First of all, go read the Policy Changes – For Players. That’ll cover those pretty clearly. Don’t worry, we’ll still be here when you return.
Back? Great, we have three more meaty topics to dive into. It looks like more in the changelog, but some of that was just grammatical cleanup and clarifications, and having to move a section to fill a hole.
The first change is in the Deck/Decklist Problems section. It’s a short change, but has big philosophical implications: Head Judges now have the latitude to downgrade decklist errors where they believe that the mistake could not be used to gain any advantage.
Constructed decklists exist in a painful spot. The vast, vast majority of errors are clerical – someone has a momentary brain freeze and writes down the wrong thing or gets distracted and doesn’t complete the card name. Those, we don’t want to penalize much, but not penalizing opens the door to hard-to-discover abuses, and general laziness when filling out the decklist. We want players to be clear what they’re playing, but, once that obligation has been fulfilled, Head Judges now have the option to forgive obvious errors.
What is acceptable will vary a little from judge to judge, and so the safest course of action remains writing down the full, correct card names. One heuristic I use is “would this be obvious to someone who had a passing familiarity with the format?” Here’s some things that I would allow in appropriate contexts:
- U/B Scryland
- Underground River
- 4x Pack Rat, 4x Pack Rat (in a deck that adds up to 64 registered)
Some of these I would deckcheck, though!
Here’s some I would still issue a GL for:
- Cranial Extraction (when they’re playing Surgical Extraction)
- 4x Pack Rat, 4x Pack Rat (in a deck that adds up to < 64)
Use your judgement, but don’t spend a ton of time trying to figure out what a player means. Ultimately, it’s their responsibility to be clear and if you’re taking time, they’ve not held up their end.
We’re down an infraction this time – Failure to Follow Official Announcements has been removed. This came about because we realized that the infraction was almost always confined to two situations – someone breaking venue rules, and someone messing up an announced sealed registration process. The former are mostly a TO issue; obviously we want judges to get involved as needed, but it can be handled on a case-by-case basis outside the framework. The latter were a natural fit for Draft Procedure Violation (now renamed to Limited Procedure Violation to reflect the slightly wider scope). We’re always interested in finding ways to make the document shorter and more intuitive, and this met both criteria.
Finally, we’ve revamped how to handle a player failing to follow a judge’s instruction. Over the years, this infraction drifted a long way from its original intention. It started life as a way to give some extra teeth to direct, actionable instructions from judges, who should expect their orders to be followed. Instructions like “I need you to leave this area right now.”
Over the years, this has evolved into more of a catchall for judge reminders. A player breaks a rule that doesn’t have an infraction, you remind them that they shouldn’t do it and if they do it again, UC – Major gets invoked. That’s very harsh – many times they don’t mean to commit an infraction – but the handling of it didn’t change to reflect the new reality. This update – moving it from UC Major to UC Minor – addresses that. You still have the weight of an upgrade path behind you when you really need it, but when you ask them to do something, now you warn them first when they fail to do it.
As always, thanks to all the judges who made suggestions and raised issues. In particular, I’d like to thank Evan Cherry for his thoughts and observations during our pre-L3-interview discussions that got the ball rolling on some of these changes. If you see something that could be improved, speak up!