The Justice League – Ringing In the Changes

Grand Prix GP Columbus July 30-August 1, 2010
Thursday, July 29th – July hails a new core set and new changes to the comprehensive rules. However, the scope of change is seldom limited to the comprehensive rules. and is often further reaching than you realize. Don’t be caught out!

Hello everyone! It’s been another month of change for Magic as we roll in another core set, but we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to M10 in the Standard format as we normally would. To make the changes in formats easier to follow, Wizards now uses a single date each year to rotate sets out of each format. M10 will be good alongside M11 in Standard until October 1st (MTG: TR 6.3), when we say goodbye to M10, along with the entire Shards of Alara block, and say hello to Scars of Mirrodin.

Last year the core set arrival came with an overhaul to the rules of the game to try and make things more intuitive and beginner friendly. Remember when people turned into a Howling Banshee because Wizards took away their beloved damage on the stack? Now that we’ve all had a year to Absorb the true affect on game play without damage being stacked, I wonder whether the Fury of the Horde is still strong? Or maybe the reality is that players have Peace of Mind and time has been a Heartmender?

Personally, I think the game is just fine without damage on the stack. More importantly, it makes the game a little easier to grasp for the beginner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game which is so continually fined tuned by its makers. The introduction of M11 has continued this effort, albeit the changes are smaller in quantity and drama potential. Let’s take a look.


I actually talked about this in my article here. The rules for deathtouch have been slightly tweaked and damage from a creature with deathtouch will now be considered as lethal damage. The importance of this is realized when combining deathtouch and trample on a creature (although no creature currently has both abilities, it’s fairly easy with equipment like Basilisk Collar or auras like Eldrazi Conscription). Now you can assign one point of damage from a creature with deathtouch to each of the creatures blocking it and assign the remaining damage to the defending player or planeswalker (if the creature was declared as attacking the planeswalker, of course). So using the same example I used in the previous article —

If you attack with a creature with Deathtouch and Trample and it’s blocked by three identical creatures with 2/2 power and toughness, the attacker would have to be capable of dealing just 4 damage in order to get a single point to trample over to the defending player (assuming there is no damage already marked on the creature and it’s not taking damage at the same time from another source).

Drawing Extra Cards.

The definition for drawing extra cards has been tweaked again. This past year the definition was —

“This infraction is committed when a player is instructed to draw one or more cards, but draws too many. If a player incorrectly draws cards at a time they were not supposed to, or draws cards as part of another offense, the infraction is a Game Rule Violation.”

However, I think there has been a consensus that this definition was perhaps too narrow. After all there are many ways in which a card can innocently end up in a player’s hand through sloppy play, but without the infraction meeting this old definition for drawing cards. For example, if a Howling Mine was on the battlefield for a number of turns and then destroyed. It’s quite possible that the next player to draw a card for their turn could have become so ‘mechanically’ used to drawing an extra card for Howling Mine, they could accidently keep drawing a card before they can stop themselves. Under the old policy this would have been a game rule violation and a warning, since no instruction to draw cards was being followed. However, the whole point of a drawing extra cards penalty being a game loss at competitive is because of the danger for considerable advantage in drawing that extra card if it’s missed by you and your opponent. That greater advantage warrants a stiffer penalty in the infractions procedure guide to help reinforce the education of the player.

So the latest July update of the IPG has refined the infraction thus —

This infraction is committed when a player illegally puts one or more cards into their hand and, at the moment before he or she did so, no Game Rule Violation or Player Communication Violation had been committed.

Additionally, it is Drawing Extra Cards if a player has excess cards in their hand that he or she cannot account for.

The new definition makes it clear that if extra cards make it into your hand by any method, the infraction will be drawing extra cards as long as no communication issue or game rule violation has occurred immediately before the card is drawn.

This broader definition of drawing extra cards takes into account actions which would previously been defined as a game rule violation. For example —

• A creature receives lethal damage from combat and the player puts the card back into his hand instead of putting it in their graveyard.
• A player targets his opponent with the activated ability of Millstone and reveals a land and Darksteel Colossus, but puts it into his hand instead of shuffling it into his library.
• A player casts and resolves Fact or Fiction and after the opponent splits the cards into two piles he accidently puts all the cards into his hand.

As crazy as some of these things seem, believe me, I’ve been called to player tables for every scenario you can think of! Of course, if it was deemed by an investigation that the card was deliberately put into the player’s hand, then the infraction is now cheating and the player is disqualified.

Got it? Let’s try some test questions and see it you can spot a Drawing Extra Cards penalty!

Q 1: Active player casts Sign in Blood and seems to gesture at his opponent. As the active player writes down the 2 life loss for himself he sees his opponent drawing two cards and calls a judge. The active player tells the judge that he was targeting himself.

Answer: This is a communication issue. The vague gesture of the hand is basically a shortcut, when the active player should be clearly announcing the target for the spell. Any shortcut which creates confusion is backed up without issuing penalties TR 4.2. We would have to get non active player to randomly place cards on top of his library if the identity of the cards was unknown. No penalties given

Q2. Active player casts Shared Discovery and taps three of his creatures. On resolution he draws 4 cards.

Answer: Here, there is an underlying game rule violation in this scenario. Yes, he has drawn the wrong number of cards, but just before the cards were drawn we had an additional cost for the spell that had been improperly paid. So game rule violation and warning. Cards are randomly placed back on top of the deck.

Q3. Active player has Dragon Appeasement on the battlefield and three spawn tokens which have “sacrifice this creature: add 1 mana to your mana pool”. The non active player has Suicidal Charge and Muraganda Petroglyphs. The non-active player sacrifices Suicidal Charge. Once it resolves, the active player sacrifices one of his spawn tokens and draws one card.

Answer: The Spawn tokens do have an ability to be sacrificed for 1 colorless mana, so they don’t get +2/+2 from the Muraganda. Therefore when the Suicidal Charge is sacrificed, they should be put into the graveyard. The spawn token is illegally sacrificed and a card should not have been drawn. This is a game rule violation and a warning.

One REL to Rule Them All.

Perhaps a more subtle change for players in the infractions guidelines is the streamlining of the penalties into a single rules enforcement level (REL). The reality is that even though we have been working with three in recent years, there was very little difference between competitive and professional in terms of the penalties for each infraction. The real divide has always been between competitive and regular, with regular being the most casual level, normally reserved for FNM and prereleases. This divide is for good reason, since regular events focus on fun and a have fairly modest prize support. However, many of these lower level tournaments are judged by relatively inexperienced people when it comes to policy. Therefore, they would probably find the IPG document very intimidating and a lot to absorb. So Regular has been dropped from the IPG, and a new more beginner-friendly document for casual tournaments, can be found here. This ‘guide to fixing common errors’ is meant to help the head judge to handle common situations, resolve really bad problems, keep the game going, and therefore keep the fun going!

So the regular tournaments have their own new document and have been removed from the IPG. Competitive and Professional have been brought into symmetry by making draft procedure violations a warning at Competitive (instead of a caution) to match the penalty administered at Professional level. It also had the effect of simplifying deck/decklist problems into one single infraction with one penalty. Hardly worthy of an entire section of the IPG anymore, and therefore deck/decklists problems have moved into tournament errors (IPG 4.9). This shake-up has cut the IPG document down by 5 pages and tuned the game’s philosophy into an ever finer tool to be used by judges. Love them or hate them, the tweaks and changes over the years to the comprehensive rules have slowly shaped the game into something that is both fun and still challenging for everyone. Running parallel to these endeavors over the years have been the efforts of the higher level judge community to streamline and perfect the philosophy of the game. The rules of organized play don’t exist to be mean. They are enforced to protect players from those who would abuse the integrity of the tournament, but also weigh up how easily mistakes can happen innocently and whether an infraction deserves a lighter or harsher penalty. We used to disqualify people for having an illegal decklists, but now we don’t. We used to disqualify people for making a rash comment about another player’s match, but now we don’t. We used to have 5 levels or rules enforcement level and now we have just one, one REL to rule them all. This philosophy of Magic keeps evolving. And the job still isn’t finished! The DCI are constantly evaluating how we can do things better and make Magic one of the most carefully crafted games the world has ever seen.

Looking ahead to the weekend, we have the second Legacy format GP of the year rolling into the Midwest — GP: Columbus 2010! Without too much fuss, Legacy has continued to rise in popularity. StarCityGames.com have greatly helped engineer the rise of Legacy in the States with their StarCityGames.com Open Series, which has continued to support the format around the country. The first Legacy GP of the year smashed the previous Legacy format record of GP: Chicago 2009 (1,230 players) and even smashed the all time record from GP: Paris 2009 (1,961 players) to make GP: Madrid (2,225 players) the biggest one to date! I really do think there is a strong chance that GP: Columbus will give GP: DC 2010 (highest North American attended GP with 1,961 players) a run for its money. And if it does, then GP: Columbus TO Mike Guptil and Professional Event Services will be ready to handle the storm. Grab a deck and make your way to Columbus, Ohio this weekend.

Finally, the most valuable judge award for the month goes to Kansas City L 1 judge Regina Cross. On September 4th, Regina will be running “Magic for the Cure,” a charity tournament to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure ahead of the Race for the Cure in Columbia, MO later that month. For details, check out the link for Regina’s blog. Regina is putting out the call for help and can be contacted through the judge center if anyone wants to make extra donations or contribute judge foils for the event. I wish her every success and applaud her efforts!