The contents of a deck or sideboard do not match the decklist registered and the decklist represents what the player intended to play.
Warning with potential upgrade
If the deck and decklist are not the same, the player could potentially modify their deck on the fly. This can normally be caught through the process of deck checks, and decklists are there so that players can have a written record of what they intend to play. If it is inaccurate, there is little point in the decklist existing at all. A common way this error can occur is when a player fails to desideboard after a match, then presents a deck in a sideboarded configuration for game 1 of their next match. Also possible here is the case of a player scooping up cards at the end of a game and now having one or more of an opponents cards in their deck when presenting (or, alternatively, missing one or more cards from their deck).
If there are extra cards stored with the sideboard that could conceivably be played in the player’s deck, they will be considered a part of the sideboard unless they are:
- Promotional cards that have been handed out as part of the tournament.
- Double-faced cards represented by checklist cards in the deck.
- Double-faced cards being used to represent the back side of cards in the deck. These cards must not be sleeved in the same way as cards in the main deck and/or sideboard.
It is important that the sideboard is kept physically far enough away that it doesn’t become mixed with the player’s library. Cards in a deckbox that could conceivably be used in the deck can be suspicious, and provide an opportunity for the player to cheat by being added to the deck in between games. We want to remove this opportunity and so cards in the deckbox are considered to be part of the sideboard unless explicitly excepted. It can be a good idea for a supplementary announcement involving cards in deckboxes to be issued so that we can curb this behavior.
Players that present their sideboard by removing it from their deck box and identifying it to the opponent at the start of the match should not receive this penalty, even if there are other cards remaining in the deck box that don’t fit one of the above exceptions. Players should be encouraged to get into this habit.
Promotional cards that were given out at the tournament have an exception because otherwise, we would be giving players a Game Loss during every deck check at a Grand Prix. Double Faced cards have an exception because…where else are you supposed to keep them if you are using checklist cards? Those DFCs need to be in different sleeves to lower the risk that they be accidentally or intentionally shuffled into the deck itself, causing more than 4 of the card to be present.
Cards in different sleeves, tokens, and double-faced cards for which checklists are being used are ignored when determining deck (not sideboard) legality.
If your card is in my deck, and it’s obvious from the back of the sleeve that it doesn’t belong in the deck, then I don’t get a penalty. Also, tokens aren’t cards, so they don’t count anyway. Don’t forget to make sure they still have a 60 card deck after you remove the offenders; that part is still illegal. Additionally meld cards count as double-faced cards here.
If a player is unable to locate cards (or identical equivalents) from their main deck, treat it as a Decklist Problem instead. If sideboard cards are missing, make a note of this, but issue no penalty.
If a player has lost one or more cards in their deck, and has no quick way to replace them (if it’s a mythic that the venue is sold out of, for instance, or they don’t wish to buy replacements), then the infraction is Decklist Problem
, rather than Deck Problem since they can no longer play a deck that matches the list as intended. In fact, this particular case is example D. in Decklist problem – “A player loses some cards and is unable to find replacement copies, making her unable to play a deck that matches her decklist.”
If sideboard cards are wrong or inaccurate, a penalty may be merited due to the potential for advantage. Conversely, losing sideboard cards cannot provide an advantage – in fact, it is a disadvantage – so we do not need to add insult to injury by applying a penalty as well. Players can’t spend unreasonable amounts of time searching for replacement sideboard cards, but “found” sideboard cards after this measure has been implemented may be added back into the deck.
Note that often times in limited events, players trade, throw away, or file in with the rest of their collections all cards from their pool that are not in their main deck. This behavior should not be penalized but rather handled by the above instructions.
- A. A player has 59 cards in their deck, but 60 listed on their decklist.
- B. A player has a Pacifism in their deck from a previous opponent.
- C. In game one of a match, A player has Pithing Needle in their deck, but only has one registered in their sideboard.
For the first example, we have a deck that is not legal, though the decklist itself IS legal. Therefore, the error is with the deck, not the decklist, and we deal with it here. Example B is a case where the card just got scooped up during the previous round, but still has resulted in the deck being different than that which is intended. Example C is a failure to de-sideboard error, which results in the deck not matching that configuration which is intended for game 1.
Players are expected to call attention to deck errors immediately, and not gain any potential advantage from having the cards in their deck.
If a player does not call attention to a deck error they notice right away, they may reasonably be considered to be trying to gain an advantage from it. A player that waits to call a judge until the point that the error would become public (from a “reveal your hand” type of effect or something similar) has not called attention to it when they first noticed the issue.
The most common forms of deck error are failure to desideboard and having a card in the wrong deck. Both of these are difficult to gain advantage from without obvious cheating. Allowing the opponent to choose which card they would have otherwise be working with is sufficient to compensate for the easily discovered situations.
Since these two errors are both common (ish) and, as stated, difficult to take advantage of without being very obviously cheating, the penalty of a warning should be enough to educate the players to not repeat the infraction. Alongside the fix of removing the errant cards, this should combine to be enough of a deterrent.
Duplicates of cards that begin in the main deck are more problematic, as they are not as easy to realize and catch, and thus mandate an upgraded penalty.
It’s much simpler to abuse a case where the library has additional copies of a card from the sideboard in game 1 of a match. It’s also much harder to catch, and, as a result, needs to have a harsher penalty associated with it to dissuade the potential for abuse.
A window in which the error is a Game Loss is necessary to discourage intentional abuse of the minimum number of cards in the deck. Once that point has passed, the opponent agrees that the deck is valid. Judges should always be mindful of the abuse possibilities when investigating these infractions.
This section refers to the window in the first upgrade path discussed below. The window for the upgrade needs to exist as a harsher discouragement against cheating. If the error is discovered by your opponent, during the presentation of your deck, you’re still getting that Game Loss penalty.
Locate any cards missing from the deck and any incorrect cards in any game zone. Reveal those cards to the opponent.
Once the deck has been determined to be in an incorrect configuration, we want to return it to the intended configuration as simply as possible. To start fixing things, find all the cards that are present in the game that shouldn’t be there, and all the cards that are missing from the game, and reveal these to the opponent.
For example, assume that a player registered a deck with two Snapcaster Mage, one Crucible of Worlds, and with four Rest in Peace in the sideboard. In their last match, they took out the two Snapcaster Mages and the Crucible, while bringing in the four Rest in Peace. They played 61/14 for that game, which was legal. Now, however, they forgot to desideboard before their next match started. They Scryed a Rest in Peace to the bottom at one point, later drew a Rest in Peace. Then, they realized the error. The judge should determine that there is one Rest in Peace erroneously in the hand, three erroneously in the library, two missing Snapcaster Mages, and one missing Crucible.
The opponent chooses which of the missing cards replaces each incorrect card; any extras are shuffled into the random portion of the library. If more cards are being removed than added, prioritize ones not in the library first.
Now, reveal all of these incorrect cards to the opponent. For each card that is there incorrectly, the opponent chooses which missing card will replace it, starting with cards not in the library. Be sure to keep any parts of the library that are in a known order stay that way.
For instance, continuing the example from above, reveal the 7 incorrect cards to the opponent. First, replace the Rest in Peace in hand with either a Snapcaster Mage or a Crucible- whichever the opponent decides. Then, replace the three Rest in Peace copies in the library with the remaining two cards. Note that they can choose to replace either the copies in the random portion of the library, or the known card on the bottom of the library.
If there are still additional cards not in the library that need replacing, they are replaced by cards from the random portion of the library. Be wary of previously known portions of the library, such as from Scry effects.
If the player was playing a 61st card from the sideboard but hadn’t taken anything out, that will be replaced by a random card from the library. Most commonly, this will be accomplished by simply drawing a card now.
If the missing card(s) are with the sideboard and it isn’t the first game, choose the ones to be returned to the deck at random from main deck cards in the sideboard.
This case can occur when a player is looking through their deckbox (say to grab a token or something) and notices a card present with the sideboard that should be in the deck. If the deck is determined to be incorrect (specifically if there is 59 or fewer cards, or the deck is otherwise somehow illegal, not that a player intended to sideboard a card in and missed their opportunity to do so), we can restore the deck to a legal configuration by randomly adding a card back in from the sideboard. Note- this fix should only return main deck cards into the deck.
If the missing card(s) were in a previous or current opponent’s deck, issue penalties to both players.
If the missing or extra card was from another player’s deck, both of the players have decks that don’t match what they intended to play, and so both of them get a warning.
If the deck or sideboard is discovered to contain an incorrect number of cards while presented to the opponent for pre-game shuffling, or during a deck check, and any missing cards are not in the opponent’s deck, the penalty is a Game Loss.
This upgrade path exists to discourage cheating. The process of presenting your deck to an opponent is a statement that “this deck is legal and ready for you to shuffle.” If the opponent discovers the deck to be illegal during shuffling or counting, the penalty is upgraded to a Game Loss. Similarly, if this is discovered by a judge during a deck check, the penalty is upgraded.
If an opponent may have made strategic decisions based on the presence of a sideboard card (such as having seen it in the hand or library during a search effect), the penalty is a Game Loss.
This upgrade path, again, is to discourage cheating. Calling attention to the error only after an opponent has made decisions based on the incorrect card is very suspicious and abusable, so the penalty is a Game Loss to ensure the practice is heavily disincentivized. Of course, investigation needs to occur in these cases to ensure there isn’t actually cheating, but the route for abuse here still warrants a Game Loss penalty.
If an error resulted in more copies of a main deck card being played than were registered and this was discovered after the game had begun, the penalty is a Game Loss unless all copies of the card are still in the random portion of the library. For example if the decklist has two copies of Shock in the main deck and two in the sideboard, but a search finds two copies of Shock in the library with another already in the graveyard, the penalty is upgraded.
The upgrade applies here because there is no way to know if an advantage has already been gained. Typically, you aren’t going to realize you have three copies of shock until you have already seen/drawn/cast the previous two. In the extremely rare case that a player has enough copies to realize this error in their opening hand (so, 3 or 4 shocks in that hand in the example given), the penalty is not upgraded as long as they call a judge before taking a game action.