A player unintentionally fails to sufficiently shuffle their deck or portion of their deck before presenting it to their opponent or fails to present it to their opponent for further randomization. A deck is not shuffled if the judge believes a player could know the position or distribution of one or more cards in their deck.
When players shuffle their decks, the purpose is to lose track of individual cards in the deck and put the deck into an unknown order. If you believe it is possible for a player to know the rough position of a card or cards within a deck (i.e. the player knows which quarter a particular card is in, or hasn’t shuffled enough to break up a spell, spell, land order) then the deck is not shuffled enough. The exact number of shuffles needed isn’t something we can accurately specify, as it can change based on the number of cards to randomize, but if you feel a deck might not have been shuffled thoroughly enough then it probably fits this infraction. Once a player has shuffled their deck for any reason, that player is responsible for presenting the deck to the opponent for further randomization. Failure to do so falls under this infraction.
Generally this infraction occurs because the player is lazy, has bad shuffling habits, or their mind is just elsewhere while shuffling. However, if you believe the player intentionally did not shuffle thoroughly, consider Cheating.
- A. A player forgets to shuffle their library after searching for a card.
- B. A player searches for a card, then gives the library a single riffle-shuffle before presenting the library to their opponent.
- C. A player fails to shuffle the portion of their library revealed during the resolution of a cascade ability.
The first example is pretty simple, “Oops, I forgot to shuffle.” You would think things like this never happen, but with a lot going on in the game it’s possible. The second example is probably the more common one seen among inexperienced players, or players in a hurry — those who just give the library a quick one-two-cut. The third example is just an extension of the first, where someone doesn’t shuffle a portion of the deck, or a pile of cards that are required to be shuffled, either because they forget or because they don’t think they have to.
Players are expected to shuffle their deck thoroughly when it is required and are expected to have the skill and understanding of randomization to do so.
This is a card game. It requires manipulation of cards. It is the player’s responsibility to be able to randomize those cards, and it is reasonable to expect this behavior from them.
However, as the opponent has the opportunity to shuffle after the player does, the potential for advantage is lowered if tournament policy is followed.
It’s easy to try and take advantage of insufficient shuffling, from trying to manipulate the entire deck and its mana distribution, to just trying to manipulate one or two cards’ general position in the deck. The penalty used to be a Game Loss to reflect the potential for advantage. This meant that many new or lazy players would get Game Losses because they didn’t know any better/didn’t think shuffling was a big deal. However, now, the opponent is required to shuffle the library when the deck is presented. This virtually eliminates the potential for advantage. With that rule in place, we are comfortable with the standard penalty now being a Warning.
Any time cards in a deck could be seen, including during shuffling, it is no longer shuffled, even if the player only knows the position of one or two cards. Players are expected to take care in shuffling not to reveal cards to themselves, their teammates, or their opponents.
The cards within the deck should not be revealed to anyone while it’s being randomized, otherwise it’s not random (even if the majority of the deck is). If you riffle shuffle ten times, then riffle shuffle one time face up to bend the cards the other way, it’s not shuffled anymore, and you have to start again. In Team games, shuffling away from yourself but towards your teammate is also bad. Shuffling so your opponent can see your cards is not a good idea strategically, but doesn’t receive a penalty.
A player should shuffle their deck using multiple methods. Patterned pile-shuffling is only allowed at the start of a game. Any manipulation, weaving, or stacking prior to randomization is acceptable, as long as the deck is thoroughly shuffled afterwards.
When shuffling, multiple types of shuffles should be used together to ensure randomization. Six to eight riffle or “mash” shuffles is sufficient to randomize a deck. A pile shuffle is not shuffling. It is not part of shuffling. It doesn’t count. You can do it once per game in order to count your cards prior to presenting. If a player pile shuffles more than once, don’t give a penalty, and instead instruct the player on correct shuffling techniques.
Any manipulation, weaving, or stacking prior to randomization is acceptable, as long as the deck is thoroughly shuffled afterwards.
When a player sits down, their deck is in some order. It may be sorted alphabetically, or mana weaved or had cards placed in specific places in the deck. While it might raise some concern, all that is fine, so long as the deck is sufficiently randomized afterwards. This is because, so long as the deck is shuffled, any manipulation will be obliterated when the deck is randomized. This randomization is further ensured when the opponent also shuffles the deck. Manipulating a deck prior to sufficient shuffling is really done just for comfort. Manipulating a deck prior to insufficient shuffling is a Warning if done unintentionally, and USC—Cheating if done intentionally.
Shuffle the appropriate portion of the deck thoroughly.
The remedy is simple — have them shuffle the cards. You should take some time to quickly explain what kinds of shuffling are necessary and why they’re necessary, as well as reminding the other player to shuffle their opponents deck as well. As a general practice, judges do not perform the shuffle, players do. This prevents the judges from getting involved if sleeves become broken during the shuffle, or if a card falls out. It also prevents the judge from getting blamed if the player draws poorly following the shuffle.
Keep in mind that some of the cards might be ordered within the deck, so their position should be maintained if they weren’t supposed to be included within the shuffle. When trying to fix the insufficient shuffling problem, it’s a good idea to take a look at both player’s graveyard as well as the permanents on the battlefield. Asking questions about the known cards in the library is also necessary. Try to take that into consideration whenever you’re dealing with shuffling.