You’re one of the staff of an event and you hear the word “JUDGE!”.
You raised your hand to acknowledge and quickly approached the table,
You asked what is going on and soon enough delivered your ruling.
Then one of the players said, “But judge, it works this way in Arena?”.
It is safe to say that we’ve all encountered a similar situation.
We asked some of our judge friends on what is their take on how to handle a situation as such.
How would you handle the scenario and what would be your response to “but it works this way on MTG: Arena?” *Maykel
Ian Mervin Go
It might be a bug in Arena. This is the correct ruling, according to the current rules. And I’d be happy to explain to you later, why it works this way instead of the way as you claimed it worked in Arena but we’ll do it later after you finish this round. Or if there’s not enough time, maybe later after the top 8 fires.
Laksana Eka SP
Arena has a lot of shortcuts to make the game go faster. The game of Magic follows certain steps. If you go full control, it will be like this…
MTG: Arena is not the source for a ruling. We should always look up to Magic Comprehensive Rules. Perhaps, the interaction of some cards is very special and it is difficult to do the coding in the Arena.
I would inquire more into the board state of the player’s experience in Arena and compare it with the current game state. I will start with, “Would you care to explain what was the situation like in Arena? What was the board state at that point in time?”
Arena, or even MTGO, has bugs. Thanks for pointing that out because I’ll submit a report to the software dev team.
I will walk through the scenario with the player and explain calmly and with confidence with the relevant rules that I will cite from the Comprehensive Rules, or how the player the relevant release notes rulings. How exactly to go about it depends on the situation itself, how complex is it, and how the player responds.
Any tips to other judges who usually get such responses from players?
Ian Mervin Go
If you are absolutely sure you made the correct ruling, stick to it (otherwise, try and confirm your ruling with someone else). Arena does work well, but sometimes, it still has bugs or even human error. With different settings, it could also be made a situation that looks different in the game.
for example, if a player doesn’t put the stopper, the game would skip through the steps, but it doesn’t mean that player doesn’t receive priority in the opponent’s upkeep in the real game.
Another thing to note is, are you sure the player’s claim is true?
It might not be a total lie, sometimes they just didn’t pay enough attention, didn’t see another card(s) that was on the battlefield in that arena game, which makes the rules play out differently, or maybe their memory fails them.
Laksana Eka SP
Just stay calm and explain to the players how the rules work, step by step.
We should be able to show them a valid source for the rulings. And convince the players. Also, it is not the first time that Arena has mistaken the ruling (especially for card interaction)
First, I will try to understand the differences between my understanding and how the Arena behaves. In case it’s a genuine mistake on my part. If it’s a known bug on the Arena, take time after the match to explain to the players the bug. Otherwise, do find out more why the Arena behaves differently and explain to players why the game behaves in the manner you describe with rule references.
If you’re not 100% sure, then try confirming with other judges. But if you’re very certain, it’s better to explain to the player that even programs do have a mistake and give some obvious example to them (such as Forever Young in Arena right now).
A player can be wrong, but wholeheartedly believe that they are right, and it’s actually possible that they are not doing it to spite you. They just believe it.
It could be:
1) They remember it wrongly.
2) They remember the wrong situations that might have led to the supposed outcome.
3) YOU might be wrong!
When a player disagrees with you, regardless of the reason or situation, it is up to YOU to practice YOUR diplomacy skill in handling this.
My most important advice is
1) Double-check your answer!
– Even if you’re pretty sure about it, it doesn’t hurt to ask someone else to confirm! It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
– Phrasing it as “I am pretty sure of this, but I will double-check with someone else” is one way to appear confident while double-checking.
2) DON’T escalate it.
– Raising your voice and arguing back is just going to make things worse.
– Hardening your tone and sticking firm on an ultimatum (accept my ruling and continue playing please) should only be used as a last resort when all other recourses fail.
3) Work WITH the player, not against him.
– Try to understand why he disagrees with you.
– Try to help him understand why you ruled differently.
– Listen first, make the player feel heard, and then seek his understanding of why you made your ruling.
There you go, as our judge friends pointed one, don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarifications.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and feel free to reach us via email firstname.lastname@example.org
or me directly via Twitter @mtgjudgefelix