Welcome back to the Rules Tips Blog! Today we’ll be going over some of the changes to policy that go into effect when Amonkhet officially releases this Friday. None of this is in effect right now, but it will be on Friday morning- meaning that this will apply to your FNMs! The biggest change for players to be aware of is the change to the combat shortcut. As you may or may not know, the combat shortcut we’re still using now doesn’t really mesh too well with beginning of combat triggers like Toolcraft Exemplar; current policy is if you want priority in that step as the Active Player, you have to tell your opponent exactly why you want it, which is giving up information way too early. With the arrival of more and more cards that trigger in Beginning of Combat, that shortcut simply wasn’t cutting it anymore, so it is being updated.
As of Friday, moving to combat will default to giving your opponent a chance to respond in the Beginning of Combat step (so they could kill or tap a potential attacker before it can attack, but after your Main Phase, so you can’t cast more creatures or Sorceries or whatnot), but the Active Player’s role is after that, rather than before. You can say “Combat?”, your opponent has their chance to take actions, and then you get YOUR chance to animate manlands, crew Vehicles, and things like that. Also very importantly, you don’t miss your Beginning of Combat triggers by just asking for the shortcut! Your opponent will have their chance to respond, and then after that you’ll get your triggers.
Let’s look at it with a practical example. We’ll say you have a Toolcraft Exemplar and a Heart of Kiran, no other creatures, and 2 other artifacts. You want to crew your Heart, but you can’t do that until Exemplar gets bigger. So you offer to move to combat by saying something like “Go to attacks?” or “Combat?”. Your opponent can respond here in one of two ways: If they want to mess with the Exemplar’s trigger, they can do so by acting in the Main Phase. Maybe they want to kill the Exemplar, or destroy one of your artifacts so it won’t trigger; either is fine. If they do, we’re still in your Main Phase. If they have a response that ISN’T directly interfering with the trigger (like tapping the Heart with Pacification Array), they can do that in the Beginning of Combat step itself. After their action (or lack of action, if they have no response), you’ll announce your Exemplar trigger, and be able to take actions like crewing your Heart, or animating your manlands, before moving to attacks.
It seems a little confusing, but in practice it flows pretty well- your opponent gets a chance to take actions on their terms before you move on to the next step, but you still get your Combat triggers and any actions you want to take in that step, without having to telegraph them way in advance and put yourself at a disadvantage. Ideally, it’ll do exactly what a shortcut should: make the way players already play the game ‘legal’ (the same way “Bolt your Jace” is ‘legal’ because of the shortcut rules!). The shortcut of “Go” or “end my turn” was similarly reworked- should your opponent respond, they’re assumed to be acting in your End Step unless they’re trying to affect how/whether an end-of-turn trigger fires, and you can announce your triggers after they respond (or decline to respond). The only difference there is that targeted BOC triggers don’t need targets declared when you propose the shortcut, but targeted End of Turn triggers should be announced as you’re offering to pass turn (an example would be “End my turn, Advocate of the Beast triggers targeting Thragtusk“).
The other changes are pretty minor, and are largely just cleaning up little gaps in their logic or wording; nothing on the scale of this change! If you’d like to read more about them (and about the IPG changes), you can check them out right here at Toby Elliott’s blog.
Today’s Tournament Tip was written by Trevor Nunez