Draft Specific considerations
A lost card
A player calls us at the beginning of the deck construction period to claim he is missing a card. This card is his First Pick First Pack. He is able to tell which card it is but is unable to locate it.
Following the guidelines described in this article, we did not issue any proxy.
Being unable to recover the lost card before the end of deck construction, he registered a 40-card deck without that card. He found it back later on and even if we could identify with enough certainty, thanks to the stamp, this was a card drafted in that pod, we did not let the player modify his decklist, since he registered a legal Main Deck.
Wait, still in combat!
AP controls 7 lands and attacks with a Rottenheart Ghoul. NAP blocks with Pyre Hound. A couple seconds pass, during which “Damage” may (according to AP) or may not (According to NAP) have been said. Then AP emerges Abundant Maw, sacrificing the Ghoul. At this point, NAP says: “Wait, we’re still in combat” and attempts to cast Abandon Reason targeting Pyre Hound.
As you may have guessed, the main point of contention here is whether “Damage” was actually said or not.
Determining it is highly relevant since AP needs the Ghoul to actually be able to cast the Maw (he only has 7 mana available otherwise). Also, NAP only has one card in his hand at that moment of the game, hence he will lose it when the Ghoul is sacrificed.
In a word, there is a huge opportunity for NAP to try to rewind to combat once he has seen what is going to happen.
After listening to both players, they agreed on everything, including the time frame after blocks where declared and before the Maw was cast. However, AP claims he said “damage” while NAP says he was still considering casting his instant. Both claims can be legitimate.
In such a situation, I did my best to dive into the strategics of the game.
I asked why NAP considered casting Abandon Reason, since, playing against a green deck, there was a risk that the opponent would also cast a pump spell, which would mean NAP lost two cards vs one (Pyre Hound and his spell vs the pump spell).
He replied that:
- Vs a GB deck, this spell was fairly weak and that was even worse in this particular spot, therefore it barely counts as a card. Since he was down to 1 card in hand, the 2/4 was a permanent threat to his hand and trading the spell vs the 2/4 was good overall.
This sounded solid.
- Even if the spell and the Pyre Hound were traded against a creature boost by AP, that was likely better at that point than later in the game. Overall, he felt so behind in that game that it was about time to take some risks to attempt to get back in the game.
This gave me mixed feelings: On the one hand, NAP admits he’s behind (usually an incentive to cheat) but on the other hand, his arguments make sense. He needs to take some risks to come back in a game he’s currently slowly losing.
Both answers making sense, I chose to rule out Cheating. I therefore needed to determine what the current state of the game was.
Players disagree as to whether AP said “damage” but, on the other hand, agreed that NAP never actually confirmed anything. AP considered the several-second pause as a strong indicator the game had progressed past combat. I had to disagree with this.
A pause, no matter how significant it is, isn’t a proof per se that the game had advanced.
The important word here is “per se”. Other elements put in conjunction may indicate the game state has evolved.
In this situation, since both players agreed that NAP immediately intervened once the Maw was cast, I had the feeling that NAP had indeed never agreed to let the game state advance and I ruled that they were still during Declare Blockers. AP was not happy, which I totally understood, but I nevertheless feel the decision was correct. I told AP that he would have needed to confirm Main Phase 2 rather than assuming based on the pause, no matter how long the pause felt to him.
An Echo Chamber
During RPTQ Lyon, I’ve had a seemingly incredibly similar situation where I ruled the other way.
AP attacks with Emrakul, the promised end. Both players note down the 13 damage. AP then attempts to cast Distended Mindbender. NAP intervenes and says he wants to cast Elder Deep-Fiend during end of combat.
The first question was to ask NAP why he wanted to cast his creature after damage had been dealt, since this is an unusual moment to do so. The answer made some sense: AP being at 5 and NAP at 20, It is in AP’s interest to let NAP tap some creatures to attack since he’ll have fewer to tap with the Deep-Fiend to remove all blockers. It then makes sense to cast the Deep-Fiend during end of combat so as to tap some creatures and some lands to reduce AP’s options.
Note that I did this away from the table so that the player would be keener on going into the strategy he had in mind, without revealing it to his opponent.
On the other hand, the fact the creature that is cast has a cast trigger quite negates this plan: If Mindbender’s cast trigger resolves, Elder-Deep Fiend will be discarded. If Elder Deep-Fiend is cast, it can’t tap Distended Mindbender.
Even if the latter point could be concerning, I could not be convinced enough there was Cheating involved considering the strategy NAP indicated he had in mind.
I had the PT Sydney ruling fresh in mind but felt that there was something different there. After some thoughts, I felt the fact both players actually took an action (tracking down life changes) made the situation fairly different.
I therefore wondered if I knew about an analogous situation which would help me making a good decision. Vendilion Clique immediately came to my mind: When NAP wants to cast a Vendilion Clique during AP’s draw step, we require that NAP is proactive at it, by warning AP they’ll do something. This is based on the fact that 99,9% of time, neither player does anything there (except AP drawing a card), hence the player trying to do something at that moment needs to be specific.
This is a similar situation: Nobody really does anything except resolving a combat damage trigger after combat damage has resolved. I therefore felt that NAP should have been more proactive at telling AP he wanted to act during AP’s combat. I felt the game had naturally moved to Main Phase 2 and ruled that Distended Mindbender was on the stack with its trigger on top.
Is not ordering Triggers on the stack a proof they have been missed?
Yes, they can still resolve this trigger.
Even if the order of the spells and abilities on the stack is public information, as per MTR 4.1 (“Details of current game actions and past game actions that still affect the game state.”), the fact that a player does not need to point out his triggers until they would visibly affect the game state prevails. If the opponent needs to know the order of the triggers on the stack, they need to ask.
This behaves in the exact same way as we do not require a player to announce multiple exalted-like triggers, even if they do different things, until they actually matter.
A Missed Trigger?
AP controls Aberrant Researcher. He untaps and picks the top card of his library, moves it towards his hand looking at it. Before the card touches his hand, he points at the Aberrant Researcher. He admits he totally forgot about it when he started moving the card away from the library and wants to know whether he’s still in time for claiming the trigger. Is the trigger missed?
Even if AP admits that he forgot about the Trigger, this is not what the IPG is about. Judges need to evaluate whether it was missed, not forgotten. When it comes to Triggers, judges assess facts and shouldn’t make judgment calls (Note that this isn’t nearly as true when it comes to Cheating for instance).
I ruled here that by moving the card away from the library towards his hand rather than the graveyard, he made a clear signal he had moved to the draw step even if he never verbalized it and therefore the point by which he can claim the trigger was past.
Judges of Note
The amount of space between tables was tight in Sydney, which didn’t go unnoticed by quite a few judges. Most of them came to point out it was nearly impossible to walk between two tables, but two judges only came with a suggestion on how to improve things: How many tables could be removed, which ones would be the most suited to make things better, etc.
Both Guillaume Beuzelin and Sergio Perez made the changes possible, including bugging me again when there was an adequate window to make the suggested modifications. Since they had thought the plan ahead, it was executed swiftly and quietly, even if it required removing tables.
Noticing what’s wrong is certainly a quality. However, coming up with constructive suggestions is what should be looked at. By the way, isn’t this how we recommend to proceed when reviewing someone?