No Phones and Fewer Game Losses – JOU Policy Updates

Hi everyone! There was an update to Magic tournament policy that went live on May 2nd. You can read all of those changes sprinkled throughout the 60+ pages of Magic Tournament Rules and the Magic Infraction and Penalty Guidelines.

Go ahead, I’ll wait…

You’re not checking it out? You don’t want to trudge through all of that to find out a couple of changes? I’m shocked!

OK, in the words of Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

There are 3 important things you should know about the update. The first is a minor change to Decklist Problems, the second is a clarification to Improperly Determining a Winner, and the third is an update to the Electronic Devices policy. Level 5 judge Toby Elliott covered this last one pretty well in his blog, but I think it bears repeating.

Decklist Problems

This change is extremely minor, but I’m very happy about it. This sentence was added to the “Deck/Decklist Problem” section of the MIPG:

“The Head Judge may downgrade the penalty for an ambiguous name or obvious clerical error if they believe that the error could not be used to gain an advantage in the tournament.”

What this means:

While you should always write your deck list clearly and with full card names to avoid confusion and penalties, this means I won’t be giving any more game losses for players who wrote down “U/B Temple,” “BoP,” or listed 20 Islands in their mono-black deck because they were in a hurry and not paying attention.

What this doesn’t mean:

This doesn’t mean that all (or even most) penalties for deck list problems will be downgraded from game loss to warning. If you write down “Lightning” instead of “Lightning Bolt” on your Modern deck list, I have no real way of knowing if you mean Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Lightning Axe, or Lightning Mauler. Just because it’s clear to you doesn’t mean it will be when your list is checked, and you won’t have the chance to argue about how obvious your intended card was. Try to make a habit of writing the full name of each card down on your deck list.

Improperly Determining a Winner

Let’s talk about getting disqualified. Players obviously don’t want to be disqualified, and I (hopefully just as obviously) don’t really want to disqualify players. In fact, I want to help you avoid it, so listen up. Or… read up? You know what I mean.

Most players know that flipping a coin or rolling a die to determine who wins your match is a big “no-no.” But what you may not realize is that it’s not limited to that. Any method outside the game of determining the outcome isn’t allowed. This rule hasn’t changed, but a clarification was added that you should know about. The following example was added to the “Improperly determining a winner” section of the MIPG:

“Two players reveal cards from the top of their libraries to see ‘who would win’ after extra turns.”

What this means:

When you run out of time for your match, you and your opponent get to take another five turns to determine the outcome. If there’s no winner after those turns, the game is over. Flipping over extra cards to “decide who wins” is a lot like flipping a coin. It’s random, and not actually part of the game that’s already over. Please don’t do it.

What this doesn’t mean:

You can still ask your opponent to concede. This happens all the time. Saying “you’re at 1 life and I’m at 5 million life, I would have won” is a statement about information you had access to during the game. So is, “I had a Lightning Bolt in hand.” These are fine. Once you start using outside information instead, whether it’s randomly rolling dice or randomly flipping the top 5 cards from your library, it’s no longer considered information from your game.

Electronics Devices Policy

This is the big one. As I mentioned before, Toby Elliott wrote about this already in his blog. If you haven’t read it, please check it out. He discusses the reasons behind it and what is and isn’t allowed. I’ll recap here.

The following paragraph was added to the electronic devices policy in the MTR:

“At Competitive and Professional Rules Enforcement Level, players may not use electronic devices once they have sat for their match or during deck construction, with the exception of taking brief personal calls with the opponent’s permission.”

This change has been coming for a while. It’s already a policy at a lot of major tournaments, and now it’s written into policy so that everyone’s on the same page.

What this means:

At “Competitive” level events and higher (GPT, PTQ, Grand Prix, Pro Tours, etc.) You’re not allowed to use electronic devices of any kind once you’ve sat down to play your opponent, which includes that fancy life counter on your phone or listening to your iPod while playing a match. There are just too many ways to abuse this. An attempt was made to write a policy that encompasses everything you can and can’t do with a given electronic device, but it’s almost always out of date as soon as it’s written. Besides, this is better than having players constantly checking that their opponent’s phone is in “airplane mode” anyway.

What this doesn’t mean:

This doesn’t apply to FNM! Hooray! If you’re used to going to your local shop on Friday (or any other night of the week) and using your favorite life-counter app, feel free. Just remember that you can’t use your device to get help or use outside notes. If you have an emergency phone call or might expect one, that’s fine too, just let your opponent know what’s going on. I’ve had players in events who were paramedics on call, men with a wife nine months pregnant, and lots of others with a legitimate need to keep their phone on. We’re not going to penalize you for that.

I hope that makes the update clear. If you have questions, please ask me in the comments or email me: [email protected]

1 thought on “No Phones and Fewer Game Losses – JOU Policy Updates”

  1. Pingback: JudgeCast #91 – You Can’t Listen To This At A PTQ | JudgeCast

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top