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Wish, Copy Wish, Get Wish and…


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

Wish, Copy Wish, Get Wish and….

Hello everybody!

What is happening to Magic? I have heard “Magic is dying” over and over, but I keep seeing Grand Prix tournaments with more than 2000 participants!!!

When I was young, I was living in the Alps, not far from the Mont Blanc (one of the tallest mountains in Europe) and I’ve heard about the “Eight-thousanders”, which are the only 14 mountains higher than 8000 meters.

Now, I guess we should check for the “Magic-two-thousanders”:

  • Charlotte (February 23-44, 2013) – Limited - 2693
  • Yokohama (March 2-3, 2013) – Limited - 2297
  • Madrid (February 27-28, 2010) – Legacy - 2228
  • Paris (February 12-13, 2011) – Limited - 2181
  • Utrecht (March 9-10, 2013) – Team Limited - 2031

Three weekends in a row with more than 2000 people?!?!?


This week, we have a new episode of the “Damage on the Stack” series, dedicated to the exile zone, and we continue our word by word analysis of the Infraction Procedure Guide.

Happy reading.

Reader Questions

Q: Signal the Clans, for example, says to find three creature cards and reveal them. If I reveal three with different names, I choose one at random to put in my hand. I don’t want to give my opponent any more information than necessary. Gatherer says that my opponent will see which card was chosen but a local judge told me I could flip the cards face-down after revealing them to make the random selection. What are the rules about this and are there any situations where this rule would apply differently?

A: Your opponent will be able to see which creature card you will add to your hand; it’s ok to flip them face down to make the selection (for example if it’s you or your opponent who chooses one card at random, though I would recommend rolling a die) but they actually remain revealed until the end of the resolution of the spell. This is how I interpret the following rule: “701.13a To reveal a card, show that card to all players for a brief time. If an effect causes a card to be revealed, it remains revealed for as long as necessary to complete the parts of the effect that card is relevant to.”

Q: If I control Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and my opponent attempts to resolve a Planeswalker, will they have to pay the extra colorless to cast the Planeswalker?

A: Yes, your opponent will need to pay 1 extra colorless mana. Thalia says “Noncreature spells cost {1} more to cast.”; when you want to put a planeswalker from your hand onto the battlefield, you pay its cost, and this is called “casting” it; a planeswalker is not a creature, which means it is a “Noncreature”; Thalia’s effect applies.

Flourishing Defenses
Shadowmoor (Foil)

Questions of the Week

Q: I control Flourishing Defenses; my opponent controls five 1/1 creatures; I cast Black Sun's Zenith with X=3; how many tokens will I put on the battlefield?

A: All -1/-1 counters are put on creatures at the same time, not one at a time; even though your opponent’s creatures are 1/1, you will put three -1/-1 counters nonetheless; with a total of 15 -1/-1 counters, you will put 15 tokens on the battlefield.

Q: I cast Epic Experiment and I reveal several cards I can cast; can I choose the order?

A: Epic Experiment resolves as a single action; all the cards will be revealed simultaneously; all the cards will be cast during the resolution of Epic Experiment. Yes, you will be able to cast them in the order you prefer. Extra: if your opponent controls Teferi, you won’t be able to cast anything.

Q: I cast Phantasmal Image and I copy a creature with a converted mana cost of four; then I sacrifice it to my Birthing Pod. Will I get a five cost creature or a one cost creature?

A: When you copy a card, you get exactly what is printed on that card (“take it out of the sleeve, scan it and print it… here is your copy”); you are sacrificing a card with converted mana cost of four, and Birthing Pod will reward you with a five mana creature.

Q: I control Argothian Enchantress, I cast an enchantment spell, and my opponent counters it. Will I draw before or after my opponent tries to counter my spell?

A: It depends on when your opponent casts his counterspell; most likely (and, if he doesn’t say anything, it’s assumed to be like this) he will cast his counterspell at the first opportunity, which is before you draw the card; this is also his best play, as you won’t be able to cast the extra card in response to his counterspell.

Q: My opponent controls a Tidehollow Sculler with one of my artifact spells; I cast Smallpox when I have no other cards in my hand. Will I be able to get my artifact spell back?

A: Smallpox resolves all at once, instructing your opponent to sacrifice Tidehollow Sculler and asking you to discard a card. Tidehollow Sculler has a triggered ability that would return your artifact spell to your hand when it resolves, which is way after Smallpox has finished resolving. Your artifact card will be returned to your hand after you will have been instructed to discard a card; you will keep it.

Damage on the Stack– The Exile Zone

The rules about the exile zone changed with the big rules change of M10 and also with the very recent introduction of Gatecrash. Between these two changes, a new zone was also created: the Command zone.

Cunning Wish
Judgement (Foil)

Before M10

Creatures targeted by Swords to Plowshares or similar were “removed from the game” and were put in a zone called “removed from game zone". These cards weren’t considered part of the game and therefore a Wish from the Judgment set could fetch either one of them or a card from the sideboard.

For example, a Cunning Wish could fetch another Cunning Wish.

The Mirari's Wake deck was based on the following system:

  1. You should have a Mirari on the battlefield, a Cunning Wish removed from the game, another Cunning Wish in your hand.
  2. You cast the Cunning Wish and you copy it.
  3. With the copy, you get the Cunning Wish that is currently removed from the game; with the original, you get whatever card you need from your sideboard or from the removed from game zone.
  4. The original Cunning Wish you cast gets now removed from the game.
  5. Go back to step 2 and do it again.

This system may look mana intensive (six mana for each cycle), but I guarantee you that this deck was extremely strong when played in the Standard format.

More, in the Commander format (once known as EDH – Elder Dragon Highlander), the removed from game zone also was the zone where the General was starting the game and where he was put when he left the battlefield.

After M10

With M10, the "removed from game zone" received a new name: the "Exile zone".

Differently from the past, the exile zone was a zone of the game; all the Wishes significantly lost power; in fact, in sanctioned tournaments they could only fetch cards from the sideboard but not cards from the exile zone.

“I cast Wish, I get Wish and X” wasn’t a legal play anymore.

The Command Zone

In September 2009, the Planechase decks were released and the rules were modified, adding a new zone to welcome the Plane cards: the Command zone.

After a short while, when Zendikar was released, a section about EDH was added to the rules and it was clarified that the General wasn’t exiled; instead, he was in the Command zone.

After some sets, with the release of Mirrodin Besieged, the EDH format was renamed Commander and the Generals became Commanders.

In the meanwhile, the Command zone received a few new guests:

  • Emblems (traditional Magic)
  • Planes and phenomenon (Planar Magic variant)
  • Commanders (Commander variant)
  • Vanguard cards (Vanguard variant)
  • Schemes (Archenemy variant)

Before Gatecrash

The rule 406.3 dealt with the cards that were exiled face down, saying:

“Cards "exiled face down" can't be examined by any player except when instructions allow it”

If you cast a Jester's Scepter, and then the artifact gets destroyed or somehow leaves the battlefield, the ability that allows you to look at the cards disappears, and you couldn’t look at those cards anymore.

After Gatecrash

Rule 406.3 was modified into:

“Cards "exiled face down" can't be examined by any player except when instructions allow it. However, once a player is allowed to look at a card exiled face down, that player may continue to look at that card as long as it remains exiled, even if the instruction allowing the player to do so no longer applies.”

Once you have been allowed to look at a card that is exiled face down, you are allowed to look at it for as long as it remains exiled, even though the ability that allows you to look at it doesn’t exist anymore.

If you cast a Jester's Scepter, and then the artifact gets destroyed or somehow leaves the battlefield, the ability that allows you to look at the cards disappears, but you can still look at those cards.

If you activate the last ability of Bane Alley Broker, and it gets destroyed with the ability on the stack, you will still be able to see the exiled cards and you can still choose which card you will be able to return to your hand.

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 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.

Let’s break it into pieces and discover how it works and why it works this way!

Today, we will continue reading the general philosophy.

“The level of penalty an infraction carries is based on these factors:”

Not all infractions are the same; each of them may bring to a different penalty; the factors that determine how big a penalty should be are the following three.

“• The potential for abuse (or risk of being exposed).”

If you would gain a higher advantage from an infraction, the penalty you will receive should be higher, so as to balance the advantage gained and make the game or tournament fair again.

Same for the risk that the infraction is discovered; if the infraction is so easily detectable that it’s impossible that the game will continue in the illegal state, it’s guaranteed that the game state will be fixed, and therefore a lower penalty is appropriate; on the other hand, if an infraction is very difficult to discover (for example, you can’t verify that the content of your opponent’s deck is correct), the appropriate penalty should be higher.

“• Repeated offenses by the player within the tournament.”

English speaking people say “to err is human to persevere is diabolical” and I believe this sentence is translated into several languages. The concept is that mistakes can easily happen; the important thing is to learn from them and stop making them. When it comes to our game of Magic and infractions, the way this concept is applied is that the second or third penalties for the same exact infraction are upgraded to the next level.

Although intentional infractions require a much higher penalty, we might think that a person who is making the same mistake is “more guilty” to the point that we may think that he’s doing it on purpose; although I disagree with this idea (I think that repeated mistakes during the same tournament are just caused by a bad habit), the fact that Warnings get upgraded to Game Losses should make suspicious people more comfortable that the potential for cheating is lower.

“• The amount of disruption it causes (time and people affected) in discovering, investigating, and resolving the issue.”

I believe that this sentence is misleading, because we may think something along the lines of “if a deck check takes more than 15 minutes, a Game Loss should be awarded” or “if an investigation takes more than 20 minutes, at least a Game Loss will be given for the amount of time lost”; these two thoughts are terribly wrong and should never be applied. If I, as a judge, take a long time to solve a situation, I should never think about making the player pay the consequences of the needed time.

Actually, other than Unsporting Conduct cases, I have to say that I have no idea about when I saw this clause applied; I should definitely ask about this ^__^

“Only the Head Judge is authorized to issue penalties that deviate from these guidelines.”

When there are multiple judges, the head judge is the judge in charge of the entire tournament; he’s the only one who has the authority to determine if a specific penalty doesn’t apply well to the current situation. Head judges are usually the most experienced judges available, and when they decide to deviate, it’s usually for a good reason; you can read a little more about deviations in the Pro Tour Philadelphia report.

“The Head Judge may not deviate from this guide’s procedures except in significant and exceptional circumstances or a situation that has no applicable philosophy for guidance.”

Of course, although the head judge has the authority to deviate any time he wants, he is required to look at things with a grain of salt (it means “not behave stupidly”). The main reason for deviation is when a specific situation doesn’t fit well in the categories listed on the twenty pages of the Infraction Procedure Guide.

“Significant and exceptional circumstances are rare—a table collapses, a booster contains cards from a different set, etc.”

Here you have a couple of examples of “exceptional circumstances”; as you can see, these two examples are extreme; of course I would rebuild or restart a game in case the table collapsed and all the cards got mixed together and the two players couldn’t remember what was on the table; of course, I would substitute a clearly wrong booster during a draft; in these cases, we obviously use common sense and we try to find the “best solution” with the players too.

“The Rules Enforcement Level, round of the tournament, age or experience-level of the player, desire to educate the player, and certification level of the judge are NOT exceptional circumstances.”

These are the reasons that might be considered appropriate for a deviation, but actually aren’t.

“This is a friendly tournament, so there are no consequences for cheating”; well, sorry, if this is a friendly tournament, I really don’t want my opponent to cheat me, please don’t deviate.

“This is round 1 of the Pro Tour, so your opponent has to warm up, there is no problem for drawing eight cards at the beginning of the game”; well, sorry, there is no such concept of “warm up”, I believe my opponent will go to six.

“This is the last round of a PTQ and you are both out of contention for Top8, there is no problem for presenting an illegal deck”; well, sorry, I still care about doing well in the competition and finishing 10th or 20th makes a difference to me, I believe I should win this game.

“Your opponent is half your age, you should behave like an elder brother and forgive all his mistakes”; well, actually this is the fifth time we play and he won all the previous four matches, what about doing the opposite and waiving all MY penalties?

“If another judge feels deviation is appropriate, he or she must consult with the Head Judge.”

All judges have their experience and their intelligence. If any judge believes that a deviation from the Infraction Procedure Guide would do a better service to the game, it’s a very good idea to involve the head judge and explain how the situation can be solved differently from “the book”. Improvements are always possible and I tell you that most of the changes to our policy came from individuals saying “why do we do X instead of Y?”

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:

Ask the Judge Now!


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!


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