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
Slaughter Games and the Goals of the IPG
A few questions to warm up,
a dive into the rules aspects of Slaughter Games, and some more lines of the
Infraction Procedure Guide to be analyzed in detail.
Q: We were playing EDH at
my shop and we got into this debate, if I draw a card, while my opponent has Mind's Eye, so he tapped 5 mana to draw 5 cards. Then the judge came over
telling him that you can only pay one per time I draw. Can you help clarify
A: Your opponent can only
pay 1 mana and only draw 1 card. Mind's Eye has a triggered ability; whenever
you draw a card, it triggers once (if you draw two cards, it triggers twice!);
when the ability resolves, your opponent follows the instructions, which say
that he can pay just 1 and draw just 1 card, and don't say that he can do it
multiple times. There is a huge difference between triggered abilities (those
like Mind's Eye, which work only when there is a trigger event) and activated
abilities (those that can be activated at any time, paying their cost,
indicated before the colon); activated abilities can be activated multiple
times, as long as you can pay their cost, while triggered abilities trigger
“when they have to” and their effect happens only once.
Questions of the Week
Q: My opponent casts Pillar of Flame targeting one of my creatures. Can I save it by regenerating it? Can I
save it by giving Undying to it?
A: You can save it by
regenerating it, because regeneration replaces “I die” with “I stay on the
battlefield and all the damage is removed”. You can’t save it by giving Undying
to it, because Undying would return it to the battlefield if it went to the graveyard,
but Pillar of Flames exiles creatures instead of putting them into the
Q: I control Predator Ooze,
which is indestructible. My opponent casts Mutilate. Will my Ooze die?
A: Yes. An indestructible
creature cannot be killed by damage, but it can be killed if its toughness is
reduced to zero (by a –X/-X effect or by -1/-1 counters)
Q: I am at 9 life points
and I control Elderscale Wurm; my opponent casts a Fireball for exactly 9; what
A: You live, and you have 7
life points. Elderscale Wurm applies to any damage that would make you go below
7, not only to “damage that would make you go below 7 without killing you”.
Note that Elderscale Wurm wouldn’t save you from cards like Blood Artist, which
makes you lose life and does not deal damage.
Q: My opponent casts a
removal spell targeting my Izzet Chronarch; to save it, I cast Momentary Blink.
Can I get the Momentary Blink back into my hand thanks to the Chronarch
A: Yes. The moment when you
have to choose the target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard is after Momentary Blink has finished resolving (it’s true that Momentary Blink is still
on the stack when Izzet Chronarch is returned to the battlefield, but this
is not the moment the triggered ability is put on the stack and the target is
chosen); at the moment the triggered ability is put on the stack, Momentary Blink is already in the graveyard and is a legal choice.
Q: Can I return an Aeon Chronicler to the battlefield with Reveillark?
A: It depends on how many
cards you have in your hand. The ability that sets the Chronicler’s power and
toughness works in all zones; he’s a 0/0 in the graveyard only if you have no
cards in hand.
Card of the Month –
The Return to Ravnica set
contains a cycle of five cards, one for each guild, with the special ability
“can’t be countered”.
The Rakdos guild has this
new version of Cranial Extraction, which is rarely played main deck, but it’s
quite often found in sideboards, ready to neutralize combo decks; just imagine
you can remove all copies of Scapeshift against a Valakut deck and you will understand why this card is called “slaughter”.
Let’s now take a look at
this powerful card from a rules point of view.
can't be countered”
Spells that cannot be
countered can still be targeted by spells and abilities that would try to
counter them. Although the spell won’t be countered, any other effect will
happen. Casting Remand on Slaughter Games is legal, and we will draw a card.
Casting Draining Whelk on Slaughter Games is legal, and the creature will get
“Slaughter Games can't be
countered by spells or abilities”.
Some of the cards of this
cycle say “can’t be countered” (like Supreme Verdict), and others like Slaughter Games say “can’t be countered by spells or abilities”. Why? What’s
the difference between these two sentences?
The difference is that some
of these cards have a target. Slaughter Games can’t be countered by spells and
abilities, but it can happen that we cast it and our opponent gains shroud (by
putting a True Believer on the battlefield with Aether Vial) or protection (by
casting Seht’s Tiger); in this case, Slaughter Games would be countered on
resolution by the rule of the game that says that a spell with all illegal
targets cannot resolve.
Since Supreme Verdict has
no target, there is no rule that would be able to counter it, and the shortest
and most precise sentence is “Supreme Verdict can’t be countered”.
“Name a nonland card”.
To name a card means to
uniquely identify, even if we don’t remember the very precise and full name.
If you say “Delver”, it’s
quite obvious that you want to get rid of all cards named “Delver of Secrets”;
I’m confident that any judge will confirm this.
On the other hand, if you
say “Geist”, you may want to mean the white and blue (Geist of Saint Traft),
but you may also mean the blue one (Dungeon Geist), which is actually not a bad
card (you can’t say “nobody plays it”).
The moment when you name
the card is on resolution of the spell, not the moment you cast it; let’s take
a look at some examples about what can happen in a tournament:
- If we immediately name a card when we cast Slaughter Games and our opponent
doesn’t do anything in response, the named card will be our choice.
- If we immediately name a card when we cast Slaughter Games and our opponent
performs an action in response, we will be allowed to change the named card
- If we don’t say any name when we cast Slaughter Games, priority passes to our
opponent. If he allows us to name a card (by saying “I don’t do anything”, or
by asking “what card?”), he’s allowing our spell to resolve; he won’t be able
to do anything after we name a card.
A very small detail about
this last point; what our opponent could do after we name a card on resolution
is to concede the game and prevent us from seeing the content of his library;
it means that we made the right call and the game was in our hand, but he
didn’t want to give us useful information for the next game.
opponent's graveyard, hand, and library…”
Slaughter Games doesn’t
target a player, it targets an opponent: In a two player game, the only legal
target is our opponent, and he won’t be able to redirect the spell to anybody
else (this might be done in a multiplayer game); if our single opponent casts a
spell like Redirect, it won’t have any effect and he will have wasted it
(casting it is indeed legal).
A spell like Reverberate
would create a copy of our Slaughter Games; that copy would be controlled by
our opponent, and it would be targeting us.
Even worse, if our opponent
casts Commandeer, he gains control of our Slaughter Games and we are the only
In case our opponent
controls our turn with Mindslaver, he won’t be able to make us cast our Slaughter Games targeting ourselves.
“…for any number of cards
with that name and exile them.”
Usually, we want to exile
all the copies of the card we named, from all zones.
Actually, the spell
instructs us to search for “any number” of those cards; zero is a valid number.
In two cases, we may end up
not removing all copies.
First, in case we don’t
want to remove anything; if we activate our Mindslaver on our opponent, we can
make him cast his Slaughter Games for nothing and leave all the cards in their
place (ok, ok, we would just need to name a card we don’t play).
Second, if we are searching
our opponent’s deck and we fail to recognize one of the copies, we aren’t committing
an infraction; it’s perfectly legal to make the “mistake” of not finding all
the cards, and our opponent has no obligation to help us remove all his great
IPG Analysis – Tournament
Policy by Example
The Infraction Procedure Guide
is a difficult document; on a little more than 20 pages, we learn how to fix
all the infractions at Competitive and Professional tournaments; yes, it’s a
short document, it’s not comprehensive, and is in continuous evolution; it can
also be a difficult document, whose understanding is sometimes challenging.
When I give advice to young
judges who express big ambition, I sometimes say that each sentence of the
policy document has a meaning and a reason for being like it is. The goal of
this column is to take each single sentence of the Infraction Procedure Guide
and go as deep as possible, analyzing it, discovering the philosophy behind it
and finding all possible examples that fit into the section we will be
studying; hence the name “Tournament Policy by example”.
I have to say that I am not
an English native speaker; this has both a positive and a negative effect; the
positive effect is that I can only explain my thoughts in simple words, which
are easier to understand for non-English readers and also for non-expert
readers; the negative effect is that it’s possible that I would just misunderstand
the document (in this case, I apologize, and I count on you to find the correct
Today, we will analyze the
very first page.
“Effective February 8,
In the past, the IPG was
updated four times per year: December the 20th, effective January
the 1st; March the 20th, effective April the 1st;
June the 20th, effective July the 1st; September the 20th,
effective October the 1st. Now, we can expect the IPG to be still
updated four times per year, but it will happen around the release of the new
sets or Core Set, just like the banned and restricted list, the new set’s FAQ
and the MTR. Of course, there might be events that might change the date of
release of the Infraction Procedure Guide.
“The Magic™ Infraction
Procedure Guide provides judges the appropriate penalties and procedures to
handle rules violations that occur during a tournament held at Competitive or
Professional Rules Enforcement Level (REL)”
This is the goal of this
document: to educate the judges who have to solve problems that happen at
tournaments; when everything is going well, ok, it’s going well; when there is
an infraction, like in every sport, there is an appropriate procedure to handle
it, and also an appropriate penalty.
It’s important to note that
this document applies only to Competitive and Professional events (the “big
tournaments”), these are the kinds of events where the competition is harder,
where we play to win; the remaining tournaments are called “Regular”, and they
are a kind of tournament where we play to enjoy our time, and it might not be
so important who wins, because *when we have fun, we all win*; in these
tournaments, we can say that judges have a great degree of freedom when they
need to fix the game after an infraction.
“as well as the underlying
philosophy that guides their implementation”
Of course, education is not
just a series of instructions; it must also be the explication of the reasons
behind those instructions; the single term we use to define the general goals
and reasons that are the basis of all procedures and penalties is “philosophy”.
“It exists to protect
players from potential misconduct”
Magic, just like all other
competitive games and sports, is a game with rules; breaking the rules can
happen, but efforts should be made to decrease the number of infractions as
much as possible (yes, penalties are a deterrent and an education tool) and
also clear procedures to fix the game should be defined.
“and to protect the
integrity of the tournament itself.”
If one of the competitors
gains an unfair advantage in a single game, in a match or in the entire
tournament, the overall fairness of the competition is damaged. Defining clear
procedures for how to handle this “unfair advantage” has the effect of somehow
balancing it, and therefore restores the fairness/integrity of the entire
“Rules violations usually
require a penalty or they are unenforceable.”
Not following the rules,
violating the rules is an infraction; each infraction was associated to a
penalty; the penalty can vary from a Caution, which is just a “please remember
it in the future”, to a Disqualification, which is a “see you at the next
tournament, goodbye for today”; if there were no penalties or consequences for
an infraction, it would mean that we could commit that infraction infinite
times, and this would mean that it wouldn’t actually be an important rule (if
there are no consequences for breaking the rule, it is as if nobody cared about
that rule, so why does that rule exist?).
“Tournaments run at Regular
REL should use the Judging at Regular REL document.”
There are two main
categories of events: Regular, where the focus is on fun;
Competitive&Professional, where the focus is on competition&fairness;
the IPG is dedicated to Competitive and Professional only, while another (much
shorter) document is dedicated to Regular.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’m looking forward to reading your
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!
See you in a few weeks!