Tessitori is a level 5 judge from Italy; he judged more than 50 professional
events, headjudged 10 Grand Prix and has just started headjudging Pro Tours, such
Tour Kyoto 2009
- Pro Tour Austin 2009
- Worlds Chiba 2010
- Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
A Beer Festival (GP Ghent), The Great Wall (GP Shanghai) and… Lapsing Abilities Redux!
break, the second part of the 2012 GP season has finished with three GPs on the
same weekend (Sao Paulo, Columbus and Ghent) and then Shanghai, with formats
varying from the old Legacy to the new M13 limited.
time to head to the World Magic Cup, the new “World Championship” for teams
only; there was a period, about nine months ago, when it was announced that there
would be no Worlds anymore… no more country representatives, no more flag
ceremony… and then the World Magic Cup was announced, and we had Worlds again!
Now, I'm waiting for the day when it will be announced that we will have Nationals
again, I’m missing them a lot and I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
present days, do you remember when we talked about “lapsing abilities”? You
might have read the article called “GP Manchester and Lapsing
Abilities”. A few months have passed
and it’s time to discuss them again!
of the Week
control a creature with Persist and, with Undying Evil, I give Undying to it.
What happens when it dies?
A: You will
choose to have it come back with a +1/+1 counter. At the moment the creature is
put into the graveyard, the two abilities trigger, and you will be able to
choose the order in which they resolve; if you want a bigger creature, you will choose
to have Undying resolve first, and the creature will be returned to the
battlefield with a +1/+1 counter; when Persist resolves, it won’t be able
to find the creature in the graveyard and will have no effect.
control Keldon Marauders and, with Undying Evil, I give Undying to it. What
happens when it dies?
A: It will
come back to the battlefield, with a +1/+1 counter and with two time counters. Keldon Marauders enters the battlefield with two time counters and with
vanishing, independently of how it was put on the battlefield; Undying will
work only once (no, it won’t come back again and again, you will have it for
only two other turns ^__^).
control Exotic Orchard and my opponent controls a Vivid Creek with no counters
on it. What type of mana can I produce?
A: You can
produce any color of mana. Exotic Orchard checks for the types of mana that
your opponent’s lands would produce if they were tapped; it doesn’t check if
your opponent will actually be able to activate his lands’ abilities, therefore
it’s not important if Vivid Creek has a counter or not. Extra: the types of
mana are the five colors (white, blue, black, red, green) and colorless.
control Reflecting Pool and Ancient Ziggurat. What type of mana can I produce
with the Reflecting Pool and how can I use it?
A: You can
produce any color of mana and you can use it for any spell or ability. Ancient Ziggurat has a restriction on how its mana can be used; Reflecting Pool checks
only for the types of mana that the Ziggurat can produce, not for its
opponent attacks me with a Treetop Village; I use my Aether Vial to put a Phyrexian Metamorph on the battlefield. Can I block with it?
A: You can
block if you can animate it. When you copy an animated land, you get a simple
land; if you have the necessary mana, you can animate it. Extra: copying a
permanent means “take the card out of the sleeve, put it on a photocopy machine,
put the original card back into its sleeve, put the black&white photocopy
above your Phyrexian Metamorph ^__^”
– GP Ghent and GP Shanghai 2012
Grand Prix without a couple of extra days to visit the city and hang out with
judging a Magic event is an awesome experience and you get to travel with friends!
Take a look at the Facebook pages of the most famous players and judges, and
you might see photos of amazing places.
of this trip: Ghent.
like an anonymous city in the countryside of Belgium and I had heard about it
only because the local soccer team played against an Italian team some years
ago, but it had a couple of very interesting surprises: a very beautiful city
center and a nice castle (I love castles!)
and also a
Music and Beer festival (sorry, no photo available ^__^).
of this trip: Shanghai.
I went to
Shanghai in 2011 and I enjoyed it so
much that I was thrilled to come back!
the place I saw on another Magic player’s Facebook page that I am really envious
of? Machu Picchu for sure!
I’m catching up! On the way to Shanghai I visited one of the New Seven Wonders
of the World: the
Great Wall of China!
assure you that walking on it and seeing it with your own eyes is very
different from looking at a photo on the screen of your computer.
for my life: see all these Seven Wonders.
status update: TWO (Colosseum, Great
Wall of China)
side by side, at opposite ends of the “format spectrum”: Legacy and M13
would like to analyze an aspect that all formats have in common, an aspect that
created many interesting situations, many discussions at tournaments,
misunderstanding, feedback and discussions outside of tournaments… and who
knows how it is going to be in the future: lapsing abilities!
ago, we discussed these lapsing
abilities for the first time, and you might want to take a look at that article
again (the part about lapsing abilities is just below the pictures of beautiful
Manchester); here you can also find another excellent article I would like to
recommend, written by
the judge in charge of writing our tournament policy, Toby Elliott.
make a summary of what lapsing abilities are (compared to other abilities and
effects) and of how they work differently depending on the level of the
tournament; then, waiting for the next policy update at the end of September, I
will try to explain the aspects that I like and the aspects that I don’t like about
this new rule.
create a few diagrams.
December 2011, effects in Magic were created by:
- Rules of the game (a creature with
lethal damage is put into the graveyard; if you have more than seven cards at
the end of your turn, you have to discard…)
- Resolving spells and activated
abilities (you know the effect, you choose to pay the cost, you get the effect
after your opponent had the opportunity to respond)
- Resolving triggered abilities
(<<<--- we are talking about these!)
abilities are those abilities that “just happen”; they need a trigger event;
they are written with a sentence that starts with “At the beginning of, at the
end of, when, whenever”.
next to impossible to forget a spell or an activated ability (indeed, you paid
the cost; when you go to Starbucks and you pay, I’m sure that you wait for the
coffee without forgetting it ^__^), but it can happen to not notice that a
triggered ability wants to happen; this is why a specific infraction called
“Missed trigger” was created.
look at the different types of triggered abilities.
main difference is:
abilities are those that contain the word “may” and they give you the choice of
not performing the action (Angelic Benediction: if your opponent has no
creatures, you surely don’t want to tap one of yours! Same with War Priest of Thune, if you are the only one who controls an enchantment). During
tournaments, because choices like these have to be announced (“I tap this”, “I
destroy this”, “I gain 1 life”…), it has been decided that failing to announce
it means that you chose not to perform the action; being focused on the game is
a skill, and if you forget to perform an optional action, sorry, you lost the
opportunity. [the official rules say “If the trigger instruction is optional
(it includes “may” or “up to X,” where 0 is a valid choice) and specifies no
consequence for not doing it, assume that the player has chosen to not perform
the instruction and issue no penalty.”]
abilities are all the others, which don’t specifically state that you can
choose not to use them; they happen; if they say that you lose 2 life points,
there is no way to avoid it; if they say that you have to draw a card, there is
no way to avoid it. During tournaments, if it happens that you or your opponent
forget to perform the action of a mandatory triggered ability, you really have
to do it, it’s an infraction if you don’t do it; both you and your opponent are
responsible to make mandatory actions happen (note: this will change in 2012,
for Competitive tournaments).
main difference is:
- abilities with a choice and a default
action (like Echo) [the official rules say “If the trigger specifies a default
action associated with a choice made by the controller of the trigger (usually
“If you don’t ...” or “... unless”), resolve the default action immediately
without using the stack.”]
- abilities with no choice and no
visual representation of the game (like Kami of the Hunt) [the official rules
say “If the trigger requires no choices to be made and has no effect on the
visual representation of the game, assume the ability resolved at the
appropriate time and issue no penalty.”]
- all the other abilities [the official
rules say “insert the forgotten ability in the appropriate place on the stack.
Do not make any attempt to rewind the game state to the point of the missed
main difference depends on when the missed trigger is discovered:
- if discovered before a turn cycle has
passed, the ability is put on the stack
- if discovered after a turn cycle has
passed, the ability is lost and the game continues
that something has changed at the beginning of 2012!
We now have
another difference, depending on the tournament:
- Regular tournaments: these are the
tournaments where prizes are low, entry fees are low, and the main goal is to
have fun playing Magic with friends [the official rules say “Regular events are
focused on fun and social aspects, not enforcement. Most tournaments are run at
this level unless they offer sizeable prizes or invitations. Players are
expected to know most of the game rules, may have heard of policy and what is
“really bad”, but generally play in a fashion similar to the way he or she does
at home. Players are still responsible for following the rules, but the focus
is on education and sportsmanship rather than technically precise play. Though
much of the philosophy still applies, Regular REL events are not the focus of
this guide, and the Judging at Regular REL document should be used instead.”]
- Competitive and Professional
tournaments: these are the tournaments where prizes are high and the major goal
is to have a great competition (and win ^__^), therefore it’s important that
rules are followed with precision and that all types of skill are rewarded [the
official rules say “Competitive events are usually those with significant cash
prizes or invitations awarded to Professional events. Players are expected to
know the game’s rules—but not to a technically detailed level—and be familiar
with the policies and procedures, but unintentional errors are not punished
severely. These are events that protect the interests of all players by
providing event integrity while also recognizing that not all players are
intimately familiar with Professional-level event structure, proper procedures,
and rules.” and “Professional level events offer large cash awards, prestige,
and other benefits that draw players from great distances. These events hold
players to a higher standard of behavior and technically correct play than
Most of the
categories of ability work the same way in any kind of tournament:
- Optional triggers are optional and,
if you forget them, you lose the opportunity to use them.
- Abilities with a choice and a default
action resolve by applying the default action.
- Abilities with no choice and no
visual representation of the game are considered to have resolved even if not
category called “all the others”, there is a difference
depending on the tournament:
- At Regular tournaments, nothing
changed: mandatory effects are still mandatory, the goal is still to have fun
playing a great game, you still have to beat your opponent by killing him with
your creatures and not because he forgets his effects.
- At Competitive and Professional
tournaments, mandatory effects are no longer mandatory (THIS IS THE BIG
CHANGE!!!) and there is a new difference between lapsing abilities and
abilities are those that have one of the following effects (this is the
official list from the rules):
you to gain life
damage to an opponent or causes an opponent to lose life
- Causes an
opponent to discard cards
you to look at and/or rearrange cards in a zone
cards into your hand from your graveyard or the exile zone
- Puts a
permanent onto the battlefield under your control or gives you control of a
counters linked to a beneficial effect (such as +1/+1 counters or charge
counters) on one or more permanents you control
- Gives one
or more permanents you control +X/+Y or a beneficial ability
one or more permanents you control
- Gives you
deals damage to, destroys, taps, gives -X/-Y to, or puts counters associated
with a detrimental effect (such as -1/-1 counters) on one or more permanents
controlled by an opponent
an opponent to exile a permanent he or she controls or put a permanent into his
or her library or graveyard
be clear that this is a list of 99.9% of the “positive” effects; yes, there can
Now, what has
- You need to remember your lapsing
triggers, because they are treated the same way as optional triggers; if you
forget to use them immediately, you lose them; with this new rule, a more
focused and more skilled player has an advantage in the competition.
- You don’t need to remind your
opponent about his lapsing triggers; with this new rule, the advantage is that
you won’t be “helping your absent-minded opponent beat you”; again, a more
focused and more skilled player has an advantage in the competition.
triggers are all the others and there is another significant change:
- You don’t need to remind your
opponent about his non-lapsing triggers; because telling the difference between lapsing
and non-lapsing triggers can sometimes be tricky, judges cannot expect all
Competitive players to be able to determine in a few seconds if an ability
forgotten by the opponent is lapsing (here they can stay silent) or non-lapsing
(here staying silent would have meant committing Fraud) and therefore the choice
was to allow the opponent to stay silent in all cases
(IPG, Infraction Procedure Guide, and MTR, Magic Tournament Rules) are updated
every three months; usually published on March/June/September/December the
20th, they become effective after 10 days, on April/July/October/January the
introduction of the lapsing triggers happened with the April 2012 version;
after three months, there have been minor tweaks; in one month and a half there
will be the “six-months-after” version, and six months may be a sufficient
period to have gathered feedback from all the tournaments around the world.
important message that I would like to give you today is that judges apply the
official rules, but they are also looking for ways to improve them whenever
possible; if you have an opinion about how the rules should work (I’m speaking
about tournament rules and how tournament situations are handled, not about the
game rules and damage on the stack ^__^), please feel free to express your
opinion by talking to your local judge, writing on the Wizards forums,
contacting an expert judge online or writing directly to Toby Elliott; all
opinions matter and nobody’s opinion is discarded right away.
although you see judges explaining the current rules and maybe looking like
“strict enforcers of the rules”, we have our own opinions about what we like
and what we don’t like; not liking some aspects of the rules is not a sign that
the rules are wrong, or we cannot understand them, or we don’t support them; it’s
the opposite: discussing them and looking for aspects that might need to be
improved is one of the different ways to support the rules (“apply current
rules in present tournaments, and then discuss possible improvements for future
aspects I like about the current rules:
I like that
the rules haven’t changed at Regular tournaments, because enforcing too strict
rules would decrease the fun.
I like that
my opponent is not required anymore to “help me beat him”; if I’m not focused
on the game, my opponent should get an advantage.
I like that
there is a list of effects that define a lapsing ability, because it allows
both players and judges to understand lapsing abilities better.
aspects that I wish will be analyzed before the next rules update:
one: Persist (return to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter) is non-lapsing,
while Undying (return to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter) is lapsing.
Although a -1/-1 counter is clearly not beneficial, Persist has the clear
benefit of making the creature return to the battlefield (it will just return
“a little smaller”) and it looks more appropriate to me if these two very
similar abilities worked the same way.
one: “Gives one or more permanents you control +X/+Y or a beneficial ability”
doesn’t include Snapcaster Mage, because it gives a beneficial ability
(Flashback) to a card in a graveyard, which is not a permanent. According to
the rules, Snapcaster Mage is non-lapsing, despite being very similar to many
one (I use two famous examples): I believe we can safely assume that nobody
actually *forgets* the fellow Angel of Geist of Saint Traft (lapsing) or the
Germ token of Batterskull (non-lapsing); the missed Angel happens usually
because the attacking player just makes the assumption that “of course I hear
wings flapping above my head ^__^”. This looks to me like a problem of
communication and not of missed triggers, and maybe it might be dealt with in a
different way. The fact that Batterskull is non-lapsing (because the action of
attaching the equipment to the creature is not in the list) despite being quite
similar to the Geist of Saint Traft makes it harder to explain this to new
Competitive players and to enforce the rule at tournaments.
one: Since one of the fundaments of the lapsing triggers was “beneficial
effects” and the vast majority of times drawing a card is beneficial, I would
like “drawing one or more cards” to be added to the list of effects of lapsing
triggers. Although there might be times when my opponent will want to win by
decking me, I believe that he will point out that I need to draw any time I miss it (if it’s really his strategy, he will make sure it works).
one: “Abilities with no choice and no visual representation of the game” (like
Battle Cry and Exalted, which are not lapsing) and “Gives one or more
permanents you control +X/+Y” (like Yeva's Forcemage, which is lapsing) look
very similar and this makes it harder to explain this to new Competitive
players and to enforce the rule at tournaments.
A major one
(from my point of view as a judge, of course ^__^): My opponent is not required
to correct me if I commit the infraction of forgetting a non-lapsing trigger,
but the judge must correct me. Let’s use another famous example: I am at 20
life points, I control Dark Confidant, I forget his ability and I have one less card than I deserve in my hand. My competitive opponent, knowing how the rules
work, is well aware that a side effect of “the opponent is not required to
determine if an ability is lapsing or not, so the choice is that he can stay
silent in any case” is that he’s allowed to let the game continue without me
drawing the card for the Confidant. A judge observing the match, instead, is
required to inform me that I missed the Confidant trigger, he is supposed to
assign a penalty to me, and it’s very likely that I won’t forget my Confidant
for the entire game. In this example, somebody might say that the presence of
the judge changed the game, and that my Competitive opponent would have been
happier if the judge wasn’t observing our match. It was reported that some
players also asked the judge not to observe their match, which is a sign that
something isn’t going as planned, because judges should only be a benefit/service
to all the players and not a potential damage. A player is not allowed to ask a
judge to step away from his match, and I wish that this surely-not-wanted side
effect of the lapsing abilities trigger will be resolved soon.
for the September update, the best I can do as a judge is to understand how
these abilities work, try to explain them to both judges and players, give
constructive feedback to the people who write the rules, find ways to prevent
problems at Competitive tournaments and also do my best to see both advantages
and disadvantages of the possible solutions (sometimes, it’s not possible to
solve all the problems and find the “perfect solution”; in these cases, it’s
important to evaluate pros and cons of the different options and then choose
the “best solution”; luckily, there are very precise and skilled people who
write the rules, and I can focus on tournaments, articles and judge projects,
without melting my brain when trying to find the best equilibrium like an ancient
A Tournament Dedicated to… Don Porto Carero Jozef
Jo is not a
judge and he’s not a player; he’s one of the staff people that you might see at
GP weekends, preparing the entire tournament area at the beginning of the
weekend and dismantling at the end of the event. Always kind and friendly to
everybody, it’s one of the faces that we are happy to see in our Magic world,
even if it’s just for a quick chat and a smile. During the weekend in Ghent, Jo
celebrated his professional event (GP and PT) number 100… yes, more than the
legendary judges who made the history of the Magic judge program and more than
many of the globetrotters you meet at GPs. Let there be another 100, my friend…
… and this
is my final ruling!
Don’t forget to submit all
your rules questions for the next installment of Ask the Judge:
You have the unique opportunity to ask Level 5
judge Riccardo Tessitori all the questions you want to!
You can ask him questions concerning rules
problems, the life of a level 5 judge, DCI policies, interesting tournament
situations and anything else you want to ask him!
Bidding is now closed.
Buyin expires on Fri, 24 Aug
Thanks for reading, I hope
you enjoyed this article and I’m looking forward to reading any comments.