Tessitori is a level 5 judge from Italy (and former Pro Player ^__^); he judged a hundred professional events, headjudged 15 Grand Prix events in Europe, the United States and Asia and has been headjudging Pro Tours and World Championships since 2009:
Tour Kyoto 2009
- Pro Tour Austin 2009
- Worlds Chiba 2010
- Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
- Pro Tour Barcelona 2012
- World Magic Cup Indianapolis 2012
2012 (and the Missed Trigger Policy) in Review
It’s holiday time and we
are all resting at home, waiting for the beginning of the next season; indeed,
GPs will start in just a week, and I’m sure that you have plenty of drafts and
trials at your local store!
As we near the end of the
year, it’s time to take a look at our year together, and also make plans for
Questions of the Week
Q: I control Wild Defiance
and Spellskite; can I attack with my Spellskite, cast Mutagenic Growth on any
of my opponent’s creatures and then redirect it six times to my Spellskite to
deal 20 damage (6*3+2)?
A: No. Wild Defiance
triggers when your Spellskite “becomes” the target of Mutagenic Growth, which
happens only the first time that the Growth is redirected. The other five times
that your Spellskite tries to redirect the Growth, nothing changes, because the
Growth is already targeting the Spellskite.
Q: If I gain control of my
opponent’s Wurmcoil Engine and then it dies, who gets the tokens?
A: You. Wurmcoil Engine is
one of the many cards that have a triggered ability that says “YOU gain”, “YOU
put”; at the moment it goes from the battlefield to the graveyard, you are the
controller, and the ability refers to you.
Q: How does Cascade
interact with spells with X in their casting cost? I mean, can I cast Bloodbraid Elf and then Fireball?
A: It doesn’t work. Any
spell with Cascade would allow you to cast Fireball, because X is considered
equal to zero (everywhere except the stack), but you would be casting a Fireball for zero, which is not what you want to be doing.
Q: I control Tamiyo with 8
loyalty counters and I activate her ultimate ability; will she return to my
A: No. Tamiyo would be put
into your graveyard immediately, while her ability would be put on the stack
(just like any other activated ability, except mana abilities); the effect of
her emblem becomes active when the ability resolves, but at that time Tamiyo is
already in the graveyard.
Q: I control Perilous Myr,
and I cast Deadly Allure; I attack with it, my opponent blocks it, and it dies;
I wonder if the extra 2 damage will have deathtouch.
A: Yes, you will be able to
kill one of your opponent’s creatures with the 2 extra damage. The triggered
ability that makes Perilous Myr deal 2 damage when it dies will check the
characteristics of the Perilous Myr that was on the battlefield to determine
the source of the damage; the 2 extra damage will “have deathtouch”.
Rules – 2012 in Review
Twelve months, twelve cards
of the month:
And also a few sections of
the series called “Damage on the stack”:
Event Reports – 2012 in Review
2012 has been a great year!
The number of GPs doubled, we had the first World Magic Cup with the great new
team format, and I got even more opportunities to dedicate tournaments to great
judges and great people!
The end of the year is the
best moment to choose a “Judge of the Year”!
I'm aware that there are so many great
judges that it would be very difficult to choose a single
person, because everyone has something to be mentioned for…. so let’s choose
some kind of Top5!
I’ve been thinking about
five people with five different roles, what a coincidence ^__^
Jeff Morrow is a level four
from the United States; in addition to his very visible role of head judge at
GPs (especially at a few Japanese GPs, like GP Yokohama in June), he has been
doing great work behind the scenes about the L3 advancement process.
Jason Lemahieu is a level
five from the United States; he had the honor of headjudging his first Pro Tour
in Seattle in October, but he has been a great role model for all the judges
for several years; what is not visible to those who see him only at tournaments
are his work in leading the creation of the brand new judge website and his
contribution to many judge projects.
Kim Warren started this
year as a brilliant L2 judge who had been travelling to several GPs in Europe
and also outside of Europe, brilliantly passed the L3 interview in March, got the
Regional Coordinator role in May, continued travelling all around the world,
moved to France but kept taking care of the UK… what a year!
David de la Iglesia is a
level three from Spain who has been travelling even more in both Europe and the
United States (I wonder if he spent more days in Spain or abroad ^__^), and has
been working tirelessly on a few judge projects like the official MagicJudges Facebook
page, the education initiative
Knowledge Pool, and the community initiative
Staff Lists (I wonder if he ever sleeps).
If I had to choose a
“judge” of the year, I would choose one who isn’t actually a judge, but who
contributes to the wellbeing of the judge program, by coordinating our efforts
and showing great care, both on a professional and on a personal level; he
never comes to Magic events, but he’s always available to help anyone in need:
Thanks to all of you for
your great contributions to the world of Magic!
Tournament Policy – 2012 in
What’s the hottest topic of
the last months in tournament policy?
There is no doubt, it’s the
new and newer and newer again and newest Missed Trigger rule!
The rule about how to
handle triggered abilities has changed a few times during the last 12 months,
and many articles have been written about it; let’s take a look at a few of them, at the
current missed trigger rule… and at a couple of possible changes for the future
Before December 2011
Until December 2011, when
we were missing a triggered ability, we were committing an infraction and we
had to fix the problem by putting it on the stack.
OK, there were some cases
when the solution wasn’t just “put it on the stack now”:
it was an optional ability (those with “may”), it was lost.
it had a default choice (like “sacrifice me because you didn’t pay echo”), the
default choice was applied.
it had no visual representation, it resolved.
more than one turn cycle had passed, it was lost.
In general, the approach
for the vast majority of missed triggers was *put it on the stack now*.
Then, in December 2011, a
hurricane arrived, and the approach became *you shouldn’t help your opponent in
beating you, by helping him to remember his triggers*.
And here started what was
probably the most troublesome year of our level five Toby Elliott, friendly
called “Mr. Policy”, who has the great honor of defining and writing the
Infraction Procedure Guide…. and the curse of being the target of all types of
feedback and complaints about all the possible corner cases that aren’t
perfectly covered by the official document. (I have already stated a few times
and I insist: if I had the responsibility to write the official policy, our
world would be much more chaotic, we would have errata and corrections every
week, I would probably be brought to an asylum soon… so, thanks, Toby, for
being around and having the role of policy-lightning-rod ^__^)
In the last days of
December, we had a version of the IPG that was about to make Transcendence one
of the most wanted cards; this version was interesting, but had some flaws and
had to be withdrawn before it became effective.
During the first few months
of 2012, we used the old rule from the October 2011 version.
At the beginning of April,
no, wait, was it April the first? (April fool’s, help!!!) The nowadays famous
but once dreaded lapsing abilities were released to the public, generating a
good number of articles:
You can read the initial
introduction from Toby Elliott here.
You can read a couple of
articles from your beloved Blackborder judge here, where I made the experiment of
writing a difficult article to explain lapsing abilities and here, where I dared to publicly express
my opinion about what I liked and what I disliked about the policy.
Then, the October version
was made public, and the approach became *you choose if you want your
opponent’s triggers to happen*.
As expected, the first
article was written by Toby Elliott.
In the last weeks, we had
quite a high number of other articles, from Owen Turtenwald, Steve Guillerm, Melissa DeTora, James Bennett, James Bennett again, Toby Elliott, and Jason Flatford, and a significant number of
comments on Facebook, Reddit, forums and surely many other social networks I
don’t even know.
I took the time to read all
these articles, and here is what I understood (and liked or disliked, to
satisfy your desire of reading more of my personal opinions; now I cross my
fingers and hope that I didn’t write anything too abstruse):
LIKE – Effects without
visual representation now have to be announced. Yes, thank you! I had been
studying the rules for years and it was very easy for me to see the difference
between Exalted (which has no visual representation) and other very similar
effects like putting +1/+1 counters or giving +1/+1 to a target creature, but I
have always found it counterintuitive for new players. Today, I have to
announce ALL my triggers, there is much less confusion and room for
misunderstanding; I am happy we finally got rid of this category of triggers.
LIKE – There is no more
list of lapsing effects. Yes, thank you! Having a list of “here you have all
the effects that are lapsing” and “policy documents are updated every three
months” meant that judges would have interpreted the list in an extremely
precise way (“if it’s not on the list, it’s not lapsing and I must fix it”).
Now it’s somehow similar to saying that all effects are lapsing, and it will be
the opponent who gets to choose.
LIKE – Judges should remain
silent when watching matches; in case of doubt, I beg all the judges to
silently walk away from the table and ask another judge if they have to
intervene because a detrimental ability was missed. Judges should not grab
cards to read them, judges should not give the impression that something is
creating problems or doubts on the table (if I am playing a game and I see that
judges are observing my table and discussing it, I can guarantee that I will
carefully read all the cards on the table before making any action; if I missed
any of my triggers, it’s like I am told to check carefully before continuing
DISLIKE – There is no clear
line between beneficial (positive) effects and detrimental (negative) effects,
but I believe that we will never be able to define it. I am sure that my Dark Confidant, when I am at 20 life, has a beneficial ability (and both the judge
and my opponent will stay very silent) and I am also sure that my Dark Confidant, when I am at 1 life, has a detrimental ability (and it will be very
hard to convince the judge that I made an innocent mistake; personal advice: if
you are playing a GP where I am the HJ and you are at 1 life, don’t forget your Dark Confidant, really, just don’t put the two of us in such an unpleasant
situation, thank you), where can we draw the line? At 2 life? Or maybe at 3?
No, let’s make it 4? Come on, make it 5? OK, you got it, there is no clear line
and there will never be. Personal advice for judges: when in doubt, stay away
from the table and mind your business! It’s much better to miss a detrimental
effect than interfering with a game; always remember that the best person who
can determine if an effect is beneficial or detrimental is the opponent!
LIKE – Triggered abilities
must be announced. While in the past, we could argue that I could have just
said “Upkeep” or “You have priority” or “You want to do anything?” or similar,
today we have to clearly announce the triggered ability. Thanks to this, it
must be clear to our opponent that there is an ability on the stack, and we
should be able to avoid inappropriate discussions like “You didn’t say it
clearly” or “I would have wanted to respond”.
DISLIKE – The official name
is *Missed* trigger, but in my mother tongue, I often tend to translate it as *Forgotten*
trigger (actually, in the Italian document we translated it as “Forgotten”);
the official documents say that I have to demonstrate that I am aware of the
existence of the trigger, but it’s also true that I can fail to correctly
communicate it or I may communicate it at the incorrect time (see more in the
“future” section below); I believe that there is still some lack of clarity
LIKE – Drawing a card is
now considered a beneficial effect. Thank you, I have been playing for more
than ten years and I don’t remember winning a single game by decking my
opponent; I am happy that now I have the choice of making my opponent miss a
card draw in case I am not playing a Mill deck.
DISLIKE – I personally
don’t like the current rule that says that I can stay silent when my opponent
forgets his triggers; I believe this is just a matter of culture, because if a
card says that I have to lose life, I HAVE TO lose life, even if my opponent
doesn’t notice. I clearly understand the reason why the rule changed (let me be
clear, if the majority of the Competitive players want it like this, I will
gladly follow it), but I personally am just not able to win a game because my
opponent forgot a couple of triggers. This is not something that makes the
rules worse; this is something that simply doesn’t fit in my personal concept
of fair competition.
DISLIKE – I’ve never played
Magic Online, but I’ve been told that triggered abilities are automatically
shown; I hope that players who participate in Competitive events in real life
know that they have to remember and announce all the triggers. Real Magic and
Online Magic cannot be identical; “but it works on Magic Online” should not be
a reason to bend the rules of real Magic, please keep that in mind. I don’t
think there is a solution to this, and I accept that there are differences
between the digital and the paper versions of Magic.
LIKE – A player just needs
to demonstrate awareness of the trigger. This means that I should just make my
opponent understand that I am remembering/using my trigger, but I don’t need to
declaim the full effect. Pointing at a card, or saying the name of a card or of
an ability is enough to demonstrate that I put the ability on the stack. If
either I or my opponent believe that there might be a misunderstanding, we
should clarify it before continuing the game, but this doesn’t mean that the
trigger was missed.
LIKE – Magic is a game that
has to be playable by two competitors who don’t have a language in common. My
experience from Asian GPs is that misunderstandings or missed trigger problems
are quite rare (I might say that I see more issues at my local PTQs than at GPs
with people speaking only Chinese, or only Japanese or only Thai); I am happy
to see that people who have troubles communicating with words are still able to
somehow communicate during a match of Magic.
LIKE – The official
document says that “A trigger is considered missed once the controller of the
trigger has taken an action after the point at which a trigger should have
resolved”. An action can be a game action like casting a spell or activating an
ability, but it can also be a verbal communication like “can I block?” “yes”
when a creature with exalted is attacking. Replying “Yes” to the question “can
I block?” is considered to be an action. Failure to communicate, like “doing
nothing for ten seconds” is not to be considered an action; I encourage all the
judges to make their rulings based on physical action and verbal communication,
and NEVER based on the amount of time that passed (have I ever told you that
our perception of time can be very different?). This is an aspect that still
needs to be taught to many judges: the amount of time that passed is not a good
factor, while questions and answers are a good factor in determining if the
game progressed or not.
DISLIKE – Judges should not
take the game state into account when determining if an effect is beneficial or
detrimental. Because the IPG are applied only at Competitive and Professional
events, and because Competitive and Professional events are staffed only by L2+
judges, I would like judges to be allowed to take the game state into account
(well, in the Dark Confidant example above, I clearly said that it can be
beneficial at 20 life and detrimental at 1, didn’t I?); if we remember the rule
of “in case of doubt, mind your business”, I am confident that L2+ judges can
be able to take the game state into account without issues.
DISLIKE – I believe that
Missed trigger and Out-of-order-sequence aren’t defined clearly enough; judges
and players tend to use Out-of-order-sequence to allow a trigger to happen.
There should be more clarity (see below for more details).
I have to say that I didn’t
count the numbers of “like” and “dislike”, because this has no meaning; I admit
that I added these two words just to make it more interesting (think about it,
were you more interested in reading a sentence next to a “like” or a “dislike”?
If you are thinking “well, maybe”, I got you! ^__^)
More, I remind you that the
concept of my use of the term “dislike” doesn’t mean that the world is ending,
that my policy-expert friends aren’t doing their job, or anything similar; if you got
this impression, I remind you that English is actually my third language and I
know that I am missing the nuances of the language.
Well, I’ve often been
taught that I should speak up if I believe that something can be improved;
giving feedback in a constructive way should be a method to help our friends.
I found a few but
significant examples where I would like the rule about missed triggers to be
different, in several ways; I have been thinking about it, and I came to what
seems to me a nice solution for these few situations; I didn’t make any efforts
to find flaws in this solution, because I know that writing my idea in an article
would have allowed me to find plenty of people ready to find weaknesses (call
it “most gain with the least pain” ^__^), so get ready to shoot.
If just one of these ideas
will bring a change for the better to our policy, it will be great, so please
help us understand if they are good or bad (and, I am sure, I will also see if
they are explained well enough).
triggered ability is missed only because of it being forgotten, not because of
lack of clear communication
game of Magic should be enjoyable even at a high level of competition; an
excessive use of technical requirements decreases the enjoyment, which is
considered to be fundamental
Issue 1: unclear or
Imagine a game of Magic
between an Italian and a Japanese player; they don’t speak English, but they
have to play. Verbal communication in English is not a viable option; all
triggers have to be communicated with non-verbal systems.
A couple of different
situations can cause problems:
- Triggers associated with resolving spells; for example: I put my Claustrophobia
onto your creature, but I don’t say that you have to tap it.
- Delayed triggers created by resolving spells or abilities; for example: I use
Jace to give -1/-0 to your creatures, but I don’t mention his effect when you
Solution to issue 1: If a
resolving spell or ability immediately triggers another ability or creates a
delayed triggered ability, the simple action of resolving the initial spell/ability
is a clear sign that I am aware of the existence of the triggered ability.
This way, I wouldn’t have
to mention effects like Jace’s twice.
Issue 2: incorrect
resolution of the stack.
Out of order sequence
applies to a series of actions that are all legal, whose final result is clear
to all players, but that have been performed in the incorrect order; the reason
for performing the actions in the incorrect order may be ignorance of the rules
(we might discuss if we should apply out-of-order-sequence or if we should
reward a better prepared player, but for today let’s assume that we accept an
incorrect resolution of the stack) or a relaxed way of playing the game.
A couple of famous
scenarios come to my mind:
- Birthing Pod and creatures with Persist/Undying; technically, the creature with
Persist/Undying must be returned to the battlefield before I search the library
to find another creature.
- Emrakul and the extra turn; technically, I should mention that I will play an
extra turn before Emrakul resolves.
Solution to issue 2: If
there is more than one spell/ability on the stack and one of them is a
triggered ability, the ability is considered missed when the controller of the
ability performs an action after the stack emptied.
Solution to issue 2,
phrased differently: resolving the stack in the wrong order doesn’t cause a
triggered ability to be missed.
Issue 3: delayed triggered
abilities or abilities that have an effect later in the game.
This looks like a repetition,
but the solution is more creative ^__^ (I will do my best to describe it well
A few cards create delayed
triggered abilities or have triggered abilities that create an effect in the
future; it may be common to fail to correctly demonstrate that we are aware of
what is happening in the game because the moment when the *original* effect is
created is different from the moment when the *final* effect is applied:
event triggers an ability that creates a delayed triggered ability; example: my Loyal Cathar dies.
event triggers an ability that has an effect later in the game; example:
casting Emrakul makes me play an extra turn, which is an effect that applies
after I finished my turn.
Solution to issue 3: the
controller of a triggered ability should communicate about the trigger in a
period that starts the moment the ability is created (when my Loyal Cathar
dies or when I cast Emrakul) and finishes the moment the effect happens
(when I return my Loyal Cathar to the battlefield transformed or I start my
Issue 4: the opponent can
wait for the best moment to put a trigger on the stack.
During Innistrad block, a
couple of players mentioned to me that allowing the opponent to put the missed
trigger on the stack at any moment during the turn might cause weird situations
during combat, especially with a werewolf transforming.
Solution to issue 4: missed
triggers cannot be put on the stack when other spells/abilities are already on
the stack (I’d say that this issue is already solved by the current rules,
which say that the missed trigger is added at the bottom of the stack) and
cannot be put on the stack during the combat phase.
I’ve never seen such
werewolf-transforming-during-combat situations and I believe that this type of
situations is so limited that this issue is next to inexistent, but maybe you
will find other significant examples.
Please feel free to post
any positive or negative comments about these ideas; the more feedback the
policy experts receive, the more data they have to make good decisions for the
Plans for 2013
Rules: the Card of the
Month series has been appreciated and will continue, together with a few
sections of the “damage on the stack” series.
Policy: this was one of the
most requested topics, and my current idea is to analyze each of the sections
and of the categories of infraction of the IPG (Infraction Procedure Guide),
one per month.
People: instead of the
dedications at the end of the tournament reports, the current idea is to
introduce to you one of the senior judges each month.
Tournaments: if I add the
IPG analysis and the judge introductions, I have to make cuts somewhere, and I
should say goodbye to the tournament reports.
Let’s see how it goes with
this plan; counting two articles per month, each month we would have:
- a card of the month
- a section/category of the IPG
- a senior judge
- the questions of the week, always (twice)
- your questions, always
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!
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Happy New Year!!!