Tournament Tuesday: Foreign and Altered Cards!

Welcome back to the Rules Tip Blog! On today’s Tournament Tuesday, we’ll be talking about foreign, misprinted, and altered cards; how to play them in an event; and what to do if you encounter them during an event.

We’ll start with misprints. Usually the QA on Magic cards is pretty great, but sometimes things slip through. If you open a misprinted card during a Limited event, it’s best to call a Judge over and ask them how they’d like to handle it. Depending on the severity of the misprint, it may be fine to just play with it as-is, or the Judge may issue a proxy for that event; remember, if you ARE issued a proxy, it is ONLY good for that event! Don’t bring it to a different one! As for using a misprinted card in a Constructed event, it’ll depend on the severity of the misprint. As long as it’s not too confusing or misleading you should be fine, but that’s up to the Head Judge; it’s best to double-check with them before the event begins, and also have a backup if at all possible.

That follows well into altered cards: these, you actually have some control over. The baseline rules for altered cards are that the name and mana cost can’t be obscured (to prevent people from painting a Tarmogoyf “alter” over a Spellwild Ouphe, for example), you can’t be able to tell it apart from other cards without looking at the front (basically it can’t be notably heavier or thicker because of the alteration), and the art must remain mostly recognizable (because most people identify Magic cards, especially those that are upside down and across a table from them, by the art). It’s perfectly okay to cover the actual rules text of the card with the new art, so long as it’s recognizable and the name and mana cost are unobscured. Why is that? Well, that leads into the last category!

Foreign cards. Magic is printed in a LOT of languages: Kaladesh alone was printed in 11 different ones (English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)! Now, I don’t know about you nice folks, but I’m not much of a polyglot, so I can only read about one and a half of those languages. Thankfully, all Magic cards are treated as if they had their full English Oracle text printed on them, and at any sanctioned event you have the ability to simply ask a Judge for the Oracle text of the card if you don’t know what it does. This is another of the reasons we’re so firm on altered art remaining recognizable- a Delver of Secrets looks the same in any language from across the table. At a Regular Rules Enforcement Level event (FNMs, Game Days, most of your local store’s regular events), the full Oracle text of a card is Free information, so you can simply ask your opponent “What’s that do?” if you don’t remember the exact text of their altered/foreign card, and they have to answer. At Competitive REL (Grands Prix, PPTQs, similar large events) the Oracle text is Derived information; they don’t have to give it to you if you ask, and if they CHOOSE to, they can give you incomplete information as long as what they do share is true. So at the competitive events, just call a Judge over and ask for the Oracle text to be absolutely certain you’re not missing anything. Remember, we’re a resource inside an event as much as we are out of it!

Today’s Tournament Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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