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 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 event.
- Double-faced cards represented by substitute cards in the deck.
- Damaged cards that have been officially proxied for the tournament.
- 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.
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 an event have an exception because otherwise, we would be giving players a Game Loss during every deck check at a Grand Prix. This exception also applies to other tournaments at that same Grand Prix such as if the GP promo is in the deckbox during a MF PTQ. Double Faced cards have an exception because…where else are you supposed to keep them if you are using substitute 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 substitute cards are being used are ignored when determining deck (not sideboard) legality.
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 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.
The discovery of a card that violates a companion restriction is a Deck Problem if the player does not wish to modify their decklist to accommodate the companion restriction.
- 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.
Players are expected to call attention to deck errors immediately, and not gain any potential advantage from having the cards in their deck.
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.
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.
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.
Locate any cards missing from the deck and any incorrect cards in any game zone. Reveal those cards 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.
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 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.
If the error caused a violation of a companion restriction and it is a post-sideboard game (or a pre-sideboard game and the player has elected to continue with the deck they registered that does not match the revealed companion condition), locate all cards violating the restriction. Then, choose that number of cards at random from unrevealed cards in the sideboard that meet the companion restriction. The opponent decides which chosen card replaces each illegal card. If making the deck match the companion condition is impossible, upgrade the penalty to a Game Loss.
This is the formal and long-handed version of what Toby described a bit more clearly in his blog post (https://blogs.magicjudges.org/telliott/2020/04/20/policy-update-for-ikoria-lair-of-behemoths/).
“Here’s what happens when someone discovers that they’ve violated the restriction announced by their companion at the start of the game:
- The judge goes through the rest of the cards you’re currently playing and finds any that violate the restriction.
- The judge goes through the sideboard and finds cards that do not violate the restriction. A number of those are chosen at random sufficient to fix the deck problems. If the judge can’t find sufficient cards in the sideboard to fix the problem, it upgrades to a Game Loss.
- The opponent looks at the randomly chosen cards and decides which replaces each illegal card. Swaps are made, the library is shuffled, and the game carries on.”
If the missing card(s) were in a previous or current opponent’s deck, issue penalties to both players.
While presented to the opponent for pre-game shuffling or during a deckcheck, if it is discovered that a deck contains an invalid number of cards (and any missing cards are not in the opponent’s deck) or a sideboard contains too many cards, the penalty is a Game Loss.
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.
If an error resulted in more copies of a main deck card being played than were registered or allowed by companion restriction 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.