GP Detroit Appeals Judge Report

Rules questions


Spreading Seas and Legendary lands


AP controls Eye of Ugin enchanted with Spreading Seas. AP plays another Eye of Ugin.

Spreading Seas changes (or adds) subtypes, making subsequently lose all abilities to the land it enchants and gain “Tap: Add U to your mana Pool”. However, it doesn’t change the name nor the supertype of the land it enchants. AP now has two Legendary permanents with the same name, and needs to send one to the graveyard.



Thought-Knot Seer’s triggers


AP activates Eldrazi Displacer targeting Thought-Knot Seer. Since the “blinking” happens during the resolution of the ability, both triggered abilities trigger before any player would receive priority, even if not at the exact same time.

In such a case, we do not care about the order the ability triggered. We only care that multiple triggered abilities are waiting to go on the stack. Therefore, the controller of the Thought-Knot Seer chooses the order they will go on the stack, after Thought-Knot Seer has come back on the battlefield.



Reality Smasher’s triggers


AP casts Dismember targeting NAP’s Reality Smasher. NAP waits and eventually says: “You did not discard, Dismember is countered”

This does NOT work. Indeed, it is Reality Smasher’s controller’s responsibility to clearly demonstrate awareness of his trigger. When he does so, the opponent still has a chance to discard a card.


Let’s now say that AP only has one card in hand and it is Sphinx’s Revelation. Can he cast it in response to the trigger that Reality Smasher’s controller just indicated?

The answer is no. In this scenario, we are resolving the trigger. Indeed, AP should have acted under the assumption that the trigger is on the stack, since it is on the stack until NAP proves he missed it. Therefore, when NAP requests AP to discard, it means the trigger is resolving.




Rulings of note


Backing up before HCEing


AP casts Ancient Stirrings and mistakenly looks at 6 cards. He reveals a colorless card and puts the 5 remaining on the bottom of his library. This goes unnoticed until the player passes the turn and calls upon himself (which immediately allows to exclude Cheating).

Since the card was revealed and the library had not been shuffled, this was a very easy situation to fix: We simply took the card that had been revealed out of AP’s hand and the bottom five cards of that player’s library, presented these six cards to the opponent for choosing one that would get reshuffled, and AP made a choice amongst the five remaining cards.



Too late to change


AP is at 1 life and casts World Breaker out of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Eye of Ugin, Eldrazi Temple and Karplusan Forest. From this, versions differ:

NAP claims he said: “You take 1 right?”, in response to which AP checked his lands and started untapping his Karplusan Forest to tap a basic Forest.

AP claims he was not finished tapping his lands and was still debating how to pay for his spell when NAP interrupted him.

Even if they have different stances here, I don’t believe any was lying. Everything most likely happened almost at the same time.


In such situations, the key is to evaluate whether it was reasonable for NAP to believe AP was finished casting his spell or whether we was rushing it and whether, if AP was about to change his mind, who made the other aware of the mistake.

I first tried to know whether lands were tapped before the card was taken out of the hand. I could not get a clear confirmation. Had that been the case, this would have been a strong hint that AP was done choosing how to tap his lands.

I then tried to know whether a target had been announced for World Breaker’s cast trigger. Both players agreed it had not happened.


That’s one of the case where I need to make a decision, even if I cannot know exactly what happened, and there’s a probability that everything happened at the same time.

In the end, it felt to me that NAP had many reasons to genuinely believe AP was finished casting his spell. Both players had agreed that the lands were tapped neatly (confirmed by the demonstration I requested AP to do for me). Since NAP intervened first, I felt he was the one who had hinted AP about his mistake and I ruled that AP made a mistake and took one green mana from his Karplusan Forest.



Trying to perform an action that does not exist


NAP activates Academy Ruins targeting Ensnaring Bridge. AP says: “In response to the Bridge going to the top, I’ll Ghost Quarter Academy Ruins. NAP is confused and they call the judge.


What AP says cannot happen. It doesn’t mean anything. When asked to clarify what he means, he kept saying the same thing. When asked whether he wanted to activate Ghost Quarter in response to Academy Ruins (which is the closest fanciable meaning, despite being strategically arguable), he replies negatively.


In the end, we decided to tell him clearly that he could only activate Ghost Quarter before the ability resolves or after it resolved, but he can’t do anything in between.

He then asked whether he still had an opportunity to do something after the ability would resolve, since he was the active player and he had said “Go” already. At that moment we understood what he tried to mean: He wanted to make sure he would have priority before the turn would pass.


For what it’s worth, NAP chose to not search for a land when Ghost Quarter’s ability resolved and he still drew his Ensnaring Bridge!





The situation


AP casts Fiend Hunter, which resolves. AP briefly touches NAP’s Kitchen Finks before targeting Viscera Seer.

Then AP responds by Aether Vialing a Kor Skyfisher on the battlefield, bouncing Fiend Hunter so that the target would be exiled forever

NAP responds by sacrificing the targeted Kitchen Finks, whose trigger resolves.

Then AP says “Exile Viscera Seer?”

At which point both players realize they performed a bunch of actions based on a different vision of reality: AP believes he was targeting Viscera Seer, while NAP believed Kitchen Finks is the target.



Is one of the players wrong?


The first thing to check is whether AP made a mistake when targeting.

Both players admit that he initially touch the Finks but that was brief. AP claims he then moved the Fiend towards the Seer and said “Seer” which AP indicates he didn’t hear.

It is reasonable that they both took time to realize the miscommunication since, from AP’s point of view, sacrificing the Finks to Scry makes total sense considering Viscera Seer is to leave the battlefield soon and NAP needs to work on reassembling the combo. Additionally, the Finks as a blocker is fairly useless in the situation. From NAP’s point of view, he simply doesn’t want Finks to be exiled.


Based on the fact that everything was, according to both players, fairly brief and without any evidence of a lie from any player, I concluded that the target should have been Viscera Seer.

Since there was some confusion, I also concluded that it was unreasonable to tie NAP to his choices, which were based on a wrong game state. Now it boils down to whether we can back this up easily or not.


Before moving further, I would like to draw attention again on the fact that miscommunication should not always lead to a backup. Backing up should be the result of a well-thought process and not the default solution.
I expand on this tough topic in this article.



Backing up?


There are a few elements that need to be backed up, in order:

  1. NAP’s Scry 1
  2. Put Fiend Hunter back on the battlefield
  3. Put Kor Skyfisher back to hand
  4. Untap Aether Vial

This would backup the Game State to the point Fiend Hunter’s triggered ability is on the stack, waiting for its target to be properly announced.


If 2 and 4 are fairly straightforward, 1 and 3 may be more difficult.

Rewinding Scry is easier than it looks. You simply need to confirm with both players where the card went and reshuffle the random portion of the library (so as to make sure no other scries get unduly reshuffled). Since the card remained in the library, at worst moving from the top to the bottom, that’s 100% doable.

The worst part of this backup is certainly to send Kor Skyfisher back to AP’s hand. Indeed, he has revealed a hidden information that could alter the game, allowing NAP to play around it. However, AP didn’t show this card based on the misunderstanding, since it wasn’t yet a misunderstanding. After putting the trigger on the stack, he retained priority to activate Aether Vial.

You always need to be very cautious to backup through hidden information revealed as this can strongly alter the lines of play.


In this case, this felt safe enough that I chose to back up to Fiend Hunter’s triggered ability on the stack.





AP clarified he targeted the Viscera Seer, then activated Aether Vial to bring Skyfisher on the battlefield, returning Fiend Hunter to his hand. NAP sacrificed Viscera Seer only, scrying 1, and the game resumed.

That looked almost like a partial fix, which makes me feel that this back up was a great one. More information on this in this article!


Aftermath 2
From a discussion with Eskil Myrenberg

Eskil Myrenberg

Eskil Myrenberg

After a more careful consideration, it seems that a better call was: Clarify that Fiend Hunter has targeted Viscera Seer, maintain that Aether Vial was activated in response. Play resumes at that point.
Indeed, AP claimed at all times that he wanted to target Seer so there is no way he should get a chance to change his mind. And since he had to retain priority to activate Aether Vial, nothing should be able to change until then.

Afterwards, NAP had a priority so it’s important that he keeps a chance to interact in a different way, now that he has another information about which creature was targeted.

Overall, it didn’t change much but that would have been safer, especially as it was potentially preventing hidden information from interfering in the sequence of plays.




Judges of Note


John Brian McCarthy

John Brian McCarthy

John Brian McCarthy

Those who worked me at GPs know I have mixed feelings about Staff Pictures. If they’re generally great and actually enhancing the player experience at well-paced events (quite a few players like to also take pictures of the staff), they can harm experience when the event is on the slow end, since some players do perceive it as an “additional loss of time”, which, despite we make sure it is not the case, is a reasonable feeling for players to have.


Staff pictures will be great when they’ve been organized upfront and they look professional. This requires the Photographer to actually anticipate on the matter and take ownership of its organization.


I have to say that GP Detroit’s Staff picture is one of the best that I’ve experienced to that extent: Prior to the event, John Brian McCarthy contacted Lems and I with two alternatives of a comprehensive plan so we can make the decision that fits us best. Then, he proactively organized it and reminded us when we needed to do something to make it happen. Yes, I mean that he gave us instructions so that his project would not be an additional responsibility on us but something that would flow in our plan.


Also, he wrote and posted a guide to getting a judge Photo taken.



Dan Collins

Dan Collins

Dan Collins

Dan brought to my attention a possible Cheating situation where AP did not draw NAP’s attention to a detrimental trigger that AP had missed. Since this was discovered after the match ended, it required going back and forth to both players at the beginning of the following round to determine the exact circumstances of the infraction, then what happened afterwards.

Since all HJs were very busy with appeals in Detroit, as this was a Modern GP, Dan led most of the investigation on his own, only involving me when we needed to confront AP, overall giving me enough elements to make a safe decision without keeping me away from the Main Event for too long.


Also, for what it’s worth, I in the end did believe the player when he said that he didn’t realize the mistake until the game was over and he sincerely believed calling the judge was useless since the whole thing was already over anyway. In a word, I don’t think he tried to gain an advantage by not calling the judge, which is one of the required criteria to identify Cheating.

I made sure to let the player know he received a Warning that we would mention that this was suspicious and he now knows that he must call the judge as soon as he discovers something went wrong somehow, even if we’re way past the point the judge can actually do anything.



Kevin Desprez.