A person breaks a rule defined by the tournament documents, lies to a Tournament Official, or notices an offense committed in their (or a teammate’s) match and does not call attention to it.
The phrases “breaking a rule” and “notices an offense” include violations of the Comprehensive Rules and of the Magic Tournament Rules. Players are required to call a judge when they make an error. Additionally, because both players are responsible for the game state, players are also expected to call a judge when they notice their opponent commit an offense.
The IPG stipulates that, in team formats, players are also responsible for pointing out offenses in their teammates’ matches. This is because each team advances in the tournament and earns prizes as a group. Accordingly, members of a team are accountable for calling attention to mistakes they notice in their teammates’ matches as well as their own.
Additionally, the offense must meet the following criteria for it to be considered Cheating:
- The player must be attempting to gain advantage from their action.
- The player must be aware that they are doing something illegal.
Additionally, if a player is not attempting to gain advantage from their action, then the offense is not Cheating. This bullet is sort of weird, generally you think of someone trying to gain an advantage when they cheat, which is exactly the point. If there is no advantage, there is no cheating. For example: Alex, who is at 6 life, attacks with a creature the turn it was summoned. Nat notices, but just takes the damage because they are holding 2 Lightning Bolts in their hand, and want to let Alex get in a hit so Alex doesn’t feel as crushed when Nat wins next turn. In this case, Nat is not committing a cheating infraction (although it would be ruled Failure to Maintain Game State if there is a judge call from a spectator). Be aware though, that because this rule is published where players can see it, some may be tempted to craft stories where it seems like they were just trying to be ‘nice’. It is your responsibility to determine as much of the truth as possible.
A third thing that is not on this list, but is stated in the definition, the player actually has to be breaking a rule. If a player misunderstands a rule, thinks they are doing something illegal for an advantage, but what they are doing is actually legal; that’s not Cheating.
The IPG used to define Cheating as a separate category of infractions, including Cheating — Fraud, Cheating — Hidden Information Violation, and Cheating — Manipulation of Game Materials. In January 2013, the IPG was updated to rule these various infractions into a single, streamlined infraction called Unsporting Conduct – Cheating. This makes it easier for judges to determine whether a certain action is Cheating, as the criteria for Cheating are now the same for all types of offenses.
If all criteria are not met, the offense is not Cheating and is handled by a different infraction.
Cheating will often appear on the surface as a Game Play Error or Tournament Error, and must be investigated by the judge to make a determination of intent and awareness.
- A. A player alters the results on a match slip without their opponent’s knowledge.
- B. A player lies to a tournament official about what happened in a game to make their case stronger.
- C. A player allows their opponent to put a creature into the graveyard even though the creature has not been dealt lethal damage.
- D. A player notices that their opponent resolved only half of the triggered ability of Sword of Feast and Famine and decides not to call attention to the error.
- E. A player peeks at another player’s picks during the draft.
- F. A player adds cards to their Sealed Deck pool.
- G. A player realizes they have accidentally drawn an extra card, then fails to call a judge in order to avoid a penalty.