There’s no update for players; no policy changed that affects them, though we’re officially taking a dim view of players who create a toxic play environment. Carry on being awesome at Magic tournaments and you don’t have anything new to worry about.
There are a few implementation changes to talk about, though, including three pieces we’ve rewritten to be clearer. Improper Drawing at Start of Game has always been a bit of a mishmash, with different approaches depending on whether the offender is the starting player and/or the game has begun. That was trying to be too precise and just ended up unnecessarily confusing. Now, it simply applies to any player who hasn’t taken another game action, and you shuffle an extra card back regardless of the situation.
The “joint responsibility” Game Rule Violation has been modified. It’s been made clearer that both players have to be actively involved in the error. For example, if I control a Grafdigger’s Cage and you reanimate a creature, it was previously ambiguous whether I controlled “the effect that caused the infraction,” and that was never the intent. It should only apply when one player performs a one-shot effect and the other player gets involved in completing it (subsequently making a mistake).
The final piece of clarification is in the new Decklist Error philosophy that allows a judge to treat an “obvious” decklist as the decklist, even if it isn’t technically correct. The idea here is simply that the decklist is a tool to record the contents of the deck, and as long as it is fulfilling that function, we’re not going to get hung up on the technical accuracy. Unfortunately, the first version used a couple of loaded phrases (notably “clerical error” and “potential for advantage”) that sent people in the wrong direction; those have been removed in favor of a more straightforward version. Also, since the Head Judge is asserting they they know what the decklist says, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be issuing a penalty at all.
Finally, we have the substantial policy revision for this release. Unsporting Conduct – Major has been completely revamped and now focuses on players creating a toxic environment through their words and actions. The DCI has zero tolerance for threats, harassment and bullying and judges are expected to act swiftly to prevent a situation from escalating. This includes removing the player from any match in which they may have committed the offense, so the penalty has been upgraded to a match loss. Sean has written a bunch more about this – check it out!
Thanks to everyone who asked questions or sent in suggestions. In particular, shout-outs to Cristiana Dionisio, Tasha Hayashi and Sean Catanese for their work in pulling these updates together. Enjoy your M15 events, and hopefully I’ll see some of you at GP Portland!