PT Fate Reforged Head Judge Report

Welcome to PT Watching Magic!


Making judges watch Magic consistently was my personal goal for the week-end. It already was in Nice but I didn’t succeed at sharing my vision nearly as much as I’d have like.

To make this happen, I essentially re-emphasized the shadowing system. By having two judges involved in the same ruling (one judge making the ruling, the other watching), it made it easier for them to debrief it while remaining where the action is (between tables).

Of course, there were a few times where judges not on break happened to discuss between two playing areas. It disappeared after a few friendly reminders of the week-end goals

Kudos to Jess Dunks who was really proactive at making sure the Floor was well covered.


The reason I’m mentioning this is that feedback from players after DC was excellent, and a hug part of it was they felt judges were actually doing more than usually because they were present and involved in games.

We of course need to adhere to policy when making a ruling. Nevertheless, players feel more comfortable if the judge who is making a ruling has seen the game as he understands the context (especially when it comes to excluding Cheating). Also, if the judge is at the table, he can catch the mistake when it happens, which avoids back ups that sometimes reveal a bit of information.



Involving High levels early


So as to make investigations shorter, I strongly encouraged the shadowing judge to involve me (or another L5) if he felt the ruling would get appealed or an investigation would be needed

I’m happy to say that quite a few shadows fetched me early in a ruling. This helped me being ahead on the ruling. On one occasion (the Voice of Resurgence MT), I’ve even been able to talk to a spectator who previously helped the FJ translating before the ruling was even appealed, which allowed me to be ahead on the situation.




Rulings of Note



Philosophical Deviations




Glimmervoid reads: “At the beginning of the end step, if you control no artifacts, sacrifice Glimmervoid”. The wording technically makes it an intervening if trigger.

This means that, if AP has no artifact when this should trigger and he forgets, the fix we should apply is asking NAP whether he wants to put the trigger onto the stack. Because of this, AP has a window to, most notably, activate a Blinkmoth Nexus. When resolving the ability, there would be an artifact and Glimmervoid would remain on the battlefield.


Toby confirmed Lems and I’s feelings that, philosophically speaking, Glimmervoid should read: “At the beginning of the end step, sacrifice Glimmervoid unless you control an artifact”. In which case, once it’s forgotten, the default action will be taken.


The Main problem here is that our shortcut rules make it impossible for NAP to point out the trigger was missed by any other mean than untapping after being told “go” since “go” gives priority to NAP at the first opportunity in the End Step, which means with Glimmervoid trigger on the stack.


Based on this, I chose to deviate and send Glimmervoid to the graveyard. AP, who I assume genuinely forgot his Glimmervoid trigger, was perfectly aware of the MIPG fix and challenged me on my deviation. I explained to him the preceding reasoning. He didn’t overly disagree and understood the decision.



Mulliganning after a downgraded DDLP penalty


Starting Player (SP) realizes in his opening hand he has a sideboard card. He meets the criteria for a downgrade. Then players asked who should go on mulliganning first.

The MIPG doesn’t explicitly specify it, hence I felt the policy would be that SP now possibly mulligans to 5 first. However, this didn’t feel right philosophically speaking, since we made that change to the mulligans so that players would be at the same level of cards (on top of some time issues). Toby agreed and I ruled the Drawing Player (DP) would mulligan to 6 first.



Handling life totals discrepancy


AP attacks with a 2/2. NAP doesn’t block. NAP is at 5 but has himself at 7 on his life pad. AP has the correct life on his.

When combat damage resolves, AP indicates that NAP goes down to 3, at which point they notice the discrepancy. NAP tells me that there is no way he wants to go to 3 against burn and would therefore like to block the attacker. After making sure he should indeed be at 5, I discovered that he forgot to track life loss from two of his fetchlands.

So as to investigate a little about Cheating, I asked when this happened and both players agreed they were both sacrificed at the same time at a moment where the game was focused on something else (it was accompanied by a spell). I therefore chose to exclude Cheating.

There was also a possibility that AP saw NAP not recording the fetchlands loss to take advantage of it later but I had no way to actually gather information to push an investigation further here.


I ruled that, since NAP failed to properly track his own life totals, he was likely at fault and I did not allow him to block.

Basically, I needed to make a decision in one way or another here. Eventually, I felt it was safer to hold a player slightly more responsible about tracking his own life rather than the opponent.



Some Missed Triggers




AP has suspended two Lotus Bloom on the same turn. In his following upkeep, he says “Triggers” but removes the die from only one of the Lotus Bloom. On the following turn, he says “Triggers” again then says “Hold on, that die should be a 2, not a 3.”

The question was: Did he clearly announce his two triggers? Triggers can be the plural form of “Trigger” but also the verb ([This] triggers).

Indeed, if a trigger is announced but its resolution is forgotten, then that is not a Missed Trigger but a GRV (this is meant to incentivize players to announce their triggers clearly).
[Note that this was true back to PT Fate Reforged but was modified in the following MIPG update to avoid such situations]


I did not have a lot of information to make a decision. A word had been pronounced, but its meaning was unclear. I therefore looked for other elements and felt that AP’s board was so clear that it was unlikely he would forget one of the two lotus Blooms. They were not one on top of the other, but neatly next to each other, on the way to the library. Also, the fact the player actually said something played in his favor. I therefore moved the second die down to 2.




Is OK a binding statement?


The combination of Voice of Resurgence and Eidolon of the Great Revel in the format with players from all around the world in the room made me realize I’d need to handle Missed Triggers consistently through the week-end. Here is the line I followed:

  • OK” is not a binding statement that is per se a proof that the spell resolved, as it may well be an acknowledgement of the spell being put on the stack (this is a very common behavior of the Asian players)
  • If the player says “OK” then performs another action or allows another action to resolve, then he has passed the point where he missed his trigger for failing to demonstrate awareness in time.


Here are some the cases I’ve had to deal with


Voice of Resurgence


AP controls two Voices of Resurgence. At the end of AP’s turn, NAP casts Pestermite. AP says “ok”. NAP indicates a land to tap. AP taps the land and more or less at the same time, reaches for a die which he sets on 2.

After making sure to have both players’ sides of the story (which proved tricky as AP was not a great English speaker), I felt it could not be OoOS because he said “ok” AND he performed an action (tapping the land), which makes me conclude OK meant that the spell resolved.



Eidolon of the Great Revel


AP casts a Scavenging Ooze, looks at NAP who nods (which was not a binding action yet as per the line I had decided). AP then plays a land and passes the turn. Then NAP points out his trigger. Both players agree on this general line but the story differs in the details.

  • AP claims that NAP nodded for the land as well and put his hands on his lands after AP passed the turn (to untap).
  • NAP was unclear whether he nodded to the Ooze, didn’t nod to the land and claimed he reached for his pen as soon as AP passed the turn.
  • AP says that is a lie and NAP put his hands on his lands before reaching for his pen.


Having somehow different statements from both players and no real idea of what happened, I asked the four neighbours whether one of them saw something.

Note: I say “somehow” because these statements, despite their differences, aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. The interpretation of a head movement can be considered like nodding. Also, a single time frame can be very differently appreciated by both (biased) parties.

One of the neighbours indicated he oversaw part of the action as he was shuffling between two games. I took him apart so as to be able to confront his statement with both players’ without them hearing the spectator’s stance. He confirmed that NAP nodded at least to the Ooze. He couldn’t speak for the rest of the action as he was finished shuffling and presented.


When I came back to the table, I asked NAP to tell me his side of the story again. He said that he nodded to the Ooze but not afterwards.

Following my line for the week-end, I told him that I felt he had enough of a time frame with the land drop and the turn pass to actually have time to point out to this trigger before.


I felt that NAP forgot his trigger. I was not convinced enough he really lied though. He may have been genuinely unclear about the exact timing of what happened. And timing mattered here.

I nevertheless recorded in his Warning history the situation, mentioning the whole situation and that I had suspicions he tried to cover a mistake.



Various backups


A ferocious mistake


AP taps a Whisperer of the wild and casts Savage punch to have his Rakshasa Deathdealer fight with a 3/3, then pauses.

NAP has a facial expression of surprise, which leads AP to say “and in response, I pump the Rakshasa”.

NAP calls the judge. The ruling seemed fairly easy, the pause clearly implying a priority pass. Until the moment we realize AP did not have ferocious (because his 4/4 died the turn before).

This made the ruling a lot more complicated: Because the spell was illegally cast, all actions should be reversed, which would allow AP to now correctly pump his Rakshasa before casting Savage Punch.

The “fairest option” was to partial fix the missing mana and rule that AP passed priority, but that would be deviating.

In the end, I backed the whole thing up and AP was able to make the correct play. NAP was very upset with it, and I can see his point.


After way more thinking, I could have let the situation as it was, even if the spell wasn’t legally cast.



Too much hidden information


AP attacks with a 4/4. NAP block with a Face down 3/6 and two 1/1 tokens. AP casts a combat spell. NAP turns the 3/6 face up. Then they realize Damage Assignment Order (DAO) hadn’t been done. The Floor Judge ruled to back the situation up. I felt way too many private information had been revealed and that leaving the situation as it is made more sense, having AP order blockers immediately. NAP was a bit at a disadvantage, but he should also had made sure that DAO was properly performed.





Bittersweet Symphony


NAP calls me because AP cast Bitter Revelation out of 2 lands and a Whisperer of the wilds. NAP takes me apart to express concern that AP did it on purpose as he may not have another land in his hand, even more as he cast the Revelation very quickly. He reinforces his point by stating that he’s playing a very aggressive deck against which you’d better not be mana screwed.

Checking the content of AP’s hand, he indeed does not have a third land. Here’s the situation:


Battlefield: Swamp / Forest / Disowned Ancestor / Whisperer of the wilds

Stack: Bitter Revelation

Hand: Duneblast (7 CMC) / Lightform (cost 1WW) / Archer’s parapet / Dragonscale Boon (CMC 4)


I asked the player as to why he believed he had ferocious. He told me that he thought the creature was actually giving two mana all the time. I replied such a statement felt a bit weird to me and whether he used the creature before this week-end, in this draft or during day 1. He told me no and no, which I confirmed later with his Day 1 decklist and his previous opponent.


While we were performing the check on his claims, I felt I should try to evaluate the strategic implications of the play and determine his initial hand was. So as to not give too many hints, I asked the player what he drew this turn (Archer’s Parapet) and the turn before (Lightform).

The initial hand was therefore: Swamp / Forest / Disowned Ancestor / Whisperer of the Wilds / Bitter Revelation / Duneblast (7 CMC) / Dragonscale Boon

Which I can see being kept, especially if AP believed the Whisperer of the Wilds gives two mana. Also, the Disowned Ancestor (a 0/4) is pretty good against his opponent’s aggro deck.

Also, the fact he has a playable spell in hand (Archer’s Parapet, which is also great against aggro) made me feel it was less likely he was trying to cheat (or a super clever way to do so)

Finally, the fact it was cast swiftly on turn 3 made me think this was likely part of his original plan from the moment he kept his hand.


All in all, I wasn’t convinced he cheated, although I reported the situation with a lot of details in the penalty description, adding the mention SUSPICIOUS for further data mining if needed.







Judges of Note



The traditional judges of note


Emilien Wild


Emilien’s Paper leading was very efficient. He was proactive at running the end of round procedure, putting each member of his team in charge of one of the four areas 5 minutes before the end of the round so that we would not need a list from the SK and we could monitor tables with extra time more easily.



Brian Schenck


The quality of his rulings and thoughts was awesome. I especially remember he accurately detected a potential cheating situation that I unfortunately could not investigate until being certain what happened because there were no tangible elements I could use to be convinced in one way or the other.





For this PT, I elected to make a “participative recognition system”: During day2, I distributed a post-it to each judge and Staff member so they can write the name of the judge who impressed them the most and a decently developed description of the reasons. Participation was optional.

I read out all the recognitions to the whole audience during the final debrief. I felt this would be more powerful for wrapping up the PT than talking about some of the rulings I explained here.


The most recognized judge was Jess Dunks with 4 nominations, mostly for his work ethics despite being visibly super sick:

  • Pushing in chairs
  • Managing the floor and sending judges to the emptier areas when he wasn’t filling this need himself
  • Great discussions about the Program

I’ve personally had two good discussions with Jess regarding the MIPG and consistency after two appeals where I seemed inconsistent to him.


Three judges got three votes:

  • Jeff Morrow, most notably for “Telling it like it is”. Being at the same time direct, respectful and constructive is a rare and super valuable skill :p
  • Brian Schenck, for his working ethics and relevant philosophical questions.
  • Abe Corson was nominated for three different things (which I can’t remember at the moment)
    Did I already mention that taking notes help? :p



Kevin Desprez.