MTR 4.2 Tournament Shortcuts

A tournament shortcut is an action taken by players to skip parts of the technical play sequence without explicitly announcing them. Tournament shortcuts are essential for the smooth play of a game, as they allow players to play in a clear fashion without getting bogged down in the minutiae of the rules.

Most tournament shortcuts involve skipping one or more priority passes to the mutual understanding of all players;

If a player wishes to demonstrate or use a new tournament shortcut entailing any number of priority passes, they must be clear where the game state will end up as part of the request.

A player may interrupt a tournament shortcut by explaining how they are deviating from it or at which point in the middle they wish to take an action. A player may interrupt their own shortcut in this manner.

A player is not allowed to use a previously undeclared tournament shortcut, or to modify an in-use tournament shortcut without announcing the modification, in order to create ambiguity in the game.

A player may not request priority and take no action with it. If a player decides they do not wish to do anything, the request is nullified and priority is returned to the player that originally had it.

During the resolution of one of their spells or abilities, a player may not assume their opponent has taken a shortcut. They must seek confirmation that a choice with no visible impact was taken.

Certain conventional tournament shortcuts used in Magic are detailed below.

They define a default communication; if a player wishes to deviate from these, they should be explicit about doing so.

Note that some of these are exceptions to the policy above in that they do cause non-explicit priority passes.

  • If the active player passes priority with an empty stack during their first main phase, the non-active player is assumed to be acting in beginning of combat

    unless they are affecting whether a beginning of combat ability triggers.

    Then, after those actions resolve or no actions took place, the active player receives priority at the beginning of combat.

    Beginning of combat triggered abilities (even ones that target) may be announced at this time.
  • If the active player passes priority with an empty stack during their second main phase, or uses a phrase such as “Go” or “Your Turn” at any time, the non-active player is assumed to be acting in the end step unless they are affecting how or whether an end of turn ability triggers.

    End of turn triggered abilities that do not target resolve after the non-active player passes priority.
  • Whenever a player adds an object to the stack, they are assumed to be passing priority unless they explicitly announce that they intend to retain it.
  • If a player adds a group of objects to the stack without explicitly retaining priority, they are assumed to be adding them to the stack individually and allowing each to resolve before adding the next. If another player wishes to take an action at a point in the middle of this sequence, the actions should be reversed to that point.
  • If a player casts a spell or activates an ability and announces choices for it that are not normally made until resolution, the player must adhere to those choices unless an opponent responds to that spell or ability. If an opponent inquires about choices made during resolution, that player is assumed to be passing priority and allowing that spell or ability to resolve.
  • A player is assumed to have paid any cost of 0 unless they announce otherwise.
  • A player who casts a spell or activates an ability that targets an object on the stack is assumed to target the legal target closest to the top of the stack unless the player specifies otherwise.
  • A player is assumed to be attacking another player with their creatures and not any planeswalkers that player may control unless the attacking player specifies otherwise.
  • A player who does not scry/surveil (or look at the top card of the library after taking a mulligan) when instructed to is assumed to have not looked and chosen to leave the cards in the same order.
  • In the Two-Headed Giant format, attacking creatures are assumed to be attacking the head of the defending player sitting directly across from their controller, unless the creature’s controller specifies otherwise.