L4+ Summary, May 2013

Just 161 messages for the merry month of May, and only a couple dozen new topics.  In fact, this threatens to be the least interesting of my summaries – and I’ve just started this blog!  Perhaps blogging about our doings doomed us to the Land of the Ordinary and Mundane?

In fact, there really isn’t anything earth-shattering or even moderately interesting that I can share.  I could pretend that we’re busily discussing all sorts of super-sekrit plans … but even that didn’t happen (much), in May.  Some of the same ol’, same ol’ – implementing shifts at GPs, so judges won’t be as tired; selecting day 2 Team Leads for GPs, and the related topic of L3 candidates and their progress and scheduling.

We also briefly considered the M14 rules changes re: sideboards, and how (if) they might affect policy.  At this time, we don’t foresee any need to change things; if a player wants to run the cheats because of this change, it’s no different than now – we investigate and, hopefully, catch the cheaters.  So, if an honest player’s list and deck don’t exactly match, we still “alter the decklist to match the … deck.”  That’s probably still the best customer service approach.  There’s a real concern about public perception, and how we’ve just “killed Magil!” all over again.  If it turns out that there’s Widespread Panic, we’ll adjust…Widespread Panic, on the rocks

There’s not even a lot of interesting stuff to dredge up from the Forums – but one topic that might be worth clarifying a bit, is the subject of ambiguous card names on deck lists, and when it’s appropriate to downgrade.  This thread got some traction, and – ironically – some ambiguous answers.  Let’s take a deeper look at the IPG wording:

Ambiguous or unclear names on a decklist may allow a player to manipulate the contents of his or her deck up until the point at which they are discovered.

We start right in with the concern that we want to be sure we address – the potential for abuse, which really lies in the possibility a player could be swapping between two similarly-named cards, depending on the opponent.  The classic example was the Circle of Protection series, usually abbreviated as “CoP”; if a player lists “3 CoP” in their sideboard, they could protect themselves from a different color each round!

Use of a truncated name that is not unique may be downgraded to a Warning at the Head Judge’s discretion if he or she believes that the intended card is obvious and the potential for abuse

There’s really three key points in this one sentence.  First, “that is not unique” – truncated names that are still unique are sloppy, but not worthy of a Deck/Decklist Problem penalty.  Encourage the player to be more careful, and carry on.

Next, we get “Head Judge … believes the … card is obvious”.  While the Head Judge may consider arguments from other judges, the player(s), even spectators – it’s still the Head Judge who decides if he or she believes it’s obvious what card was meant.  What you believe is obvious may not be the same as what I believe is obvious – which can lead to some inconsistency, but let’s not dwell on that; instead, remember that it’s the player’s error or carelessness that created this situation.  It isn’t realistic to establish guidelines for “obvious” that will be understood and implemented universally.  More important, it’s very easy for a player to avoid this entirely, and not subject themselves to what we believe.

One fairly current example is Turn // Burn; usually, when you see this mentioned in articles, it’s simply “Turn”.  Unfortunately, that could also be Turn to Slag.  In my experience, Turn to Slag is just not played, so “Turn” is obviously Turn/Burn – but if it’s the “hot tech” in your local metagame, you may not feel that “Turn” is obviously either card, and choose to not downgrade.

Finally, “potential for abuse {is} minimal”.  Perhaps the most important point; if you’re undecided about a specific example, consider this criteria: is it realistic that the player could be trying to abuse their carelessness or mistake?  If not, then downgrade.

When determining if a name is ambiguous, judges may take into account the format being played.

Finally, just a note; this was added after an anecdote about some player receiving a harsh penalty because they only wrote part of a card name, and is could be confused with another card in some set like Arabian Nights, which no one ever played even way back when…  A current example is “Ajani”; that can only be – better be! – Ajani, Caller of the Pride in today’s Standard format – a downgrade is OK.  Is it Extended, where Ajani Goldmane is legal? or even Modern, which adds Ajani Vengeant?  Probably not a downgrade situation in those latter cases.

Finally, one interesting topic of discussion: Carlos Ho wanted suggestions for the name of his new blog!  (You’ll just have to wait and see what he chose…)