Re-Stacked and Re-Pact

Arthur and Neil are playing in a Modern PPTQ. At the end of Arthur’s turn, Neil taps out to cast Peer Through Depths. Arthur responds with Dispel. Neil responds with Pact of Negation. Arthur thinks for a moment, then casts Spell Pierce.

Neil pauses, says “Ah, nuts…” then puts his spells in his graveyard. Arthur does the same.

Neil untaps and draws for his turn.

Arthur says, “You didn’t pay for Pact.”
Neil replies, “You Spell Pierced it.”
“No, I Pierced the Peer Through Depths.”
“Judge!”

What do you do?

Answer
Since Arthur didn’t state he was targeting Peer Through Depths with Spell pierce, he is assumed to be targeting Pact of Negation as per MTR 4.2. Nothing happened that would result in a warning or back-up, educate the players about the Tournament Shortcut and the need to be clear in communicating intended game actions, and have the players continue.

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Seeing Red

Anubis and Nefertiti are playing in an Amonkhet Sealed PPTQ. Anubis controls Hazoret’s Favor and Bloodrage Brawler. During his precombat main phase, Anubis casts and resolves Hyena Pack, then asks, “Can I declare my attackers?”
Nefertiti says, “Sure.”
Anubis taps the Bloodrage Brawler and the Hyena Pack and says, “Trigger. My Hyena Pack has haste and 2 extra power.” Nefertiti disagrees that the Hyena Pack should be allowed to attack and calls a judge.

What do you do?

Submit your answer here!

Answer

 

Following the most recent policy changes in the Magic Tournament Rules, this is not a missed trigger situation. Anubis has not committed an infraction, as per MTR section 4.2, in part:
“If the active player passes priority during their first main phase, the non-active player is assumed to be acting in beginning of combat unless they are affecting how or whether a beginning of combat ability triggers. However, if the non-active player takes no action, the active player has priority at the beginning of combat. Beginning of combat triggered abilities (even ones that target) may be announced after any non-active player action has resolved.”
Thus Anubis is allowed to communicate his target for Hazoret’s Favor after he passes priority to the opponent in the beginning of combat step. Nefertiti may interrupt Anubis’ shortcut if she wishes to, including with the Favor trigger on the stack. Otherwise, the Hyena Pack has +2/+0 and haste, and is attacking Nefertiti.

The Animated Feature

Alan and Nathan are playing in a Standard GPT. Alan has a Nightveil Specter and a Mutavault in play. Alan says “Move to combat.” Nathan surveys his hand and then says, “Sure, go ahead.” Alan taps a swamp and moves his Mutavault forward, saying, “Attack with Mutavault and Specter.” Nathan says, “You can’t attack with the Mutavault,” and calls for a judge. When you arrive, both players verify what has happened. Alan states, “I was waiting to see if he wanted to cast Glimpse the Sun God. He used one on me last game.”

What do you rule? What is your fix?

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

Answer
Thanks for the discussion this week! A number of you correctly determined that Nathan is correct, Alan had passed the point where he could activate Mutavault before he attacked. Per the tournament shortcuts listed in MTR 4.2 (go read those now if you haven’t in the last month!!!), any statements similar to ‘ready for combat’, ‘go to attacks’, etc. are offers to give your opponent priority in the Beginning of Combat step. When Nathan responded with “Sure, go ahead” he passed priority, which moved the game into the Declare Attackers step. At this point Alan tried to activate his mutavault during the Turn-Based Action of declaring attacks.

As a Game Play Error with no more specific category to fall into, this is a GRV. Alan will receive a warning, but Nathan will not receive a warning for Failure to Maintain Game State due to catching the error in a reasonable amount of time. With your head judge’s permission the game should be rewound to the point in the game when Alan activated Mutavault, and he will continue choosing his attackers from that point.

It is worth noting that asking a few questions in this situation would not be unwarranted. This is likely just a misunderstanding of the way the game progresses by Alan, but if it turns out that he knew about the ‘declare attackers’ tournament shortcut he may be guilty of USC-Cheating.

Stacked and Pact

Arthur and Neil are playing in a Modern GPT. At the end of Arthur’s turn, Neil taps out to cast Deceiver Exarch. Arthur responds with Cancel. Neil responds with Pact of Negation. Arthur thinks for a moment, then casts Mana Leak.

Neil pauses, says “Ah, nuts…” then puts his spells in his graveyard. Arthur does the same.

Neil untaps and draws for his turn.

Arthur says, “You didn’t pay for Pact.”
Neil replies, “You Leaked it.”
“No, I Leaked the Exarch.”
“Judge!”

What do you do?

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

Answer
As we see under the MTR 4.2 Tournament Shorcuts, “A player who casts a spell or activates an ability that targets an object on the stack is assumed to target the legal target closest to the top of the stack unless the player specifies otherwise.”

As Magic players, we all know it is clearly the tactically correct choice to counter the original spell, rather than counter the counter. And this is doubly true when it’s a counter with a big downside like Pact of Negation. So, while we should probably ask Arthur a couple questions to make sure nothing fishy is going on, it is very likely that he simply assumed that it was so obvious he would make the overtly correct play that he didn’t need to spell it out for Neil.

However, as judges we do not assume that players are making tactically correct choices. We assume they are adhering to established shortcuts. And it is exactly to clear up this sort of ambiguity within a counter war that this particular shortcut exists. So Mana Leak counters Pact of Negation, there is no infraction, and Arthur learns a valuable lesson about stating the obvious.