A player takes an action that may have enabled them to see the faces of cards that they were not entitled to see.
This infraction is pretty easy to commit. Any time that a library is touched, it is possible that a card will be dropped, or flipped over; or when drawing a card, two cards may get stuck or picked up together. Additionally mistakes aren’t limited to cards seen from the deck. Sideboard cards and facedown cards can count as well.
Generally, when we are talking about Looking at Extra Cards (L@EC), we are talking about a player seeing the face of some card in his or her own deck. However, you might also see some cards in your opponent’s deck while shuffling it.
Be careful not to confuse this infraction with the Hidden Card Error infraction. In particular, the Hidden Card Error infraction also covers situations where you are looking at some number of cards on the top of your library and you look at too many of them. So, in this specific case, you are looking at extra cards, but you aren’t Looking At Extra Cards. Does your brain hurt? Mine does.
As mentioned in the section above, HCE touches similar space to the Looking at Extra Cards infraction. When you are manipulating a set of cards from the top of the library, and you manipulate too many of them, that’s considered HCE. For the purpose of HCE, once the drawn cards have significantly left the library as part of a draw, they can no longer be considered Looking at Extra Cards.
From the explanation released with a recent change to this infraction, it is stated that “the key [to determining the LEC/HCE border] is to look at whether the opponent intended (mistakenly or not) to pick up that many cards, or if they were trying to pick up the correct number and failed to do so thanks to bad dexterity (as opposed to bad counting!)”
Sets are defined in section 1.5, so head there if you need a refresher. Basically, once the card you are just looking at is added to a set of cards, you aren’t looking at it anymore, and the infraction is no longer L@EC but rather HCE. But if you are supposed to Scry 1, and you instead pick up two cards, you didn’t add that second card to the Scry set until you actually start to Scry. Get it? It’s ok if this is a little confusing because this distinction is probably the least clear of anything in this entire guide. Basically, there is a point when picking up those two cards where we transition from “oops, I grabbed a second card” to “I have a second card that I can perform actions on”. Its that point that marks the line between L@EC and HCE in this case.
Looking at Extra Cards also covers when you knock over a card, drop a card while shuffling an opponent’s deck, start to draw a card when you shouldn’t, and milling or dredging too many cards. Milling and Dredging are covered by Looking at Extra Cards because the cards are being placed into a public zone we can all see. However, this only applies if we catch the error right away. If we start to take other actions, we have moved past the point where we can claim we accidentally saw an extra card, and we have instead accepted that card is supposed to be in the graveyard.
Sometimes players put cards on the table face down before drawing them, for the purpose of counting the cards or for thinking before putting the cards into the hand. This is not forbidden and judges should not penalize it. In this situation the difference is that the player does it intentionally and takes care about not seeing any cards improperly. This statement also applies to the HCE infraction.
Dropping a card while shuffling your own library is not Looking at Extra Cards. Just put the card back and continue to randomize your deck.
Observing the face of a card your opponent dropped or flipped is also not Looking at Extra Cards. There are two reasons for this: 1) If a player could drop a card and get their opponent a Warning, they are going to messy-shuffle their way into a top 8. 2) MTR 3.12 allows players to reveal hidden information to their opponent that they are entitled to know.
It’s important to note that this infraction doesn’t just apply to cards in a library (or sideboard). If you accidentally look at cards exiled by a Bomat Courier, that’s also Looking at Extra Cards.
This penalty is applied only once if one or more cards are seen in the same action or sequence of actions.
- A. A player accidentally reveals (drops, flips over) a card while shuffling their opponent’s library.
- B. A player pulls up an extra card while drawing from their library.
- C. A player sees the bottom card of their deck when presenting it to their opponent for cutting/shuffling.
A player can accidentally look at extra cards easily and this infraction handles situations where a dexterity or rules error had led to a player seeing cards that they shouldn’t have.
Cards in a library are considered to be there until they touch cards in another hidden set. Once those cards have joined another hidden set, the infraction is Hidden Card Error or Game Rule Violation.
Players should not use this penalty to get a “free shuffle” or to attempt to shuffle away cards they don’t want to draw; doing so may be Unsporting Conduct — Cheating.
Players also are not allowed to use this penalty as a stalling mechanism.
The library is already randomized, so shuffling in the revealed cards should not involve excessive effort.
If the cards were in the library, shuffle any previously unknown cards from a deck back into the random portion of the library, then put any previously known cards back in their correct locations.