The Justice League – Howling to Exile: The April MIPG Update

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Friday, April 9th – The latest update of the Magic: The Gathering Infraction Procedure Guide (MIPG) is in effect since 1st April 2010, and it includes some changes that may be of interest.

The latest update of the Magic: The Gathering Infraction Procedure Guide (MIPG) is in effect since 1st April 2010, and it includes some changes that may be of interest.

The MIPG is alive. It’s an ever changing document that adapts the DCI policy to the game in order to provide the best tournament experience for both judges and players. Some of the best DCI judges in the world dedicate lots of time and effort to make the MIPG work in a fair and consistent way. We judges want players to have fun at tournaments regardless of the Rules Enforcement Level (REL). We understand the different approach that different players may have to the game. We also understand the way players enjoy events and have fun may vary, and the MIPG covers different RELs that set the according rigidity of rules enforcement for the different types of events that players may attend. The MIPG reflects rules that are not meant to be enforced the same way at a local FNM (which focus is fun and education) than at a Pro Tour (where technically correct play is more important).

For us, it is essential you have a great time playing, and we want you to go home after a tournament wanting to come back another day to play again. The best way to ensure that is to protect both the event’s integrity and the interests of all players.

The procedures described in the MIPG provide the judges with a tool to understand how to handle infractions of the game and tournament rules, and their corresponding penalties. The MIPG also explains the underlying philosophy behind these procedures and penalties. These procedures sometimes receive changes seeking improvement, and today we will cover the latest of these updates.

What are those changes?

In every update we usually find some minor touchups, corrections over grammatical issues, and in general there are always slight changes seeking clarification on certain aspects. On this occasion, we have three changes of major relevance:

Insufficient Shuffling (IS)

Formerly known as Insufficient Randomization, this infraction has received a conceptual change. Instead of asking players to randomize their decks, a concept that mathematically makes very little sense here, now a deck simply needs to be shuffled enough to be considered randomized. Don’t waste your time calculating the odds of getting a deck randomized by going over a particular method or shuffling routine. Don’t go infinite over tedious theories about what is random and what is not. Just make sure you shuffle enough, and your deck will be considered randomized.

Remember, a deck being randomized means that once a player has shuffled his deck, he should not know the position and/or distribution of one or more cards in the deck.

It is simply that, instead of wondering if the deck ordering is actually random, we want to make sure you make an actual effort to shuffle your deck. Players are still expected to shuffle using different methods (notably, pile-shuffling alone is not enough), but remember that any manipulation, weaving, or stacking prior to the actual shuffling is acceptable as long as you shuffle enough afterwards.

Okay, but what do you mean by “shuffle enough”…?

As a rule of thumb, a couple of side, riffle and/or mash shuffles are surely not enough, while 10 or 12 seems to be in the right area. Still, don’t take 10 or 12 riffles being enough as a recipe for success; if, at some point, you wonder if you already shuffled enough, chances are you should keep shuffling a bit longer.

Shuffling is a simple task that every player should know how to accomplish, and making sure you give those few extra riffles to your deck will keep you out of trouble.

The penalty attached to this infraction has been changed to a Warning in all RELs. Since both players are responsible for the shuffling process (the opponent always has the opportunity to shuffle after the player does), this situation has little potential for advantage, especially at Competitive and Professional RELs, where according to MTR. 3.8, players must always shuffle their opponents’ decks.

As a consequence of this change, failing to shuffle a portion of the deck, such as what could happen with the Cascade ability, now gets covered under Insufficient Shuffling instead of under Game Rule Violation (GRV).

What if my opponent shuffles his deck correctly, and I am too lazy to shuffle his deck and I just give it a simple cut?

There is no problem with that, since your opponent already presented you a random deck; by cutting it, the deck still is randomly ordered. Still, if you take my advice, ALWAYS shuffle your opponent’s deck thoroughly whenever it is required. Please remember, when shuffling either your deck or your opponent’s, to do it in a timely manner, so you don’t engage in Slow Play.

Failure to Reveal (FTR)

The new text for MIPG. 3.2 says: “A player forgets to reveal information that he or she has been required to reveal by a game rule or effect in order to demonstrate that the action taken was legal.”

This change is meant to fix interactions such as that of Vampire Nocturnus, Oracle of Mul Daya, and the likes with Font of Mythos and other cards that would make a player draw multiple cards at once. According to CR. 119.2: “Cards may only be drawn one at a time. If a player is instructed to draw multiple cards, that player performs that many individual card draws.” This means that Ancestral Recall instructs the targeted player to draw in sequence first one card, then another, and then the third.

If we follow the previous incarnation of the MIPG with the Vampire or the Oracle in play, a player who drew two cards off the Font without revealing any or all of them would receive a Failure to Reveal infraction, a Game Loss at competitive REL; and with the changes now we would be talking of a Game Rule Violation Infraction, a mere Warning at Competitive.

The solution the new MIPG has is to simply apply FTR only when the revealing of the cards is needed to make sure the action was legal. Usually this means the action requires the card to be revealed to acknowledge any of its characteristics. For example, if you cast Mystical Tutor, you have to reveal the card to make sure it is an instant or a sorcery; or also, if you put a card in your hand off Dark Confidant’s triggered ability (given you don’t miss the trigger, forget to reveal the card, and also draw for the turn), you need to check the converted mana cost of that card to complete the effect of the ability, etc.

Game Play Errors (GPE)

This is the new text added to MIPG. 3: “In a situation where the effect that caused the Game Play Error is controlled by one player, but the illegal action is taken by another player, both receive the primary infraction instead of Game Play Error — Failure to Maintain Game State.”

The example in the MIPG is the ubiquitous Path to Exile scenario. You cast Path to Exile on an opponent’s creature and you don’t notice that your opponent unintentionally puts the creature into the graveyard. Previously, only the controller of the Path to Exile would receive the infraction, since he was the controller of the effect. Now with this change, if there is a mistake when fulfilling the instructions given by an effect controlled by one player, but his opponent is the one taking the illegal action, as both players are responsible to ensure the game state is correct, both will be receiving the same penalty.

Now, what if you notice your opponent putting the creature in his graveyard?

What would you do here?

Under these circumstances, both players share equal responsibility, and what we want you to do is very simple: tell your opponent to exile his creature, and then move on.

The scenario where both players will receive a GPE — GRV is the one where both players are unaware of the mistake, and if you notice the mistake happening, please don’t call a judge to try to get a penalty delivered to your opponent. Just point it out on the fly, correct the game state, and move on. Thanks.

Now, let’s take a look to a similar yet different scenario. I control an untapped Howling Mine and it is my opponent’s draw step. He draws one card and plays a land. That land entering the battlefield surely means we have moved to his first main phase, effectively missing the Howling Mine’s trigger. My opponent misses the trigger that affects him, but I am the one controlling the trigger.

What now? Whose mistake is this?

Again, this is like the Path to Exile example. There is an effect – the Howling Mine trigger – controlled by one player that makes his opponent take an action, to draw a card; the difference here is that the trigger on the stack is “invisible” to your opponent, unlike the Path to Exile spell on the stack, represented by an actual card.

Sure, but what do I need to do here?

The same as with the Path to Exile scenario: remind your opponent about the Howling Mine trigger, and make sure he does draw the extra card. You are responsible for the effects your own cards generate, even though these effects don’t affect you.

Does this mean I have to represent the trigger?

Ideally, yes. Most likely a quick reminder at the beginning of each turn will do. And once again, both players share equal responsibility, and both receive the main penalty instead of Failure to Maintain Game State if a mistake happens, so if your opponent plays a land just tell him to draw the card off the Mine. Once more, please don’t call a judge here to try to fish a penalty for your opponent.

Remember, the upgrade paths for these infractions are different: Warning-Game Loss-Match Loss-DQ for Insufficient Shuffling, and W-W-GL-ML-DQ for both Missed Trigger and Game Rule Violation.

There are also some minor tweaks to Improper Drawing at Start of Game, Outside Assistance, and to the use of Match Point penalties, if you feel curious and want to look deeper into it, you can reach the full document here.

See you next time!