Ravnica Allegiance is here, which means it’s time for us to let our Simic flag fly. Open the cloning vats! Prepare the splicers!
Two New Match Losses
Bet that got your attention. I’m going to announce something big, but it’s not as big as you might initially think. Deep breath.
Improperly Determining a Winner and Bribery and Wagering are now Match Losses.
Breathe. Use your gills if you have to. Here’s the really important thing to remember: If the player knew they weren’t allowed to make the offer or roll the die, it’s still Cheating. They’re disqualified. Most people know better.
But, the rules in these sections are complicated, and sometimes people who haven’t played in that many big tournaments don’t know the details and inadvertently fall into a pit somewhere along the way. In those cases, it is acceptable to issue the still-harsh-but-less-so Match Loss (or double Match Loss in some cases) and treat it as a more educational moment rather than whipping out the DQ paperwork.
Additionally, players are no longer required to call a judge as soon as they receive an offer. They’re still expected to point out the violation (as with all violations), but not involving a judge won’t also get them Disqualified for the same infraction. On the flip side, we’re tightening up the rules around luring your opponent into the pits. Trying to entice a violation (“A draw is so bad here. If only there was something we could do!”) is, itself, a violation.
Shark Trolls for Better Triggers
Some of you may recall that I posted about Charnel Troll a bit ago. While discussing that with the good folks at R&D, we also chatted about parts of the policy that weren’t working as well as we liked, and that led to a few spiffy modifications. Octopus arms!
First of all, special handling for triggers with default actions is gone. These rules have been around forever – they predate the IPG! – and it turned out nobody liked them all that much. Some of them were excessively punishing, the Pacts in particular. There were some awkward technical corners: “If you don’t” and “If you can’t” worked differently (and Charnel Troll used an entirely different template). Now, if you miss a trigger with a default option, your opponent decides if it goes on the stack. If it does, you make all the appropriate choices.
Also in that section were the cleanup triggers. Cards like Obzedat and Aetherling that have an ability that removes them from the game, and a delayed trigger that returns them. While it’s technically two separate abilities, it was intuitively a single one that was really punitive if you forgot the second half, so we carved out an exception for these. That also took care of things like handling Geist of Saint Traft tokens that were hanging around for too long. And Prized Amalgam triggers…
Wait, Prized Amalgam? How did that get in there? It happened that the wording on Prized Amalgam was just parallel enough that it fell into the same bucket. This wasn’t a huge problem; a policy that occasionally makes a trigger happen that was supposed to happen anyway isn’t going to break anything, but it was pretty weird. So I made a note to revisit this next time we did work on Triggers.
Now, the trigger explicitly looks for delayed triggers created by abilities to clean up zone changes caused by the abilities themselves (and temporary token creation comes along for the ride). That’s more narrow, but still hits the cards that you’d think would be intuitively in this bucket. I think this version is easier to read and understand, too.
Let’s talk about The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. It’s got a great recombination lab in the basement, but the card has been a pet peeve for years. It has a mostly-defunct template which creates triggers on other objects, notably opponent objects. So this is a land (not front and center) that is incredibly easy for the opponent to miss, and the penalty for missing it is punitive, as it has a default action. Plus, you get a Warning, just to be extra-mean.
We cleaned up the default action. What about the Warning? How do we make these triggers not detrimental? It turns out there’s an intuitive solution – a trigger is only detrimental for you if you caused its existence. Always take responsibility for your creations!
We made a few other nonfunctional changes for clarity, and now you have a trigger section that is faster, stronger, and only a small part camel.
We’ve Been Here Before
By far the biggest change in terms of text volume is a new Communication section in the Magic Tournament Rules dedicated to loops. They’d come up again because of Teferi, and I was talking to Magic Rules Manager Eli Shiffrin about how we could make them better. The rules on loops are fine. It could use another row of teeth, or maybe a tail, but what couldn’t? It also didn’t really handle loops that were being sustained through choice rather than action. That’s easier to fix than more teeth.
There’s an additional paragraph in MTR 4.4 that explains how to handle choices being made in loops. There is a reversal in here – in the past, if you were making a choice involving a hidden zone (usually your hand), you weren’t required to break the loop. But, now that choices are similar to actions, if you don’t want to make a different choice you’ll have to demonstrate (either by revealing or getting judge confirmation) that you can’t. Otherwise, the loop ends. Now, almost anybody keeping a loop going can be stopped.
We’ve Been Here Before
Anyone need horse parts?
Miscellaneous Parts (Horse and Other)
- About a hundred people wrote in to make sure I knew that Tournament Errors still reset with cuts. Yes, that was an oversight. No, nobody had to rule on that in the entire time they were mismatched (it’s really hard to get repeat Tournament Errors that aren’t already Game Losses!) Yes, it’s fixed.
- If a player says “Go” (or otherwise passes the turn) and time is called while the opponent is doing something in end step (or not yet untapping), the opponent gets Turn 0. This removes the incentive to run out the clock after a player has passed the turn by holding off untapping just long enough.
- Hidden Card Error has a small tweak to the boundary between it and Looking at Extra Cards. It’s LEC if you see an extra card, but don’t add it to the set. That’s simpler and will hopefully be a little less confusing. There’s also a tiny tweak to returning cards; it specified the top of the library, but there are some weird corners where it might be somewhere else, so that’s reflected in there.
- When a player is missing cards from the deck, and they’re with the sideboard, we replace them with random cards from the sideboard. That’s fine for constructed, but produces some strange results in limited. Now, you shuffle in cards chosen at random from the cards in the sideboard that were originally in the main deck. That sounds weird, but it works. Better than that anteater-ant hybrid I was working on.
- One of the examples in Limited Procedure Violation is a player moving their head too much in draft. They shouldn’t be doing that; it makes judges jumpy.
- There was some confusion over the use of “identity” in the Game Rule Violation partial fix for zone-change problems. I surprised people by pointing out that the card on top of the library at the time of the problem, if it’s still there, is identifiable. That makes sense – everyone can point to that card and say “yep, that’s the one”. But identity as used in Hidden Card Error implies knowledge of the face of the card. It’s a nonfunctional change, but the definition no longer uses the word “identity” to reduce confusion.
- Judges can assist players in determining status information. Bet it never occurred to you that this wasn’t the case.
My Minions Are Legion, and Mostly Humanoid
Thanks to everyone who wrote in with ideas and suggestions. The tournament documents are an amalgam of ideas of all shapes and sizes. Shout-outs for their master splicing go out to Kevin Desprez, Scott Marshall, Sara Mox, Isaac King, Steven Zwanger, Bryan Prillaman, Eli Shiffrin, and Adam Eidelsafy. Enjoy your new hybrids!
Oh, and One More Thing (Maniacal Laughter)
There’s a new JAR! Seriously!
James and Kim and teams did such a good job on the JAR that it hasn’t really needed updating over the years, and we let the tiny tweaks build up until we had a reason to make changes. The Bribery and Determining a Winner penalties needed to be reflected in the JAR (where they’ll be more relevant), so it’s been reskinned (pangolin!)
The philosophies haven’t changed, nor has the length. It’s still jam-packed with good advice, and now you have an excuse to go read it again.