Today’s post is going to be about everyone’s favorite Goblin buddy-maker (Well, second favorite for Commander players! No hard feelings, Krenko): Goblin Rabblemaster. He slices, he dices, he makes disposable bodies to feed to Butcher of the Horde and he looks great while doing it. But how can you stop your opponent from getting those tasty tasty Rabblemaster tokens when you’ve got removal in your hand? The answer is to make things clear! In Magic, we play with a lot of shortcuts. Effectively, they let us play the game naturally, rather than having to manually go through every single action that most players just sort of gloss over (there’s a fantastic article that covers them more in depth than we will today- if you’re interested, give it a read!). For now, we’ll focus on the relevant one for this discussion: “Combat?”
Most players will say something along the lines of “combat?” or “Declare attackers?” or similar to indicate that they want to move to combat. The default for this is that the non-active player (the person whose turn it is NOT) will have priority in the Beginning of Combat Step. So, if you drop an Ultimate Price here, your opponent loses his Rabblemaster (but does get his token!). However, you might want to prevent him from getting the token at all, and just hope he doesn’t have a second one, so you want to kill it in the Main Phase. What do you do? The best thing to do here is to be clear with your actions. Make it clear that you’re taking action in the Main Phase rather than the Beginning of Combat step, and remember to call a Judge if you and your opponent can’t agree on where you are in the turn. And what about offense? What if you want to try and move to combat without the chance of that blowout? Well, you can’t. No matter how you cleverly word your proposed shortcut, your opponent will have a chance to kill your Rabblemaster before you get a token. The only way around that is if your opponent just plain doesn’t. No shortcut you propose will force them to give up their chance at blasting your Rabblemaster- they can decline your shortcut of “Move to combat, attack with Rabblemaster” after all. In conclusion, just be clear. Shortcuts exist to clarify the game and make things easier on everyone involved- they do not exist to obfuscate or confuse. If you don’t understand your opponent’s shortcut, ask them to clarify it, or call a Judge. If you think there might be confusion on when you (or your opponent!) are taking an action within the borders of a shortcut, be clear (or, again, call a Judge so we can assist you in that endeavor). A clean game is a happy game!
Today’s Tournament Tip was written by Trevor Nunez