Missed Triggers 3 – The Bonus Disc

Third time’s the charm.

First of all, don’t panic. What looks like a lot of new words maintains much of the previous philosophy. There’s only one change of substance, and a bunch more guidance. I’m sure adding 4000 words of my own ramblings also makes it seem bigger than it is; feel free to do a search for the TL;DR below, or check out the summary for judges.

There was actually a lot to like about the previous iteration of the trigger policy. It encouraged fantastic communication between the players. Judge calls for he-said-she-said situations were down. The remedy, where the opponent makes the decision on what happens next was both popular and intuitive. In general, a lot of players and judges found it to be an improvement over the lapsing approach, and this iteration reflects that. It’s a much smaller leap than the previous change.

Where things were less successful was in how a trigger was considered missed. We want players to not have to point out their opponent’s triggers. In order to do that and not put opponent in a bad situation, triggers need to expire at some point – I can’t act with any certainty if there’s a chance that a trigger will randomly resolve at a later point. The rules that we had in place for that were simple and elegant and mechanically correct.

The problems arose when the policy came into collision with how people play Magic in real life. Humans aren’t precise, and how they think about the game isn’t really in terms of priority but as a sequence of actions and states, caring about the results of the triggers, not their cause. This gap meant that it was pretty easy to get someone to technically miss a trigger that they were fully cognizant of. That’s an awful feeling, both for the person who has just been tricked out of a trigger and for the competitive player who knows that they’ve pulled a fast one.

We’re sensitive to these concerns, and certainly weren’t ignoring all the articles, tweets and emails talking about the problems with the policy. Magic is a game and should be fun to play at all levels of competition. Lots of rules are designed to minimize these ‘gotcha’ moments that represent the antithesis of fun for most people. It’s why much of the shortcut section exists in the MTR.

On one level, it was tempting to leave things as they were. There’s a certain amount of change fatigue that sets in, and everyone was mindful of that. Most people liked the parts of the policy that were important to us, but it was clear that the side-effects were going to need to be addressed. Letting a policy that’s clearly not meeting the needs of the players continue is worse than releasing yet another revision.

So, we took all the data from the last five months – yes, all those internet forums, all those articles; there were a lot of them! – and started brainstorming on what was working and what wasn’t. That gave us new goals to add to all the goals from last time:

  • Opponents not needing to mention the existence of triggers remained generally popular. Indeed, there was a desire to extend that down to Regular REL as well, so we’ve done that.
  • When a player missed a trigger, it needed to be such that they had to realistically acknowledge that yeah, they’d missed it. Using trickery to sneak a trigger away had to be discouraged to avoid the gotcha moments. As I mentioned earlier, this goal was the important one, and it’s the source of most of the change (and the cause of most of our headaches!)
  • The opponent had to be protected. This meant that they needed to be able to act with certainty about what’s happening in the game at any given point. Interestingly, whether the certainty was good or bad for them wasn’t important; the knowledge that they could act and know the consequences were what mattered.
  • Try to keep the complexity to a minimum. Failing that, make it so it’s intuitive most of the time. We knew that anywhere we went from the previous version was going to be more complicated, since that one was distilled down to nearly its simplest form. But if it was working, and the bulk of the remedy certainly was, we should try to maintain that continuity.


Well, not really, but I hope we got there. I think it falls into the intuitive realm pretty well. 90% of the time, I believe a person who knew nothing other than “if someone really misses a trigger, the opponent decides” would make the right ruling. There’s obviously some devil in the details, and there’s a little more for the serious players to learn than the simple summary from last time. That was unavoidable.

So, we’ll go into detail about what this all means and why things are the way they are, but let me try to find a super short message you can use for your players:

  • You cannot choose to ignore your triggers (doing so remains Cheating).
  • Your opponent is not required to remind you if they don’t want to.
  • You have until a trigger requires a decision or visibly affects the game to remember and demonstrate awareness of it, after which point it becomes missed.
  • Once a trigger is missed, whether or not it happens is up to the opponent.

This obviously glosses over a lot of details and a few exceptions, so don’t just blindly follow it. But, it’s good enough for the TL;DR version. Are there rules to support it? You bet!

Note that the only one of those four bullet points that has changed is the third, so while there’s a lot more words upcoming, it’s not as far from the previous policy as it first appears. There’s quite a bit of continuity.

2.1. Game Play Error — Missed Trigger

A triggered ability triggers, but the player controlling the ability doesn’t demonstrate awareness of the trigger’s existence the first time that it would affect the game in a visible fashion.

Declaring targets and making choices is visible, even though they’re abstract. Life totals are visible. But these are all things a player would be expected to acknowledge as the result of a trigger.

Note that the requirement is “demonstrate awareness”. For some reason, a lot of people thought that the previous policy required verbal announcement. This wasn’t the case, and never could be in a game played by players who might not share a language. Pointing at a card is demonstrating awareness, provided it’s not ambiguous.

The point by which the player needs to demonstrate this awareness depends on the impact that the trigger would have on the game:

This next bit’s a little scary, and it’s where we spent our complexity points. However, it’s mostly just technical expression of reasonably intutive concepts: stuff you need to do on announcement, stuff you need to do on resolution, and stuff that comes up later.

* A triggered ability that requires its controller to choose targets (other than ‘target opponent’), modes, or other choices made when the ability is put onto the stack: The controller must announce those choices before they next pass priority.

When a player plays an ability, if it has targets, it’s reasonable to ask them to announce those before doing anything else. We can skip target opponent because in 2-player games (which is the only thing supported by the MIPG) there’s no ambiguity and players don’t usually feel the need to declare that target.

* A triggered ability that causes a change in the visible game state (including life totals) or requires a choice upon resolution: The controller must take the appropriate physical action or make it clear what the action taken or choice made is before taking any game actions (such as casting a sorcery spell or explicitly moving to the next step or phase) that can be taken only after the triggered ability should have resolved. Note that casting an instant spell or activating an ability doesn’t mean a triggered ability has been forgotten, as it could still be on the stack.

Lots and lots of triggers fall into this bucket. Basically anything that “does” something physical on resolution: kill stuff, bring stuff back, add counters to stuff, tap stuff, etc. A player misses these when they make it explicitly clear that they’ve missed it: by playing a spell that you couldn’t otherwise play, or by trying to move (or just moving) to another phase. No losing them on technicalities, and if the opponent wants to act at instant speed but needs to know if the trigger is still on the stack, they have to ask about it directly, or we assume yes.

“Explicitly moving to the next step” does mean explicit. “Combat” (or just turning creatures sideways), “Go”, drawing for your turn. These are explicit. A pause is not, nor is trying any priority-grabbing tricks.

* A triggered ability that changes the rules of the game: the controller must prevent an opponent from taking any resulting illegal action.

These are effects that don’t change permanents, they change the game. Those effects just sit there quietly until they become relevant, at which point they need to be acknowledged. Pyreheart Wolf is a classic here. It’s missed if the opponent blocks with a single creature and the controller doesn’t point out that that’s an illegal block. Emrakul’s trigger also lands here. It’s missed when the controller lets the other person take the next turn.

* A triggered ability that affects the game state in non-visible ways: the controller must take physical action or make it clear what the action is the first time the change has an effect on the visible game state.

If you remember the days of no-visual-effect triggers, you’ll find this group has a lot in common with them, and it’s this bullet point that contains the vast majority of the change from the old version to the new one.

Essentially, the burden of proof for these triggers (and the rule-changing ones above, though those are rarer) switches. Instead of “If you fail to communicate this one when it resolves, we assume you missed it”, it’s now “We assume you remembered this trigger until you give concrete evidence that you didn’t”

The last part is important, though – players still need to be able to forget these triggers. If this wasn’t the rule, it would put the opponent in an awkward situation when the controller did something illegal as a result of forgetting, like deal 2 damage when a 2/1 Exalted creature attacked alone. Instead, we take that as confirmation that the trigger was forgotten. This only applies to triggers, of course. If the 2/1 Exalted is attacking and tries to deal 1 damage, you need to point out the error!

Once any of the above obligations has been fulfilled, or the trigger has been otherwise acknowledged, further problems are treated as a Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation.

This encourages players to communicate, since once you acknowledge a trigger, it’s locked in, even if you do so before you’re required to. It also means that if you mess up the resolution of a trigger – only doing half of a Sword effect, for example, it’s not missed, just misplayed.

Triggered abilities that do nothing except create delayed triggered abilities automatically resolve without requiring acknowledgment. Awareness of the resulting delayed trigger must be demonstrated at the appropriate point.

I mentioned this in an earlier blog post. Players shouldn’t care about the internal plumbing of Magic, and a delayed trigger is very much internal plumbing. Note that a certain class of delayed triggers get called out for special treatment during the remedy, so watch out for that.

Triggered abilities that do nothing except create one or more copies of a spell or ability (such as storm or cipher) automatically resolve, but awareness of the resulting objects must be demonstrated using the same requirements as described above (even though the objects may not be triggered abilities).

This part took a long time to get right. Technically, the objects created are spells (usually). But that’s also internal plumbing. From the player perspective, a trigger that copies a “draw a card” spell and puts it on the stack is a trigger that draws you a card, and ought to be treated as such – the “trigger” is really missed when you fail to draw that card. In the rare occasion when a player needs to interact with the spell copy, they still have the ability to call it out.

This also makes storm work the way everyone expects. If a player is sitting there waiting for their opponent to die, the opponent can’t claim that you missed all those copies. They’re still there.

Players may not cause triggered abilities controlled by an opponent to be missed by taking game actions or otherwise prematurely advancing the game. For example, if a player draws a card during his or her draw step without allowing an opponent to demonstrate awareness of a triggered ability, the controller still has an opportunity to fulfill the appropriate obligation by doing so at that point.

Triggers that happen on opponent’s turns need to be handled with a little more flexibility. This particularly applies to “do something on resolution” triggers, since the controller can’t play sorceries or actively advance the turn. You have to ask if they’ve been given a reasonable chance to acknowledge effects at a point after it should have resolved.

The Out-of-Order Sequencing rules (MTR section 4.3) may also be applicable, especially as they relate to batches of actions or resolving items on the stack in an improper order.

Technically, this is redundant. Out of Order Sequencing is a meta-rule that might always apply, but it’s important to make it clear that it does here. People need to relax and enjoy that they don’t need to help their opponent.

If a triggered ability would have no impact on the game, it’s not an infraction to fail to demonstrate awareness of it. For example, if the effect of a triggered ability instructs its controller to sacrifice a creature, a player who controls no creatures isn’t required to demonstrate awareness of the ability.

This solves what I call the “Chasm Drake problem”. Chasm Drake is the only creature in play. It attacks. If I don’t bother to point out the trigger (which will end up giving my flying creature flying) have I cheated? Without this bit of guidance, technically, yes. And that would be terrible.

Triggered abilities are common and invisible, so players should not be harshly penalized when forgetting about one. Players are expected to remember their own triggered abilities; intentionally ignoring one may be Unsporting Conduct — Cheating (unless the ability would have no impact on the game as described above).

Still true, and it’s important to remind people. Note the shiny new infraction, though.

Even if an opponent is involved in the announcement or resolution of the ability, the controller is still responsible for ensuring the opponents make the appropriate choices and take the appropriate actions. Players are not required to point out triggered abilities that they do not control, though they may do so if they wish.

One of the enduring memes in the Magic world is that triggers that require an opponent to do something are the opponent’s responsibility. “Hah, you didn’t pay 1 extra for Rhystic Study, I get to draw a card”. It just doesn’t work that way. When Rhystic Study resolves, you need to ask your opponent if they would like to pay 1. If they decline, you draw a card. Common courtesy!

Triggered abilities are assumed to be remembered until otherwise indicated, and the impact on the game state may not be immediately apparent. The opponent’s benefit is in not having to point out triggered abilities, although this does not mean that they can cause triggers to be missed. If an opponent requires information about the precise timing of a triggered ability or needs details about a game object that may be affected by a resolved triggered ability, that player may need to acknowledge that ability’s existence before its controller does.

This is, in many ways, the most important paragraph. It’s the vision statement and makes it clear to players what is and isn’t appropriate competitive behavior around triggers. If you take nothing else away from this article, take this paragraph to heart.

Here, I’m going to print it again. It’s that important.

Triggered abilities are assumed to be remembered until otherwise indicated, and the impact on the game state may not be immediately apparent. The opponent’s benefit is in not having to point out triggered abilities, although this does not mean that they can cause triggers to be missed. If an opponent requires information about the precise timing of a triggered ability or needs details about a game object that may be affected by a resolved triggered ability, that player may need to acknowledge that ability’s existence before its controller does.

Time to make posters.

The controller of a missed triggered ability receives a Warning only if the triggered ability is usually considered detrimental for the controlling player.

This is a wording change from “generally detrimental”, which had a little more ambiguity than we were comfortable with, but it doesn’t actually change anything. The idea is that in most common game situations, this is a trigger you’d be happier not having resolve. Intuitively, that makes sense from a Warning standpoint. Yes, there are strange situations where you might benefit from your Vampire Lacerator, but realistically, that’s a card players want judges keeping an eye on. “Generally detrimental” was supposed to imply that there could be downsides to the ability but, on balance, you wanted it to happen. Instead we focus on what the expectation would be in a normal game.

Gatecrash has three usually-detrimental triggers in it. Only Spark Trooper is likely to see serious play, and the odds of that one being missed seems small. Overall, if you’re doing a Standard event, the number of Warnings you’ll be issuing will, hopefully, be minimal.

The current game state is not a factor in determining this, though symmetrical abilities (such as Howling Mine) may be considered usually detrimental or not depending on who is being affected.

This was one of those “intuitive sense” changes. We don’t want to evaluate game states, but triggers like Howling Mine (and Braids and Sulfuric Vortex) are clearly two triggers. One does something good/bad on my turn, then the opposite on your turn. Someone who forgets their own Howling Mine triggers is already being suitably handled. Someone who forgets ones on their opponent’s turns is someone who needs to be reminded to play a little tighter.

Whether a Warning is issued or not does not affect any additional remedies that may be applicable. Failure to Maintain Game State penalties are never issued to players who did not control the ability.

Judges should not intervene in a missed trigger situation unless they intend to issue a Warning or have reason to suspect that the controller is intentionally missing his or her triggered abilities.

This separation got rather overlooked by the community in the last revision, as the idea got around that the detrimental determination affected what happened in the game. That would change things a lot (shades of lapsing!), but if we’d gone that way, we’d obviously spend a lot more time going into detail about how to determine “usually detrimental”. The guidelines are the same as before – ask yourself heuristic questions like “Would this card be better without the ability?” or “In most game situations, would I be glad to have this trigger” or “Did Wizards put this on the card to try to preempt some form of shenanigan?”.

Additional Remedy

If the triggered ability specifies a default action associated with a choice made by the controller (usually “If you don’t …” or “… unless”), resolve it choosing the default option. If the triggered ability is a delayed triggered ability that changes the zone of an object, resolve it. For these two types of abilities, the opponent chooses whether to resolve the ability immediately or at the start of the next phase. These abilities do not expire and should be remedied no matter how much time has passed since they should have triggered.

As I mentioned earlier, zone-change delayed triggers are unintuitive. The majority of them are simply there to undo a previous zone change, and it’s quite common that players (and many judges) don’t even realize that they’re triggers – it’s very much internal plumbing. The important part happened on the front half of the spell or ability.

There are a very small number of zone-change DTAs that aren’t cleanup. Loyal Cathar and Grave Betrayal come to mind. That’s an acceptable tradeoff for not having Geist of Saint Traft tokens sticking around or Ghost Councils staying exiled forever.

Why the extra timing rule? We want to minimize how much disruption the problem causes. A Geist of Saint Traft angel should almost always go away immediately if it’s discovered in combat. Should a Ghost Council return then? One or the other is likely to be disruptive in any given situation, so the opponent is a good person to decide how to minimize it. It also means that reanimation works the way we’d want it to – if I target your Loyal Cathar with Animate Dead, I can choose to get it before the trigger (that you’ve obviously missed by then) would resolve.

If the triggered ability creates an effect whose duration has already expired or the ability was missed prior to the current phase in the previous player’s turn, instruct the players to continue playing.

If the triggered ability isn’t covered by the previous two paragraphs, the opponent chooses whether the triggered ability is added to the stack. If it is, it’s inserted at the appropriate place on the stack if possible or on the bottom of the stack. No player may make choices involving objects that were not in the appropriate zone or zones when the ability should have resolved. For example, if the ability instructs a player to sacrifice a creature, that player can’t sacrifice a creature that wasn’t on the battlefield when the ability should have resolved.

This should look very familiar. As a whole, the answer to “what should happen when a trigger is actually forgotten” was really good and only needed minor tweaks. All the effort was devoted to the “actually” part, and we’re hopeful that the instructions above hit the right spot for that.

In general, each revision of the policy has gotten us closer to something that makes Competitive REL players and judges happy and I’m hopeful that this version continues the streak. The IPG remains a living document, reflecting the ever-changing nature of the game, and we’ll continue to revise it until it’s perfect… at which point something new will force us to keep going!

68 thoughts on “Missed Triggers 3 – The Bonus Disc

  1. I wholeheartedly approve of these new changes. I didn’t think you could honestly make something that accurately bridges the gap between “I have to remind my opponent of their triggers” and “what the crap this policy makes no sense”, but until an article goes up explaining to me why I shouldn’t like this, I think this is a great change.

    Minor quibble: The last bit you mentioned seems to nontrivially change the way Rebound works. Can you explain a bit about how Rebound is affected by this change? The way I read it (and I could be wrong) is that the card from Rebound, if forgotten, when noticed, is cast either immediately or at the start of the next phase, whichever the opponent chooses (previously it would remain exiled indefinitely). This echoes of the “flip my Huntmaster mid-combat” shenanigans that were happening under Lapsing, so I’d like a bit of clarification if possible. Thanks.

    1. One more thing: You mentioned that if a Sword starts triggering and then the opponent forgets half the trigger, they are considered to have remembered their trigger, but you didn’t specify the right way to go about resolving it. Say, for example, the following:

      Player A attacks with a guy with a Sword of Feast and Famine. Player B takes the damage. Player A untaps his lands but forgets to ask Player B to discard a card. In the following phases, there is some sort of counter war or something, following which Player A passes the turn, then Player B draws for the turn. Player A asks Player B how many cards in hand, and realizes that he blew his trigger. How is this to be resolved? Stating that Player B should discard a card at this point leads to a broken game state, as Player B may have no cards in hand but the one he drew for his turn, and forcing him to discard the card he drew after the trigger should have resolved breaks the game state, while telling Player A that the game state can’t be effectively rewound is akin to “missing his trigger”. What would you suggest in a case like this?

    2. Rebound isn’t a DTA that changes the zone of an object. It just gives you the ability to cast it (which then subsequently will cause a zone change)

  2. I like these rules. One question:

    So, if I attack with a 2/1 Exalted creature, what can my opponent do to take only 2 damage? Is it permissible for him to say “I take two,” even if he knows that the creature should actually be 3/2? Or is that Cheating?

    1. He can ask “take two?”, since he has no indication as to whether or not you’ve remembered. However, the controller is the one ultimately dealing the damage.

      1. Hm. To clarify, while “take two?” is fine, what about the following scenarios? It seems like they might fall under ‘stack-clearing’ (or maybe just the latter does), but I’m curious:

        A: P1 plays Emrakul, not mentioning the extra turn trigger. P2 says “my turn?”, which P1 agrees to.

        B: After a big storm turn, P1 plays Grapeshot, without acknowledging the storm trigger and resulting copies explicitly. P2 points at the physical Grapeshot card and says “ok, so this resolves?”, which P2 agrees to.

        This sort of coaching your opponent to miss triggers seems like it shouldn’t work, even if P2 is genuinely confused about the mechanics involved.

      2. A seems like a pretty clear missed trigger.

        B isn’t. The wording is such that B has until they play something they couldn’t. If they’re sitting there waiting for you to be dead, they’re clearly not moving on. This is precisely the sort of thing the new rules preempt.

      3. More important issue here would be whether to block. I have to assume, due to these two quotes, that if there was no indication from the controller that the creature got buffed, it didn’t.

        “* The opponent had to be protected. This meant that they needed to be able to act with certainty about what’s happening in the game at any given point. Interestingly, whether the certainty was good or bad for them wasn’t important; the knowledge that they could act and know the consequences were what mattered.”

        “* A triggered ability that affects the game state in non-visible ways: the controller must take physical action or make it clear what the action is the first time the change has an effect on the visible game state.”

      4. I don’t think your logic follows here. Those two quotes suggest that it’s always assumed that the creature is bigger until we learn otherwise.

      5. In case of exalted. I can attack with exalted and wait after blockers are declared to point out the exalted triggers?
        If my opponent wants to know if I forgot it, he needs to ask it first?
        This is logical, but yet another change in how exalted works in a PTQ/GP/…

        Personally, I think it’s wrong to change rules about triggers again.

      6. Yes. The communication around Exalted changes a bit under the new rules.

        I’m not thrilled to be changing rules again, but I think that’s preferable to having rules in place that aren’t achieving what we want and aren’t popular with the players.

  3. “We can skip target opponent because in 2-player games (which is the only thing supported by the MIPG) there’s no ambiguity and players don’t usually feel the need to declare that target.”

    What about 2HG?

    1. If a Competitive 2HG event gets run, we’ll need to change a heck of a lot more in the docs than just the Trigger section 🙂

      1. Well there hasn’t been a 2HG Grand Prix since 2007 but it’s out out of the question (or is it?) I suppose the fix is still easy though. If it matters who the ability targets, it needs to be announced, otherwise not.

      2. In the (unlikely?) event that we get another 2HG GP, There would be a fact sheet modifying all sorts of rules. This would probably be among them.

      3. Actually, it shouldn’t be that hard. We ran 2HG events just fine prior to the introduction of JREG. Changes would still be needed, though, sure.

      4. Oh, sure. We’d resurrect a whole bunch of rules that I’ve probably got lying around somewhere, though we’d probably do it with Fact Sheet modifications. But that’s not worth worrying about at this point.

  4. This change feels like a compromise between two binary choices. I’m a former judge (expired L1)/player who is just now starting to play again, and there was a lot of misinformation regarding the new rules, so I figured I’d seek out information–that brought me to your blog. In reading the rationale for this set of changes, you noted that there was a strong desire for the opponent to be able to act with a degree of certainty, but given the “triggered ability that affects the game state in non-visible ways” that certainty is not attained.

    Under the scheme that I was last familiar with, mandatory triggers triggered and resolved by operation of game rules. There, the certainty is that the trigger triggered and resolved. Under the second scheme, mandatory triggers only triggered if they were acknowledged. There, the certainty is that triggers have triggered if they were acknowledged. Now, some mandatory triggers might have happened until they demonstratively have been shown to have happened or not.

    For example, given my understanding of your explanation, if my opponent attacks with 3 creatures, one of which has a batallion ability, I have to assume that the trigger has gone on the stack. If my opponent has actually forgotten about batallion, I still have to make blocks as if he has not forgotten. If I ask him whether batallion triggered, he’ll of course say yes even if he had forgotten.

    While generally this may not be a big deal, it seems to me that whether an ability has triggered or not triggered should be 100% determinable at the time that any decision needs to be made. If my opponent has erred and forgotten about his trigger, under the new rules I should be able to operate with that knowledge and make the optimal choices as a result. The game state should always be defined, not in flux or conditioned upon later recognition that a trigger did or did not happen. I don’t particularly expect my opinion to make a difference, but it’s just some food for thought.

    As an unrelated aside, thanks for providing this information; it’s very helpful.

    1. Edit- I should have specified that the batallion ability in my example is something like +2/+2 until EOT, not something requiring a target or any other physical change in the game state.

    2. You can act in the situation knowing how this will be ruled consistently. In effect, that means you have full information – you can choose to act based on the knowledge that if the player hasn’t forgotten, the judge will side with them, or you can adopt additional risk knowing caveat emptor. That is certainty, but it’s rules certainty, not advantage certainty.

      1. Out of curiosity, how are these changes communicated to judges? I ask because at the grand prix trial i played at this weekend, the judge affirmatively explained prior to deck registration that battalion triggers would have to be acknowledged as they triggered or that they would fail to trigger.

      2. Well, your GPT happened before these policies were released, so unless they’re psychic, they didn’t have much of a chance.

        They also don’t go into effect until next Friday. Hopefully all the blog posts, reddit posts, posts on dailymtg, communication to judges, etc will mean that next week’s GPT is run under the new rules.

      3. If my opponent attacks with a Boros Elite (the 1/1 that battalions to a 3/3) and I ask “how big is that guy?” before blocks, if my opponent says “Well, Boros Elite is a 1/1” can i assume that the trigger is missed?

        I’ve seen people at events try to disguise P/T (“How big is my Goyf? Well, here’s my graveyard. . . “) with the understanding that it’s derived information, so it seems like this policy basically forces you to ask if they triggered battalion in order to determine if they have.

      4. That sounds like an assertion that it’s a 1/1. If they resort to silliness like “Boros Elite has 1/1 printed on it”, I think you can safely assume they’ve remembered their trigger and are just being obnoxious. That’s pretty transparent.

        >it seems like this policy basically forces you to ask
        >if they triggered battalion in order to determine if they have.

        Or just assume they have and enjoy the bonus if they don’t.

  5. Overall I like these changes a lot. But I am still wondering about Pyreheart Wolf (and company, but it’s an easy example).

    Let’s say Adam attacks with the Wolf, saying nothing. Nathan is perfectly aware of the trigger, but has some perfectly reasonable reason to believe Adam’s missed it. So Nathan attempts to block with just one creature. Adam says “You can’t do that. Judge!”

    …Did Nathan technically just commit Fraud? He was aware of the rules set by the Wolf’s trigger and knowingly attempted to violate them…

    1. He did not. He’s allowed to act as though the trigger has been missed; it just might come back to bite him.

  6. As i’ve got better at drafting, the moments when I miss my triggers are becoming irritatingly obvious. One time when this often occurs is when I control a Martial Law. My question is, is it possible for me to propose a shortcut after my first trigger by saying something like “Martial Law will always detain this creature until I say otherwise”? This would save me a lot of headaches…

    1. If your opponent will accept that (and putting Martial Law over the creature is not uncommon), then that’s a mutually accepted shortcut. You can’t just unilaterally declare it, though.

  7. So, if I tap my Mons Goblin Raiders, then target a Shattering Spree with my Epic Experiments, can I still do the Safety Dance, or did I miss the trigger?

    1. You can dance if you want to, but your friends are going to be rather confused by this set of actions that doesn’t involve a trigger.

  8. So, if I am a prerelease-only player, the change for me is:

    Old way: My opponent has One Thousand Leashes on my creature. If they don’t mention it during my upkeep, I am responsible for doing so and altering my life total.

    New way: My opponent has One Thousand Leashes on my creature. If they don’t mention it during my upkeep, I can and should remain silent and leave my life total unadjusted, because the trigger doesn’t happen unless they draw attention to it then.

    Is that correct?

    1. Mostly. The difference in Regular is that if in combat they say “Oh, did you take the damage from One Thousand Lashes during your upkeep?”, you’ll still end up losing a life. At Competitive, you wouldn’t.

      1. OK. As a prerelease-level-only player, it’s good to at least understand what I am supposed to do, but it intuitively seems like a huge step down to go from “both of us responsible for maintaining the game state” to “I should let my opponents make mistakes that break the game rules”.

        When later in the turn, or the next turn, my opponent says “did you take the damage (sic) from One Thousand Lashes?” am I supposed to say “you didn’t announce it then, but I will lose the life now”, or call a judge? Is it context-dependent; e.g., only call a judge if I have made decisions based on my unchanged life total?

      2. Everything at Regular is context-dependent. However, I’m not likely to be sympathetic to the “decisions” argument at Regular. If it was that important, you should probably be playing around the possibility that it comes up.

        Basically, the remedy will be exactly the same as it was before. The difference is that only one of the two of you is likely to be calling the judge.

  9. So in the event of say pyreheart wolf attacking me. Is it legal to attempt a single blocker? If my opponent does not tell me it’s an illegal block then is it assumed he missed the trigger?

    1. Yes. You don’t know until you get an answer.

      Honestly, that sounds like a waste of time to me and you’ll end up looking kind of goofy, but go for it.

  10. “Third time’s the charm.”
    Absolutely right. After this release, I don’t think any player can say the MIPG document designers don’t listen. This revision takes everything that worked in the previous version, and fills in all the gaps players and judges found. The biggest being, “When has a trigger been missed?” A big pat on the back for all involved.

    I think the Zone Changing DTAs may cause a hiccup or two as players (and judges) how the policy works and why there is a difference, but I also agree that this makes the best out of an awkward situation.

    On the Zone Changing DTAs, do penalties change as we are not allowing the opponent to choose whether it resolves or not, but instead when? Based on current wording, it would seem if the DTA was negative (GoST Angel token still in play) a penalty would still be issued.


  11. Can you explain to me why intentionally allowing your opponent to miss his/her trigger that changes the rules of the game is not cheating? Taking the pyre heart wolf example that seems to have fueled this change, and that you have commented on already:
    A attacks with pyre heart wolf and says nothing. B, realizing that his opponent may have missed the trigger attempts to block with a single creature.

    Let’s stop right here before moving on. To me, that action of declaring blockers induces A to rely on B’s actions. If A actually forgot, B is effectively telling A something that is not true about the game state, namely that B is allowed to block with one creature.

    Also, suppose that by blocking with 1 creature A remembers the trigger as a result, and then instructs B that the block is illegal. This seems to be one of the new changes. But that seems unfortunate for B since A really did miss the trigger, and is now allowed to remember it at a later time. Perhaps this is simply a policy change that we are willing to accept, and I’ll admit that I am not all that upset about it.

    Moving on to after the blocks are declared, suppose that A then uses a removal spell on B’s creature, and then remembers the pyre heart wolf trigger. Would the pyre heart wolf deal any combat damage, or is it too late? I would suspect that it’s too late because A has taken another action. Would it be permissible to back up the game state to before blockers are declared, or is this too beneficial for A (since A now gets to use the removal spell on B’s creature and get this beneficial trigger)?

    1. >Can you explain to me why intentionally allowing your opponent
      >to miss his/her trigger that changes the rules of the game is not cheating?

      I don’t think this is the question you want to ask. It’s not cheating because the tournament rules explicitly allow it.

      What I think you really want to ask is “why are the rules this way” and the answer to that is that we’ve found that people have more fun playing Magic if they don’t have to babysit their opponents triggers.

      >Moving on to after the blocks are declared, suppose that A
      >then uses a removal spell on B’s creature, and then remembers the pyre heart wolf trigger.

      Looks like that trigger got missed. They took an action after the point where they were required to point out the problem. By the third of the four bullet points, that means the trigger doesn’t happen.

      1. >>Can you explain to me why intentionally allowing your opponent
        >>to miss his/her trigger that changes the rules of the game is not cheating?

        >I don’t think this is the question you want to ask. It’s not >cheating because the tournament rules explicitly allow it.

        But the tournament rules explicitly allow it, only, because you decided to change the rules to better fit what you wanted them to do as opposed to what the rules of the game say should happen. If a trigger happens and there are no choices available the trigger should resolve and affect the game state appropriately, no exceptions. The game itself doesn’t allow for the trigger to be missed only the new MIPG rules, started last year with the lapsing fiasco, allow it to be missed. So, Yes, I agree that it would be cheating anywhere but at a tournament. The very idea that you can tell the game that a trigger doesn’t happen is ludicrous since the games rules make it happen.
        I can’t express how outraged I am with this. ESPECIALLY the idea that you are now going to apply it to Regular REL events, which were the only place that I played magic outside of casual, but probably won’t anymore due to the idea that I can’t play “MAGIC” when competing in a tournament, and instead have to play some altered version of the game that the higher ups who think they know better decided to create to make people happier and their lives easier. I was perfectly happy letting the changes to the competitive/professional REL go without comment because they didn’t affect me. But now everybody who wants to play in a pre-release, FNM, release, customer appreciation day or game day event, will have to play by your new rules.
        A game should do what the rules of the game say it should do and a tournament settings rules shouldn’t modify how that game acts. Next time change the rules to the game instead of creating an overlay.

        This ended up a lot longer than I originally intended but I do feel better now after getting that off my chest.

        Thanks and have a nice day.


  12. What happens when an opponent takes an action that changes steps and then the trigger’s controller announces it? Is the opponent allowed to take back the action?


    I attack with Knight of Infamy, saying nothing. My opponent moves to block with a 1/3. I then say “Exalted makes it three damage to your blocker.” Can the opponent reason that the game state is different than had been communicated and take back the block? Or, is this the situation described above where “that player may need to acknowledge that ability’s existence before its controller does” and the opponent has to ask “declare blockers?” first?

    1. If you do it while the opponent is declaring blockers, you’ve given them information before they’ve locked in their choices.

      If you wait until after blockers are declared (i.e. when damage is being dealt) it’s locked in. The blocking player needed to work under the assumption that the trigger had resolved.

  13. [quote]No losing them on technicalities, and if the opponent wants to act at instant speed but needs to know if the trigger is still on the stack, they have to ask about it directly, or we assume yes. link[/quote]
    [quote]So, if you attack with a Knight of Infamy, we assume that it’s a 3/2 thanks to the Exalted until you do something like say “take 2″ link[/quote]

    Great, so we basically have two contradictory sentences here. One of them says that Knight of Infamy is assumed to be a 2/1 with the trigger on the stack that does not have to be explicitly acknowledged by the Knight’s controller unless directly asked about, and the other says that Knight of Infamy is assumed to be a 3/2 as soon as it attacks.

    Which one is it!?!?!

    1. Both. They aren’t contradictory. Heck, they aren’t even talking about the same thing (one is talking about bullet 2, the other is bullet 4 in the list of trigger types)

      If you want to interact with the trigger before it takes effect, it is now your responsibility to make it clear when you are interacting. That may mean having to acknowledge the trigger, which is just fine.

  14. It is still not clear for me, when a trigger is clearly missed. Is there a casebook?
    Can you answer my example?
    On REL competitiv:
    If Player A attacks with 3 creatures and 1 of them has bataillon +2/+2 when attacking.
    He says nothing.
    Player B activates a keyrune. Player A plays an instant removal spell on the keyrune.
    Is the trigger missed, when Player A cast the removal spell?

    1. The trigger is not missed. The trigger is only missed when the player assigns an amount of damage that would indicate they’d forgotten about it (assuming they hadn’t already mentioned it, which would lock it in anyway)

  15. So is it right to say that the rules now benefit a player for not announcing (or not demonstrating knowledge of) their triggers until the last possible moment? As in the case of attacking a 2/2 with Exalted into an opponent’s 1/3. I am best off by not saying anything about Exalted and hoping my opponent forgets this until I can surprise him with the “remembered” trigger.

    1. Not entirely. In the exalted case, mostly yes. However, demonstrating awareness early locks in the trigger at that point, so you run the risk of remembering, keeping quiet, then getting distracted.

  16. Hi Toby! Thanks for the report.

    I have to say some of the new rules involving missed trigger are not a huge change from what we have right now. And it has some necessary improvements. Still, there is 1 thing that keeps bothering me:

    A triggered ability that affects the game state in non-visible ways: the controller must take physical action or make it clear what the action is the first time the change has an effect on the visible game state.

    I think this part could lead to pretty complicated situation for players and judges. For example, the ability of Wild Beastmaster. Lets say Player A attacks with some other creatures and this, and doesn’t announce the trigger. Before blockers, the defending player has no information of wich is the actual game state. He can’t have the information unless he gives a potencial advantage to his opponent. Moreover, a judge can’t get the information either, cause he is not suppouse to intervene, cause it may implicate an advantage.

    That lead us to the part of: “If an opponent requires information about the precise timing of a triggered ability or needs details about a game object that may be affected by a resolved triggered ability, that player may need to acknowledge that ability’s existence before its controller does”

    I’m pretty sure this part will lead to pretty unconfortable situation for players, where they have to choose between betting that the oponent won’t remember the trigger until damage (and block acordingly) or informing him to have the information. Evenmore, this automatically means that is better not to announce your Beastmaster trigger inmediatly, so you can complicate your oponent (and potentially get an advantage from it)
    I don’t feel this is a decision a player should made: game state should be clear at every step, and getting public info shouldn’t mean you are giving your oponent an advantage. I am understanding something wrong? Is this the spirit of the new rule?

    (Please forgive me for my english, i’m from chile)

    1. The point of the rules change as I see it is this – The opponent should ALWAYS assume the trigger is remembered, and act accordingly. IF the opponent believes the trigger is forgotten and acts according to that line of play, but the trigger was demonstrated to be not forgotten before damage resolved, the opponent “lost the bet”. With regards to the Wild Beastmaster question above, the defender should assume the trigger resolved… trying to edge an advantage by “rules lawyering” is ridiculous, and always has been.

  17. quote:A triggered ability that affects the game state in non-visible ways: the controller must take physical action or make it clear what the action is the first time the change has an effect on the visible game state.”
    Is the power toughness of a creature considered part of the game state?
    Let’s say i attack with an exhalted creature not mentionning the trigger and my opponent ask me: do we procede to blockers clearly passing me priority, and i say yes, he declare his blockers, what is the power toughness of my creature at that point? Can i say at damage: oh yeah, there was a trigger?
    Situation 2:
    My opponent declares an attack with a knight of infamy, i ask him what’s his power/toughness and he reponds it’s a 2/1, i then declare my 1/3 blocker, can he say: the trigger was still on the stack since i did not pass priority, now that you have blocked the trigger resolved?
    Situation 3:
    A knight of infamy attacks, defending player asks do we proceed to blockers, the answer is yes, defending player asks if the creature is a 2/1 , the answer is yes, can the trigger still be remembered at that point?

    Thank you for your time as exhalted is a bit more confusing than the other triggers

    1. “game state”, yes. “visible game state”, no. The distinction is important.

      Situation 1: we assume exalted has resolved until it impacts the visible game, which is when the other creature would need to be put in the graveyard if the trigger had been remembered.

      Situation 2: Frankly, trying this seems like a really bad idea. They failed to express a timeframe for the answer, so that’s reasonable evidence the trigger was missed. We do allow some level of ambiguous communication at various times, but using it to try to obfuscate a trigger is going to backfire more often than not.

      Situation 3: pretty clear evidence of a missed trigger.

  18. Great changes, but I have a question about Out-of-Order Sequencing and backing up for triggers in category #2: who has control over whether triggered abilities and other fast effects went into one big stack?

    Lead-In: If Abner begins main phase with “Messenger, Bolt you”, and Nellie is wondering whether the trigger was missed, the answer is clearly “not yet” since the Bolt could be on the stack above the trigger.

    However: Let’s say Abner begins main phase with “Messenger, Bolt you, Messenger, you take 7.” This is pretty clearly OoOS, rather than a Missed Trigger, since 2+3+2=7 and we assume Abner can do math. But let’s say Nellie wants to back up to before the second Messenger was cast*. At the very least Nellie could back up to a point where Messenger #1 had resolved and Bolt was on the stack. Or would Nellie have to back up to a point where Messenger #1 and the Bolt are both on stack? Or can Nellie pick either game state? In the spirit of “the opponent chooses whether the triggered ability is added to the stack…” I would say that Nellie gets to decide whether the Bolt is its own stack, but is there some other rule that forces the decision either way?

    * E.g., to cast Cease-Fire hoping to hit some sort of counterspell

    1. It’s very hard to talk about OOOS in text, because so much depends on what was said, how it was said and the context.

      Let’s take a simple example: I tap 6 mana. “Messenger, Messenger, take 4”. That’s pretty clearly OOOS – I couldn’t take the actions in that order, but it’s clear I knew what was going on and what I wanted to do, and it’s all legal at the end. Nellie has the opportunity to, at any point there say “whoa, hold on, I want to back up to a previous point and we’re going to step through from there”.

      Introducing the bolt adds complexity, so it’s… probably?… OOOS. The default priority-pass shortcut means that Nellie can back up to any point in that sequence, since the objects technically each resolved before the other was added. OOOS usually means the player committing it leaks information by moving too fast, and that’s acceptable; if they wanted to be careful, they had the wherewithal.

  19. I find the battalion case to be quite interesting because it affects the decision on how to declare blockers. If I specifically offer my opponent to move to the declare blockers step and he or she accepts without declaring any triggers, is the trigger considered to be forgotten? After all, we went into the next step.

    The whole point of this question is that in this particular case, the trigger is relevant for the decisions that I, as defending player, need to take. I would like it if there was a way in which I can ask an innocuous question (not: “did you miss your trigger?”) that determines whether or not the player missed the trigger, like the “is it my turn?” question after Emrakul hits play. Now, for exalted, I can just ask “how big is that creature?” and I give my opponent a clear opportunity to show whether or not he missed his trigger, but if we’re talking about a card like Wojek Halberdiers or Ordruun Veteran, there’s clearly something else going on, and asking “does that creature have first/double strike?” is tantamount to reminding him/her of the trigger.

    1. >I would like it if there was a way in which I can
      >ask an innocuous question (not: “did you miss your trigger?”)
      >that determines whether or not the player missed the trigger”

      This is exactly the thing that this whole revision was designed to prevent.

      You do not have the right to try to make your opponent miss triggers by asking out-of-context stuff – this is the fundamental philosophical change with this update. You have the right to not help him, and you have the right to benefit if their actions indicate that they clearly forgot. But, the default assumption is going to be that they remembered. If they volunteer information unsolicited that suggests this, it’s missed, but trying to trick them into it is unlikely to be well-received.

      Stop looking for this angle. If it’s what you want, you’re not going to be happy.

      1. If it’s just what this rule change is designed to stop, then I’m somewhat confused, because it still works if you ask about a creature’s size for exalted, and it still works if you ask if it’s your turn and there’s end of turn-triggers.

        What I dislike about it is that some triggers are different from others. Upkeep and end of turn triggers are really simple, because if they draw a card or say “Go,” it’s very clear that they missed their trigger. What I’m somewhat afraid of is people gaming the system and only declaring their “declare attackers” triggers _after_ he sees his opponent declare blockers.

        Just to be clear, how does it work with Firefist Striker and Bomber Corps, or Angelic Benediction? These are cards where the attacker clearly benefits from knowing how the defender is going to block, so their triggers have to be announced before declaring blockers in some way. But most players don’t announce that they’re going to the declare blockers step, so the basic idea is just that I sit there waiting for them to announce their target, no? And, on the other hand, defending players can still ask the “declare blockers step?” question and game the system in the case of these cards, since they require a decision upon resolution (as a sidebar, what happens if I attack with a lone shrouded creature and Angelic Benediction in play and my opponent only has one creature? Since there’s only one targetable creature in play, that means that there’s no decision to take. When do I miss my trigger?).

        What I want is people to be unable to game the system, whether it is by overly leading their opponents or by seemingly missing triggers but instead waiting for the last possible moment to declare them, to get more information.

      2. You cannot try to be sneaky to get someone to miss their trigger. They have to volunteer the information. Under the old system, you could get them when they failed to say the magic words at the right time.

        All the cards you listed fall into bucket 1 (target on triggering). They have to be announced before you pass priority after declaring attackers. Your concerns are unfounded – if you read the descriptions in the article, you’ll find that all the gaming you see possible has been addressed.

        It doesn’t matter if there’s one valid target, you still need to acknowledge it at the appropriate time.

      3. To add to my previous comment, I think this system gives a few bad incentives to players. Specifically, it gives players an incentive to never announce their exalted or battalion triggers. This then creates a confusing game state.

        Let me give an example: if I (I’m using a hypothetical me here: I have no desire to actually play this angle myself and would let my opponent take back the block if such a situation arose) have a Knight of Infamy and my opponent has an Augur of Bolas, I have a distinct incentive to not announce my exalted trigger, because my opponent might forget the exalted and block with his Augur, at which point I can argue that I just forgot to mention the trigger but that it’s still there. And, sure, I can’t do it every turn or it’ll be so obvious what I’m doing that no judge is going to side with me, but I can do it in specific situations where I think it can give me an extra advantage. In a way, then, the responsibility for tracking triggers shifts right back to the opponent, which I think is very bad.

      4. What you’ve described above is exactly the way things worked from 1994 to to October 2012. It was not very bad, to the point that ‘fixing’ that wasn’t even a goal when we had to take a hard look at triggers. Indeed, it was this change that caused many of the feel-bads that were associated with the last revision.

      5. I hate “rules lawyering”. I was so glad when I heard the ruling that Jackie Lee was DQed for Fraud. Trying to gain an advantage over an opponent by splitting hairs and arguing technicalities in the rules has always been ridiculous.

  20. You have One Thousand Lashes on an opponents creature

    He Untaps, Draws a Card, Plays a Land, Casts a creature, Attack with a different creature. You have no available blockers. You take damage. He passes turn.

    At what point in time is it too late to mention the life loss. Does it change if your playing against Speedy Gonzalez.

    1. At Competitive? Depends on the speed, but I doubt much beyond drawing a card and playing a land. Certainly not at any point after you got involved in the game.

      That’s not to say “DrawLandSwing” guy is going to be able to whip past, but the general criteria is “realistically has a chance to react after the demarcation point”

  21. >Players may not cause triggered abilities controlled by an opponent to be missed by taking game actions or otherwise prematurely advancing the game. For example, if a player draws a card during his or her draw step without allowing an opponent to demonstrate awareness of a triggered ability, the controller still has an opportunity to fulfill the appropriate obligation by doing so at that point.

    I have a few questions, using the following situation:
    Opponent (Player B) has previously cast brainstorm, putting 2 cards on top of his deck. These cards are unknown to the player (Player A), who then plays a Curse of the bloody tome, enchanting Player B. Player B takes their turn, untapping and drawing a card before Player A tells Player B to mill two cards due to curse of the bloody tome.

    1. Is Player B cheating? While it’s not Player B’s responsibility to remind his opponent of triggers, and there’s the afore mentioned policy to resolve the trigger after the draw for the turn has been taken; the actions Player B took effected known information.
    2. Is the remedy different if Player B unknowingly drew his card, forgetting about the trigger; or if Player B knew of the mill trigger, but purposefully took actions fast enough so that it would not mill the known top card of his library.
    3. Is the remedy different if both players knew the top card of Player B’s library (such as casting mystical tutor where the card was revealed, or Player B controlling an oracle of Mul Daya).

    Thanks for your reply, and overall, I definitely like the new missed trigger changes.

    1. I think that in a situation like this, player A should be mentioning something this significant and unfixable before they pass the turn, honestly.

      To answer your questions:

      1) Possibly? If they’re drawing the card quickly to try to get around the Curse, that’s certainly an issue.

      2) Yes, as noted above. The remedy for the purposeful one is quite possibly a DQ.

      3) If the card was publicly known, and nothing else has happened since, it’s pretty reasonable to mill that card as part of the trigger resolution.

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