Nissa’s Chosen

You’re the Head and only judge of a Standard PPTQ. August is playing against November during the third game of the final match. August controls Nissa, Sage Animist and has 2 cards in hand. August activates Nissa’s +1 ability, looks at the top card of his library for a moment, then puts it into his hand. November is about to stop him, but it’s too late. Both players immediately call a judge. August shows you that he has 2 Mountains and a Crater’s Claws in hand.

What do you do?

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

This is a clear example from new IPG 2.3:
Game Play Error — Drawing Extra Cards

A player does any of the following:
Fails to verify specific characteristics of a card with his or her opponent as required by a spell or ability
before putting it into his or her hand

C. A player is instructed to put the top card of his library into his hand if it is a creature card and does not
reveal it before doing so.

Fix for that situation would be: August reveals his hand and November selects 1 card. This card are shuffled into the random portion of the deck. Once this remedy has been applied, August does not repeat the instruction of Nissa’s ability that caused extra cards to be drawn.

Though August and November immediately called a judge, we issue Warning to August for GPE-DEC, but don’t issue any penalties to November.

A pound of the cure

Angela and Nigel are playing in a Modern Masters 2015 sealed PPTQ. Angela taps out to cast Banefire with X=5, targeting Nigel’s Swans of Bryn Argoll. Nigel says, “Sure.” As Nigel is reaching for his Swans, Angela grabs the top five cards of her library and puts them into her hand. Nigel immediately raises his hand, “Woah! Judge!”

What do you do?

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

As most of you correctly surmised, Angela has committed Game Play Error – Drawing Extra Cards.

Importantly, Nigel saying “Sure” to acknowledge the resolution of Banefire does not constitute confirmation of Angela’s draw. Nor does the misunderstanding of the interaction of Swans’ ability with that of Banefire’s “If X is 5 or more” clause constitute a prior Game Rules Violation. The first thing wrong in the game is that Angela has cards in her hand that should not be there, and the identities of those cards was not known to Nigel prior to the infraction.

As such, none of the escape or downgrade conditions for Drawing Extra Cards are met, and Angela will receive a Game Loss.

We thought that this situation would trip up many more of you than it did. It’s always gratifying to see the impact of an education project on display as it was this week.

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.

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.

Horse of Greed

You are the head judge of PPTQ. Anna has a Courser of Kruphix in play. Both Anna and Nicole are playing quickly due to it being near the end of time in the round. While watching the match, you see Anna untap, play the revealed land from the top of her library, and draw for her turn. She then records that she gained 1 life from the Courser of Kruphix trigger. Nicole immediately calls for a Judge. Assuming no cheating has occurred, what do you do?

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

After a great week discussing the fine points between Game Rules Violations and Drawing Extra Cards, we are ready for the answer. The first area to address as part of our investigation is to clarify the situation. In this scenario, it was stated that no cheating was involved, so we need to focus on what other aspects of the IPG may apply and investigate what the players believed to have happened.

Many of you correctly identified that there were several problems that occurred. The first incorrect action was that Anna played the revealed land from the top of her library prior to drawing a card for the turn. Anna has committed a Game Play Error – Game Rules Violation (IPG 2.5).

The next action Anna performed was to draw a card for the turn. However, the Courser of Kruphix requires the player to play with the top of their library revealed, which was not performed after the revealed land was played.
A number of you also correctly pointed out that because a Game Rule Violation had been committed, this should not be a Game Play Error – Drawing Extra Cards (IPG 2.3).

Anna has committed a Game Rule Violation and the best solution is for the Head Judge to authorize a backup. Because the incorrectly drawn card was unknown, a card should be taken at random from Anna’s hand and placed face down on her library. The land that was incorrectly played (and known to both players due to being face up on the library) should then be placed on top of Anna’s library and turned face up per the Courser of Kruphix. If Anna’s life gain from the Courser of Kruphix was recorded, that also needs to be corrected as part of the rewind.

While we recognize the card returned from Anna’s hand to the top of her library may not be the one that was drawn, this is an acceptable fix and the chance of Anna gaining any advantage is extremely small.

Though Anna performed several incorrect actions, they were performed in one continuous action and should result in only one penalty. A Game Play Error – Game Rule Violation should be issued to Anna. No penalty is assigned to Nicole as she called for a judge immediately (IPG 2.6). When issuing the penalty, the judge should verify if Anna has received any other previous penalties in the tournament.

Thank you to everyone who participated this week. We look forward to seeing your discussion in tomorrow’s scenario.

Shock and Draw

Arjun and Nadia are playing in a Modern GPT. Arjun controls Spirit of the Labyrinth. Nadia has a single card in her hand: Quicken.

During Arjun’s end step, Nadia casts Quicken, then draws and casts Electrolyze targeting the Spirit and Arjun. Arjun says, “Sure, still done,” then notes his life total change and puts Spirit in his graveyard.

Nadia draws a card and untaps her lands. Then she looks at her new card and draws again. Arjun stops her at this point and calls a judge.

Nadia tells you she thought the Spirit was dead before she was supposed to draw for Electrolyze because it deals the damage first. Arjun tells you he thought Nadia’s first draw was just shortcutting her draw for the turn, rather than trying to draw from the Electrolyze.

What do you do?

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

Hi there, folks! It’s time to wrap this one up.

To determine the infraction, we need to figure out which illegal actions occurred. The rules say that Arjun should take 1, his Spirit of the Labyrinth should die, and that these should be the only results of resolving Electrolyze. Arjun performed all the actions he was supposed to. In addition to her legal actions of recording a life total change and putting her spell in the graveyard, Nadia drew a card. That card draw is the only illegal action taken, so we will issue the infraction associated with that action.

That infraction is Drawing Extra Cards, and it carries the normal penalty of a Game Loss. Looking at the Philosophy of Drawing Extra Cards:
Originally posted by IPG 2.3:

Though this error is easy to commit accidentally, the potential for it to be overlooked by opponents mandates a higher level of penalty. If the… card… 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.
Even though Nadia initially drew a card into an empty hand, we can no longer return that card to the top of her library with minimal disruption. There are two cards in Nadia’s hand by the time the error is detected, so we cannot put back a card we are certain was the one that was incorrectly drawn.

Arjun pointed out the error as soon as he had the opportunity to become aware of it, so no infraction for him.

It’s also good customer service at this point to tell Nadia that she is encouraged to confirm card draws with her opponent to avoid these types of easy mistakes leading to game losses.

Temple of Beats, the bad ones

During day 2 of a Grand Prix while playing against Naomi, Ashton plays his land for turn, a Temple of Abandon. Ashton picks up the top card, looks at it, sets it back down on the table. Ashton thinks, and then picks up the card and puts it into his hand. Naomi immediately calls for a judge. What is the most appropriate infraction, penalty, and any additional fix?

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

Ashton has committed GPE-DEC. There is some temptation here to call this a GRV for not resolving scry correctly, and I can understand where that is coming from. It is important to remember, however, that most instances of DEC are really violations of SOME game rule. The first indication that anything incorrect has happened is Ashton adding the card to his hand. There was no preceding GPE or TE. Additionally Ashton did not seek or receive confirmation for the card he had drawn. Unfortunately for Ashton this means we have a by the book game loss for DEC.

Great work by Marc DeArmond for nailing it with some fantastic reasoning! Also, thank you for bringing up an excellent point (and oft overlooked), that players may in fact sideboard for this next game.

Additionally, thank you to Sal Cortez for bringing some alternate discussion points to light. Remember that even if you disagree with an answer there is still much to be learned from the alternate perspectives!

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!)

Chronicler of Uh-Ohs

Apple and Nectarine are playing at a PTQ. Apple controls a Gyre Sage with a +1/+1 counter on it. He casts Chronicler of Heroes and says “Trigger both guys.” Nectarine replies, “Before she evolves, kill her with Orhzov Charm.”
“Sure. Take 3. Draw for the Chronicler?”
Apple draws his card, then looks down and realizes that the doesn’t have a creature with a +1/+1 counter anymore.
“Uh oh. Judge!”

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

Time to wrap things up!

The Definition of Drawing Extra Cards in the IPG contains the provision: ”If the player received confirmation from his or her opponent before drawing the card (including confirming the number of cards when greater than one), the infraction is not Drawing Extra Cards.“ Since Apple confirmed with Nectarine before he drew the card, this isn’t Drawing Extra Cards.

When a Game Play Error occurs and it isn’t another specific infraction, it defaults to being a Game Rules Violation. And, since Nectarine confirmed the erroneous play, she also receives Failure to Maintain Game State.

Since the error has just occurred with no subsequent actions taken, the head judge is going to rewind this every time. To rewind a card draw, take a card from Apple’s hand and put it on top of his library. Do not shuffle the library.

We also had some discussion about whether we could invoke some sort of Out of Order Sequencing here. The answer is a definite ”no.” While it may be tempting to say that this could exist as a legal game state, neither player believes that legal series of events has occurred, and there is no evidence to contradict their understanding.