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
End of Turn, Angel, Blink the Mage, Flashback This!
As expected, we did it!
2297 players at GP Yokohama, the second largest GP of all times, it has been a
great weekend like the gigantic GP Charlotte; you can read the official
This week, we have the card
of the month, dedicated to the most played Angel around, and we continue our
word by word analysis of the Infraction Procedure Guide.
Questions of the Week
Q: I cast Show and Tell and
I choose to put my Griselbrand on the battlefield; my opponent chooses a Phyrexian Metamorph; can he copy my Griselbrand?
A: Show and Tell resolves
all at once; although you will reveal you card before your opponent does, the
two creatures will enter the battlefield at the same time. Phyrexian Metamorph
can choose to copy only the creatures that are already on the battlefield; it
cannot copy your Griselbrand.
Q: If my opponent casts Life From the Loam and just asks “Does it resolve?” without declaring targets,
can I assume that he chose zero targets and therefore I should say “yes”?
A: Your opponent is not
casting Life From the Loam correctly, because he isn’t correctly declaring the
targets (I assume it’s next to impossible that he will want to cast it for
zero). If you say “yes”, he will be allowed to choose the targets (and,
actually, you will be allowed to respond again). Disallowing him to choose the
targets would be an excessive request for technically correct play; Magic
should be played precisely, but should also be played in an enjoyable way; a
situation like this one should be corrected without “punishing” your opponent.
Q: I control Soul of the Harvest and five other creatures, and I cast Ghostway; how many cards will I
draw at the end of turn?
A: When the delayed
triggered ability of Ghostway resolves, all six creatures enter the battlefield
at the same time; each of them “sees” the others entering the battlefield at
the same time; Soul of the Harvest’s triggered ability will trigger five times
and you will draw five cards.
Q: I control Prince of Thralls and a few other creatures; my opponent controls a few creatures too,
and he casts Supreme Verdict, killing all of them; will my Prince of Thrall’s
ability trigger even if he’s not on the battlefield anymore?
A: Yes, Supreme Verdict
will kill all creatures at once, and Prince of Thralls will see all the other
creatures being put into your opponent’s graveyard; his ability will trigger
for each creature your opponent controlled and he will have to pay 3 life
points for each of them to prevent you from gaining control of it.
Q: I control Leyline of Singularity and a morph; what happens if I cast another morph?
A: Face down creatures have
no name; your morphs won’t be affected by Leyline of Singularity.
Card of the Month –
After Serra Angel, Exalted Angel and Baneslayer Angel, here you have another wonderful Angel who knows how
to make you win a game.
Restoration Angel has an
interesting list of virtues:
- Good stats, both on offense and on defense (a toughness of 4 means that a spell
like Lightning Bolt cannot kill it)
- Flash and Flying, two very good abilities
- The third ability, “blink” in our jargon, can be used to different advantages:
it can save a creature that is about to be killed, or it can double an “enter
the battlefield” ability of the blinked creature
- The mana cost, in addition to being reasonable, requires only one white mana,
which makes it easy to add the Restoration Angel to multicolored decks.
In Standard and Modern, Restoration Angel is seeing a lot of play; it is therefore necessary to know
how its abilities work.
About Flash, we must
remember that an effect that prevents us from casting a spell at specific
moments of the game “wins” over Flash and would prevent us from casting Restoration Angel. If our opponent controls Teferi, we will be able to cast our Restoration Angel only when we could cast a sorcery.
About the “blink” ability,
when a creature leaves the battlefield and then comes back, it has no memory of
its past existence; it will be just like a creature we just cast; unless there
are effects that state the opposite, the creature being blinked will return to
- not flipped (if you blink Tomoya, the Revealer, it will come back as Jushi Apprentice)
- face up (if you blink a face down creature with morph, it will come back face
- not transformed (if you blink a transformed werewolf, it will come back as the
Any effect that applied to
the creature before it got blinked doesn’t apply to the creature after it
returns to the battlefield:
- a creature affected by the first ability of Ajani Vengeant will untap as usual
- a creature put onto the battlefield with Sneak Attack won’t be sacrificed at
the beginning of the end step.
Note that Restoration Angel
requires to exile a creature “you control” and to return it to the battlefield
“under your control”; this last instruction gives us the control of the
creature indefinitely; it can become useful if we use the ability targeting a
creature that we are controlling for a definite amount of time: if we gain
control of one of our opponent’s creature with Threaten and then we blink it
with Restoration Angel, we will keep control of it after our turn ends.
Let’s also remember that
creature tokens that leave the battlefield cease to exist and cannot be
An attacking creature that
gets blinked is removed from combat; it returns untapped, it hasn’t the status
of attacking anymore, it cannot deal combat damage, and combat damage cannot be
dealt to it.
A blocking creature that
gets blinked is removed from combat; it returns untapped, it hasn’t the status
of blocking anymore, it cannot deal combat damage, and combat damage cannot be
dealt to it. A difference from the previous sentence is that the creature it
blocked still remains blocked; if that attacking creature doesn’t have trample,
it won’t deal any damage at all; if it has trample, it will deal damage to the
defending player (us!) or to one of our planeswalker as if it wasn’t blocked.
The ability says “may”; it
means that the ability is optional; it means that we must still target another
non-Angel creature, but we can choose not to blink it when the ability
A special case is when our
only other creature on the battlefield is Phantasmal Image (it doesn’t matter
what it’s copying, unless it is copying an Angel!); our Restoration Angel will
be forced to target our Phantasmal Image, which will need to be sacrificed.
IPG Analysis – Tournament
Policy by Example
The Infraction Procedure
Guide is a difficult document; on a little more than 20 pages, we find how we
fix all the infractions at Competitive and Professional tournament; 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.
Let’s break it into pieces
and discover how it works and why it works this way!
Today, we will start
discovering the general philosophy.
“Judges are neutral
arbiters and enforcers of policy and rules.”
This is a very important
concept: judges must me neutral; it would be inconceivable that a judge ruled
in favor of a player because they are friends or because somehow he likes one
player more than the other. Being impartial is fundamental when making sure
that all rules and policy are followed.
“A judge shouldn’t
intervene in a game unless he or she believes a rules violation has occurred, a
player with a concern or question requests assistance, or the judge wishes to
prevent a situation from escalating.”
Judges are an extra service
to the players; the moment when players need assistance of a judge are in case
a rule has been violated, a player has a need or there is a delicate situation
like an argument and it’s necessary to reduce the tone of the argument. When
their assistance is not needed, judges should not interfere with matches; no
comments about game actions, no risk of giving advice, no disruption of the
“Judges don’t stop play
errors from occurring, but instead deal with errors that have occurred,
penalize those who violate rules or policy, and promote fair play and sporting
conduct by example and diplomacy.”
Like in many other sports,
judges don’t prevent mistakes; as soon as a game infraction happens, judges
apply the necessary corrections and penalties. There cannot be complaints like
“judge, you were there, you could have stopped me”, because, let me say it with
a joke, judges can’t foresee the future and game actions happen in the blink of
an eye; 99% of the cases, fixing an infraction after it happens restores the
correct flow of the game (we accept that in a few occasions it won’t be
possible, like if I shuffle my deck by mistake when the deck is not random).
It’s also important that
judges set a good example of behavior, always remembering that Magic is a game
(or, as I often call it, an “intellectual sport”) and good sportsmanship is
always advised; diplomacy is of course useful to maintain a friendly
environment (of course there are moments when I would just like to stop
speaking to the person in front of me or worse, but rationality and politeness
make me behave…. almost always ^__^)
“Judges may intervene to
prevent or preempt errors occurring outside of a game.”
While it’s next to
impossible to see that a game infraction is about to happen (sometimes we may
see that a player is about to illegally draw a card, but are you sure that you
would be faster than him and you would be able to stop him?), sometimes it’s
very easy to see that an outside-of-game infraction is about to happen; in
these cases, judges are encouraged to prevent infractions from happening;
actually, I would like to change “judges may intervene” to “judges must
intervene whenever they can”, to make it very clear that the philosophy is not
at all “judges have the option of intervening to prevent infractions” but
rather “judges should always intervene to prevent infractions, but we accept
that they sometimes won’t realize that an infraction is about to happen”. Here
you have a few examples:
- A judge sees that a player is shuffling his deck after the end of game 1, sees
that there is a previously exiled creature on the table and realizes that the
player forgot to return it to his deck; the judge must step in and tell the
player that he’s forgetting to shuffle a card.
- In a Sealed Deck tournament, a player gives a decklist to a judge, and the
judge notices that the player forgot to write his basic lands; the judge must
ask the player to write down the basic lands he’s playing.
- Just before the beginning of a round, a player goes to the judge station and
brings a card (like Pacifism) that belongs to his previous opponent; the judges
should make an effort to find where the owner of that card is playing this
round, so that they return it before the game starts with an illegal deck.
“All players are treated
equally according to the guidelines of an event’s Rules Enforcement Level
Again, judges are
impartial, rules are the same for all the players; you can be a king or a
peasant, you will be treated the same way in a Magic tournament.
“Knowledge of a player’s
history does not influence the recognition of an infraction or the application
of penalties, though it may affect the manner of an investigation.”
Whether you are the purest
of saints or the worst of criminals, your potential infractions will be
recognized the same way (only the game action counts, not who makes them) and
the same penalties will be applied (a Warning is a warning for the saint and a
warning for the criminal). There is one difference, though, and I’m comfortable
in saying that, when a judge has to determine if it’s more likely that a
mistake was done unintentionally or intentionally, he can take into account the
reputation of the player committing the infraction. Beware judges! Taking into
account the player’s history is extremely different from witch hunting; there
must be no witch hunting at all!
“The REL of an event
defines what is expected from a player regarding his or her rules and policy
knowledge and technical play skill.”
Events are classified with
a parameter called REL, Rules Enforcement Level; there are tournaments “for
fun” and “serious competition” tournaments; in friendly tournaments, there is
no expectation that players know every little detail, while in professional
tournaments players are expected to play much more precisely.
Let’s use a sport at
random: soccer! ^__^
When we were very young and
we played soccer, there was no offside, there were no lateral lines, the goal
was made of just two backpacks and we had to determine together if a shot was
too high or not.
In the Champion’s League
there are cameras, there are goal line referees, there are replays in case of
serious incidents (ok, ok, in theory there aren’t).
Same with Magic; different
tournaments have different expectations.
“Treating a player
differently because he or she once played in a Professional event would mean
holding each player to a different standard and would produce inconsistent
rulings that depended on the judge’s familiarity with the player. Professionals
should be able to play in events without being held to a higher technical level
of play against less-experienced opponents who may not be as familiar with the
What counts is therefore
the type of tournament, not the player; if Cristiano Ronaldo comes to my small
town and plays soccer with us, he will never be offside and he will have to
follow our rules.
“The purpose of a penalty
is to educate the player not to make similar mistakes in the future.”
Penalties don’t exist to
give satisfaction to sadistic judges who are happy to inflict pain on
defenseless players, as these judges don’t exist (and, in case they exist, they
should really think about what the correct approach to judging is). Penalties
exist to increase the chances that future competition is fairer: “I lost a game
once for this mistake, and I don’t want to lose another game for something I
can easily avoid, I will count to 60 every time I write a decklist”.
“This is done through both
an explanation of where the rules or policies were violated and a penalty to
reinforce the education.”
Judges are encouraged to
(briefly) explain the reasons for a penalty to all the players who want to know
more or who aren’t convinced that the penalty is correct and, let’s say it with
a joke for Formula1 and MotoGP fans, if there were no speeding tickets, why
should I stay below the speed limit?
“Penalties are also for the
deterrence and education of every other player in the event and are also used
to track player behavior over time.”
We should also note that
it’s not necessary that we received a penalty to make us desire not to receive
it; if a friend of ours lost an important game because of a penalty, we surely
don’t want to lose in the same way.
Interesting to note that
there is a (private) archive of all the penalties, just like the (public)
archive of all results; this becomes useful in case of a very high number of
the same infraction; if a player receives a warning for “Looking at extra cards
– He revealed his opponent’s cards while shuffling his opponent’s deck before
the beginning of the match” for twenty times in twenty consecutive tournaments,
well, wouldn’t you believe that he’s doing it on purpose and he’s doing it only
once just because he knows that “the first time is just a warning”.
A few years ago, I vaguely
remember that a famous Pro player was suspended because he was committing way
too many game rules violations to his advantage, compared to his excellent tournament
results; the inconsistency between his results and his precision of play stood
up very clear; it’s fundamental to note that he got warned multiple times that
he really had to change his behavior and significantly reduce the number of
such infractions (again, to his advantage) to avoid further consequences; he
didn’t get suspended immediately.
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, 22 Mar
See you in a few weeks!