I was all ready to do a Guild-themed announcement update, until I discovered that most of the guilds I identify with were in the next set. So there are no changes this time; see you with Ravnica Allegiance.
Kidding! There’s a few worthy guilds kicking around, another new Communication section, and lot of little cleanups. Onwards!
Baby Got Takeback
There’s only one change that merits more than a line or two this time around. We’ve added a section on take-backs.
Before anyone panics that we’re suddenly allowing players to change their mind to get out of mistakes, quite the opposite. There’ve been informal takebacks allowed for years; what we’ve done is to publish some philosophy so that judges can approach them from a consistent viewpoint.
This isn’t chess where merely touching a piece can commit you to an action. We expect players to have thought through their actions before taking them, but also recognize that we ask players to play at a pace that keeps the game going. By having a framework that contains a small amount of forgiveness for dexterity errors such as grabbing the wrong land, we can subtly encourage players to not be paralyzed making sure that they don’t take a physical or verbal action they didn’t intend to.
What we focus on is information gained. If a player makes a move, then pauses and receives a response, the action is locked in. But if they say “Terror that creature, wait, no, that one”, or “Island, Terror your Squire, hmm, I need this Swamp to play that instead,” we’ve been (inconsistently) forgiving; now there’s better guidelines on what’s important here and what shouldn’t be forgiven. Of course, if the judge is unsure as to whether information has been gained, they should default to not allowing the decision to be reversed.
* Going back a few updates, we’ve talked a lot about communication and how it’s acceptable to back up to the point of a play based on incorrect information from the opponent (if feasible). However, that wasn’t an option if the judge gave the bad information. That’s been remedied; Head Judges can undo plays made due to an erroneous judge call. Note that an erroneous judge call is not the same as answering the question a player asked rather than the question they intended to ask!
* Outside Assistance used to refer to seeking “hidden” information. It’s been changed to the more accurate “private” information. This is unlikely to affect any rulings; I think people have been assuming it was this way forever.
* Later-lettered players used to get the card removed (and game loss) when two players were playing the same card in Unified Constructed. Now, any decklist-changing decision is made by the team, and the player whose deck gets changed is the one who receives the Game Loss.
* Grand Prix Trials became Regular REL when they were spread out to the stores. Now that they’re only on the night before the event and being run by a highly-trained staff, they’ve moved back to Competitive REL.
* A partial fix that falls into two partial-fix categories is acceptable to partial-fix so long as the problem falls entirely into those categories. That was ambiguous before, so we’ve tightened up the wording.
* Resetting penalties at multi-day events moved to the point of the cut when some Grand Prix events cut to day two before day one ended. Feedback on that was that people preferred the cleaner day cut, and we’ve moved back to resetting penalties at the end of the day.
* In the realm of questions that have been far more theoretical than practical, we now have an official answer for how many teammates in Unified Constructed may play Relentless Rats: one (though they may play as many copies as they like).
There’s also lots of little nonfunctional cleanups here and there to make things easier to understand – check out the new wording on the combat shortcut! Thanks to everyone who made suggestions or pointed out errors. Particular shout-outs go to Nicolette Apraez, Paul Baranay, Carlos Ho, Isaac King, Yuval Tzur, Joseph Steet, Matt Braddock, Jurgen Baert, Matteo Callegari, Kevin Desprez and everyone who sent in new wording suggestions for the Deck Problem Upgrade example that needed some work. I’m always happy to hear suggestions and thoughts about how to make things better!