The following values have higher requirements for how they are recorded and conveyed over the course of a game:
- Life totals
- Poison Counters
- Energy Counters
These totals are fundamental portions of the game that persist through the turns. They affect choices made by both players frequently, and as such are as important to be able to track as how many lands or creatures a player has.
Once they need to be tracked, each player must indicate how he or she will keep track of these totals. This method must be visible to both
players during the match.
The most common way players indicate how they are keeping track of something is by just doing it – writing “20 | 20” at the top of a notepad or boogie board at the beginning of a game, or adding a note for poison counters. This needs to be visible to both players so discrepancies (mentioned below) can be noticed.
A shared method is acceptable as long as all players in the match have access to it.
That means someone can use one note pad (or smartphone on Regular Rules Enforcement Level) to track both players’ life totals. Of course, both players need to be able to actually use that method at the same time if needed.
At Competitive and Professional REL, methods that can easily be accidentally changed (such as dice) may not be used.
For many years, dice were tacitly allowed, but largely discouraged at Competitive and Professional REL. This was due to them being unreliable in the face of random table bumps and errant arm motions, and also due to the lack of a history on them to assist in fixing errors caused by bumps as well as by discrepancies. Now, its explicitly required that the method used to track totals such as life at these events can’t be accidentally changed. You can read more about it at Toby’s Policy Blog discussing the change.
If you see a player using dice or another method that could be accidentally changed at Competitive or Professional, let them know of what the policy is and that it may have changed since they were last informed. Also let them know why it changed and how its better for them overall.
A change in any of these totals should be accompanied by a verbal announcement by the affected player player of the new total.
Players should always announce any changes in life (or poison, etc) totals verbally and their opponents should confirm each change. This way players reduce the chance of facing unpleasant situations by communicating the game state clearly.
If a player notices a discrepancy in a recorded or announced tracked total, he or she is expected to point it out as soon as the discrepancy is noticed.
If there is any kind of discrepancy in totals, players are obligated to point it out as soon as possible so the players (and perhaps a judge) can find the source of that discrepancy and fix it. The sooner its discovered, the easier it is to fix, and the path altering decisions are made based on mistaken information.