The last Modern GP I judged at was Milan. Rulings-wise, it was pretty intense. I expected Charlotte to be the same. It was challenging, but not too busy on my side. Here are the highlights!
Targeting Spellskite twice
The most common rules question of the week-end was certainly about Kolaghan’s Command and Spellskite:
AP casts Kolaghan targeting NAP for two damage and Spellskite to destroy an artifact. NAP activates Spellskite in response. Can he redirect the two damage to Spellskite?
The answer is yes. A same spell or ability can target the same object multiple times, once per instance of the word “target” present in the text of the spell or ability.
Kolaghan’s Command (in these modes) has two instances of the word target, therefore it can target Spellkite twice, therefore the second target can be changed.
Blood Moon situations
In all of the following, let’s say Blood Moon is on the battlefield.
Non-basic lands do not become Basic Mountains (unlike what’s written on The Dark’s copies), they’re non-basic mountains.
If Vesuva copies a basic land, it’s entering the battlefield tapped as the copied basic land. He’s not affected by Blood Moon since the supertype Basic is copied.
Artifact-lands are still artifacts Only the subtype is modified.
Darksteel citadels are not indestructible anymore, since adding a basic land type makes a land lose all abilities then gain the ability to add mana of the corresponding color.
Blood Moon always applies before Urborg, tomb of Yawgmoth, no matter when they respectively entered the battlefield. Timestamp doesn’t apply because there is dependency involved: Basically, applying Blood Moon would modify the set of objects Urborg may affect. As a result, Urborg does nothing (but giving red mana)
Backing up a fetchland activation
Or rather not doing it
AP casts Tarmogoyf on turn 2. NAP responds with Remand. AP nods and brings Tarmogoyf back to his hand. NAP draws a card. AP passess the turnand while untapping, NAP realizes he didn’t sacrifice his fetchland.
Rewinding here would imply, in order:
- Put a random card from NAP’s hand back to top of his library.
- Put Tarmogoyf back on the stack.
- Put Remand back to NAP’s hand.
- Untap both lands.
This does not seem completely impossible to do. However, keep the following in mind: You end up in a situation where NAP has revealed a card from his hand and needs to take a decision based on the card that has been put back to top of his library. In other words, he can now choose to shuffle it back or not.
I chose to leave the situation as it is, feeling the disruption was much less this way than after performing a rewind.
Having NAP sacrifice his fetchland immediately is an option that comes to mind, but it is not a supported partial fix in the MIPG and I couldn’t see how exceptional this situation was.
Note that the main issue here was that a card was drawn out of Remand. Had the spell been Mana Leak for instance, that was an easy backup.
Drawing on your first turn
SP (Starting player), after keeping her hand, puts a Leyline of sanctity on the battlefield. DP (Drawing player) acknowledges and says “go”. As a reflex, SP draws a card. They call the judge.
Example C of Improper Drawing at Start of Game reads:
A player, going first, does not skip her first draw step.
Put like this, this seems like an easy call. Remove two cards from the hand of the player and let them play.
However, the last sentence of the definition reads as such:
If this error is discovered after the player committing it has taken another action in the game, the infraction is Drawing Extra Cards.
SP has taken another action: She put a Leyline on the battlefield. She has therefore committed Drawing Extra Card and I issued a Game Loss.
This admittedly corner-case is a good reason why you should not only rely on the examples of the MIPG before making a ruling: Both the Definition and the Philosophy contain important information.
Dealing with Counterfeit cards
A spectator brought to the attention of a judge that a player’s Tarmogoyfs felt weird, as their color were really faded. A thorough analysis of the cards revealed they were fake.
When a player has fake cards, these cards must be treated just as if the player had unallowed proxies or tokens in his deck: They are not part of the deck.
This means that:
- If this is discovered during a game, the player’s deck doesn’t match his decklist (or is possibly illegal if it now doesn’t contain 60 cards) and receives a Game Loss for Deck/Decklist problem
- If this is discovered between games/match, the player has a chance to replace the counterfeit cards with genuine copies.
- If he can, there is no penalty
- If he cannot, they need to be removed from his decklist and replaced by Basic Lands if the new card total is below 60.
Customer Service considerations
Explain to the player why you believe his cards are fake. Do not be confrontational, make sure to simply factually explain your decision and be educational. The player is likely to not know he bought fake cards, and your goal is to make sure he learns from this painful experience.
Note: If you determine the player was aware, then he was intentionally playing with an illegal deck and should be disqualified for USC- Cheating.
It is tempting to believe that issuing a Game Loss to the player is “adding insult to injury” since the player is already punished heavily by having bought cards that have no value. However, think about the following situation: A player presented a 59-card deck from which a Foil-stamped-from-GP-Vegas Tarmogoyf is missing. You would certainly apply the Game Loss despite the player actually lost way more money.
Do not attempt to confiscate/keep the counterfeit cards: They are the player’s property, even though they’re counterfeit.
If the player does not want them anymore, show him the closest garbage bin. This will protect you from any accusation of theft.
Would you downgrade?
Would you downgrade?
AP has a few non-land cards in his graveyard and activates Tasigur, the Golden Fang’s ability. He reveals two lands, which he quickly sets aside and presents the remaining cards to NAP. NAP chooses one, AP puts it into his hand and then also puts the two lands in his hand.
AP immediately separates the two lands from his hand to put them back on the table.
When asked whether these were the two revealed lands, NAP said he didn’t know, since AP separated them from the rest of the cards as he was revealing them, and therefore feels he never had a chance to really pay attention to them.
The infraction is clearly Drawing Extra Cards, since AP put in his hand cards he wasn’t supposed to. The question here is whether the identity of these cards was known to all players or not, which is the condition for a downgrade.
In this case, both players have different feelings:
- AP has revealed the cards, and NAP agrees to it.
- NAP says he couldn’t realistically look at the cards based on how AP separated them from the rest.
A quick investigation
- The fact AP is the one who pointed the mistake out made me immediately exclude Cheating (Though it never hurts keeping it in mind 😉 )
- NAP’s stance is reasonably realistic (Keeping in mind that he may be fishing for a Game Loss is important). Also, he’s ahead on board so he doesn’t really have a lot of incentive to lie here.
- Since I was not the judge involved and simply debated about the case a lot, there is one thing I could not do: Quickly checking AP’s hand to see whether there could be any shenanigans involved. Even if I can’t be sure, I doubt there were any, but checking wouldn’t have hurt.
What to rule?
Since both statements are truthful, that’s a complicated situation:
Ruling a downgrade can be perceived as absolving players from their mistakes or, even worse, encouraging players to distract their opponents to gain an advantage
Ruling a Game Loss can be perceived as encouraging players to not pay attention.
Ultimately, I’m more afraid of players intentionally not paying attention to what their opponents do to fish for penalties than players trying to distract their opponents, since I don’t believe that the latter behavior would be easy to commit and hide through an investigation.
As for the absolving players from their responsibilities, I would say that this has already been evaluated when the downgrade clause in the MIPG was added: We are fine with downgrading, hence he believe that AP’s responsibility does exist but the penalty should not be as harsh as a Game Loss.
I believe it is dangerous to not apply the downgrade clause on the sole basis that the opponent did not make the necessary step of looking carefully at what was happening. Talking about absolving a player, ruling a Game Loss here feels like it absolves the opponent from his responsibility to maintain the game state: He should have taken a few seconds to look at the lands revealed.
A Game Loss was ruled there. I personally disagree with it for the reasons I stated. However, it’s not an awful ruling. It’s not technically incorrect, I simply feel that it doesn’t match the philosophy of our policies and doesn’t send the preferred message we’d like to send, which is: BOTH players are responsible for the game state
Judges of Note
Jeremy, your behavior during the Counterfeit cards investigation was excellent. You clearly explained to the player why his cards were undoubtedly fake, without hinting that he might be aware.
Ben, our debate about that DEC scenario was both interesting and constructive. When both interlocutors are open-minded, analyzing the other’s point of view and coming up with counter-arguments, that’s always excellent!
Angela, it’s impressive how easily you come up with innovative systems that make everybody’s life easier. The End of Round Procedure can be very energy-consuming for judges to gather the information needed, and your idea of creating an online discussion to ask questions and get answers was excellent.
There have obvisouly been a few challenges, and I’ve also been impressed by your ability to analyze them and come up with suggestions for improvement in the future.