Policy changes for Ravnica Allegiance – Simplified

Changes to the judging policy were announced this week, and they’re pretty big… but they’re also pretty difficult to understand for muggles like us (we actually rant about it in this week’s episode, coming tomorrow)

Thankfully, good guy John White (who you might know as Neil’s American cousin) stepped in and explained them all to us in the handy little article below.

(For optimal reading pleasure, you should assume a thick Texan accent from this point onwards)

Howdy, Y’all!

1.  Bribery and IDW

Bribery and Wagering, as well as Improperly Determining a Winner, are no longer always treated with a Disqualification. Anybody who already knew that they can’t bribe their opponent, wager on games of Magic, or do anything except play Magic to determine the winner of the match will still be DQ’d for doing one of those things.  The difference now is that not knowing about these rules means the player will be given a match loss instead of a disqualification, which should lead to many fewer “I didn’t know” disqualifications.

My thoughts: It’s never fun to disqualify a player, but the worst is disqualifying little Jimmy at his first FNM because he didn’t know that he couldn’t roll a die to determine the winner instead of getting a draw. Good change overall.

2.  Triggers

There are no longer several different ways of handling a missed trigger.  There’s now one.  The opponent gets to choose whether to put it on the stack.  Once it’s there, the player whose trigger it is can make any choices or payments.

So if you miss your Slaughter Pact trigger and your opponent points it out, it’s no longer going to cost you the game: you’ll have the opportunity to pay the mana and continue the game. 

Keep in mind, though, that you still can’t intentionally forget your triggers. But if you honestly miss it, it’s no longer going to cost you the game.  Looking at Ravnica Allegiance, this means that if someone forgot their Riot trigger, the opponent can choose not to put it on the stack and the creature will neither have haste nor a +1/+1 counter.

Something I want to bring up here is that you are still required to point out discrepancies in the game state (say, for example, a creature didn’t die in combat when it should have done).  The exception to this is pointing out your opponents’ missed triggers: you may point out their missed triggers, and if you choose to, you are allowed to wait until an opportune time to do so. 

So if your opponent misses their Slaughter Pact trigger, then uses all of their mana to cast spells, you can choose to call attention to their missed trigger and let it be put on the stack.  They will be unable to pay for the Pact and will lose the game when the trigger resolves.  It looks and feels like a dirty trick, so I don’t recommend using it, but be aware that your opponents may try to do things like this and they won’t have done anything wrong.

On a similar note, the “must happen” delayed zone change trigger that meant that you couldn’t “miss” your Prized Amalgam trigger has changed.  It’s been narrowed so that it only affects things that are cleaning up the board state.  Things like “At the end of combat…” or “At the beginning of the end step, sacrifice…” (think Geist of Saint Traft still must happen, but other zone changes like returning to the battlefield from the graveyard no longer fall under this section

The last change to triggers is that if you control an effect that gives your opponent some sort of an upkeep trigger (The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale or Kataki, War’s Wage), your opponent isn’t given a warning if they forget this trigger because they don’t control the source of the trigger.  And because of the change in how missed triggers are handled, your opponent no longer has to sacrifice the creatures if they miss it.  If you choose to put the triggers on the stack, they can choose to pay 1 for each or sacrifice them, the same as they would during the upkeep.

My thoughts: For the most part, I like these changes.  It simplifies a lot of things, but I can see the potential for abuse and some weird things coming up.  Overall, though, the change will be positive for most players, and that’s a good thing.

3.  Loops

There’s not much to say here.  If you are making choices that are causing a loop and can break that loop, you must, even if your choice is hidden from your opponent.  If you can’t, you can either reveal the hidden card(s) to your opponent or call for a judge to verify that you can’t make another legal choice. 

Here’s an example situation: you have 8 cards in hand and no library, and each turn you’re discarding Nexus of Fate so that it becomes the only card in your library. Assuming your opponent couldn’t do anything to actually kill you during this process, you would be in an infinite loop. If your opponent couldn’t lose the game to decking either, say with Lich’s Mastery, at some point, you would now have to make a different choice. If, for example, you had 4 Nexus of Fate and 4 Darksteel Colossus in your hand, all your choices during the cleanup step would lead to the same game state and the game would be a draw. If, though, you had other cards in your hand, that don’t shuffle back in, you’d be forced to start discarding those and hence lose the game. (Note, you can’t be forced to cast a spell, only to make different decisions when the game or other effects force you to make a decision.)

4.  Miscellaneous stuff

  • If your opponent has passed the turn and then time is called, even if you want to act during their End of Turn step, you will have turn 0. This is to stop players trying to reduce turns by holding off untapping until time is called.
  • The difference between Looking at Extra Cards (LEC) and Hidden Card Error (HCE) has been clarified.  If you have looked at the extra card but not put it where it was headed, e.g. if you look at a 4th card while resolving Ponder but you don’t join it with the first 3, it’s LEC. If the extra card(s) does make it to the wrong place, it’s possibly HCE (but there are other requirements for HCE that need to be met). 
  • If, during a sideboard game, you have presented too few cards, cards that were originally in your maindeck will be chosen at random to add back to your deck.  (If you present 59 cards, one maindeck card at random will be put in the deck.  If you present 58 cards, two random maindeck cards will be put back, etc.).  This change was made because of limited play.  If you were to present a 39 card deck, it’s possible that a card you can’t actually cast would be randomly chosen to add to your deck.  For this reason, the random card added back to the deck will be one that originally came out of your maindeck.

Hope that’s cleared things up, and thanks for reading!

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