Do Not Pass Go

Recently there’s been a rise in questions about the processes around going to combat. I think it’s due to the presence of Vehicles, though they’re no different than creature lands, and we’ve had those in every format for quite some time. Since people are talking about it again, this is an opportunity to explain why we have the shortcut, how it works in practice, and why we have such a hard line.

Kevin Desprez wrote an excellent article delving into this. I encourage you to read that. I’ll cover some of the same ground here by way of reinforcement, and add my own thoughts, some more background, and answer a few questions that have caused confusion since Kevin wrote that.

To summarize the effect of the shortcut for those who might now know about it: the active player can’t request to move priority to beginning of combat without stating what they are doing there. They’re assumed to be passing priority after whatever statement they make.

One thing that I think is important to highlight: despite the occasional grumble, things are working very well. Some complaints are due to bad information or a misunderstanding, and we’ll try to address them below. The current rules play out naturally and problems rarely come up in game play. Most objections are theoretical, revolving around the fact that you’re technically able to do these things, not that there’s intrinsic value to allowing it.

A Brief History of Why We Care

Back in the prehistoric ages of Magic, the following exchange was common:

“Use Icy Maniuplator to tap down your Ironclaw Orcs”
“OK, that happens. Since we’re still in my main phase, I’ll cast Ball Lightning. Combat?”

There was a more subtle variant that arose in the paleozoic era:

“Cryptic Command your team”
“OK, resolves. I’ll activate Mutavault and attack with it”

Do you see it? It’s sneaky, since that looks totally fine. But let’s flip the script.

“Activate my Mutavault and attack with my team”


“Attack with these creatures”

Now do you see it? The active player has used ambiguity to give themselves an additional priority pass, and the non-active player can only defend against it by being extremely technical. If the active player wants to attack with their creatures and their Mutavault, they can force the non-active player to act first (or know the extremely precise terms that get them out of it) and still benefit if the opponent doesn’t have a trick.

To put it another way: the non-active player holding a Cryptic Command should be able to choose whether the creatures attack or the Mutavault attacks (or neither if the active player is greedy). The active player’s choice should be activating the mutavault (and risk being blown out by Cryptic Command) or risking only being able to attack with their other creatures. But the ambiguity of priority there allows them to upend this.

This is not a style of game play we want to encourage, but we want to encourage organic play which does sometimes generate ambiguous communication. A Japanese player and a German player should be able to play a game of Magic with just a few basic shared terms. All players shouldn’t constantly have to be on guard for tricky phrasing which leads them to doing something at a time they didn’t think they were doing it.

The Two Underlying Philosophies

With very few exceptions, the non-active player doesn't want to act in active player's main phase.

Really, they don’t. And, if they do, they’re going to tell you to stop doing what you’re trying to do in combat and be clear that they’re acting in main phase. They want to act (if at all) right before you declare your attackers.

Asking the non-active player for permission to go from a game state where you have priority to a game state where you have priority is a waste of time. It either accomplishes nothing, or confuses them into doing something in main phase when they think they’re in combat. And, because the non-active player can only interact by using instants and activated abilities, it is rare that there’s a functional difference for the active player between acting in main phase and acting in combat. We can see this from normal play, where it is unusual for the active player to separate the two (“Draw, crew my vehicle, attack?”). As moving the turn forward while retaining priority is (usually) pointless, AP needs to demonstrate a compelling reason that they need do so.

With very few exceptions, the burden is on the active player is to act first.

This is how Magic is structured. The active player – who controls the entire flow of the turn – has to tip their hand first. Being able to get out of this responsibility is a huge advantage. We often talk about a player baiting a response from an opponent, but this should be done through action. The active player should not be able to bait their opponent through inaction.

The aforementioned “Draw, crew, attack?” is a feature, not a bug. It’s how we want players to play, because it preserves the active player’s burden while simplifying communication. By being strict here, there’s no ambiguity to exploit from phrasing, and that encourages this preferred, more natural, style of play.

Those “Very Few Exceptions”

There are a few situations where the active player does have a good reason to move to the beginning of combat without revealing what they want to do. The most common one is when the non-active player has mana floating. In this situation, all the active player needs to do is explain why it’s relevant that they move the priority marker. “Do you want to do anything with that floating mana before we move to combat” is an acceptable way of explicitly moving to beginning of combat while retaining priority.

This makes sense in the context of responsibilities. Because of the floating mana, the burden of acting first has fallen on the non-active player. This inverts the communication dynamic, which makes it reasonable for the active player to demand action rather than the non-active player.

Yes, You Can Act in Beginning of Combat

One confusion that has arisen is the idea that the shortcuts we have in place mean that the active player can never do anything in the beginning of combat. That’s completely wrong, and, in general, the default assumption is that they’re doing things that are logical to do then. For example, a player untaps, draws a card, then activates a Needle Spires. They haven’t said anything, but absent other information, we’ll usually agree it was at the beginning of combat (edit for clarification: if they want it to be. We’re not committing them to be in declare attackers here.)

If a player wants to be clear that they’re doing something in their beginning of combat, all they need to do is say so! “Beginning of combat, activate my Wandering Fumarole” is not merely allowed, but encouraged. The active player has made it clear what is happening while acknowledging their need to act first.

Triggers Are Still Around

The default when moving to beginning of combat is to move there with the non-active player having priority. It’s important to realize that this doesn’t mean any triggers have been missed. Once the non-active player passes back, “OK, Toolcraft Exemplar’s trigger resolves, I crew this Renegade Freighter” is a fine line of play, even if the non-active player didn’t realize this was going to happen. It doesn’t generate a priority that wouldn’t be there naturally.

One word of caution, though. A trigger that requires a target needs to be acknowledged as part of moving to combat. That’s because targeted triggers need to be acknowledged before passing priority.

So Why Not Just Have a Phrase That Lets You Explicitly Have Priority in Beginning of Combat?

I hope that this article has helped explain how unnecessary that is. More importantly, establishing that some phrases are OK empowers people to figure out what the most ambiguous thing they can get away with is. We’re not interested in enabling that line of thinking. Ultimately, Magic should be a game of strategic thinking, not an exercise in grammar, and putting in this hard line improved the game dramatically. One of the arguments for removing or loosening this shortcut is that “nobody tries this sort of thing.” But, there’s a reason for that!

Not to mention all the rules calls where you’d need to parse exactly what was said (and the players won’t agree), possibly in French.

The MTR Doesn’t Explicitly Support This Position

Agreed. Well, it doesn’t refute it, but over the years, we’ve come to adopt the hardest-line stance suggested by it. I’m looking at ways to rework the shortcut to make it clear that there really isn’t a secret phrase that’s worth trying here. The clearer it is that there’s no edge to be had here, the less people will be incentivized to try.

67 thoughts on “Do Not Pass Go

  1. Hi Toby!
    One of the most common example made recently on this topic is about the Goblin Rubblemaster trigger. Here’s the scenario:
    AP: “Combat?”
    NAP: “Bolt on your Rubblemaster”.
    AP: “Ok, here’s the Goblin Token from its triggered ability.”
    NAP: “No, I bolted it before the ability triggered!”

    Quoting this sentence: “With very few exceptions, the non-active player doesn’t want to act in active player’s main phase.”
    I believe that here we are in one of the rare occasions in which NAP really wanted to act in AP’s pre-combat main phase.
    How should we handle this situation?
    Must NAP clarify that he’s acting in AP’s main phase in order to obtain this result?
    Or can we assume that he actually bolted the Rubblemaster in AP’s mainphase even if he said nothign about it (and rule in NAP favore then)?

    TD; DR: can this scenario be an one of the “few exceptions” the philosophy speak about and how should we deal with it?

    Thanks for your help. 🙂


    1. Goblin Rabblemaster is possibly the most notable exception. But we do ask the non-active player to be clear here.

      1. So is it correct to agree with NAP version (“I bolted it in AP’s main phase”) even if he said nothing specific about it?
        Or must we rule that NAP acted in BoC anyway?

        Thanks 🙂

      2. When do you ask the non-active player to be clear? After the active player tries to cast a post Bolt Mantis Rider and the non-active player declines, because they supposedly are in the beginning of combat phase?

      3. Personally, I think if AP wants to cast a post bolt Mantis Rider, a quick “are you doing that in main phase or combat” goes a long way. It’s basically win-win for them.

  2. “Once the non-active player passes back, “OK, Toolcraft Exemplar’s trigger resolves, I crew this Renegade Freighter” is a fine line of play, even if the non-active player didn’t realize this was going to happen.”

    Can you clarify the context of this? If I have Toolcraft Exemplar and Renegade Freighter and asks to go to combat, and my opponent says ok, can I still activate the Freighter?

      1. What if I have Toolcraft Exemplar and Mutavault and asks to go to combat? Can I activate Mutavault after my opponent says ok?

  3. I find it very strange that we can have “an acceptable way of explicitly moving to beginning of combat while retaining priority” in the form of a question that hardly implies intention of changing phases or retaining priority, but literally saying “I want to move to beginning of combat and retain priority” doesn’t seem work.

    1. I think the floating mana question makes it very clear what you’re trying to do. I guess we’ll differ there.

      1. Follow up, how do you feel about, “move to beginning of combat, I have effects before attacks,”?

      2. I feel like you should then tell us what the effects are rather than wasting time. Plus, see the section on why we don’t have a special code.

  4. There are a lot of commonly accepted shortcuts which are not part of the MTR and I would love to see them added. In particular “I’ll take X” and variations meaning “no blocks”or “done blocking”.

    1. We generally only add shortcuts when there’s an argument to be made the other way. I don’t see much of a one for “I’ll take X”!

  5. If both players agree and clearly demonstrate that they are aware of what is happening and what it means, would you allow them to enter Beginning of Combat without AP giving a reason? Would this essentially be them replacing an MTR shortcut with a new shortcut (that shortcut being more of a longcut)?

    1. If both players agree, it seems unlikely that a judge is getting involved, so the point is moot. I’m also not sure why players would bother to agree.

      1. Seems silly, but I’ve had players who know the O on this one call me to ask if they can agree to do it “the way they’re used to.” Though I think in most cases we’re never involved, you’re right.

  6. What about alchemist’s vial?
    Does the active player declare his attackers and then have to back up up so that a “target” can’t attack? Should the NAP know what is attacking before being able to decide whether to use the effect or not? To flip this, quite often things that cause target creature to not be able to block this turn are usually done before they are (or even could be) declared as blockers.

    1. I think you’re misreading. The entire point of this shortcut is so that the non-active player knows with confidence when to use Alchemist’s Vial. They can safely do it when the opponent says “go to combat?” or such.

      1. It was “the active player can’t request to move priority to beginning of combat without stating what they are doing there” that throws me, do I have to say move to combat and attack with creatures x,y,z or can I just ask to move to combat? (knowing that they can in fact do things before I declare attackers within the combat step.)

      2. You can ask to move to combat. But, if your opponent has no responses, the next thing you’re doing is declaring attackers.

  7. For example, a player untaps, draws a card, then activates a Needle Spires. They haven’t said anything, but absent other information, we’ll usually agree it was at the beginning of combat.

    This doesn’t seem quite right. I would think we would assume it’s happening in Main 1 unless proven otherwise, or alternately, ask AP when they’re acting if it is relevant. Since we generally agree there’s no reason why AP would want to act in BoC, why would we assume that he is absent any communication?

    1. Why would we assume it’s happening in main 1? I don’t think that’s where most players would think it’s happening if asked.

      1. Well we might disagree on what “most players” think, but isn’t the whole point of this shortcut that we expect AP to do all their creature land activating in Main 1, then say “Combat?”, let NAP do whatever in BoC, and then declare attacks? The combat shortcut assumes, unless AP specifies otherwise, that AP is not doing anything in BoC. If AP wants to, he has to say something like “in BoC, activate X”, or “do you want to do anything before your mana pool empties?” So it seems like that’s the exception, and the default should be that they’re acting in Main 1.

        Saying that the default is that they’re acting in precombat main means that the default is that they’re giving up the ability to cast non-instants before combat. That’s an incorrect play, and if we’re going to require APs to explicitly say “in my main phase” before activating any creature land or risk losing the ability to stay in their main phase, it seems like that should be written in policy and publicized a bit more widely.

        Does this apply only to activating creature lands? Does it apply to Encircling Fissure (Instant, Awaken 2)? Does it apply to Turn Against (Instant, gain control of target creature, it gains haste)? Expedite (Instant, target creature gains haste, draw a card)?

      2. “isn’t the whole point of this shortcut that we expect AP to do all their creature land activating in Main 1, then say “Combat?”,”

        No, and I think that’s why there’s all this confusion going around that is leading players down rabbit holes about never getting a beginning of combat step.

        I’m not saying that we assume a player who activates a Needle Spires is committed to Beginning of Combat. I’m saying that if they say they were activating it in beginning of combat, we’ll side with them.

      3. The activating player made no indication to move to beginning of combat, and is generally incentivized to have done it in the main phase. If my opponent activates and I’m deciding whether to Stifle it, I would assume by default that my opponent has the ability to play a land or cast Rabid Bite after activating, before attacking. Why wouldn’t I?

      4. I think it would be generally assumed that it was happening in main 1 as that gives the AP the most options. If s/he is activating needle spires at BoC s/he can only use ainstant speed effects, whereas in main 1 the option is still there to cast a sorcery. I activate needle spires and my opponent grasp of darknesses it, I want to have the option to cast sorceries before combat step, I’m not sure why the active player would ever wait until BoC for activation (since opponents can only use instants anyway)

  8. You stated

    “the default assumption is that they’re doing things that are logical to do then. For example, a player untaps, draws a card, then activates a Needle Spires. They haven’t said anything, but absent other information, we’ll usually agree it was at the beginning of combat.”

    I’m confused as to why we assume they are acting in beginning of combat. Normally after drawing a card, we are in the players’ main phase. Why does activating a man land shortcut directly to beginning of combat? Does the same apply to all instants and activated abilities?

    1. It doesn’t shortcut explicitly. They might drop a land after activating, at which point it’s clear where it’s happening. But if they go straight from activate into attacks, it’s pretty reasonable to consider the activation to have happened at beginning of combat if they say that’s where it was happening.

      1. I’m not exactly comfortable with Heisenberg’s Combat Step here in the way you’ve described it. You’ve described a situation in which the step or phase that an ability is happening in depends on what the player does after that ability resolves. But we have an interest in minimizing communication disputes – it’s helpful to us if we can tell, without asking AP “is there anything else you want to do?”, where in the turn we are. And it’s best for everyone if the opponent can tell where we are without guessing or tipping their hand.

        What if this creates a communication dispute before we learn if AP intends to do anything else. If we’re just going to ask AP where we are, what purpose does your statement serve? If a player read your blog post, encountered that situation, and Icy Manipulator’s the Mutavault in response (because he “knows” it’s BoC, and maybe he doesn’t want AP to be able to Crew anything with it. I don’t know.) That player is gonna feel really confused and a bit betrayed when the judge explains that actually, that isn’t a real shortcut, and if AP wants it to be his Main Phase, it is.

        To be clear, I’m fine with it being AP’s main phase if AP wants it to be. I’m not on board with communicating that we might assume that AP is acting in the BoC when AP has not communicated that, and has no incentive to be in BoC.

      2. Let me ask a different question, in the hopes of understanding where this came from. If they go right from activating into attacks, why does it matter what phase the activation happened in?

        Does a “shortcut” like “if the non active player casts a spell or activates an ability after the active player draws, but before combat, they are assumed be be acting in the Beginning of Combat unless specified otherwise” – that’s not a suggestion, I’m just wondering if that’s the idea you were trying to express with that paragraph.

      3. It doesn’t. But telling them that they can’t do things in beginning of combat is misleading. I’ve edited that bit for clarity.

      4. Your Needle Spires example is very confusing. If the NAP would (like you) assume, that the activation is during BoC then there is no risk, that the AP could cast a Bone Splinters before combat. Normally in Main Phase 1 the NAP would cast a Aether Tradewinds on the Needle Spires before the ability resolves to prevent his creature from the Bone Splinters.
        Other example?
        1. Modern Infect player untap, draw, active Inkmoth Nexus, cast Might of Old Krosa on it. Obviously during his Main Phase.
        2. Affinity player active Inkmoth Nexus (third artifact), use his Mox Opal as last mana source to equip his Cranial Plating for 1 Mana to the Nexus.
        The NAP would probably act differently in each of these situations if he assume, that the activation happens not until BoC.

      5. I’ve updated that section to remove the confusion. I simply meant that if they said they were doing it in beginning of combat, we’d agree with them.

  9. I enjoyed reading this. I support the hard-line stance on this rule, and I really love the philosophy of encouraging a natural flow to the game, where players aren’t forced to know every single technicality in order to protect themselves. Along those lines, I was a bit surprised by something I read in the “triggers are still around” section…

    Example: I have two Smugglers Copters and two Toolcraft Exemplars, and I suspect that my opponent has one or more instant-speed removal spells. I crew one of the Copters and say “Combat,” (and pass priority). My opponent says, “Okay.” Now I can say, “After the Toolcraft Exemplars trigger, I crew my other Copter and attack with both.” Am I interpreting the rules correctly? If so, this feels like a bit of a loophole, and I wish the rules asked the Toolcraft Exemplar player to be a bit more precise.

    Following up on the Goblin Rabblemaster question, I once witnessed a very interesting scenario. Player A casts Goblin Rabblemaster, Player B says, “Before combat, Lightning Strike.” Both players agree that the Rabblemaster was killed in the precombat mainphase. The following turn, Player A gets ready to attack with a vanilla creature and Player B says, “Before combat, Lightning Strike.” Now Player A wants to cast Stormbreath Dragon in his precombat mainphase and be allowed to attack. Do the same words used twice in a row by Player B have to be ruled as meaning the same thing? Or is the intent is clearly different enough on the two different turns that we should interpret the Lightning Strike as being cast during the beginning of combat step in the latter case?

    1. You are correct on the Exemplars. It’s a bit of a loophole, but it’s the only thing that makes logical sense at that point.

      The second scenario is challenging and I go back and forth on a right answer here. I do think that we should aggressively default to acting in combat unless there’s obvious intent otherwise, but using the exact same phrase to mean two different things is certainly pushing it! I’ll usually come down on the side of NAP, who needs protecting, and try to figure out what they thought they were doing. If they just weren’t thinking about it, I might go against them here, though.

      Good question, though. I’m stealing it to torture judgelings.

    2. That first situation is a pretty big loophole, but it’s a hard one to close. I wonder what the impact would be of changing the shortcut to “pass priority until the first time the opponent would have priority on an empty stack in the beginning of combat step”? I’ve seen it suggested, but haven’t really seen a serious discussion on the merits.

      It closes the loophole, making it consistent that AP will not get priority again after saying “Combat” unless the opponent does something. But, it also makes it easier for AP to miss his beginning of combat triggers, since he would have to acknowledge them pretty much right away, right?

  10. “For example, a player untaps, draws a card, then activates a Needle Spires. They haven’t said anything, but absent other information, we’ll usually agree it was at the beginning of combat.”

    I don’t understand this part. There is rarely a reason to activate at the beginning of combat instead of the first main phase, so why is it assumed that priority has passed and we’ve moved to combat? On MTGO, I don’t have a Beginning of Combat stop so I always activate during my first main phase, and I believe most of my opponents do too. And consider the case that I want to activate and cast Rabid Bite. I can’t think of a realistic situation offhand where I’d want to move to beginning of combat before activating.

  11. Can I say that I want to do something in beginning of combat without specifying what it is beforehand?

    1. No, that’s the point of this article. You can only do that if you can explain why it matters (which is usually floating mana).

      1. So you’re not ok with priority passes in the main phase? What warning would you prescribe for a player who does so?

      2. There is no warning. They may just find they’ve passed priority in beginning of combat and missed the chance to do things before declaring attackers.

      3. The fact that you can communicate perfectly clearly, and still be considered to be doing something incorrect really bothers me.
        Also, the reason why this is coming up is (probably) because it was discussed in the LRR preprerelease.
        For the record, everyone except the judge explaining it said lol what?
        It’s a nice thing you’re trying to do here, but it’s deeply unintuitive and works counter to the way the game normally works.
        I’m not sure if there’s another rule that’s more likely to trip up players who know the rules (except this specific detail of the TR) than players who don’t.
        The fact everyone’s saying huh about the spire needles example is also indicative that this does not work the way people think it should.

        The fact that “move to beginning of combat, maintaining priority, I have effects” is now ambiguous is just so, so awful.

      4. Does the same apply in other steps that are usually shortcutted away? E.g. is “I have effects in your upkeep” legal?

        If I have two different manlands, can I say “in beginning of combat I want to activate a manland”, or do I have to specify which?

  12. This is the one concept that really bugged me as a new player and still does to this date. No where in any rules and policy documents are all the assumed shortcuts outlined however everyone is expected to know and understand them and judges will inforce them. Yet the rules explicitly say I have priority at the beginning of combat and if I want to move from my main phase to the begining of the combat phase I am being told that I am in fact moving from the main phase to the declare attackers step which I feel and the rules tell me is intrinsically wrong. But because it’s a shortcut that most of the herd use even though it’s not in any rules document I am being told I am wrong therefore it needs to be put in the rules documents or I and a lot of newer players will continually argue the point over and over again. Or this issue will continue to arise over and over and over

    1. The shortcuts are in the magic tournament rules (chapter 4.2).

      And to my understanding, these are no artifical shortcuts like someone decided “That’s a good shortcut”. They came from “99% of the players communicate like this and expect the situation to be this after their words”. The shortcuts are there to make this communication stand on a solid ground and to avoid people nitpicking about technical details of the rules to gain an advantage. Especialy in international tournaments where people are talking in a non native language, allowing people to gain advantage by communicating about technical details is something that I would realy dislike.

  13. If this is how you want the game to work, then remove that portion of the combat step, unless there is an appropriate trigger, similar to the way priority after cleanup works. Otherwise, people will be confused and angry on one side of the issue or the other depending on card interactions.

    1. I think you drastically overestimate how much power I have.

      I suspect that the combat step might look pretty different if Magic was starting from scratch. But, it’s not, so we live with it.

      1. Also, (essentially) removing the BoC would have pretty drastic balancing issues, as AP can then cast haste-creatures after NAP has tapped all his guys with Cryptic.

        The rules governing Priority, especially in combat, aren’t always that simple (as seen in this article), and if you know them in detail, you will have an advantage, yes.
        But Superior rulesknowledge is considered a skill tested at magic tournaments, so I don’t see the problem, as long as the rules are unambigous.

  14. There has been some confusion around these issues over in the Merfolk subreddit. In attempting to decipher Kevin Desprez’s article, I found a quote on Reddit by L3 judge, ubernostrum, responding in r/spikes to confusion around the article:


    “The issue here is underspecified statements. Consider the following statements:
    “Go to combat?”
    “Go to where I have priority in combat?”
    “I’d like to move ahead to my beginning of combat step, at the time when I first get priority in that step”
    Statement (1) is troublesome because it doesn’t say anything about who will have priority, or which step of the combat phase we’re going to. The shortcut policy has to step in and specify both of those things because the player didn’t.
    Statement (2) gets halfway there by saying who should have priority, but still leaves out which step we’re going to.
    Statement (3) is the one that works because it actually specifies both pieces of relevant information: which step of the combat phase are we going to, and who will have priority when we get there?
    So if you want the result of (3), you have to say (3). Leaving out either piece of information runs the risk of the shortcut policy making you unhappy because it fills in an assumed default for the thing you didn’t specify.


    Your article here directly contradicts another L3 judge. Is ubernostrum simply wrong?

  15. “More importantly, establishing that some phrases are OK empowers people to figure out what the most ambiguous thing they can get away with is. We’re not interested in enabling that line of thinking. Ultimately, Magic should be a game of strategic thinking, not an exercise in grammar, and putting in this hard line improved the game dramatically.”

    It’s my understanding that players are encouraged at comp REL to be ambiguous regarding temporary creature buffs. I ran into this discussion recently and it’s bothered me ever since. Player A has a creature on the field that gains +2/+0 until EoT when a creature enters the battlefield under their control. They then play two creatures, not announcing the dual +2/+0 triggers. Player B assumes they were missed triggers, and doesn’t speak up. Player A moves to combat, attacks and blocks are performed. Player A then says “my creature has +4/+0” and didn’t have to point it out until combat damage step, aka when it matters.

    This is the correct line of thinking, according to the rules. Even if you explicitly ask player A what the power and toughness is of his creature, he can respond with “I don’t know, you tell me”, because he doesn’t have to announce his triggers until they matter (damage step). These are rewarded for being ambiguous, and unclear, and I cannot fathom why.

    Sorry to derail the discussion away from BoC, but the quoted paragraph above reminded me of another instance where ambiguity is rewarded. Thank you!

  16. If AP is able to provide a compelling reason why he wants to have priority at the beginning of combat step, would you allow it? For example, in the control mirror match, AP controls a man land and NAP has floating mana and a bounce spell in hand. Explicitly announcing one way or the other if AP will activate the land could give away a fair amount of information to NAP. Would you allow AP to say “Move the combat, I might or might not activate my land”?

  17. None of the four scenarios are ambiguous at all. The first two are obvious mistakes by NAP for not passing priority back to move to BoC. The next two are obvious game rule violations by the AP for denying his opponent priority while moving between steps. It has always been my understanding that the phrase “combat?” is only assumed to be the AP passing priority to BoC, and the phrase “attackers?” or “attack step?” is the AP passing priority all the way to declaring attackers. In any case, the NAP is making the final choice to move to each phase/step, so there isn’t actually a way for the AP to pull a fast one on the NAP unless the NAP simply doesn’t understand priority and the progression of a turn (in which case, the AP is at best, being a jerk to a noob, and at worst, cheating).

  18. Why do you think it is the judges’ job to prevent me to play the game according to the game rules? It is quite clearly in the rules, that the active player gets priority in each step of the turn. If I say: “I would like to move to combat and retain priority” that should be very clear and not something that judges are able to prevent me from doing. Why do I have to give my opponent the information that I want to activate Treetop Village there to be able to retain priority?

    If I do this repeatedly and I don’t have a good reason for this, give me a slow play warning. If I do this and you think I do it intentionally to grind the clock, then DQ me by all means, but preventing me from doing something that is clearly phrased and literally in the game rules? The post doesn’t convince me that this is correct or even something that judges should be able to enforce.

  19. I’m a fan of (at comp rel) asking my opponents if they would like to specifically overwrite the combat related shortcuts in favor of explicit priority passes from main to main. You would be shocked at the percentage of players that take me up on this; it’s right at about 75%. People at competitive REL like being able to play paper MODO–its like modo without lag or misclicks, at the cost of having to wear pants.

  20. A couple questions-

    It seems like the Cryptic -> tap -> activate Mutavault interaction is viewed negatively, is this the case? I had considered this to be working as intended.

    – Opponent has mana floating, you don’t want to remind him/her, you say something very explicit like: “Pass priority in my first main phase only” Does this work?
    – Let’s say you’re the NAP, how do you feel about asking the AP in his first main, do I have priority now? Only to pass into beginning of combat if he says yes? Does instead saying “Can I play something?” change this? i.e. angle shooting to get the AP to skip playing things they wanted to play precombat.
    – You want to bluff some instant, you request priority without the angle shooting of the previous question, think a little, but then just pass. It’s my understanding that you can do this, but don’t abuse it? t seems pretty clear how the NAP can do this, but suppose the AP wanted to. Pausing at beginning of combat might let them ‘sell’ a combat related instant in a way that pausing during the main phase wouldn’t. Wanting priority in beginning of combat to bluff seems like a grey area between stuff like waiting for floating mana to empty, and doing actual nothing?

    1. “I had considered this to be working as intended.” – being able to try to bait out the cryptic, and, if one doesn’t materialize, then being able to activate the mutavault, is not working as intended.

      I covered floating mana in the article.

      AP doesn’t request priority. AP has priority, by definition.

  21. This shortcut is confusing. Simply moving to active player priority in beginning of combat removes the confusion *AND* accomplishes all goals of creating the shortcut in the first place. Moving to NAP priority in beginning of combat causes confusion.

    The rationale that “it makes no sense to move from one phase where they have priority to another phase where they have priority” makes no sense either. We do it all the time. I have priority in my upkeep, pass priority, opponent passes priority, I move into a draw step where I have priority. Would be the same if I said “Combat”, opponent says “Ok”, and now we have both passed priority at the end of my main phase.

    It seems that it would accomplish the goals set forth, but simultaneously be FAR less confusing to players if it were simply “Any action by the NAP after the AP makes any statements such as ‘combat’, ‘move to combat’, ‘attacks’, or any other phrasing that in any way indicates a move to the combat step are assumed to take place at the NAP’s earliest opportunity in the beginning of combat phase unless the NAP states otherwise.” This would protect the NAP from the ambiguity that you are talking about while removing the confusion about what “Move to combat” means.

    Currently the shortcut doesn’t help or protect new players, it just gives a thing that they learn the hard way when they lose because they can’t crew their vehicles or activate their man-lands in the beginning of combat step. They lose because they read the comprehensive rules and learned about this beginning of combat step and thought they would use it. They thought, quite logically, that when they said “Move to combat” they were moving to the very start of the *COMBAT* Phase.

    In fact it doesn’t really even help or protect veteran players, it just gives them something else that they have to remember because it is non-intuitive. “Don’t ever say ‘move to beginning of combat’ because it doesn’t mean what the words actually say!” – having to remember that little tidbit is not helping anyone.

Comments are closed.