Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #107: Multiplayer Rules

In his latest article on mtg.com, Paul Barclay introduced draft multiplayer rules and asked for feedback. Since I play a lot of multiplayer, I have some feedback. I’ll go through the rules as released, with the rule sections in Italics, and spout off about them. Then I’ll talk about the things these rules don’t cover, and other problems (and I’ll throw in some MD5 stats at the end).

Well, it does, right?

In his latest article on mtg.com, Paul Barclay introduced draft multiplayer rules and asked for feedback. Since I play a lot of multiplayer, I have some feedback. I’ll go through the rules as released, with the rule sections in Italics, and spout off about them. Then I’ll talk about the things these rules don’t cover, and other problems (and I’ll throw in some MD5 stats at the end).

101.5. … In a multiplayer game, that player doesn’t skip the draw step of his or her first turn. ….

Here’s a simple rule – in multiplayer, the starting player draws on turn one. Most groups allow this, since card advantage and starting advantage aren’t a true tradeoff in multiplayer. Of course, not all groups use this rule, and a lot of people have gotten quite incensed about it.

Change Section 102. (Winning and Losing) – changed around completely.

The rules define the ways you can lose the game – and include such basics as”If an effect states that a player wins the game, all of that player’s opponents lose the game.” It also lists the state based effects that cause you to lose (life total <1, being decked, 10 poison counters, etc.) Little of this is controversial, but the rules do include one interesting provision: when a player loses the game, or concedes, that player”leaves the game.” The rules then go on to describe what happens to cards, permanents and so forth owned or controlled by the player. This is obviously a big concern in multiplayer where the game often continues when a player loses. Each group has its own method of handling these issues, but here is Wizards’s take:

102.6a When a player leaves the game, all objects owned by that player leave the game and any change-of-control effects which give that player control of any objects end. Then, if there are any objects still controlled by that player, those objects leave the game. This is not a state-based effect – it happens as soon as the player leaves the game.

Wizard’s draft includes names for examples, but the examples still need to be written. Here’s how we* think the examples will read:

Control Magic – the controlling enchantment leaves the game. The previously enchanted permanent reverts to the owner’s control, exactly as it would if the enchantment had been disenchanted.

Ray of Command – the”gain control until” effect ends immediately. The permanent reverts to its owner’s control. If it was tapped, it stays tapped, etc.

Verdant Force – when Verdant Force’s owner leaves the game, all the Saprolings the Verdant Force created leave play as well.

Bribery – if a spell or effect has searched an opponent’s library and brought something into play under the caster’s control, and the person that cast the spell or controlled the effect leaves the game, that permanent leaves the game. It is not put into a graveyard or shuffled back into the owners library.

102.6b If an object owned by a player who is not in the game would be put into any zone of the game, it leaves the game instead. (This includes abilities that would be put onto the stack.)

When a player leaves the game and takes his/her permanents, any leaves play triggers those permanents might have do not trigger. This rule deals with effects like Coffin Queen, which normally removes creatures from the game when they leave Coffin Queen’s control. That means that the creature reverts to its owner’s control, instead of being removed from the game. This would also apply in situations like a Donated Illusions of Grandeur – the new controller of the Illusions won’t lose life when the”donor” leaves the game, thereby removing the Illusions, as well.

102.6c If an object requires a player who is not in the game to make a choice, the controller of the object must choose a new player to make that choice. If the original choice was to be made by an opponent of the controller of the object, the controller must choose another opponent if possible.

I’m not sure what this rule accomplishes, but I think it covers the following type of situation: I cast Fact or Fiction. I choose Bill to make the split. I reveal five amazing cards. Bill takes one look and concedes the game. This rule says I can now choose one of the remaining players to make the split.

102.7. In a team game, a team loses the game if all its members lose. A team wins the game if all of the other teams have lost the game. The game is a draw if all the remaining teams lose at once.

One function of rules is to state the obvious. And yes, there are special rules for winning and losing Emperor.

Change 103.4 (APNAP rule)

103.4. If both players would take an action at the same time, the active player (the player whose turn it is) makes and announces any choices required, followed by the nonactive players in clockwise order around the table, then the actions happen simultaneously. This rule is often referred to as the”Active Player, Nonactive Player (APNAP) rule.”

Example: A card reads”Each player sacrifices a creature.” First, the active player chooses a creature he or she controls. Then the nonactive player chooses a creature he or she controls. Then both creatures are sacrificed simultaneously.

This is a pretty basic rule, and one that most teams follow. The only difference I have seen is that some groups go counterclockwise – but some groups are just strange.

Change 306.3 (defending player)

306.3. During the combat phase, the active player is attacking and is the attacking player. As the combat phase starts, the active player chooses one opponent. The chosen opponent is being attacked and is the defending player.

Like half the multiplayer world, I jumped and screamed and emailed and went nuts on the forums and otherwise had a fit when I saw this. However – there are optional rules for splitting attacks later on. Every group I know uses those”optional” rules – and will continue to do so.

Change 408.1c (gaining priority after passing)

408.1c The active player gets priority at the beginning of most phases and steps, after any game actions are dealt with and abilities that trigger at the beginning of that phase or step go on the stack. No player gets priority during the untap step and players usually don’t get priority during the cleanup step (see rule 314.3). The player with priority may play a spell or ability, take a special action, or pass. If he or she plays a spell or ability, or takes a special action, the player again receives priority; otherwise, the next player clockwise around the table receives priority. If all players pass in succession (that is, if all players pass without taking any actions in between passing), the top object on the stack resolves, then the active player receives priority. If the stack is empty when all players pass in succession, the phase or step ends and the next one begins.

Change 413.1 (passing in succession)

413.1. Each time all players pass in succession, the object (a spell, an ability, or combat damage) on top of the stack resolves. (See rule 416,”Effects.”)

Nothing new or controversial here – but if you aren’t that familiar with the rules, read those paragraphs again. The stack is the key to much of magic, including most combat tricks and nearly all cool plays.

Section 6: Multiplayer Optional Rules

600 General Options

600.1 Most multiplayer games are played using only the rules in sections 1 through 5 of this rulebook. This section contains additional optional rules which can be used for some kinds of multiplayer play.

Okay, every group I know of will want to use some of these”optional” rules.

601 Spell Range

The draft rules for spell range are, well, rule-like. (Legalistic? Arcane? Convoluted? Rule-like.) I find the old text from the Battle Royale boxed set to be far better at explaining what Wizards was trying to do:

In some multiplayer games, your spells can affect only players sitting close to you; this is stated as a spell range and is typically one or two. For instance, if the rules for a game say that the spell range is one, a Wrath of God will destroy only creatures controlled by you and by the players sitting one seat away on either side (the players right next to you); other players’ creatures are unaffected. Similarly, if you control a Howling Mine in that game, only you and the two players sitting next to you get to draw an extra card every turn. Furthermore, your target choices are limited to you, the players sitting next to you, and the permanents in front of each of you, no matter who controls them.

When spell range is unlimited, you can choose any legal target for your spells, and untargeted spells affect every player’s territory.

I will say right off that I have a problem with spell range. I find it to be a really clunky rule that creates far more problems than it solves.

601.1b The players that are within each player’s spell range are set at the beginning of each turn. If a player leaves the game, the group of players who are in the spell range of players around the player who left the game will not change until the beginning of the next turn.

This rule has only one purpose – to make it impossible to create an infinite combo and machine-gun the whole table in sequence. Since I have written about several such combos for Emperor, both pro and con, I know this can be done. I also know that this can be a problem. However, this rule is not the answer.

Imagine a 3 on 3 Emperor game, using spell range 2 (per the rules, below.) The Emperor’s left hand pawn** kills the enemy pawn. Normally, that should give that team an advantage, since the Emperor would now get a shot at the enemy Emperor. Under this rule, that doesn’t happen. The spell range does not change until the start of the next turn. That would be the enemy Emperor’s turn, so the Emperor gets protected until s/he untaps. That’s quite strange, since logic and fairness would want the team that killed the pawn to get the advantage, but it does not.

This rule also allows the Emperor’s right side pawn to take their turn, do everything they can, then concede at the end of his/her turn. This sets up the Emperor to have an untap, then target the opposing Emperor.

601.2. Creatures a player controls can only attack opponents who are within that player’s spell range. If the only players within a player’s spell range are that player’s teammates, creatures that player controls can’t attack.

I have a problem with this as well. In a large multiplayer game with spell range of 1 between teams A and B, seating is A, B, A,B, A, B, and so forth. That mean that if you kill both opponents on either side, but the teammates in the next seats are still around, you just sit there. You cannot attack anyone, or affect any opponent’s permanents. At best, you can Giant Growth a teammate’s creature. Boring!

601.5. If an effect requires information from the game, it will only get information from within its controller’s spell range. It will not see objects or events that are outside its controller’s spell range.

This does mean that if there are twelve elves in play, but only six in your spell range, your Wellwisher taps for six life. It gets even stranger with stuff like Coat of Arms – if you attack with Llanowar Elves, and you have six elves in your spell range, your Llanowar is a 7/7. However, if your neighbor has seven elves in their spell range, their Llanowar Elf is an 8/8. I know that’s how spell range is intended to work, but I have never understood why it needs to work at all.

601.7a Local enchantments can’t be attached to objects that are outside their controller’s range. If a local enchantment is attached to such a permanent, it becomes unattached and is put into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based effect.

So if I am Emperor in a five-on-five game with spell range of one, and I put an Armadillo Cloak on my Juggernaut and pass it to my nearside pawn, it’s fine. If that pawn passes the Juggernaut to the outside pawn, the Armadillo Cloak falls off? Why?

One final note on spell range: The rules defining”objects” include spells on the stack. This means that a player can only counter a spell cast by someone in his/her spell range. This is great for combos. If spell range stops you from targeting permanents and prevents you from countering spells, if becomes a lot easier to set up a combo. Even if everyone at the table knows what you are doing, only a couple players have the ability to do anything about it. For example, I have an infinite life deck that can pretty reliably fire off by turn two or three, and then find Test of Endurance shortly thereafter. It is absolutely stupid in Emperor games or other large multiplayer games with a short spell range, since almost no one can do anything about it.

602 Attacking more than one player

602.1. Some multiplayer options allow a player to attack multiple different defending players….

These rules are pretty good. They cover all the logical things: forestwalk only works for defenders with forests, Sword of Fire and Ice can only affect the player that was dealt damage or creatures s/he controls, creatures can only block creatures attacking their controller, etc.

603 Moving creatures

603.1 Some multiplayer games use the optional”moving creatures” rules, which allow players to move creatures that they have controlled since the beginning of their turn to their teammates.

603.2 The rules text of the ability is:”Tap an untapped creature that you’ve controlled since the beginning of this turn: Target teammate gains control of that creature. Play this ability only when you could play a sorcery.”

These rules, on the other hand, are not good. In fact, they are really bad.

First of all, the creatures should have the ability, not the game or player. That would allow creatures that have Haste to move the same turn they came into play, while others would not.

Second, the rules should not target a teammate. There is no reason that the rules could not say”Chose a teammate. That teammate gains control of …” Targeting a teammate means that the move could be redirected by something like Willbender, and an Emperor could not move creatures to a pawn that had Ivory Mask or True Believer in play.

Finally, you could really abuse these rules with creatures that don’t tap to attack, or if you can untap them. For example, assume that a team had a Tidal Kraken in play, enchanted with Pemmin’s Aura. Each teammate could attack with the Kraken, then the controller of Pemmin’s Aura could untap the Kraken, and the teammate could move the creature to whichever teammate could attack next.

In my experience, moving creatures has only been used in Emperor games, and then usually only Emperors could send creatures to pawns. I have been in groups that discussed having pawns send the creatures back, but that was either not allowed or the pawn could only send the creature to the Emperor, and then the Emperor had to send it to the other pawn. Under the draft rules, pawns could send the creature directly to the other pawns. Note that this doesn’t change things much for creatures moving clockwise (with the turn sequence they arrive quickly), but it is a huge change to have creatures move from left pawn to right pawn in one turn.

604 Attack left or right

604.1. Some multiplayer games use the optional”attack left” or”attack right” rules. These options can be used in the free-for-all, melee, and grand melee formats.

604.1a If the attack left option is used, a player can only attack an opponent who is sat directly on his or her left. If the nearest opponent to the left is more than one seat away, that player can’t attack.

This is another option I have never much liked, but if it trips your trigger, fine.

Multiplayer Formats

605 Free-for-All Format

605.1 The free-for-all format is the normal multiplayer format. It is a solo format that involves three to six players.

Like everyone else on the forums: WTF! Why in the world do the only rules for free-for-all limit it to six players. I have routinely played larger free-for-alls. It gets worse – the optional rules say that groups of 6-10 must use Melee, with a spell range of two, and groups of ten or more must use Grand Melee, with a spell range and”turn markers.” I don’t mind that the rules describe various formats, but they should not limit what can be played. It would be fine to say that a certain format”typically has” or”is intended for / works best with” some number of players, but not that it has to have a certain number of players. I may be biased here, but I have never had a good experience in a grand melee format. YMMD, but I find it a pain.

608 Teams Format

608.1. The teams format involves two or more equally-sized teams of players.

Sure, these rules are simple and obvious, right up to:

608.4. The teams format uses spell range, with a spell range of two.

I have played various team formats for the better part of a decade. I don’t play spell range. We play team chaos, a/k/a free-for-all. It works for us. I really have a problem with rules that say that an option like spell range – especially something as limiting and problematic as spell range – must be used.

609 Two-Headed Giant Format

I didn’t find any problems with these rules. At least, not yet – unlike the next section on Emperor. I am going to reproduce all the draft rules on the Emperor format (sorry for the bandwidth) but I want to make a point about what is not in there. Here’s the draft – can you spot the omission?

610 Emperor Format

610.1. The emperor format involves two equally-sized teams, of three or five players each. Each team includes one emperor, who sits in the middle of the team. The remaining players on the team are flankers, whose job is to protect the emperor.

610.2. Each team sits in a row on one side of the table.

610.2a The seating around the table for three-player emperor involving two teams, A and B, is: A1, A2, A3, B1, B2 B3. Players A2 and B2 are the emperors.

610.2b The seating around the table for five-player emperor involving two teams, A and B, is: A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5. Players A3 and B3 are the emperors.

610.3. The emperor of a randomly chosen team starts the game.

610.4. The emperor format uses spell range, with a range of 2.

610.5. The emperor format uses special rules for winning and losing the game.

610.5a A team loses the game if its Emperor loses.

610.5b A team wins the game if all of the other teams have lost the game.

610.5c The game is a draw if all the remaining teams lose at once.

610.6. The emperor format always uses the moving creatures rules.

So do you see (metaphorically) what is missing? I missed it the first time.

Here’s a hint. What’s the defining feature of the Emperor format?

I think the defining feature is that you cannot attack the Emperor until the intervening enemy pawn is dead. Groups differ on whether pawns can lob burn at the enemy Emperor’s head immediately. Some allow it, some don’t. (These rules allow it.) Groups also differ on whether a pawn can target an enemy Emperor’s permanents while the enemy pawn on that side lives. (These rules also allow that.) What every Emperor group I know of does not allow, however, is the following:

Pawn A, beginning the game: Mountain, Raging Goblin, attack the enemy emperor.

These rules allow that.

The rules say”The remaining players on the team are flankers, whose job is to protect the emperor.” But the rules don’t limit the attacks to the pawns. Spell range two means that the pawns can attack the emperor, even while the pawns live.

I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work. I don’t think that’s even how Wizards thought the rules would work. I think everyone took it for granted, and just missed the fact that the rules didn’t address it. It happens. Still…

Emperor could work more like it is traditionally played if you gave the pawns a spell range of one, and the Emperor a spell range of two (or more, if there are more allied pawns on each side.) That, however, would allow the Emperor’s creatures to attack the enemy pawns directly, without passing them to pawns. That’s still not quite right.

I took a shot at writing Emperor rules that don’t require spell range. Here’s my draft. The Wizards draft rules are in italics, my additions are underlined. (Some language is abbreviated, for readability, instead of being in full rule language.)

610.1. The emperor format involves two equally-sized teams, of three or five players each. Each team includes one emperor, who sits in the middle of the team. The remaining players on the team are flankers, whose job is to protect the emperor. Flankers are assumed to stand between the Emperor and threats.

610.2 (no change, but I would consider defining the outermost flanker as the flanker farthest out in teams of five, seven, or more. My rules have the inner flankers act as mini-Emperors, able to target everything on their side from the Emperor to the outermost enemy flanker, but not able to attack.)

610.3. The two Emperors roll off (see what I mean about abbreviation?) The winner determines whether their team will play first or second. The leftmost pawn on the team playing first begins the game. (With play proceeding clockwise, this balances the advantage of going first.)

610.4. The emperor format uses spell range, with a range of 2. The Emperor format places special restrictions on combat and on the spells and effects. For flankers, combat and spells reach only to their own Emperor on one side, and to the first enemy flanker, or enemy Emperor only if all enemy flankers on that side have been eliminated.

610.4a. Combat: While at least one flanker on the Emperor’s right side is still in the game, the Emperor may not be attacked by creatures controlled by enemy flankers on that side. The Emperor may not attack enemy flankers on his right side while at least one allied flanker on that side remains in the game.

Ditto left.

In games with multiple flankers on a side, only the outermost flankers may attack. (There are alternatives options on this – I’m just doing this structure for simplicity. I’ll discuss options, below.)

610.4b. Spells and Effects: A Flanker may target spells and effects only to him or her self, his or her emperor, and any allied flankers on the same side of the emperor – and to objects controlled by those players, and to any spells or effects on the stack. A flanker may also target the outermost enemy flanker on the same side, and permanents that player controls. If all enemy flankers on that side are eliminated, the flanker may target the enemy emperor and that emperor’s permanents.

The Emperor may target spells and abilities to any allied flanker, and to both of the outermost enemy flankers, as well as to any permanents controlled by that player. If all of the enemy flankers on either side of an enemy Emperor have been eliminated, the Emperor may target the enemy Emperor, and permanents controlled by that Emperor, as well.

There is only one stack. Any player (either emperor or flanker, and regardless of which side of the emperor that player is one) may target any spells or effects while they are on the stack. Spells and effects may be redirected, but only to targets which are legal targets. (e.g. a Right side pawn may use Deflection to redirect an Ancestral Recall, but only to him/herself, his or her Emperor or the opposing pawn on that side.)

Global effects (discussed below)

These rules only allow flankers to target other flankers. The rules could also be drafted to allow the flankers to lob spells at the Emperor. I’ll talk about options like these below.

610.5. (these rules are fine)

610.6. The emperor format always uses the moving creatures rules. The Emperor and Flankers may move creatures. All creatures controlled by the Emperor (and inner flankers, in games with multiple flankers on each side of the emperor) have the ability”tap: ‘move’ to an adjacent teammate. Play this ability only when you could play a sorcery.”

When a creature is”moved”, the creature is physically moved in front of the next flanker out from the Emperor, and that player gains control of the creature. That player also gains control of any equipment, or enchantments on that creature. A moved creature remains tapped.

These rules allow creatures to flow outward, one player at a time. You could also write the rules to allow transfer to any teammate, or to allow the outermost flankers to send creatures back towards the Emperor.

I also modified the rules on enchantments and equipment. This is generally conceptually easier, although I can understand why you would want an Emperor to retain control of (and gain the life from) the Loxodon Warhammer. That could also be an option.

To some extent, you could create an Emperor format by using a spell range of one. That would prevent pawns from attacking the enemy Emperor until the opposing pawns are eliminated. However, using a spell range of one allows the Emperor to cast combo pieces without any opposition – and I can easily build decks that can combo out and win very quickly in that format. Using a spell range of one also allows Emperors to play spells like Howling Mine, Prosperity and New Frontiers, and provide the benefits only to allied pawns. Once again, that creates a broken format and boring games. It gets a bit better if you give the pawns a spell range of one, and the Emperor a spell range of two, but that still causes problems, and makes combo wins way too easy.

My discussion on options follows, but let me finish up the Wizards draft rules first.

611 Pentagon Format

Some people have mentioned that this isn’t quite the pentagon format they remember. Sure. I have seen a lot of rules for different formats, and written about many. (e.g. this article.) I think the rules for this format will improve, and other formats might get added. I suspect that will depend on whether Wizards has the time, or volunteer assistance, to draft the rules. We will see.

Wait – before you start deluging Wizards with rule drafts, remember that you have to write rules as rules. That means that they have to be bullet-poof and avoid loop-holes. All the”power-gaming” Wargamers and Roleplayers – and those that know people like that – know what I mean. For everyone else, here’s a quick example:

In the Squad Leader DYO scenario rules, years ago, I noticed that the rules allowed you to pay a bit extra to make parachute troops out of any units except motor vehicles, artillery and certain inferior units, like partisans and militia. So I bought paratroop cavalry. The rules allowed it – or didn’t forbid it, which is the same thing – so I smashed everyone. It didn’t matter that horses cannot survive a parachute drop. This was about rules, not reality. Any lawyer will tell you that the two do not necessarily coincide.

The problem with writing rules is that it doesn’t matter what you intended, or whether it makes sense or not; it’s what the rule actually says that matters. Ask any political scientist about”the law of unintended consequences.”

If you really want to draft rules for Wizards to consider, do both yourself and Wizards a favor and have a couple friends try to break your rules before you send them in. Better yet, have a competent judge try to break them – or a couple. (As I mentioned, I expect to run this past a couple L2s and L3s.) Best of all, post the draft rules in the StarCityGames.com forums and let us all work on polishing them. We can have someone with some Wizards contacts (like Sheldon, perhaps) forward the best of the bunch to Paul Barclay.

Okay, now some thoughts on options:

First of all, the rules should reflect the fact that different groups play different rules, and that the different rule sets all work – and all favor different styles of decks and play. They are not necessarily”wrong,” and the rules should make some allowance for the fact. For example, Emperor is played differently in different areas, and one main difference is global effects. Some people (the enlightened people) apply global effects global (like God / Allah / Vishnu / Ra intended.) Others (the IQ = shoe size crowd) play a perverted type of deformed Pokemon variant in which global effects are unreasonably constrained and limited. (If you read carefully, you might be able to tell which version I prefer.)

Whatever. The point is that some people play global effects affect everything, some use spell range. Either option is perfectly acceptable, provided everyone understands what the rules are before the game (and preferably before beginning to design decks.)

Here’s how the rules could address this problem. These particular rules address global effects in an Emperor game, and are written to be consistent with my draft Emperor rules, above.

610.x Players must chose an option for global effects prior to beginning the game. These options are:

Option 1) Global effects affect all players, and the permanents controlled by all players. (e.g All players draw an extra card when Howling Mine is in play.)

Option 2: global effects affect only those players the owner could target (if the innermost flanker has a Howling Mine, only the Emperor, the Flankers on that flanker’s side and the outermost enemy flanker on that side draw extra cards.)

A quick note on the second option: that type of limitation makes some balanced cards completely broken – e.g. Howling Mine, Mana Flare, New Frontiers, Prosperity, etc. I don’t like playing in that sort of format. I also don’t like playing in formats where I cannot affect the emperor’s permanents with global effects. I have written on that before – suffice it to say the an Emperor with a Tooth and Nail deck that pulls out Mephidross Vampire and Triskelion is beyond annoying if the opponents play creatures – and it isn’t any better when the Emperor plays combo.

Back to options:

I think the rules should clearly state that multiplayer groups may use various optional rules, that all options listed in the rules are reasonable, and that other options could be used provided that everyone agrees. Here is some draft rule language on options:

Multiplayer games use the basic MtG rules, plus some set of the options. The primary options, which must be chosen before a game or event starts, are listed in 620.3

If an event is organized (meaning sanctioned or with prizes), the organizer makes all choices. The organizer announces those choices when announcing the event. In other cases, the players need to agree on the options chosen before the game begins.

Players need to decide on the following:

– Format (teams? special deck construction rules, etc.)

– Mulligan rules (Paris, no-land, one-land, shared, one-for-free, gentleman’s, etc.)

– First player: draw and play or play, no draw?

– Global effects or range?

– Attack limitations?

– One stack (counter anything) or only target stuff on stack if caster / activator is in spell range?

– Table talk?

– Etc.

I would also like to see the multiplayer rules make it clear that organizers can define other formats. They need to specify the rules and choices, but that other formats are acceptable. For example, PES and Pastimes (and others) runs a lot of strange formats at GenCon and Origins: Creature Feature, two-headed giant sealed, peasant magic, 5Color, etc. Organizers – and players – also like theme tournaments, like mono-green chaos for St. Patrick’s Day.

With regard to group size in a multiplayer game, the organizers should be the ones to set size limits, not the rules. This would allow the organizers to set the group size based on attendance. That would allow the organizers to have reasonably sized subsequent rounds. For example, if ten people show up for a multiplayer free-for-all, you could play one big game. If sixteen show, it might make more sense to have four four-player games, with the winners then playing it off in another four-player game. Given that attendance will always be uncertain at these events, the organizers should have the necessary flexibility.

As mentioned before, the rules need to address some issues that are not resolved. Here are a few:

Wishes and”Leave the Game”

When a player leaves the game, all cards that were searched out of libraries and under that player’s control when s/he left also leave the game. They go into a special area that is not part of the game at all. So, the question is, if a player Briberies my Darksteel Colossus, then leaves the game, can I cast Living Wish and get my Colossus back? The rules seem to say no.

Spell Ranges and Legends

The rules need to discuss how Legends and Enchant Worlds affects interact with spell range. If the effects don’t see each other, the rules need to define how to handle the interactions of two Legends or Enchant Worlds when spell range changes. This is probably a time-stamp issue, but that means you have to keep track of when these appear.

Table Talk

The draft rules do not address table talk, deals, politicking or promises of retribution or alliance. Good. Multiplayer is, at heart, a casual format. A lot of table talk is common, but each group sets its own limits. The tolerance / preference for table talk and politicking varies group by group. There is no reason to create rules on this – the rules are never going to cover everyone. It would be like writing rules governing the type of pizza you can eat while playing. Some people like plain extra cheese, some like super supreme, some like Swiss cheese, summer sausage and sauerkraut.

This is long enough. I’m not going to add a lot on MD5 PTQs – but here are the updated stats through Monday, July 26. I added results from GP: Orlando and the Madison PTQ. I took mono-Green and came in ninth. Tourney report: I lost to the eventual winner when he dropped two Disciples on turn two game one, and again game two. I also lost to a fascinating R/W deck. I may write more about that later.

Metagame at the moment. The first numbers include only PTQs. The numbers in parentheses include GPTs that had more than 32 people.

Ravager Affinity

25 (32)


Tooth and Nail

20 (25)


U/G Crystal Witness

18 (20)


Big Red

16 (20)


Mono Green

10 (14)


U/W Contol

9 (12)


R/G Freshmaker

8 (9)


U/G Tooth and Nail

5 (6)



4 (4)


Death Cloud

3 (7)






Later this week – more stats on the MD5 metagame. Promise.


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 * We being me (a Level 1 Judge) in consultation with two Level 2’s and a newly minted level 3 judge (Chris Richter, Star City’s new”Ask the Judge” guy).

** I’m using”pawn” for the players flanking the emperor. The rules use”Lieutenant,” but I hate typing that. I have also seen the flankers called”generals” or”captains.” Or”flankers.” Whatever.