Rhein Main Judges November

Every month, several more or less local judges and non-judges interested in judging meet in my area (Frankfurt Main, Germany) in a restaurant for a nice evening. We’re usually around 10 players from Germany, including all kinds of levels(0-3) and experience (ranging from “I want to become judge” to 15 years veteran). This meeting is not a meeting with a previously set schedule. We simply meet and since we’re all judges, it happens that we discuss and talk quite a bit about judging stuff too. This is my report from the latest meeting in November. The meeting was heavily influenced by problems which occured in recent tournaments (PTQs and GP Antwerp).

1. Rules – Melira, Sylvok Outcast vs Inkmoth Nexus/Umezawa’s Jitte/Lifelink
2. Rules – Seeds of Strength vs Heroic

3. Policy – Returned Centaur not missed but also not carried out
4. Policy – Steam Augury for too many cards
5. Policy – A Missed trigger carried out on own behalf
6. Policy – Card put to wrong zone

7. Misc – Dealing with infractions in other games: Skat.

1. Rules – Melira, Sylvok Outcast vs Inkmoth Nexus

Norbert controls Melira, Sylvok Outcast. Ahri activates her Inkmoth Nexus and attacks. The players wonder how Melira interacts here.

Although Melira, Sylvok Outcast removes Infect from creatures, removing the ability from Inkmoth Nexus is in the same layer as Inkmoth Nexus giving itself that ability. Therefore, timestamps apply, so whichever happened last applies last. Due to the earlier timestamp (activation of Inkmoth Nexus, not playing it), Inkmoth Nexus will have Flying and Infect.
Now Melira, Syvlok Outcast has another ability “You can’t get poison counters.”. You’re being attacked by a creature with Infect but you cannot get poison counters. Pretty obvious: You don’t get poison counters. But will you get damaged? What does it mean to get damaged?
The question arises if Inkmoth Nexus will trigger things “on combat damage” like Umezawa’s Jitte.

About Infect
702.89b. Damage dealt to a player by a source with infect doesn’t cause that player to lose life. Rather, it causes the player to get that many poison counters.

About combat damage
119.2a. Damage may be dealt as a result of combat. Each attacking and blocking creature deals combat damage equal to its power during the combat damage step.
119.4. Damage is processed in a three-part sequence.
119.4a. First, damage is dealt, as modified by replacement and prevention effects that interact with damage. (See rule 614, “Replacement Effects,” and rule 615, “Prevention Effects.”) Abilities that trigger when damage is dealt trigger now and wait to be put on the stack.
119.4b. Next, damage that’s been dealt is processed into its results, as modified by replacement effects that interact with those results (such as life loss or counters)
119.4c. Finally, the damage event occurs.

We can see that going through the parts of damage processing will lead to a more clear picture on what exactly happens:
Damage is dealt, triggers on damage trigger and wait to be put on stack
Damage dealt is processed into results. Normally, this leads into poison counters or lifeloss (for damaged players).
However, Melira, Sylvok Outcast replaces the “put X counters” into “put no counters”. This means that the player will not gain poison counters, but will also not lose life as result of the damage.

Inkmoth Nexus will not cause the opponent to lose life, but it will trigger Umezawa’s Jitte.

2. Rules – Seeds of Strength vs Heroic

Ahmed controls a Wingsteed Rider. He casts Seeds of Strength targetting Wingsteed Rider with all 3 parts of Seeds of Strength. How often will it trigger ?

As with Chronicler of Heroes I talked about last month, the answer is in the details.

Real card text:
Whenever you cast a spell that targets Wingsteed Rider, put a +1/+1 counter on Wingsteed Rider.
This trigger looks for “spells being cast”. In the case of Seeds of Strength, only one spell is cast, thus it will trigger only once.

Made-up card text:
Whenever Wingsteed Rider becomes the target of a spell you control, put a +1/+1 counter on Wingsteed Rider.
This trigger looks for “Wingsteed Rider being targeted by spells”. In this case of Seeds of Strength, that’d be three times (target, ..target, ..target)

Again, the difference between the two is very small. Marking the clauses will hopefully explain the difference better.
Whenever you cast a spell that targets Wingsteed Rider, put a +1/+1 counter on Wingsteed Rider.
Whenever Wingsteed Rider becomes the target of a spell you control, put a +1/+1 counter on Wingsteed Rider.

If you target Wingsteed Rider three times with Seeds of Strength, Heroic will trigger only once.

3. Policy – Returned Centaur not missed but also not carried out

During a PTQ, Adolf casts Returned Centaur, clearly announces the trigger with target “You mill 4.”. Adolf is then tapped out. Brunhilda quickly forgot about the trigger, sees Adolf is tapped out, so starts her turn, untapping and then drawing a card. The card is identified as “drawn” by both players, Adolf reminds Brunhilda to mill for Returned Centaur. She immediatly realizes the mistake, takes the drawn card and 3 cards from the top to mill 4.
It is distinguishable, what card she put from hand to the graveyard. It is not identifyable what card she drew that turn.
Adolf asks the judge if what Brunhilda did is ok that way or not.

Brunhilda missed a trigger. However, the infraction is not “Missed Trigger”.

Definition Game Play Error – Missed Trigger
A triggered ability triggers, but the player controlling the ability doesn’t demonstrate awareness of the trigger’s existence the first time that it would affect the game in a visible fashion.

It’s clear that only the player controlling the ability can “miss the trigger” as by IPG. Additionally, were it a Missed Trigger infraction, Brunhilda would been given the choice to carry out the trigger or not.
So what happened here? Brunhilda drew a card when she wasn’t supposed to. Is it “GPE- Drawing Extra Cards” ?

Definition Game Play Error – Drawing Extra Cards
A player illegally puts one or more cards into his or her hand and, 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, and the error was not the result of resolving objects on the stack in an incorrect order.

Brunhilda did illegally put one card into her hand and the error was not the result of resolving objects on the stack in an incorrect order. But then again, although nothing happened in between Adolf’s announcement of the trigger and Brunhilda drawing the card, we can argue there was a Game Rule Violation.
a) Brunhilda did not attempt to resolve the Returned Centaur trigger.
b) Brunhilda started to take her turn, untap step, upkeep, draw step. Especially starting the turn, indicated by untapping the permanents leads us to identify a Game Rule Violation committed prior to the “additional draw”.

So we have now identifed the problem as a Game Rule Violation. Here, it’s basically “not carrying out the instructions of a the game/trigger”.

The options provided by the Infraction Procedure Guide for us is to either keep the gamestate as is, or to rewind to the point of the GRV.
Keeping the gamestate does not seem like a good action in this case. Adolf wanted the trigger, Adolf announced the trigger, but in the end Adolf won’t get the trigger? No, that’s not gonna happen.
Processing a Rewind is still “by the book”: We return the 3 ‘milled’ cards back to top, then the “drawn->put to grave” card to hand. Then we put a random card from Brunhilda’s hand back to the top of library. The game is now rewound to the point of the GRV. We now mill four cards: “a random card from hand” and “3 cards from library as supposed to”. This solution is correct by the IPG, but doesn’t feel wise.

The more senior judges brought this idea, deviating from the IPG:
We know what cards Brunhilda should have without the Returned Centaur trigger: all cards currently in hand and the “discarded” uniquely identifiable card. Let’s give her those, and mill four cards from the top of library. That way, we’re not in line with the IPG (fix instead of rewind/no rewind), but it feels good to keep the game right. Some of us prefer that solution to the IPG suggestions. The main argument is the damage caused by IPG rewinds is much higher than the damage caused by applying the deviation.

Having brought this situation to the attention of more judges showed that the majority doesn’t think this GRV is exceptional to warrant a deviation from the IPG. Judges should apply the IPG rewind.

Of course, Rewind and especially the deviation should be made only by the Head Judge, and Brunhilda receives a Warning for the GRV.

I’d like you to leave your thoughts on Returned Centaur as comments to this post.

4. Policy – Steam Augury for too many cards

Angelo plays a GPT against Bruno. At one point, Angelo casts Steam Augury. He puts his handcards aside, takes the top six cards and looks at them. After some sorting within his hand, he presents two piles to his opponent. There are 2 cards in one pile and 4 cards in the other. Bruno calls the judge because Steam Augury is supposed to let players take only five cards. Angelo took one card too many.

Intuitively, this is either GPE-Looking at Extra Cards, or GPE-GRV infraction.

Definition GRV- Looking at Extra Cards
A player looks at a card they were not entitled to see. Once a card has been placed into his or her hand or if a player takes a game action after removing the card from the library, the offense is no longer Looking at Extra Cards.

The player did something with the card already: He proceeded to use it as part of Steam Augury resolution. That’s the reason why it’s not GPE-LaEC.

We identify it as a Game Rule Violation because another game action has been made already. (reordering the card within piles)

The fix is to Rewind the problem. Here’s what can by applied according to the IPG:
a) Rewind by putting the sixth(a random) card from Steam Augury back and shuffle, then let the player redo the Steam Augury piles.
b) Rewind by putting all six cards from Steam Augury back to the library and shuffle, then let the player resolve Steam Augury correctly (with 5 cards).

I’d like you to leave your thoughts on Steam Augury rewind as comments to this post.

5. Policy – A Missed trigger carried out on own behalf

At a GP Day 1, Antje controls Dark Confidant. She starts her turn, untapping the permanents. She then draws a card. She realized she forgot the Dark Confidant trigger, so immediatly reveales the then-top card of her library, a Swamp and puts the Swamp to her hand. Her opponent, Nabil thinks something wasn’t right here, so calls the judge.

This is a common error with a by-the book solution. Let Nabil decide to have Antje carry out the missed Dark Confidant trigger or not. The only difference to the usual/known Dark Confidant scenario is that Nabil has some more information. If he’d let Antje resolve her trigger, he knows beforehand that it will reveal a Swamp. We will not rewind and then let Nabil make that choice, as that option is not provided by the IPG. Of course, Antje will receive a Warning for the GPE-Missed Trigger, and be reminded that trying to fix infractions by herself is not what she’s supposed to do. Instead, a player should call a judge if he/she realizes a problem might’ve occured in the game.

The infraction is DEC with Downgrade to Warning because the card not suppowed to be in the hand is uniquely identifyable.

6. Policy – Card put to wrong zone

Aart plays against Najjar in a competitive event. At the end of Najjar’s turn, Aart resolves a Griptide targetting Najjar’s Glory Seeker. Najjar put the Glory Seeker to his hand (instead of on top of his library). The error is not caught right away by either player. Aart takes his turn and activates Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver‘s first ability. Najjar exiles three Plains. Aart expected to exile a Glory Seeker which didn’t happen, so calls for a judge.

After a short discussion, we identify the infraction as GPE-Drawing Extra Cards. An important aspect behind this is the question “What would be the infraction, if Ashiok was never activated, therefore the incorrect handsize realized only much later?”.

The regular penalty for DEC is a Gameloss. There however is that exception in the IPG about “uniquely identifyable”..

Philosophy GPE – DEC
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 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.

The identity of the card is indeed known to all players. The key question on the downgrade path is now whether returning the card to the correct zone can happen with minimal disruption:
If we simply put it on the top now, that’s a huge disruption of the game. The card ‘dodged’ Ashiok that way.
If we rewind Ashiok ability, then put it on top, then carry out Ashiok ability again, that feels like “more than minimal disruption”. We’d have to do many things.

All in all, we don’t feel the requirements for a downgrade can be met, so we don’t rewind. Najjar committed the offense GPE-DEC and the penalty is a Game Loss.

7. Misc – It costs a round of Ouzo if you do that here.
At some point, a Skat player from another table of the restaurant approaches and asks what we’re doing. “We’re Magic Judges, it’s a card game. We don’t discuss the rules. What we do is mainly discuss how problems should be solved, when they occur.”
His reply: “If someone make a rule mistake in our group, he has to pay for the next round of Ouzo!”


Now let me sum up shortly what we discussed at the meeting:
1. Rules – Melira, Sylvok Outcast vs Inkmoth Nexus/Umezawa’s Jitte/Lifelink
2. Rules – Seeds of Strength vs Heroic
3. Policy – Returned Centaur not missed but also not carried out
4. Policy – Steam Augury for too many cards
5. Policy – A Missed trigger carried out on own behalf. Dark Confidant.
6. Policy – Card put to wrong zone: Griptide

This month, we had many interesting questions, this way we could strengthen our insight into the philosophy of the IPG.

Please share your ideas on solutions you agree with or disagree with. I’m curious how other judges think about the Returned Centaur deviation and Steam Augury fix. Just leave a comment in this post and discussion can evolve. Without discussion, there is no improvement.

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