If the match time limit is reached before a winner is determined, the player whose turn it is finishes their turn and five additional turns are played in total.
This “overtime” procedure is in place to allow all matches a chance to come to a natural conclusion and prevent one player from “milking the clock” and forcing a draw. While these additional turns are technically untimed, players are still expected to play at a reasonable pace, and are liable for slow play penalties.
This usually means that one player takes three turns and the other two, but a player taking extra turns may affect this.
There will only be five turns in the additional turn portion of the round. (But see IPG 3.3 — Slow Play, where two additional turns are added as an additional remedy.) Game circumstances (e.g., the activation of Ral Zarek’s third ability) may result in one player being entitled to all five turns. For more details on extra turns, see CR 500.7.
If the active player has already indicated that they would like to pass the turn when the time limit is reached, that is considered to be in their opponent’s next turn.
This rule is to handle the case where the opponent is “thinking” during the end of a players turn, in order for this tiny fraction of a turn to count as turn zero.
Team tournaments featuring multiple players playing together (such as Two-Headed Giant) use three turns instead of five.
Team turns take longer significantly longer, so they get less of them. We are trying to start the round here.
Once time is called, no new games should begin.
Players are not entitled to start a new game to take advantage of their remaining additional turns once time has been called. The round score should be reported following the conclusion of the most recent completed game.
If the game is incomplete at the end of additional turns, the game is considered a draw.
Players may discuss and come to an agreement on an alternate outcome for the game/match (e.g. a concession) so long as there is no incentive offered for the result (see IPG 4.4: Bribery and Wagering). Players may not utilize out-of-game assets, including but not limited to: rolling a die, revealing cards off the top of the library, or the results of adjacent matches, to come to this decision (see IPG 4.3: Improperly Determining a Winner). Players must decide in a reasonable time frame, as it is unfair to make other players wait on this individual match debating who would have won seven turns from now. If players cannot come to an agreement, the match is still a draw and Judges are encouraged to “nudge” players to fill out their results slips, without influencing the decision.
If a judge assigned a time extension (because of a long ruling, deck check, or other reason) the end-of-match procedure does not begin until the end of the time extension.
Players are entitled to use the full time of a round to play their match of Magic. Should some interruption occur, time extensions are awarded to allow players a chance to fully play out their games. Players with a time extension who are still in a game when time is called should call a judge to ensure time continues to be kept accurately. Typically a judge will write the extension in the top right corner of the match slip.
In single-elimination rounds, matches may not end in a draw.
This is because the winner advances to the next round, and if this is the last match, the tournament still needs a winner. There are some instances where the single-elimination portion of a tournament requires timed rounds (e.g., a venue closing or other curfew). Often this will be the case with single elimination Last Chance Trials at a Grand Prix. This necessitates the declaration of a winner despite a game or match not coming to a natural conclusion.
If all players have equal game wins at the end of additional turns, the player with the highest life total wins the current game. In the event all players have equal life totals (or are between games and the game wins are tied), the game/match continues with an additional state- based action: if a player does not have the highest life total, they lose the game. Two-Headed Giant teams are treated as a single player for determining a game winner.
This is the “Sudden Death” rule. Life totals are used because things like board state position and the like cannot be objectively judged, and can be dependent on cards in hand and library manipulation. As such, the most common win condition, the life total, is used as the ultimate tiebreaker to the unfortunate detriment of decks that utilize alternate win conditions (poison, milling, etc.).