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Slaughter Games and the Goals of the IPG


About Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori
Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo 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:

  • Pro 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

Hello everybody!

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.

Happy reading.

Reader Questions

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 this. Thanks!

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.

Predator Ooze
Dark Ascension (Foil)

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 graveyard.

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 happens?

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 ability?

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 – Slaughter Games

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.

 “Slaughter Games 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 four counters.

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.

 “Search target 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 legal target.

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 cards

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 meaning).

Today, we will analyze the very first page.

“Effective February 8, 2013”

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 tournament.

“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 comments.

Don’t forget to submit all your rules questions for the next installment of Ask the Judge:

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