The Battle for Zendikar has been unleashed on us, and that means it’s time for an Eldrazi-sized policy update! Just kidding; it’s not as big as the last one, but there are still a few things to… process. Ahem.
When we released the Origins update, we had the big change to Drawing Extra Cards policy. At the time, we didn’t know how it would be received by the players, so we were conservative about what it applied to. After seeing it in action for a few months and talking to players about it, I’m happy to say it’s been received well and we’re expanding Drawing Extra Cards in several interesting ways.
DEC now applies to situations in which a player put a card in their hand that they were supposed to first reveal in order to prove that putting it there was legal. That one is straightforward. The player reveals their hand and the opponent chooses a card to be shuffled back into the library. Note that in this, and all other situations where this correction is used, the action that led to the problem is not repeated. So, if I activate Domri Rade, look at the top card and put it into my hand, a card from my hand goes back into the library, but I don’t get to try again with the next card. Moving this to DEC also means that the can’t-verify-legality upgrade in GRV becomes explicitly about how to handle illegally-played morphs.
DEC now also covers situations where a player is instructed to do something with the top N cards of their library and does it for too many. So, for example, I cast Dig Through Time and take 8 cards off the top of my library. We apply the DEC fix, but we apply it to that set of cards! So, you reveal the 8, your opponent selects one of them to be shuffled back in, and you continue resolving Dig Through Time as normal.
Be a little careful in situations where a dexterity error leads to a card being knocked off the top of the library at the end, but not added to the set of cards under consideration. That’s still Looking at Extra Cards. It’s most likely to come up with scry. Pulling the top card off for a Scry 1 and knocking the next one over is not the same as accidentally Scrying 2.
Finally, there was a lot of confusion over which GRV-style errors fell under DEC and which fell under GRV. If I cast a Mulldrifer for 4R and drew two cards, where did it fall? Honestly, it wasn’t that important, since the remedy was the same in both locations, but we’ve cleaned that up. Now, any GRV that directly leads to a card draw is treated as Drawing Extra Cards, with the traditional back-up-or-leave-as-is remedy. We think it’ll be helpful to track players who make a series of errors that are leading to them drawing extra cards, even if the error was not the card draw itself.
Phew, that’s a big change. Good thing that’s all we need to handle this… wait, did somebody say Scry?
So, as of Origins, Scry is evergreen. That means it’ll show up in most sets, along with our brand new shiny mulligan that everyone got to use over the weekend. But, that’s not the only effect that Scry becoming evergreen has. It also means that the barrier for making official shortcuts is lowered a bit, and so we’ve added one that essentially make Scry optional. If you don’t do it, we assume you did and left things as is. This applies to mulligans and scrying in the game. To not take up too much of your headspace, we removed a shortcut to compensate, and the winner there was the “no attacks” shortcut which… didn’t really do anything. It was just there as a standardized interpretation of a phrase that wasn’t causing any confusion. That’s not enough in this scion eat scion shortcut world.
Beyond that, there’s the usual grammar cleanup and rephrasing things to make them clearer, especially for non-native English speakers. And then there’s a few quick tweaks. Highlights:
- It’s no longer legal to bribe a judge. Bet you hadn’t realized it was previously, in which case carry on. It’s also no longer legal to offer your opponent $20 to not block.
- The Head Judge now has the option to ignore incorrect basic lands on a limited decklist where the intent is obvious. This pretty much exclusively applies to something like a player marking “8 swamps, 9 islands” in a U/W deck. You now have the ability to say “well, that should obviously be 8 plains” and let it go. If there’s any chance of ambiguity (say 8 swamps, 9 islands, 1 plains in a UWb deck), you should apply the penalty as normal.
- If you back up a Communication Policy Violation, just back it up to the point at which the bad information was acted upon, not all the way back to the original question.
- Thanks to the many, many people who wrote in to point out that we had inconsistent rules for replacing lost cards and replacing marked cards. We no longer do. Similarly, thanks to the other legion who wrote in about “simple backups” versus “small backups”.
- We all spent the weekend gleefully violating the MTR, which told us that we were not allowed to use Zendikar Expeditions during the prerelease. That’s all covered now. Speaking of gleefully violating things, the existence of all the prerelease promos technically meant you could run the new Ulamog in Legacy last weekend (but only the promo version!) We’ve revamped the criteria for Legacy and Vintage to avoid such silliness in the future. Being a promo makes no difference any more; Vintage and Legacy cards are now defined by their existence in a released set… plus the book promos. The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice two tremendously important things: that Mana Crypt is double-banned in Legacy (it remains on the banlist to be clear, even though the card is not legal in the format) and that the 1996 World Champion card is now banned in Vintage. We felt that was a better solution than power-level errata.
- The appendix covering the Rules Enforcement Level of various programs is now in the MTR. Which is really where it should have been all along.
And that’s a wrap! It’s a lot to ingest, but if you go study the new DEC rules, you’ll be covered for most of what you need to know this time around. Thanks to everyone who sent in ideas and suggestions. We couldn’t do it without all of you, but shout-outs to Matthew Johnson, Sean Hunt, Antonio Jose Rodriguez Jimenez, Jeff Morrow, Matteo Callegari, Daniel Kitachewsky, Will Anderson and Bryan Prillaman. Especially Bryan, whose Annotated IPG team has to put up with all these shenanigans.
I look forward to hearing how these changes work in practice and hopefully the Oath of the Gatewatch policy update will involve a minimum of swearing.