You perform a mid-round deck check on Alex during round 6 of a Theros sealed 5k, of which you are head judge. You quickly discover that he is playing a Setessan Battle Priest in his deck, but no copies of this card are marked in the Total column on his deck registration sheet. When you investigate further, you find that a Setessan Griffin is marked in his Total column, but it is not in his pool. When you speak to Alex, he says he didn’t notice the error because the card wasn’t in his main deck, so he didn’t bother to check that it was right on his sheet. As usual, the players had been instructed to confirm the contents of their pools before beginning deck construction.
Based on interviewing Alex, you believe that the pool has always contained the Battle Priest and not the Griffin. What do you do?
Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!View Answer
We also issue a Warning for Failure to Follow Official Announcements. Fundamentally, the error Alex has committed is failure to confirm the contents of his entire pool. This needs to be tracked so that if a pattern of “accidentally” having the wrong card marked emerges, we will have a record of it. Just because we don’t think Alex is cheating, that doesn’t mean we’re right!
(The correct infraction and its justification was nicely summed up by Alex Zhed, who is becoming an ace at my KP scenarios.)
This week we intentionally did not ask for infraction, penalty, and fix. Instead I wrote ‘What do you do?” This is more open ended question, in line with the realities you are faced with as a head judge. And, in reality, believing a player is being honest with you doesn’t mean your job is over once the infraction is handled.
Once you have the match going again, it is entirely appropriate to initiate a follow-up investigation. Although your initial impression is that Alex made an honest mistake, you want to be as sure you can be. If possible, find the player who registered Alex’s pool and Alex’s past opponents. Ask them if they saw either Setessan Battle Priest or Setessan Griffin during registration or in their matches with him. Keep in mind, the Battle Priest was in the player’s sideboard. It’s entirely possible that no opponent has seen the Priest. Everything is consistent as long as they haven’t seen the Griffin. If you discover Alex is cheating through your investigation, you can always DQ him at that point. If his story checks out, by doing the investigation as follow-up, you have avoided giving out a 25 minute extension just to discover everything was actually fine to begin with.
An additional step you can take to help avoid these situations is to have the players swap pools for confirmation between initial registration and deck building. This will not eliminate 100% of errors, but it should help prevent most of them.