to look for something going wrong. Their first opportunity to notice that something went wrong? When that second card hit the hand.

What about the argument that he was supposed to draw that card, thus it’s not “extra”? The definition of DEC begins “A player illegally puts one or more cards into his or her hand.” At the point where that 2nd card hit Nathan’s hand, it was illegal to draw that card. (Or: don’t let titles lead you astray, always read the Definition and Philosophy!)

So, here’s our conclusion:

Nathan has committed Drawing Extra Cards (DEC) which carries a penalty of Game Loss. The first thing that went wrong is when Nathan drew a card at a point where it was illegal to do so. Since both cards were drawn into an empty hand, and it’s minimal disruption to do so, the Head Judge may elect to downgrade the penalty to a Warning, and put both the land that Nathan played, and the card still in his hand, into the correct zone – the graveyard. Since Alice didn’t point out that error immediately, she will receive Failure to Maintain Game State (FtMGS) and a Warning.

Schrödinger’s Markings

You are the Team Lead of the Deck Checks team at a Super Sunday Series event at a Grand Prix. You perform a random beginning-of-round deck check on Andy at the beginning of round 7. You notice that throughout the event, Andy’s main deck has become quite warped from the way that he is shuffling, and the sideboard has 15 flat cards in it. If you put a sideboard card into his deck, it is quite easy to see where it is from the side. What do you do?

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

As in all other aspects of policy, we don’t particularly care how long Andy’s sideboard and main deck have looked like this. We don’t want to penalize players for actions they may or may not have taken in previous games. We also don’t want to start considering players to have committed infractions before they happen. We’re not Tom Cruise and none of us are in Minority Report.

We need to look into whether or not there is currently an infraction and what the appropriate penalty would be. TE–Marked Cards says “A player’s cards are marked or oriented in a way that could potentially give an advantage to that player.” I think we can all agree that the sideboard cards could offer an advantage to that player if they are used. We also assume that when a player makes a sideboard, they will use it in some manner.

The upgrade clause states “The Head Judge has the option to upgrade this penalty to a Game Loss if he or she believes that a player noticing the pattern of markings would clearly compromise the integrity of the game.” We here at the Knowledge Pool don’t agree that this criteria has been met. Since this was a beginning of round deck check, we thankfully caught this problem before the integrity of the game has been damaged and there is no need to upgrade this.

Therefore, this falls under Tournament Error–Marked Cards and comes with a Warning. Due to the nature of this problem, we have a few options available to us, and you should consult with the Head Judge exactly how they want to proceed. We have a couple options. We can instruct the player to replace their entire main deck. We can also instruct the player to warp their sideboard to match their main deck.

This won’t be a simple fix. However, this player has created the situation through their own actions. This is really no different from a player who ignores our announcement, sets his open drink on the table, then drenches his deck and wants us to fix his problem.

Rattleclaw Missed. Ick.

In a sealed PPTQ for which you are a floor judge, Nat calls you over. He explains that during a relatively complicated combat step on Andy’s turn, Nat cast Force Away targeting one of Andy’s morph creatures. You ask to see Andy’s hand and it contains a Rattleclaw Mystic, a Sagu Mauler, and a Mountain. Andy tells you that it was the Rattleclaw Mystic that was just returned to his hand. What do you do?

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

This is a Game Rule Violation, and in this case Nat can’t verify that Andy’s use of the morph ability was legal. Until recently, this would have resulted in a game loss for Andy. However, there was a point in time when Nat had the opportunity to verify the legality of the play, which was when he cast the spell that bounced the mystic. As such, the penalty is not upgraded. Andy receives a warning for Game Rule Violation. As an additional remedy, we also ask Andy to reveal the Rattleclaw Mystic to Nat.

One thing to note here is that we’re choosing to trust Andy about what card in his hand was just returned to it. A few of your responses alluded to a phrase we sometimes use when you stated that the mystic is no longer ‘uniquely identifiable’ now that it’s in Andy’s hand. While that is true, and we can’t know with 100% certainty that the mystic is the correct card, it’s okay to trust players in this sort of situation. If you don’t believe the player or you get the inkling that he may be deceiving you based on your format knowledge, feel free to investigate. However, the additional remedy for the solution includes a reveal and we’d be remiss if we didn’t do that whenever possible.

Woot! Free Win!

You are the Head, and only, Judge of a Sealed Grand Prix Trial. Alex calls you over to his table, where he is playing against Brian. Alex says, “Judge, I just realized that I played this Archers’ Parapet face down a couple turns ago. I thought I was putting down a Sagu Archer. I don’t have Sagu Archer in my hand.”

You confirm that it is Game 1 and that Alex has no other Morph creatures in his hand. You issue a Game Rule Violation to Alex, upgrade the penalty to a Game Loss, and explain what will happen to both players. You take the result slip and write out the penalty while the players prepare for the 2nd game. After finishing, you look up and realize something. “Brian, did you reveal that Morph creature you had?” Brian says, “Oops, I didn’t,” and Alex agrees. What do you do?

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

Because the game is ending, albeit due to a GRV upgraded to a Game Loss, Brian is still required to reveal his Morph creatures. By failing to do so, he has also committed a GRV that his opponent could not verify the legality of and should have the penalty upgraded to a Game Loss. Simultaneous Game Loss penalties are being issued to each player, so they will be recorded and the players will start a new game, with the match score 0-0. Since they have played a game of Magic, both players will be allowed to sideboard and whomever choose to play or draw in the previous game will do so for this next game as well. As was pointed out by some participants, because both Game Losses are being applied to the same game, that is what makes it a simultaneous Game Loss despite the infractions not being discovered at the exact same time.

Better late than never

Abel is playing in a Standard PTQ. He controls a Pain Seer, which he untaps at start of his turn. He then immediately draws a card for his turn. He pauses for a second, says, “Oh!” points to his Pain Seer, then reveals the top card of his library, which is a Swamp. He says “Swamp. Lose zero,” and puts it in his hand. At this point, his opponent Nancy calls for a judge.

What do you do?

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

Hello, judges! Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion this week. As is the case with many of our Gold scenarios, this was an extremely nuanced scenario. (In fact, the internal discussion among the Knowledge Pool team has included even more posts than the public discussion!)

In order to determine the most correct infraction, penalty, and fix to apply in this situation, we must logically walk through each game action that went wrong. The first problem we encounter this turn is a Missed Trigger from Pain Seer during Abel’s upkeep. However, this is not a generally detrimental trigger. There is no infraction to worry about there. However, this will come up when it comes time to apply fixes.

Next, we have announcement of the Pain Seer trigger that doesn’t exist. This was only “Oh!” and pointing to a card, but that would certainly constitute announcing the trigger had it happened before he drew for the turn. Some have made the argument that announcing a trigger that doesn’t exist itself constitutes a prior GRV. However, we should treat an improperly announced trigger according to the consequences of resolving that trigger. Simply put, we don’t give players the option to “remember” a non-existent trigger in order to avoid a DEC or similar infraction. Whatever infraction results from resolving the trigger is the infraction that should be applied.

Now we get to the resolution of the trigger and the game actions that were taken illegally as a result. The first wrong game is Looking at Extra Cards when he reveals the Swamp for a trigger that doesn’t exist.

This is followed by announcing the loss of zero life. Even though no physical action is required to record a loss of zero life, this is a game action. We can easily understand this by examining the situation where a player is legally resolving a Pain Seer trigger and reveals a Pack Rat but fails to lose 2 life. We would treat this as a Game Rules Violation and rewind to exactly the point of losing life in the middle of the resolution of the ability if the error is caught within a reasonable time frame. This error is the key to this scenario because it does two things:

First, it tells us that LEC stops applying. Per IPG 2.2, “if a player takes a game action after removing the card from the library, the offense is no longer Looking at Extra Cards.”

Second, when the player puts the card in his hand, it tells us that this is not Drawing Extra Cards. Per IPG 2.3, an infraction can only be Drawing Extra Cards if “at the moment before he or she began the instruction or action that put a card into his or her hand, no other Game Play Error or Communication Policy Violation had been committed.” So, even though an extra card is put into the player’s hand, Drawing Extra Cards does not apply.

In combination, these two elements give us the infraction and the penalty. It’s not LEC anymore. It’s not DEC. It’s definitely a Game Play Error, and so must be a generic Game Rules Violation with a Warning to go with it.

Now we have to fix the situation. The first step is to rewind to the point of the first Game Play Error that occurs as part of this GRV. That GPE is Abel revealing the top card of his library. Fortunately, we know it was a Swamp and no life was lost, so it’s a very simple rewind to put the Swamp back on top. Then, because that Game Play Error resulted in an extra card being seen, we apply the LEC fix of shuffling the random portion of the library, even though we are not assigning a Warning for that exact infraction.

Now we have the final step of asking Nancy if she would like Abel to place that trigger on the stack, since a Missed Trigger has also been caught within a turn of when it should have happened. It is somewhat unlikely that Nancy will want the trigger placed on the stack, but we are still required to ask.

Given the highly technical nature of this answer, we would also like to briefly mention that while applying LEC or downgrading DEC are not perfectly correct, very little harm would come of assigning this Warning in a different category or even neglecting to shuffle the library. Gold scenarios are meant to push toward a highly detailed analysis of policy, and the practical differences among these solutions are relatively minor. If such a complex scenario were to arise in a real event, getting the Swamp out of the player’s hand, assigning a Warning, and efficiently getting the game moving again are more important than nailing down exactly what the infraction is and why. (Exploring the minutiae of the ruling is great thing to do with other judges during the remainder of the event. Then submit it to us!)