Downgrade for What

Music can be great inspiration.  For example, the following musical masterpiece, ‘Turn Down for What’ has inspired my good friend Justin Turner and I to team up and bring you a quick summary of IPG-supported downgrades.

So push Play, read on, and get down with the downgrades!

Draw Cards for What

We all know that Drawing Extra Cards is one of the few penalties left that warrants a Game Loss, and most of us probably know that there are times when we should downgrade this to a Warning – but do you know what the specific criteria are?

Downgrade for What
“If the identity of the card was known to all players before being placed into the hand, and the card can be returned to the correct zone with minimal disruption, do so and downgrade the penalty to a Warning.”

For being only one sentence, there’s a lot of really key details in here we’d like to highlight:

1) ‘the identity of the card’
This doesn’t mean “it’s that card way on the left in his hand”, or “it was on the top of my library”.  Rather, it means the actual identity – including the name – of the card in question.

2) “was known to all players before being placed into the hand”
This is the part I see judges get confused about most often.  We don’t try to figure out what the card must have been based on last turn’s Duress.  We don’t determine that it was a Swamp because the hand is nothing but Swamps.  If we didn’t all know the exact identity of the card BEFORE it entered the hand, this is not downgradable.

3) “the card can be returned to the correct zone with minimal disruption”
Even if the first two conditions are met, we can still only downgrade if it’s with minimal disruption.  This typically means it was caught almost immediately, before the game progressed very far.


Fix Decks for What

We’ve always had a reason to downgrade built into DDLP, but it has recently changed.  Can you rattle off the major functional change?

Fix Decks for What
“The Head Judge may downgrade the penalty for an ambiguous name or obvious clerical error if they believe that the error could not be used to gain an advantage in the tournament.”

This is a big change and essentially it means that if you can tell what the player is playing in a short amount of time, even though the card name isn’t wholly there, you can downgrade.  The second clause is even more important, you must believe that there’s no way they could switch to a different playable card and still have a legal list.


Opening Hand for What

There’s another time we can downgrade deck problems. Do you know when it is?

Opening Hand for What
“If the player, upon drawing an opening hand, discovers a deck problem and calls a judge at that point, the Head Judge may downgrade the penalty, fix the deck, and allow the player to redraw the hand with one fewer card.”

That one should be pretty self-explanatory.  Did they notice a deck problem in their opening hand and call you right away? Turn it down, kid.


Call Judge for What

The previous two are infractions where downgrades are built in.  Did you know the HJ has the ability to downgrade any infraction?  Do you know why?

Call Judge for What
If a player commits an offense, realizes it, and calls a judge over immediately and before he or she could potentially benefit from the offense, the Head Judge has the option to downgrade the penalty without it being considered a deviation, though he or she should still follow any procedures recommended to fix the error.”

This is a small blurb at the beginning of the IPG, but it has big impact in the perception of judges as truly beneficial to players.  We want to reward immediate honesty with leniency when we can.  The important note here is making sure there was no way any advantage could be gained before they called you over.  If you can see how they could gain an advantage, proceed with the normal infraction/penalty/fix.

Sorry for What

The final policy downgrade is an even shorter blurb, but in the same section as the last one. Do you know the final reason we can downgrade without deviating?

Sorry for What
“If the judge gives a player erroneous information that causes them to commit a violation, the Head Judge is authorized to downgrade the penalty.”

That’s right!  If you make a mistake, don’t hold players to an infraction based on your mistake!  That’s just crazy talk!  If you do get involved with a situation like this, go talk to the head judge and bring them in immediately to provide pinnacle customer service to the players.


Next time you’re at the club (or a Southeastern US Judge Conference) and Turn Down for What comes on, you’ll know exactly what to turn down for.

And if you like reading a little more into judging policies, be sure to check out the Annotated IPG project from our boy bprill.


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