Tweaking the new DEC Rules

With the Battle for Zendikar update, we made some changes to the Drawing Extra Cards infraction, and having seen it in action for a couple weeks, it’s clear that the change isn’t as clear as we’d hoped it would be, and that lack of clarity is causing confusion. More problematically, that confusion is getting in the way of understanding of the philosophy – why is this particular thing in Drawing Extra Cards and not elsewhere?

In particular, the last line talks about “performing actions on cards on the top of your library”. Unfortunately, that can be reasonably read to cover things like milling and ingesting, which was not the intent when we wrote it. While the remedy “works” on those errors, it distracts from why this paragraph is there in the first place. Those aren’t, philosophically, Drawing Extra Cards.

To understand Drawing Extra Cards, we need to look at the fundamental nature of the infraction and what makes it so problematic. It comes down to the hand being an unordered zone that is not visible to the opponent. Thus, as soon as a card enters it, it becomes indistingushable from all the others, which makes fixing the error a challenge. Having the opponent remove a card is an ingenious solution; it doesn’t attempt to “fix” the error, but mitigates it to the point that there’s no advantage to a player who accidentally makes the error. This lets us avoid the game loss which used to be the answer to the unfixable state.

Now, consider Dig Through Time. When it resolves, I look at the top seven cards of my library. How do I do that? I pick up seven unordered cards that I can see, but my opponent can not. Functionally, that’s a hand! If an extra card enters that set, then it looks exactly like drawing a card into your regular hand, and the opponent cannot verify which was most recently drawn, as, to them, they all appear the same. Because of the structural similarities, it makes sense to apply a similar remedy, even though the game instruction is “look”.

Unfortunately, we tried to get too cute with our wording in an attempt to futureproof for other instructions that weren’t “look” but philosophically fell here, and instead muddied this message. Trying to fit “reveal” in as well didn’t help. In the end, a reveal doesn’t make sense here anyway. When you reveal cards, the opponent can see their sequence. So, we’re going to issue an IPG update.

The new text of that last line reads:

If a player is instructed to look at a set of cards on top of his or her library in order to perform further actions on them and they look at too many cards, the infraction is Drawing Extra Cards, but any remedy is applied to that set of cards. This does not apply to a dexterity error where the additional card is clearly separate from the ones being looked at.

Hopefully, this wording change will create the infraction we originally envisioned, one that’s philosophically consistent and makes sense in application. Thanks to everyone who expressed concern, helped us make sense of what was confusing people and offered suggestions for improvement.

8 thoughts on “Tweaking the new DEC Rules

  1. Perhaps it should just be “performs an action to a set of cards on top of his or her library in order to perform further actions on them and they look at too many cards where the opponent cannot see the contents of the cards”

    I think that’s the intention right? This covers in case they make more cards that exile cards face down from the top of the library.

  2. How strict are we on the word “look”? Aven Mindcensor causes an effect nearly identical to Dig Through Time, but the instruction is “search” rather than “look”. Technically different, functionally identical.

    Of course, it also seems incredibly excessive to allow the opponent to look at a player’s entire deck and set aside all but four cards for them to search.

    1. I don’t think trying to apply this to situations where someone forgets about Mindcensor are terribly productive.

  3. How do you handle situations where the action has already been performed, then the mistake is caught? Like, for example, you cast DTT, look at 8 cards, pick two and mix with your hand, and as you’re reorganizing the cards you notice there are too many cards going to the bottom?


  4. Hi, I was thinking and wondering about the confusion it may cause to players during the delivery of a ruling. “Ok you were supposed to look at 7 cards, and you looked at 8 cards. You’ll receive a Warning for Drawing Extra Cards”. Does it make sense? Why not to put the fix under L@EC? Or maybe change the name of the infraction.

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