Rhein Main Judges February

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 February.

The topics from this week in a certain order.
To Jump to a certain topic, click the numbered links at the left :

1. Policy – Insufficient Randomization, Restacking a possibly stacked deck
2. Policy – Additional cards in deckbox, Crypt Ghast in Mono Blue
3. Policy – Intervention on legal gamestate, Detention Sphere on Stormbreath Dragon
4. Policy – Shortcuts, Desecration Demon in second main phase
5. Policy – Extensions, Slow Play and a deck check
6. Policy – Proxy for damaged cards
7. Policy – Marked Cards after both players shuffled.

1. Policy – Insufficient Randomization, Restacking a possibly stacked deck
Alrik, during pregame procedures, makes only pile shuffles of 3 piles (likely land-spell-spell). Norbo notices this. Does he have to call a judge? Is Norbo allowed to also make pile shuffles, with the intention of stacking Alrik’s deck as 20land,40nonland with the intention to cause a mulligan?

From http://blogs.magicjudges.org/telliott/2014/02/03/born-of-the-gods-policy-changes
The second change is, interestingly, simply the removal of one of the examples under cheating. Previously, 3-pile shuffling a deck you believed to be unrandomized was listed as an example of cheating, but it isn’t any more.
[..]
After much debate, we came to the general conclusion that a defensive three-pile isn’t cheating, even if you suspect your opponent of shenanigans. We’d obviously prefer that you call a judge, but that’s up to you.

2. Policy – Additional cards in deckbox, Crypt Ghast in Mono Blue
Andrasch presents a deck of 60 cards, all sleeved red. In his closed deckbox, there are 15 cards, the contents of his listed sideboard, also sleeved. Additionally, there’s an unsleeved Crypt Ghast in his deckbox. This is noticed during a deckcheck. What infraction, if any did the player commit? What is the penalty?

IPG Tournament Error – Deck/Decklist Problem / Definition
A player commits one or more of the following errors involving their deck:
• …
• The contents of the presented deck and sideboard do not match the decklist registered.
..
Sideboards are considered to be a part of the deck for the purpose of this infraction.
[..]

Yeah, the Crypt Ghast is not listed. Game Loss to Andrasch. Case closed?

IPG Tournament Error – Deck/Decklist Problem / Philosophy
Additionally, if there are extra cards stored with the sideboard that could[b] conceivably be played in the player’s deck[/b], they will be considered a part of the sideboard unless…

Crypt Ghast in a deck with only Islands and Mutavault could not conceivably be played in the deck. That’s why the Crypt Ghast is not considered to be part of the sideboard. As a result, the player didn’t commit any infraction.
Still, we suggest the player to be very careful with cards in his deckbox.

As an additional note: Crypt Ghast in a MonoBlue Standard legal deck is not conceivable played in the deck. Some fatty in a Legacy sideboard could be conceivable played however, in order to counter a Show and Tell strategy. What is “conceivably played in a deck” is up to the judge.

3. Policy – Intervention on legal gamestate, Detention Sphere on Stormbreath Dragon
As a judge, you walk by a table. On that table, there are two separate Detention Spheres, both exiling one Stormbreath Dragon. Per se, that game state is legal: Detention Sphere can have a Stormbreath Dragon exiled under it.
(But Stormbreath Dragon has protection from white!? Protection from White stops it being damaged, enchanted/equipped, blocked and targetted DEBT. Protection from White does not stop it from “being exiled with Detention Sphere”)

Even if the game-state is technically legal, it’s very likely that an infraction occured. At some point, the Stormbreath Dragon must’ve been the target of the Detention Sphere. As judges, we will “intervene”, as in interrupt the game for a short moment and ask how that could’ve happened. It is possible that both Dragons were first Turned, then targetted by the Sphere, but it’s unlikely, so we ask and find out. Eventually the game is rewinded or it’s not depending on how long an error occured.

4. Policy – Shortcuts, Desecration Demon in second main phase
During his turn, Ardo starts his turn and casts Desecration Demon, then passes the turn with “Go”. Nokia wants to sacrifice her Voice of Resurgence to the Demon trigger, but Ardo objects: “I played it in my second main phase”. The players disagree on when the Desecration Demon was actually cast, so call for a judge. The judge determines no communication on phases/steps was done during Ardo’s turn.

Because nothing was communicated, we (the judges at the meeting) assume the Desecration Demon was cast in Ardo’s first main phase. He never communicated to pass to combat phase, nor to his second mainphase.

In JudgeApps discussion, other judges made their deprecation heard about this ruling.

Here some (not always complete!, 7 total) quotes:

  1. In this example, it’s not as clear that AP was conscious at the time of the advantage of skipping the Demon’s combat trigger – to be fair, that’s not really much of a discussion point, it’s more of a “had to be there” thing.But in either case, if there isn’t already something that has to happen before or during Combat, then the AP should have the right to control his or her turn as he chooses, and skip right to the 2nd Main Phase before casting the creature in question.
  2. Nothing was communicated to move to the second mainphase.
    Nothing was communicated to stay in the first mainphase.To make a ruling in this situation needs some involvement by the judge. Mainly he will have to clarify that a) A didn’t just forget about Voice and now wants to undo a mistake and in some way the same b) A wanted to cast Desecration Demon in the second mainphase. When those major ideas are in, we backup to the last point of where the gamestate/phase was clear to both players and slowly go from there. We tell A to be more communicative.
  3. There’s no defined tournament shortcut that says “I cast a spell” is equivalent to “I pass priority until we enter combat, declare no attackers, and then in the second main phase, cast this spell, and assume it resolves.”, and “go” is only short for “I pass priority until end of turn”, with no requirement for what phase we’re in.Without this, there’s no indication that Ardo has ever passed priority to leave precombat main. Any opponent can only assume that the game was in the last phase the game definitively moved in to.Also, allowing this trick encourages poor communication and sloppy play. If a spell can be retroactively declared to have been cast either in the first or second main, players can play a spell that looks like it’s being played main phase 1, bait the opponent into revealing a trick, and then declare that the trick is invalid because it was really main phase 2 all along.Ardo can control the order of his turn, but I don’t think he canskip multiple phases and priority passes without at least declaring that he’s doing so.
  4. As long as we are making assumptions about when the player is casting the spell, why not assume that he or she is doing so at his very first opportunity after drawing a card–the only previous visible action in the game–meaning it is the Draw Step, the first time that he or she priority after drawing a card. Then we can just give a GRV and back up to the point of the error. By which I mean, let’s not do that.By the nature of the way the game is played, AP has control of the flow of the turn. If AP has done something that confuses NAP, or NAP requires more information about what has happened, he or she should ask AP.
    “Cast Desecration Demon.”
    “In your first main phase?”
  5. The Active Player controls their turn. If the non-active player has something they want to do prior to combat or wants to know if something was cast in the pre-combat main phase or post-combat main phase they need to ask.Yes this gives some slight advantage to the Active Player, but that is partly the point. The active player gets to control their turn, so they get a slight advantage on “their” turn. On their opponent’s turn the tables are switched and the opponent gets a slight advantage by controlling their turn.
  6. It’s a well-established principle of tournament philosophy that we should not expose players to “gotchas.” While we prefer that players be crystal clear about what’s going on, we don’t want a player to trick themselves into missing the opportunity to do something, or to trick themselves into letting the opponent take extra actions.This generally leads to policies saying that, if a player was unclear about when a spell or ability was played, we should determined that it was played as late as possible. For example, the Missed Trigger policies that define when a player has definitely missed their trigger explicitly refer to the possibility that fast effects were played in response to the triggered ability going onto the stack. The player is not required to “gotcha” themselves out of a triggered ability just because the opponent plays Lightning Bolt or something. As another example, the shortcut for “done?” assumes that AP is skipping ahead to the end phase, so that the NAP doesn’t have the “gotcha” moment of doing something, only to find the AP can still cast sorceries.It is also repeatedly stated (in blog posts if not in actual policy documents) that, if the opponent wants to be sure of what’s going on, they should ask clarifying questions. Yes, these questions might amount to coaching the player who was being vague, but this is the price of clarity
  7. .. my general philosophy is backed up by the MTR as written.

    A tournament shortcut is an action taken by players to skip parts of the technical play sequence without explicitly announcing them

    I assume this to mean, that in competitive play, players are assumed to abide by the technical rules of the game, except where they shortcut.

    if a player wishes to demonstrate or use a new tournament shortcut entailing any number of priority passes, he or she must be clear where the game state will end up as part of the request.

    Assuming AP really wanted to play the Demon in main 2, by skipping main 1 and combat, they’ve failed to be clear about the end state of this shortcut.

Ultimately, no official [O] answer has been provided/requested. Several judges are not clearly decided on the issue. I will try to get some more ideas by judges and players to make up my own mind (which is also the one I pass along to fellow judges) about the Desecration Demon issue.

5. Policy – Extensions, Slow Play and a deck check
Alrik and Norma will get deckchecked. Norma presented her deck after a reasonable time. Alrik is shuffling very very throughly. After 4-and-a-half minutes, he also presents his deck. The decks are grabbed for a deckcheck which takes 4-and-a-half minutes. Both decks have no problems in it. Alrik is penalized for his Slow Play at the beginning of the match. How much time extension should the players receive for their match?

It’s tempting to simply give them 9 minutes. Afterall, there’s still 41 minutes in the round regularly so it adds up to 50 minutes in total. But that’s not what the documents say:

IPG Tournament Error – Slow Play / Additional Remedy
An additional turn is awarded for each player, to be applied if the match exceeds the time limit.

MTR Time Extensions
If a judge pauses a match for more than one minute while the round clock is running, he or she should extend the match time appropriately. If the match was interrupted to perform a deck check, players are awarded time equal to the time the deck check took plus three minutes. ..

So the players should be provided 7-8 minutes time extension for the deckcheck, and 2 additional turns. (one for each player) This situation isn’t extraordinary, so a deviation (“Let’s give them 9 minutes.”) is not appropriate.

6. Policy – Proxy for damaged cards
Ahmed is being deckchecked in a Sealed PTQ. He has a few cards that are marked. He plays without sleeves. He is issued a Warning and asked to replace the cards with non-marked cards.
Ahmed doesn’t want to buy sleeves or new cards. The cards were damaged during the tournament.

IPG Tournament Error – Marked Cards / Additional Remedy
The player needs to replace the card(s) or sleeve(s) with an unmarked version or, if no sleeves are being used, use sleeves that conceal the markings. If the cards themselves have become marked through play in the tournament, the Head Judge may decide to issue a proxy. …

MTR Proxy Cards
A proxy card is used during competition to represent an Authorized Game Card that has been accidentally damaged or excessively worn in the current tournament (including damaged or misprinted Limited product) as determined solely by the Head Judge. …

If the Head Judge determines the cards were accidently worn, he may issue a proxy. If the Head Judge determines the cards were damaged through negligence, he is not allowed to create a proxy.

So a player has some cards marked through shuffling. the problem was discovered during round 2 already. Eventually, he WILL inevitably have more marked cards. As a Head Judge, one has to decide when “another proxy” is too many. It has to be clear to the player that it’s an option of the Head Judge, not a natural solution to create a proxy. If he’d end up with 23 proxies (and 17 basiclands), we as Head Judge would no longer support creating proxies. A few proxies is acceptable, more isn’t.

7. Policy – Marked Cards after both players shuffled.
Alrik and Nogolosch are being deckchecked in a midround deckcheck. What the judge grabbind the decks didn’t notice is that the decks have already been presented. When he grabs the decks, both players shuffled both decks already.

While looking through the decks, Alrik’s deck has 2 cards upside down. Because of his sleeves, this is easily spotted which makes the deck marked. The judge goes back to the players, undos the marking and issues a Warning to Alrik for TE-Marked Cards.
After the match, Alrik asks the judge why he received a Warning if it’s possible that the opponent turned those 2 cards (accidently). There’s no proof that Alrik presented the deck with the cards marked already.

As this was our main discussion subject, I’ll leave our “consensus” offline for a week:
Do we judges even want to give a Warning to the player? If yes, what if the marked cards had a pattern that makes the HJ upgrade the penalty to a Gameloss? If no, what do we do if we find a card on the floor under a table and it turns out it’s a card from a player (59 cards deck + card on the floor). Afterall, the opponent always had the last hand in the deck!

The topics from this week in a certain order:
1. Policy – Insufficient Randomization, Restacking a possibly stacked deck
2. Policy – Additional cards in deckbox, Crypt Ghast in Mono Blue
3. Policy – Intervention on legal gamestate, Detention Sphere on Stormbreath Dragon
4. Policy – Shortcuts, Desecration Demon in second main phase
5. Policy – Extensions, Slow Play and a deck check
6. Policy – Proxy for damaged cards
7. Policy – Marked Cards after both players shuffled.

In the initial post at JudgeApps forums, the Desecration Demon issue was the most discussed topic.

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