Penalties are included with the tournament report so that a permanent record can be kept in the DCI Penalty Database.
Penalties need to be entered into the system. For both tracking within the event and for whatever purpose Wizards of the Coast uses them for once they go into the black hole. Mostly this sentence is just here as a gentle reminder to actually enter the penalties for the event into WER.
Additionally, any penalty of Game Loss or higher should be reported to the Head Judge, and it is recommended that only the Head Judge issue penalties of this nature (with the exception of Tardiness (3.1) and Decklist Problems (3.4) ).
Game Losses are a “big deal” and difficult to correct if they are issued by mistake. As a result, it is recommended that the Head Judge be consulted prior to giving any Game Loss or Match Loss. As for Disqualifications, only the Head Judge can give those. The reason Tardiness and Decklist Problems get an exception is because there is actually very little judgment involved in a Tardiness Game Loss (and they are extremely common), and the same holds true for Decklist Problems. However, if the judge is on a team, it is recommended that they go through their Team Lead. At some events, the Head Judge may modify this policy. A common modification at Grand Prix events is that a Level 3 judge can issue Game Losses instead of having to consult the Head Judge. At Mythic Championship Qualifiers or StarCityGames Opens it is not uncommon for Team Leaders to have the authority to issue Game Losses.
Being enrolled in the tournament is not a requirement to receive a penalty. Although these guidelines refer to players, other people in the venue, such as spectators, staff, or judges may be enrolled into (and dropped from) the tournament in order to receive a penalty. Penalties are still issued even if a player drops from the tournament before it would take effect.
The main purpose of this sentence is to explicitly answer the question, “What do I do if a person not enrolled in my event is doing these things?” There are no distinctions made between tournament attendees when it comes to any kind of penalties. If you commit an infractions and are not enrolled in the event, you will be added to the event in the Reporter Software and given the appropriate penalty. If a spectator is acting aggressively, then that is something that needs to be tracked. You can do something ban-worthy at an event you aren’t enrolled in. If a spectator is giving outside assistance for example, we need to keep track of it.
Any time a penalty is issued, the judge must explain the infraction, the procedure for fixing the situation, and the penalty to all players involved.
If a judge is going to give a penalty to a player, they should take the time to explain what the infraction is, and what the fix is. The judge should politely and professionally answer any reasonable questions the players might ask. Players called you for help — so be helpful. Make sure the players understand what you are telling them to do. Sometimes they won’t understand ‘why’; in those cases, make an attempt to explain, but if the explanation is taking too long, tell the players to continue and remind them they can speak to you after the match.
If the Head Judge chooses to deviate from the Infraction Procedure Guide, the Head Judge is expected to explain the standard penalty and the reason for deviation.
As the IPG said earlier, only the Head Judge can deviate. If the Head Judge does, it must be explained to the players what the standard penalty is, and why the deviation is being made. This does two things. First, it requires the Head Judge to be able to defend their deviation. If you as Head Judge can’t explain it, odds are good you need to re-think your position. Second, the Head Judge should not be teaching players that “this is how it’s done all the time.” The Head Judge is making an exception, this once, and making that clear to the players, and any other judges that might be watching and learning from the interaction.
Some infractions include remedies to handle the offense beyond the base penalty. These procedures exist to protect officials from accusations of unfairness, bias, or favoritism. If a judge makes a ruling that is consistent with quoted text, then the complaints of a player shift from accusation of unfairness by the judge to accusations of unfair policy. Deviations from these procedures may raise accusations against the judge from the player(s) involved, or from those who hear about it.
Some penalties come with an additional fix/remedy. These are typically listed after the Philosophy section in their description. Use them; don’t ignore them. They are there to help fix the games as much as is possible. They need to be applied consistently across all events. Not only does it enforce the consistency judges want at the competitive level, it protects them as well. If the judge is following the document, a player can’t (reasonably) claim that the judge is out to get them, or that the judge changed the rules to favor the opponent. When judges deviate, they open themselves up to rumors: “Abe got a downgrade for extra cards in his deckbox, but I didn’t because the judge always lets Abe get away with things.” The short story is: don’t deviate. Don’t end up the subject of some forum rant.
These procedures do not, and should not, take into account the game being played, the current situation that the game is in, or who will benefit strategically from the procedure associated with a penalty.
Often judges question this line. When we are called to a table, don’t we have to take into account the current game state? Yes and no. We as judges are allowed to take game state into account when determining if an infraction occurred. It helps us know what questions to ask. For example, if investigating someone for Stalling, then the current match record is extremely important. However, once we determine the infraction, we no longer consider those factors when it comes to applying the fix. When enforcing the additional fix, it doesn’t matter if that fix decides the game or if it allows a player to benefit strategically from an error. Any time there is an error, someone is going to gain some information from it. We do not ask judges to make assessments of exactly what that will be, as this definitely cannot be done with any consistency.
While it is tempting to try to “fix” game situations, the danger of missing a subtle detail or showing favoritism to a player (even unintentionally) makes it a bad idea.
Judges should stick to the fixes prescribed. They have been tested thoroughly and tend to work in all but the most extreme of corner cases. By trying to create your own “fix”, you run the risk of not fixing everything properly and giving one player too much of an advantage. This is especially important for judges who are used to FNM, where they are allowed to be more “creative” with their fixes.
If an error leads to multiple related infractions, only issue one with the most severe penalty.
This covers the case where judges come up to a table and find multiple errors. In many cases the errors are separate; like doing a deck check and finding marked cards and a 59 card deck. While those might both be found at the same time, they do not have the same root cause. However, sometimes multiple errors share the same root cause – such as players thinking heroic triggers off abilities, and repeatedly using equipment to trigger heroic. In that case, the root cause is the same, making it one infraction. If they did this three times, treat it as a single infraction for the purposes of fixing it and upgrades.
If the infractions are different infractions, yet have the same root cause, apply all appropriate fixes, despite giving the single infraction. Keep in mind that legally drawing a card off an illegally cast spell is not two infractions.