Magic Origins Policy Changes

The New Docs


There’s a lot of changes in this IPG. It’s not as scary as it looks. Heck, if we can survive Vegas/Utrecht/Chiba, this should be cake.

There’s one major policy change, a reflowing of the whole guide to focus on infraction identification, and then the usual miscellaneous tweaks and clarifications. Don’t panic!

Rethinking Drawing Extra Cards

Here’s the big one. Traditionally, Drawing Extra Cards has been a pain point. Because of the hidden information involved, it’s hard to notice, hard to preempt, and hard to fix afterwards. As such, as long as there’s been guidelines, drawing an extra card has been a game loss, even though that penalty is out of proportion to the actual impact of the error on the game. Over the years, we’ve tried various definitions to try to mitigate the worst situations, but all efforts have either been such that it never gets applied, is difficult to understand, or produced results that seem too harsh. Now, we’re going to try something different. Drawing Extra Cards is a Warning, accompanied by revealing your hand and having the opponent choose the excess cards to shuffle back into the library

Some people see this as a philosophy change, because we have traditionally shunned “in-game fixes”. That’s not quite the case. What we want to avoid is penalties that have unpredicatable in-game impact. For example, we could add a rule that said “GRVs come with a 2 life penalty”. In some situations that’s irrelevant and, for others, it might as well be a Game Loss. That sort of inconsistency is to be avoided.

But, for Drawing Extra Cards, a couple of factors mitigate these concerns. The first is that it has traditionally been a Game Loss. No matter how painful the new remedy is for the player, it’s guaranteed to be less harsh than the current approach. The other is that the remedy is guaranteed to mitigate the advantage that can be gained from the error (except for the unusual case where the problem isn’t detected for a few turns). By allowing the opponent to choose, the judge does not have to make a strategic assessment, which is an important requirement for any penalty, as it protects the judge from accusations of bias.

Only infractions that would previously have been a game loss employ the new remedy, with a minor tweak. We’ve extended the “objects on the stack out of order” downgrade clause from the old definition to also apply to reversing instructions on a card. It reflects the idea that there’s a card waiting to be drawn, even if done with imprecision, and that’s a small disruption that doesn’t require a punitive fix.

And yes, a player can concede before revealing their hand (though they still get the Warning).

A Focus on Infraction Identification

If you look at all the changes in the document, the majority of them fall into this bucket. The good news is that they don’t represent policy change, just a streamlining. The introduction to the IPG has always been a bit all over the place – a little bit of philosophy, some encouragement, some technical details, some narrative, all blended together. That’s OK for rambling blog posts (not that I’d know anything about that), but a document about infraction identification and resolution should probably focus the opening sections on identifying infractions and providing tools for their resolution. Now, the introduction does that, focusing on when to intervene, when to deviate, and explanations of various terms that will be used in the IPG (penalty types, backups, shuffling).

As a sidenote, there is no longer a formal Caution. We haven’t used the Caution for years, and it’s arcana that’s not needed in a judge toolbox. Judges just need to understand that sometimes it’s OK to tell someone they need to stop doing something without further penalty.

We also wanted to make it clearer when upgrades or downgrades were available for an infraction. In the past, those might have been mentioned in the philosophy section, or in a random sentence in the middle of the remedy. Now, if an upgrade or downgrade is a possibility, it’s explicitly highlighted in its own section of the remedy. A judge can turn to the IPG, find an infraction that matches, and see clearly conditions that might modify the base penalty.

Miscellaneous Clarifications

  • The last remaining references to multiplayer formats have been removed. Don’t run multiplayer events at Competitive REL, m’kay?
  • The IPG is designed for use at Competitive and Professional REL. It doesn’t make much sense to have all the REL definitions in it, so those have been shifted to the MTR.
  • Speaking of the MTR, one change to highlight in there: what’s in your mana pool is free information.
  • Missed Triggers get a few clarifications, mostly around expectations for triggers with no visible effect, and triggers that happen on your opponent’s turn.
  • Going down a card for Improper Drawing at Start of Game counts as a mulligan.
  • Tardiness gets a clearer definition, though that shouldn’t change anything.
  • If a decklist is altered with basic lands because a player loses some cards, the change can be reverted without penalty at a later point. The player still needs to alert the judge that the change has been reverted.


Thanks to everyone who sent in problems, questions and suggestions for improvement. The IPG is ever-evolving and improving due to your efforts, and I hope the trend continues with this version. Special shout-outs this time to Brian Schenck and Matthew Johnson for their efforts and suggestions. They had a lot of impact on the changes you see here.

110 thoughts on “Magic Origins Policy Changes

  1. Re: drawing extra card penalty – As the opponent, am I obligated to call my opponent on drawing extra cards or can I allow it (ala missed triggers)? When the penalty is applied, do I have the option of letting my opponent keep all his cards and not shuffle anything back?

    1. If you was to not call them on it you are then cheating as well just like if someone was to gain 2 life off lifelink and you did not remind them and then took them down to 0 life when it should have been 2 life left.

  2. What about drawing an extra card when the top of your library is known, either via sensei’s top or brainstorm. I don’t like giving random shuffle effects in formats where library manipulation is one of the most important points.

    1. Shuffling has a specific definition in the IPG. It doesn’t randomize unrandom parts of the deck.

      1. So we should start tracking stuff like how many cascade cards we put on the bottom of our libraries, etc?

      2. This has always been true. Judge-shuffles have been part of the IPG for years, just mostly confined to GRVs.

        If nobody knows exactly how many cards were cascaded, the judge’ll do something approximate.

      3. But those cards might be already in hand which means they, are getting either shuffled away or stay in hand. Lets say you EOT Top, 2 of them are non-fetch lands which you dont need. You draw for your turn, “accidently” 2 cards. One of your lands get shuffled away. Good card stays on top and you got rid of useless card.
        Or is the card going back on the top since you knew what you are drawing? That would make sence, unless you knew only one of these cards, then it wouldnt be aplicable.
        (sorry, poor english)

      4. We’ll see how it goes. That seems kind of hard to pass off as an accident, though. We’ll tweak if necessary.

  3. For the DEC penalty, is it handled differently if a portion of the players hand is a known quantity already due to a thoughtseize or a Gitaxian probe.

      1. What happens if the player who draws extra cards knew the top card of his library, but his opponent did not? If they draw the card they know, no remaining portion of the deck is unrandomized, right?

        Also, does this trigger “Whenever a player shuffles his library” effects?

      2. Correct to your first sentence (if I parsed all the negatives correctly). It’s a judge shuffle, not a game shuffle, so no triggers.

  4. “Going down a card for Improper Drawing at Start of Game counts as a mulligan.”

    To be relevant if new mulligan rule is accepted post PT origins?

  5. If we become aware of DEC at a point when the player no longer has sufficient cards in hand for us to perform the new fix, what do we do then? Assuming a back up is not viable.

      1. What happens if they’re casting their last spell they drew? I.e. imagine a Sphinx’s Revelation with an empty hand. They draw 5 cards instead of 4. Then they cast those 5 cards, and it’s not until he’s casting the 5th card that I realized they drew too many. Would the spell get taken off the stack, and the card shuffled into the library, or would I be out of luck on that? A bit of a stretch yes, but mostly just curious.

      2. This one’s indeed a bit of a stretch, but if we’ve gone this far forwards, it’s probably best to leave things alone.

  6. A quick comment/concern about the DEC change. Aren’t there issues where if the top of my library is known and I draw it, it will get shuffled away?

    For instance, I scry 3, leave all three on top, and next turn I forget that my opponent Naturalized my Dictate of Kruphix out and draw a card I should not.

    Now the judge will be leaving the top card intact (because it is known), and revealing my hand to my opponent, who then chooses a card and shuffles it away beneath that known card.

    This is the result I get from putting together the policy components, but it seems strange to me. Is it intentional that there is no language saying “if the additionally drawn card was from a top of the library that was nonrandom, don’t shuffle, instead put the card chosen by the opponent back on top of the library”?

    1. I’m okay with that. It makes the penalty slightly harsher in particular situations, but remains less harsh than a game loss.

      It also seems appropriate, as drawing extra cards after scrying confers a greater potential advantage to drawing extra cards from a randomised deck.

    2. The issue here is that the player who committed the DEC is the only one who can attest to whether the chosen card(s) was part of the non-random portion of the deck, and so has room for abuse.

      If both players know what the extra card was, then we aren’t applying the new remedy anyway.

      1. The room for abuse is marginal at best. The opponent gets to choose what card goes back, so they get to pick what thing the player has access to. Plus the opponent now knows what is in their hand.

        It just feels very very strange to say “Yes, you setup your draws, but that does not matter. Yep, you are going to draw a random card faster than you would before, because you drew an extra card.”

        I don’t think this fits the goal we have for backups of making the game deviate as little from the game things should have been without the error.

  7. Was a change to ID@SoG considered given how similar that feels to DEC and how the fixes for both are now very different? Although it’s hard to argue whether a thoughtseize or hymn to tourach is worse.

      1. Shorthand for an infraction name. ID@SoG is “Improper Draw at Start of Game”, which is what we give out if you draw too many cards in your opening hand or draw on your first turn when playing. (For this to apply, you have to have taken no game actions.)

  8. When the extra card drawn is know to both player (via courser of kruphix or a reveal off counterbalance or the like), what happens? You said in a response to another question that when the identity of the drawn card is known, it is handled differently. How so?

      1. To continue with courser, the card under the extra drawn card was revealed, the extra card is returned to the top (since it is known) is the revealed card shuffled away then? Is this two violations, one for drawing and one for looking at extra cards or is in just the one?

      1. After sideboarding a free Sadistic Sacrament for the opponent in events of too many cards in deck seems in line with the DEC policy change. Maybe adding “blank cards” if the player has fewer cards in deck than they should. Just give judges a pack of white faced cards to sign and date whenever needed. No mana cost, no types, no color. Or allowing opponent to pick cards from sideboard to add into deck… Either way it’s a firm penalty with a definite disadvantage, but still allows a player to overcome the penalty and win the game.

      2. Clearly this requires figuring out Barry’s Land, so there’s a unique default card which can be added to any list.

    1. Hey we still have GRV Upgrade clause. Certain high-profile on-camera game losses are still game losses, so we can all rest easy at night.

      And with double faced cards back we have marked cards with non-opaque sleeves as an option again! Hooray?

  9. In the previous rules, if an active player “ancestral recalls” off of a brainstorm, this would just be a straight game loss (possibly a DQ?). In the new rules, does this count as 1, 2 or 3 DEC infractions? Is this 2-3 separate warnings, and thus a game loss/DQ?

    Or in this situation, does this person’s opponent look at the active players hand and pick 3 cards to shuffle back into the active player’s library?

    Thanks guys.

      1. What it seems is Madison meant they forget to put two cards from their hand back on top of their library. How will that be handled with the new rule?

    1. If the player forgets to put back cards this is not DEC, as the player was instructed to draw those cards. At the time to error is realised, the player will get a GRV and the two cards will be returned to the top immediately.

  10. You may as well stick with the game loss if your opponent gets to look at your hand and pick any card. If you would have changed it to being a card at random it would be much better. Since they get to look at your hand they will be able to see what you are playing and have a better chance at winning anyways.

    1. Even if it gives your opponent an advantage, you still have a chance at winning, which is better for you than a game loss.

    2. I agree!!!

      I dont understand why they cant just get a random card shuffled in or put on top of library. (Still not sure which option is better)

      I think thats way cleaner and easier and doesnt ruin any more integrity of the game by having to reveal your hand to an opponent for a free thoughtseize.

      1. Because then people could more easily use this to cheat:

        Your hand sucks. You draw an Extra Card, & have 1 at random shuffled back. Now you have a reasonable chance to have at least 1 good card in hand.

        Your opponent plays a turn 1 combo deck. You don’t have a Force of will in hand. You draw an Extra Card, with a small chance of it being a counterspell.
        A random card is shuffled away, so only 1/8th chance of it being the counterspell you may have drawn.

        And many other ways to ‘fix your hand’.

        Therefore, the opponent choosing the card is the only reasonable solution.

      2. Well, Gio, I guess with your solution many more players, when flooded with lands, could try draw two (or even three), then call themselves a judge for fixing their “error” (“judge, sorry, I sweat a lot and my sleeves were stick together and I drew 3 instead of 1.. please, fix it, I’m really sorry about that!”) and hope for two lands to go on top before they use the fetch they had in play since last turn..

  11. How are situations where player touch their ponder cards to their hand fixed under this change?

      1. But they don’t finish resolving the ponder at this point, right? Ponder becomes: Draw 3, your opponent gets to Coercion you twice?

      2. Seems like it would be fairly simple to make an additional case of “Illegally drawing extra cards during the process of legally looking at extra cards” that has the opponent choose the cards to put on top instead of on bottom. I’m guessing that ponder/scry effects are the #1 cause of this penalty being incurred accidentally, and it seems like the intent is not to be punitive here.

  12. I do have a concern with enforcing this at legacy events. If there is lethal damage on board against a miracles player, and the Miricles player uses a top to find a terminus, and “accidentally” puts the cards in hand after missing on terminous, the shuffle could potentially be used to find the terminous and proceed to win that game for that player. As judges, are we abe to determine when the shuffle would be beneficial to the player and deviate from the policy? Obviously after two attempts of this nature potential disqualification and investigations are in order, but what about the player who does this every other tournament? Or just on an occasional basis?

    1. Why is it taking two attempts of this nature? This looks like a possible DQ the first time they tried it.

      1. The only issue I’m concerned about here is proving intent and being able to separate when a player messes up and when they are doing it intentionally to gain an advantage.

      2. That puts judges in an awkward spot when the DEC really was an accident in this situation, doesn’t it? Now you get to choose between letting them win and DQing them, neither of which feels appropriate at all.

  13. How do we resolve the new fix after cards like oust or long term plans have recently resolved? We know what the second or third card down is, but not the top cards or the library below it.

    1. I only do player/judge splits when there are changes that players need to know about. There are none this time around.

  14. So JAR additional fix for drawing extra cards is to choose one at random and put it back on top of the library. But this fix has us shuffle it in.

    1. That is correct. The JAR and the IPG function differently because of their application to different events. This is no exception.

  15. A lot of the edge cases being brought up boil down to “but what if the shuffle is useful.” What if the opponent also gets to choose between putting it on top and shuffling it in?

  16. A player with 3 cards in hand and an Anticipate on the stack, begins to resolve Anticipate; then the player mistakenly puts the three cards into his hand. Judge is called.

    So I get his/her opponent sees all 6 cards and chooses which 3 the player keeps; however, does the player look at 3 more cards to resolve the Anticipate correctly afterwards?

  17. I am curious what the thought process was for revealing and having your opponent choose the card, rather than taking a card at random. It seems bad that the opponent can choose the kill spell or counter spell they have been holding for just an accidental draw.

    1. The thought process boiled down to “a random card would make accidentally drawing a card beneficial a lot of the time”

  18. I draw an extra card on mulligan notice it before picking up my cards do I still have to show my hand or pick up the last card and place it on top?

    1. Mulligans are handled by Improper Drawing at Start of Game, not here. If you haven’t seen the cards yet, then it’s fine and there’s no infraction.

  19. How do you handle the discovery , by counting, of an extra card drawn many turns before? Suppose also the opponent does not have cards in the hand at this point.

    1. If they have cards, they get removed as determined. If not, just issue the Warning.

      In general, most DEC is caught very quickly.

      1. I suggest the following. In order to fix the advantage got from the extra card which somehow, in the situation where the opponent does not have cards in hand, cannot be restored, the player can draw an extra card too.

  20. Second question. How do you handle the case where the opponent clearly draw an extra card on purpose?

    Example: at the end step the opponent’s hand is empty, then during my turn end step I find out there is one card in his/her hand. Clearly, if he/she gets discovered, the penalty is non-existent as the only card in his/her hand gets back in the library, so he/she could be willing to try it.

    Regarding this example. Suppose I realize the opponent has drawn an extra card. Can I wait to call the judge for a moment where it is more convenient for me to thoughtseize the opponent? For example at the end of his/her draw step? Or maybe waiting that he play a cards to see he/she draw a relevant card? Or am I supposed to play it as soon as I realize it?

    1. I bounce them from the tournament. Intentionally breaking the rule remains a DQ.

      And no, waiting to call is also something that will get investigated.

  21. The last sentence of chapter 1 of the IPG has a small error.

    “… and is sometimes used to make another portion of the proscribed remedy smoother.”

    To proscribe something is to disallow it. I think you want the word “prescribed.”

  22. I assume this doesn’t cover the GRV-upgrade for things like forgetting to reveal which creature/planeswalker/aura card Ajani found before putting it into one’s hand? Was that intentional?

      1. I don’t understand your answer for the first question. The question couldn’t be answered with a yes or no and still make sense, mainly due to the fact that the question really wasn’t a question but a statement. So in short, does this change affect the aformentioned case? If so, how? If not, why not?

  23. What about cheaters? They can now try to cheat without having to fear a GL if they are caught, they can just argue they didn’t notice and it was an honest mistake, and get a warning and thoughtseized for the extra cards instead of suffering a GL… I don’t think this change is going to be good for the community, I believe it wil embolden cheaters.
    Hopefully I’m proven wrong and this works for the best, but I believe that suffering a GL for drawing extra cards was tough but fair, and forced you to be a better, sharper player.

    1. I see where you are coming from, but in the larger spectrum, there are way more people making honest mistakes and getting GL than cheaters. That GL is a huge deal for making an honest mistake. Yes we want our players to be sharp, and hold themselves responsible, but we don’t want games decided by accidents.

  24. I believe a faster upgrade path (W->GL instead of W->W->GL) for this new DEC penalty should be considered as the potential for abuse is huge and that would hopefully help keep things somewhat in check…

  25. One question about:
    “if the cards were drawn as part of the legal resolution of an illegally played instruction” part:

    If I play Ancestrall Recall with White mana, I should get GRV Warning, DEC Warning, or both?
    What infraction is activating Chromatic Sphere, Drawing a card, and then naming a colour?

  26. What if you reveal your opponent’s hand earlier in the game, but then later on they draw extra cards, and there are some that you knew were already there but you didn’t write it down. Can’t you just pretend you don’t remember what was there so that you can pick their best cards instead of the extra cards.

  27. Still about DEC just to see if understood because the paragraph

    If the cards were drawn as part of the legal resolution of an illegally played instruction, due to a Communication Policy Violation, or were as the result of resolving objects on the stack or multiple instruction effects in an incorrect
    order, a backup may be considered and no further action is taken

    Seems to create some doubt

    Long story short
    – If the DEC is result of CPV or OOS try to backup if possible
    – If not possible and il all ohter cases fix it with opponent choice

    Am I right?

  28. The additional remedy is intended for extra draw from library, but how we apply remedy for such as example D ? In fact, I had a case in Modern PPTQ, a player is looking at the exiled card (by hideaway), then unintentionally hand shuffled with it while thinking for attack. If he would like to continue game, remedy is: reveal hands, and exile opponent selected card as hideaway card ?

  29. Why does Wizards of the Coast feel the need to continually dumb down this game? Competitive environments should be just that, competitive. I get the whole “casual player making an honest mistake” argument, but it flies in the face of the most rudimentary nature of tournaments…finding the best player from a pool of eligible players.

    If you cannot manage the simple task of letting spells resolve in the correct order, or knowing when to draw cards or not, by the very definition of competition you should be assessed a penalty that is tough, but fair.

    When you factor in the context of “intentional” vs. “unintentional” actions, I believe very strongly the impact on the game will be to let bad players continue to be bad (as the incentive for them to actually learn how to play is even further lessened) and cheaters will have a much larger incentive to “push the envelope” with what they can get away with in a competitive environment.

  30. Since replacing a lost card with a basic can be reverted, should the same be true for marked cards? The fix is identical, so, unless there is a philosophy difference, the should be able to revert both.

  31. In previous MIPG 1.1 “General philosophy” was written:
    “The level of penalty an infraction carries is based on these factors:
    •The potential for abuse (or risk of being exposed).
    •Repeated offenses by the player within the tournament.
    •The amount of disruption it causes (time and people affected) in discovering, investigating, and resolving the issue”.
    Now this paragraph dosn´t appear. Does this mean that the factors for the level of the penalty are other?

    1. No, it means that that part was distracting and unnecessary, and judges would occasionally try to reverse engineer things based on that.

  32. How would the chapin case have been resolved under the current system?

    As he was deemed to have drawn an extra card, he would have to reveal his hand, and his opponent chose a card to get shuffled back into the deck.

    However he was still resolving the ability from Ajani, so what happens as he has drawn the extra card in the middle of resolving the ability, and the other cards are now on the bottom. Would he still have to shuffle tasigur into the deck and draw NO cards from the ability? I am assuming his opponent would be forced to pick Tasigur, as otherwise he would have been shown to “cheat”, in the sense that he would otherwise pick a card he obviously know wasn’t the card drawn, even if not a cheat in the strict sense of the rules.

    While on the subject, why no changes to the definition of putting cards into your hand? One of the problems in the Chapin case was that it was obvious which card was the new one, and why he was drawing it, and the ruling that any card that touches the others count as being put into your hand means that if you keep all the cards in your hand separate for the entire game, you would never have drawn a single card over the course of the entire game, so player need to be forced to make their cards touch, as otherwise they have not been put into the hand under the current rules. Seems highly counterintuitive.

    1. The Chapin situation would be ruled identically. The infraction there was failing to reveal a card to his opponent to prove legality.

      The definition for putting cards into your hand is good. There needs to be a line somewhere, and that’s the best one there is.

  33. If I play Ancestrall Recall with White mana, I should get GRV Warning, DEC Warning, or both?
    What infraction is activating Chromatic Sphere, Drawing a card, and then naming a colour?

    Sorry, you said that they have different remedies, so they are

    – Fix with opponent choice the Ancestrall
    – Backup if possible or do nothing the Chromatic

    Is it right?

    Thank you

    1. The first is GRV. The second is DEC. They both end up in the same place, though – back up or don’t, depending on the disruption level.

  34. It seems strange to me that we can revert a decklist change for a D/DP but not for Marked Cards. Why the difference?

  35. What does “an illegally played instruction” cover exactly? My guess is cast spells and activated abilities, but not triggered abilities?

    1. Something where resolving the effect is legal according to the current game state, but getting there was not. So, Divination for 1U, etc.

  36. So, with the ability to change your decklist back if you add lands at one point but later find replacement cards in 3.5 TE — Deck/Decklist Problem, was 3.8 TE — Marked Cards intentionally kept to NOT allow this, or is this just an oversight?
    It seems to me that both 3.5 and 3.8 are addressing accidental mistakes, 3.8 is even more ‘accidental’ as it talks about cards damaged during play.

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