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Tolarian Academy – Some Winter Break This Is!

Hey folks! Eric Levine here again to tell you about big changes coming your way this January! Since I’m not a strategy writer here to talk about the effects of the Modern bannings, you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about. If so, I’m guessing you haven’t read the new Magic Infraction Procedure Guide (MIPG) that will go into effect on January 1st, 2012. Feel free to check it out here—everyone who plays at Competitive REL or higher should read this document whenever it’s updated. Knowing the rules is really the same as knowing your rights.

So I promised big changes. Yep, we have those aplenty. You know how lots of abilities used to say “may”? Have you noticed how many abilities are no longer optional? Cards like the Shrines from New Phyrexia and scads of Innistrad cards have triggered abilities that seem like they would have been optional a year ago, but now aren’t. The big reason I heard for this change was to appeal to the casual player. Casual players hate being punished for forgetting things, and if they get frustrated, they’ll stop playing. We don’t want that, so lots of mandatory triggers started popping up. This, unfortunately, had the side effect of irking the more competitive crowd, who seemed to see it as a sign that Magic had been “dumbed down.”

On January 1st, 2012, Magic: the Gathering is going to get a lot smarter. I can’t do much better than quoting the MIPG, so here you have, in its entirety, section 1.4 of the MIPG, titled “Optional Abilities”:

Traditionally, some abilities include the word ‘may’ as part of their text, indicating that their effect is optional. At Competitive and Professional REL, some additional triggered abilities and enters-the-battlefield replacement effects are considered optional. The player is not required to follow the instruction when the ability resolves, and if the ability is forgotten it will not retroactively be applied. An optional ability does one or more of the following things, and nothing else:
• Gains you life or causes an opponent to lose life.
• Puts cards from your library, graveyard, or exile zones into your hand or onto the battlefield. This includes drawing cards.
• Causes opponents to put objects from their hand or the battlefield into the library, graveyard or exile.
• Puts a permanent into play under your control or gives you control of a permanent.
• Puts +x/+x counters, or counters linked to a beneficial effect, on a permanent you control.
• Gives +x/+x or a beneficial ability to a target creature you control.
• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.
• Gives you additional turns or phases.
• Counters a spell or conditionally counters a spell, but only when cast by an opponent.
Abilities that trigger at the same point in each players turn and do something to “that player” (e.g. Howling Mine) are never optional.
This list is comprehensive. An ability that does not fit all of the criteria above is not optional, even if it is to the benefit of the player controlling the ability. Similarly, an optional ability is always optional, even if it would be to the detriment of the player for it to happen.

Whoa! This is crazy and confusing! Let’s break it down. First off:

This only matters at Competitive and Professional REL.

What does this mean? Well, it means that this is likely an attempt to add another level of skill to competitive play, but more importantly, it means that you can’t apply this at random store drafts or your FNM. If a creature died this turn, [card]Hollowhenge Scavenger[/card] is still letting your opponent gain 5 life, whether or not he or she remembers.

This applies both to triggered abilities and enters-the-battlefield replacement effects.

A triggered ability begins with “when,” “whenever,” or “at” and will have both a trigger condition and an effect. (Example: “Whenever a creature dealt damage by [card]Abattoir Ghoul[/card] this turn dies, you gain life equal to that creature’s toughness.) An enters-the-battlefield replacement effect modifies how a permanent enters the battlefield. (Example: “As long as [card]Dearly Departed[/card] is in your graveyard, each Human creature you control enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.”) We won’t be applying this new set of rules to anything that doesn’t fall into those categories.

If such an ability or effect fits one or more of the bulleted criteria and does nothing else, you don’t have to do what it says if it’s your ability or effect. If it’s your opponent’s ability or effect, you are not obligated to point out that they missed it.

Basically, anything that fits the criteria outlined here will be treated, at Competitive or Professional REL, as though it had the word “may” appropriately inserted in its text. Missing these abilities could be bad for you, but it also means that some cards will play completely differently at Competitive and Professional than they will at Regular – after all, you don’t always want to draw cards from [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card]’s triggered ability, right?

If something has an ability that causes each player to do something at the same point in each of their turns (like Howling Mine), that ability is not optional.

This also applies to [card]Howling Mine[/card] variants and random junk like [card]Bottomless Pit[/card], but really, [card]Howling Mine[/card]. I’m sure there are more relevant examples somewhere and I just can’t bring them to mind.

Abilities that don’t fit these criteria strictly aren’t optional, even if that’s good for the player whose ability it is. In the same way, abilities that do fit these criteria are optional, even if missing it is beneficial for the player whose ability it is.

Again, [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card] is my major example here—even though it might be beneficial to ignore the card draw sometimes, it does fit these criteria to a T; so it is optional at Competitive and Professional.

According to Toby Elliott, Level 5 Judge and keeper of the MIPG, this policy does not take into account the game state and should not have room for interpretation or judgment calls. As I write this, judges are actually compiling a list of Modern-legal cards affected by this change.

There is an additional change later in the IPG that also states that opponents are not required to point out your missed triggers at Competitive or Professional REL. No, seriously. If you miss a trigger, even if it’s still technically “mandatory,” your opponent is not obligated to say anything. If you discover that you missed it, then call a judge – if we can, we’ll put the ability on the bottom of the stack and give you a Missed Trigger warning – but if you forget, your opponent is unlikely to help you!

Let’s get down to some examples of abilities that will be optional (and missable!) at Competitive and Professional REL once January 1st rolls around.

• Gains you life or causes an opponent to lose life.

Examples: [card]Abattoir Ghoul[/card], [card]Hollowhenge Scavenger[/card], [card]Inquisitor Exarch[/card], [card]Curse of the Pierced Heart[/card] (damage causes life loss, and though it is not explicitly stated, this counts! I learned from Toby. -Eric, editing ex post facto)

Note that lifelink does NOT fall into this category! Lifelink is a static ability that tacks, “Oh and you gain some life too!” onto the damage the source with lifelink deals.

• Puts cards from your library, graveyard, or exile zones into your hand or onto the battlefield. This includes drawing cards.

Examples: [card]Angel of Flight Alabaster[/card], [card]Charmbreaker Devils[/card], [card]Ghoulraiser[/card], and notably for older formats, [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card] and [card]Skullclamp[/card].

A notable card that does not fit these criteria is [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card]. (it lets you draw a card… but you lose a life! Or it makes your opponent lose a life… but they draw a card!)

• Causes opponents to put objects from their hand or the battlefield into the library, graveyard or exile.

Examples: [card]Hypnotic Specter[/card] and many other Specters, [card]Grave Pact[/card]/[card]Butcher of Malakir[/card], [card]Throat Slitter[/card]

Not examples: [card]Curse of Oblivion[/card], [card]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/card] (this new policy only covers objects leaving the hand or battlefield!)

• Puts a permanent into play under your control or gives you control of a permanent.

Examples: [card]Kessig Cagebreakers[/card], [card]Blade Splicer[/card], [card]Geist-Honored Monk[/card], [card]Sower of Temptation[/card]

• Puts +x/+x counters, or counters linked to a beneficial effect, on a permanent you control.

Examples: [card]Elder Cathar[/card], [card]Shrine of Burning Rage[/card] (and the other four Shrines), [card]Bramblewood Paragon[/card], the Bloodthirst ability

This one bears repeating: Bloodthirst is NOT mandatory at Competitive and Professional REL.

• Gives +x/+x or a beneficial ability to a target creature you control.

Examples: [card]Aven Liberator[/card]

• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.

Examples: [card]Deus of Calamity[/card], [card]Marshdrinker Giant[/card] (we’re digging deep here,) [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card]’s second mode

Not examples: [card]Morkrut Banshee[/card]! You can target your own stuff, and you can’t target your opponent.

• Gives you additional turns or phases.

Examples: [card]Lighthouse Chronologist[/card]! There are probably more, but this so rarely comes up.

• Counters a spell or conditionally counters a spell, but only when cast by an opponent.

Examples: [card Erayo, Soratami Ascendant]Erayo’s Essence[/card]

Not an example: [card]Decree of Silence[/card] (it loses a counter too! No good!)

Okay! It looks like we’ve got the whole thing covered. If you’re still confused, feel free to post questions in the comments area. I’m visiting family for the holidays, but if I have time, I’ll get to them, and if not, well, there are lots of other DCI judges around who will most likely come to cover for me. Thanks for reading. I’d like to remind you that while it’s mandatory to have a happy holiday, it will be optional to have a happy new year.

BONUS QUIZ: (Get the questions right and Urza will bring you presents! [Urza will not bring you presents])

Assume these situations are occurring at Competitive or Professional REL.

Q1:
Nathan controls a [card]Pitchburn Devils[/card] and no other creatures. Arthur, who is at 3 life, controls no creatures. Arthur casts [card]Nekrataal[/card]. Is the Nekrataal ability mandatory?

Q2:
Amiel controls a [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card]. Noah ends his turn, so Amiel untaps. Which of the following situations can legally occur after Amiel’s untap step? (Pick all that apply.) For illegal situations, explain the infraction and penalty for bonus points!

A) Amiel explicitly targets himself with [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card], loses 1 life, draws a card for the Demon, draws a card for his turn, and proceeds to his main phase.
B) Amiel explicitly targets himself with [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card]. Noah responds with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], giving [card]Go for the Throat[/card] flashback and killing [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card]. Amiel draws a card for his turn and proceeds to his main phase. Noah does not mention the Demon trigger.
C) Amiel forgets his [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card] trigger. Noah notices and says nothing.
D) Amiel forgets his [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card] trigger. Noah does not notice.
E) Amiel forgets his [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card] trigger. Noah reminds Amiel before Amiel draws his card for the turn.

Q3:
Annie controls a [card]Battle-Rattle Shaman[/card]. Neil is at 4 life and controls no creatures. Annie ends her main phase and attacks with [card]Battle-Rattle Shaman[/card], forgetting its trigger. Neil notices that Annie forgot the trigger but decides to say nothing. Before combat damage, Annie notices she forgot the trigger and calls a judge. What should the judge do?

Q4:
Andrew controls a [card]Death’s Head Buzzard[/card], three [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]s, and no lands. Nadine controls no creatures. Nadine casts [card]Lose Hope[/card] targeting [card]Death’s Head Buzzard[/card]. Andrew does not want to use the [card]Death’s Head Buzzard[/card] ability. Is this legal?

Q5:
Which of the following cards from Innistrad have optional triggered abilities at Competitive or Professional REL?
 [card]Armored Skaab[/card]
 [card]Ashmouth Hound[/card]
 [card]Balefire Dragon[/card]
 [card]Claustrophobia[/card]
 [card]Crossway Vampire[/card]
 [card]Curse of Stalked Prey[/card]
 [card]Falkenrath Noble[/card]
 [card]Galvanic Juggernaut[/card]
 [card]Garruk Relentless[/card]
 [card]Geistcatcher’s Rig[/card]
 [card]Gutter Grime[/card]
 [card]Hamlet Captain[/card]
 [card]Lumberknot[/card]
 [card]Moldgraf Monstrosity[/card]
 [card]Pitchburn Devils[/card]
 [card]Rage Thrower[/card]
 [card]Selhoff Occultist[/card]
 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
 [card]Sturmgeist[/card]
 [card]Undead Alchemist[/card]

149 thoughts on “Tolarian Academy – Some Winter Break This Is!”

  1. Can you please explain why an opponent is not permitted to enforce one of these supposedly “beneficial” triggers in the case that it isn’t actually beneficial? That would make the cards work the same way at Competitive and Regular REL, which seems pretty important to me.

  2. I feel like I’m missing something here. I admittedly don’t often play competitively, but I thought this was always how may triggers worked. That they’re optional means that you don’t have to enforce it, but also means if you forget to it’s too bad. Accordingly opponents don’t have to point them out either.

    Is that not the case anymore, or am I reading this wrong?

  3. Oh, just read it again. So as in the case with that Glimpse of Nature example, you can essentially add IN a may to a card that doesn’t have it printed? That seems rather ridiculous.

  4. this, and matt’s article does more to confuse than anything.

    yes, most people on these boards are competitive, but this really doesn’t mean much.

    from what i can gather…any triggered ability now has a “may” clause. so if you have dark confidant, move to your draw, then you don’t get to reveal?

    is that it? i don’t understand how this is good.

  5. @Monks: Yes, that’s right. It’s treated as though it were a “may” ability, except that it’s only treated that way at tournaments run at Competitive or Professional REL. So if you test the deck in FNM, it will work differently than when you actually play it at a PTQ.

    That’s pretty sensible, right? :/

  6. the amount of people thinking the system is now broke when for 99.9% of you there will be no change or a positive change (oh hay, the guy who keeps forgetting to put counters on their shrine gets punished) is pretty laughable.

  7. I don’t know if I like the potential abuse from “forgetting” to apply certain triggers. It should be both players job to maintain the game state, and this seems to benefit the rules lawyer type of gameplay more than anything else.

  8. @Thomas: Transcendence was explicitly called out in #mtgrules and apparently they’re working on it somehow.

  9. Eric, awesome article! One small thing, I don’t think that Exalted is an example of an optional trigger because it doesn’t target. Something that would work is Briarhorn, it gives a target creature a pump when it etbs. That’s how I’m reading the clause at least.

    Another good example of the clause: • Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.
    is Inferno Titan, since he can target your stuff, but also your opponent.

    @Thomas the life gain is optional. However, it’s been mentioned that Transcendence will be fixed.

    @Random Scrub: The goal here is that these triggers have essentially become “may” triggers. You can’t make an opponent perform a may option, and we don’t want that to happen here either.

  10. @Ben: But they haven’t actually become “may” triggers. They’ve become “may” triggers only at Competitive and Professional REL (in direct opposition to what it says on the card, too).

  11. Damage causes loss of life, and Curse of the Pierced Heart causes damage. By the transitivity of implication, CotPH causes loss of life (and damage doesn’t cause anything other than loss of life, and CotPH doesn’t cause anything other than damage, so neither does CotPH cause anything other than loss of life), and is therefore beneficial, therefore optional, right?

    “An ability that does not fit all of the criteria above is not optional” well… depending on whether you read that de re or de dicto, it may actually apply to every ability in magic. Every ability
    does not fit (all of the criteria above), though many (don’t fit all) of the criteria above.

    AAARGH!!!

  12. What alarms me about this change is that some cards can be used in ways that are different from their oracle text – namely, some mandatory triggers are now optional. My problem with this is that I have become primarily a Magic Online player in last year, and Magic Online is a place where we play by the oracle text. Having quit paper magic due to disincentives in Planeswalker Points, I don’t need another reason to not want to play offline.

    These new changes could be mostly harmless, but a nightmare scenario could arise where card functionality is different in paper from how it works on mtgo. This could lead to decks only being viable in paper mtg and not online, or individual cards having separate limited evaluations depending on whether you’re playing a ptq irl or online. When this happens, Magic Online stops being an effective tool for practicing for a tournament or analyzing the metagame. I’m not ok with this.

    Bottom line, if/when this change causes a noticeable disparity between Magic Online and paper strategy, you can bet I won’t be showing up at any live tournaments. Not that I was planning on playing paper mtg any time soon, but this is just one more reason to avoid it.

  13. This is the most confusing crap ever. What was so hard about having one question (“Is it a ‘may’?) to ask?

  14. This is simple stuff, guys.

    In actual play, it’s really obvious which cards this will affect. It just seems confusing when it’s written.

  15. @FFfreaksbabymama

    They could simply implement a visual que to simulate how it’s like in paper magic. For example, you whenever a trigger occurs, the card it originated from could simply pulse with an orange border for a moment. That way, it’s still up to the player to notice their triggers, click the card, and activate said trigger.

  16. Just for example:

    A creature has died this turn. You cast Hallowhenge Scavenger.

    Currently:

    You gain 5 life.

    In the future:

    The border of the card pulses 1 or 2 times. If you click on the card while you still have priority and you haven’t added anything new to the stack, the effect will go off.

  17. So, it is the first round of a PTQ and I’m playing a WW deck and have a Suture Priest in play, my opponent is playing G/W tokens and is at one life and has a Howlpack Alpha in play. He finishes his second main phase, and if I understand the changes, he can now choose not to put a 2/2 wolf token into play which lets him end his turn as normal. No creature comes into play, he does not loose one life from the Suture Priest. My opponent does not loose his last life point, and the game continues.

    How is that making magic “smarter”? Granted this a hypothetical situation, but if my understanding of the IPG changes is correct that the wolf token does not have to come into play, but that should not be. This seems wrong to me. Your cards should do the exact same thing every single time you play them, it should not matter if it is on Joe’s dining room table after work, at FNM, or at a Grand Prix.

    If Eric or another Judge could explain how this is better for the game I would appreciate it greatly. I know that accidentally missed triggers can be a pain in the ass for everyone involved especially for the judges, but being able to just ignore certain ones if you want to does not sit right with me.

  18. a more relevant example than Howling Mine of a “same point each turn” trigger would be Smokestack.

  19. The fact that wizards makes cards function differently depending on the level of the event is absolutely bonkers.

  20. @Monogreen: Yes. Blue Sun’s Zenith is not a triggered ability or an enters-the-battlefield replacement effect.

  21. What happens if you cast Curse of Stalked Prey on yourself? Seems to me that you would be required to put the counters on the your opponent’s creatures when they deal combat damage to you. But if you curse your opponent, putting the counters on your creatures would be optional.

  22. I’m glad for this change… and it really seems easier than most people are making it out to be.

    I remember nearly getting a game loss by allowing my opponent to forget to put counters on an arbitrarily large Gideon’s Avenger. (was like 16/16, i had 4 life and was busy tapping it down with lawkeeper).

    Was pretty frustrating to have to slow play to make sure that no creature was ever tapped without incrementing a meaningless counter. Glad for this change, even if it makes a few cards work differently.

  23. @ MonoGreen

    From what I understand yes. This rule change only applies to triggers what you’re talking about is the resolution of a spell.

    I for one think this entire rule change is random as crap. Not because it’s not possibly better for the game but because it’s only being applied to REL Play. Why not just say that these types of effects are optional throughout and others are not? Wouldn’t that just be easier than trying to sub divide the rule spectrum. It would also make it confusing for judges who are trying to move from FNM level judging into higher level events because they need to remember to make proper rulings on cards based on different level of play? Not fair. Didn’t need to be changed.

  24. So if I understand this correctly my opponent can stop drawing cards with Jin-Gitaxis during his end step (since drawing cards is a beneficial effect) and thus avoid what is supposed to be a double-edged sword ability. Legacy is already full of sketchy plays and this just smacks of more crap. Didn’t they just suspend Alex for questionable gameplay (what they determined to be cheating) and now they are adding a cheating (call a spade a spade) subgame to Magic.

  25. This smacks of changing the functionality of a variety of cards.

    So now I’m allowed to “forget” to draw off of Glimpse of Nature when I have no cards left in my library?

    So now I’m allowed to “forget” to put a token off of a triggered ability like Howlpack Alpha into play if you have a Blood Seeker of Suture Priest and I’m at 1?

    So now I’m allowed to “forget” that Illusions of Grandeur loses me 20 life when it leaves play?

    These are just three examples I just came up with off the top of my head.

    WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS NONSENSE? This better not work like this.

    This needs to be amended such that a mandatory trigger is not retroactively applied if both players forget it, but that the active player cannot actively choose to miss it, thus if they try the opponent can force the trigger on them.

  26. I like the spirit of this change, but like many recent decrees from WotC this one seems like a clumsy implementation at best, and simultaneously a “cheater’s” paradise and judge’s recurring nightmare at it’s worst. I used quotes around cheater because, as of January, all these things will be legal at PTQ level and higher. This can’t be the right way to do this. Bitterblossom now reads roughly “make a flier every turn until you are within burn out range.” A more flavorful example, but along similar lines, is phyrexian arena. Before this change, the card was a sort of deal with the devil–all the knowledge you could ever ask for, maybe even knowledge you didn’t want or perhaps couldn’t afford to know. Now it’s just a sweet draw spell with no risk of killing yourself. Where’s the fun in that?

    I sincerely hope R&D decides to go back to actually printing “may” on cards like these, and eventually we can just shuffle this rule under the rug and forget about it, like most of us have done to graveyard order.

  27. Triggers that cause you to lose life are still mandatory, so Illusions of Grandeur and Phyrexian Arena still kill you.

  28. @conelead: i don’t think you can forget the Illusions of grandeur life loss, the “may” trigger only occurs when you gain life or an opponent loses life, as written above. correct?

  29. So, say my opponent has Eldrazi Monument and two creatures (one a 3/3, one a 5/5). My opponent “forgets” his trigger and doesn’t sacrifice a creature. I don’t say anything, he passes the turn. I untap and draw Lightning Bolt. I bolt his 3/3, then call a judge to say he forgot his Monument trigger, at which point it is put on the stack and he sacrifices his 5/5?

    Is this cheating? Can I even call a judge on a missed mandatory trigger any more?

  30. Can someone explain to me why putting counters on a Shrine to Burning Rage is beneficial in this context? Is there someplace where “beneficial” is defined?

  31. A load of people haven’t read the section that Eric posted, it seems; this change does not affect all triggers without a ‘may’ at Comp/ Pro REL, only those that do something on the list he has provided and nothing else. Some examples from this thread:

    -Dark Confidant/ Phyrexian Arena: They draw you a card, but they also cause you to lose life. Still mandatory.

    -Bitterblossom: You can’t choose to resolve half the trigger; the losing life and putting a creature into play are all one thing. As you lose life, it’s still mandatory.

    -Illusions of Grandeur: The leaves play trigger causes you to lose life. Still mandatory.

    -Eldrazi Monument: The owner of the trigger sacrifices a creature, so it is still mandatory. If you intentionally play things as you’ve said, Chris, a judge may have a chat with you about cheating – waiting to call a judge on an error until you can extract the most benefit from it is still Fraud. You can legally either choose to call a judge as soon as you notice, or not at all.

  32. So does this rule change make all of these types of spells automatic mays? Or are they merely treated this way if someone forgets. For example if someone forgets a trigger that’s beneficial to me intentionally can I force them to do it if I notice right away? Let’s take the Dues of Calamity land trigger example. If I’m the opponent and destroying one of my lands kills them for some reason like Dingus Egg, are they allowed to simply skip the trigger because this ability is in essence beneficial to them?

  33. Simple question –

    WHY “FIX” SOMETHING THAT ISN’T BROKEN????

    you’re creating great confusion and changing so much in the game… for what reason? Not reminding your opponent about missed triggers is ok, but making cards like Glimpse optional… what on earth? You’re basically changing the mechanics of the game, like for example if someone is low on cards in library and goes with Glimpse he can stop when he wants without decking himself while still playing number of creatures he wants. That is DUMB

  34. @DanL

    Yes, all the abilities listed will become May abilities instead of mandatory effects.

    So no, if your opponent’s Dues of Calamity does 6 or more damage to you, and you want your opponent to kill one of your lands, you may not force your opponent to do so since it is no longer a mandatory effect. They are allowed to skip the trigger as if it were a may ability.

    @Hisa

    There is no definition of beneficial. However, since the rules do not see game state, it is probably assumed that an increase in potential damage is “beneficial.”

  35. I made a slight mistake in my comment. Dingus egg deals damage to the land’s controller. Let’s say I control a Marty’s Bond and Mycosynth Lattice and he controls no artifacts along with me having a Dingus Egg. If he were to attack me with the Deus of Calamity he’d be forced to destroy a land which would normally result in him having to sac a land because of Marty’s Bond and then he’d die to the 2 damage from the Dingus Egg since he’s a 2. So the new rules say he can skip that trigger and just attack me all he wants?

  36. @ DanL

    Notice that I did not mention the board state in my response. It does not matter since the rules surrounding your proposed case do not have anything to do with the 2 bullet points specifically mentioning “beneficial effects.” Regardless of the board state, the answer is the same: The ability is a May abilitiy. As such, if he misses it, or chooses not to use it, it is assumed to be a No.

  37. 1. Who ON EARTH did ever consider it a good idea that cards work differently in different tournaments? Not a big fan of constancy I guess? Well I am.

    2. This makes people really get away with a lot of stuff, and you have to watch them like a hawk. If you hit them with Hypnotic Specter, a good player now actually does nothing, and you have to actively make him discard a card. Same for stuff like Grave Pact, Erayo’s Essence, etc.; Also, those token making effects, I am already happily looking forward for someone playing a Blade Splicer and just continues with his turn before scrambling out a token out of a box, only to get it denied (beforehand, your opponent might have called a judge and you might have received a warning, but really it is just some out of order sequence, now it is much more likely to be ruled as if you forgot it).
    The same thing with extra turns, its an enormous effect with no visible change, so you would have just taken it for granted before. I guess this doesnt really matter because it always never happens, but thats all the more reason for people to screw up if it ever happens (now you have to announce Emrakul with “Emrakul, Trigger, I *WILL* take the extra turn yes please”? Annoying??)

    3. As for counters, this “linking” seems like really far-stretched. Especially because “beneficial” is not at all defined in this context (it might be linked to a non-triggered ability, like Shrine). Also looking forward for Judges making decisions for me what is beneficial for me.

    4. I’ve heard there was already some discussion about for example Transedence not working like it should under this rules. Looking forward to intransparent hotfixes and judges who “don’t think it should work that way” to screw one over.

    just sayin’

  38. This change is just stupid…
    basically it is lifting the judges from some work,so that they don’t have to come back and “punish” people for not remembering triggers and activations on purpose (who on earth would miss a beneficial trigger???? )
    If you misplay you must get an infraction, bending the cards ability to give you good situation is just bad…
    Let’s get something started:

    At your local store, Timmy play Necratal deck, and always win.
    Necratal forces you to kill something when it gets in play, so Johnny started to play Pitchburn Devils to combat necratal… and it is working.

    Now both Timmy and Johnny goes to an official Event, and Timmy isn’t force to kill a creature, so Johnny’s deck still take a beating? this is just stupid… common…
    It is like it’s breaking the whole balance of the game, I would understand if it was extended to all cards, all time, all rules… but like this is just senseless.

  39. I haven’t read every comment.
    But i think or hope most people have the wrong idea.
    Cards still work according to the oracle text.
    And if players fail to keep a legal gamestate they can still be dq’ed.
    The penalties for purposely failing to maintain a legal gamestate haven’t changed e.a. cheating.
    But if a illegal gamestate is discovered the game won’t be rolled back at least in case
    of above stated situations. Rolling back more than half a turn was unfeasible anyway.
    If i had known my opp had one more life I would have played completely differently.
    So we have to roll back three turns wish is unfeasible. Now there is less ambiguity as to whether a situation can be rolled back or not.
    At least i hope that is the intention of this rules change.
    In the end i think the thing to remember is that an illegal gamestate is still an illegal gamestate.
    Purposely allowing an illegal gamestate is still cheating.

  40. @ Stijn

    Did you even read the rules change? It is not that maintaining a proper game state was removed or modified, but it made multiple required triggers optional triggers.

    For example, if your opponent has a Soul Warden in play, he has to call each gain of life, even though the oracle text will still have it as a mandatory effect. Further, if you were to play Soul Warden at your local Modern tournament, it will be a Mandatory effect, but if you were to take that same deck to a Modern PTQ, it is a may effect. What to do?

    It makes game play needlessly technical and I can definitely see tournament play devolving into MTGO.

    Rather than making everything optional, they should seek to standardize may and must effects. Why is there a need to have Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant as cards? This puts a pointless burden on both players and judges.

  41. This is the best change to MtG ever.

    A few Oracle updates and we can start playing the real game.

    Cards needing Oracle updates will become Black Lotus contenders in the future, put on the wall; “see here son, these cards represent the last cards the cheaters could hide behind in MtG. When they left there followed an era in which the judges of magic caught cheaters in a tempo you wouldnt believe – it is estimated that approx 97percent of the games’cheaters were eradicated from the game during the following 8-10 months”.

  42. Some misconceptions that ought to be mentioned:
    This is not an r&d decision. While it’s easy to blame them for every change you dislike, let’s not.
    Many of you seem to believe this change affects more stuff than it does.

    Is this change confusing right now? To most: yes! Including me, a L2 judge.
    However, magic is ever-changing and I would encourage everyone to let this change sink in, try it out, understand it better and then cry wolf (unless your opponent has suture priest) if you indeed still feel like it’s bad.
    Without commenting on this change I personally have always felt that the fear of magic ever being “dumbed down” has always been unfounded. The game’s complexity and variation will continue to challenge people even when wotc makes it more friendly to new players.
    With that said I understand that not all share this view, and I hope this change appeals to you when you’ve tried it out.

    Happy gaming! 🙂

  43. Man, where is the time that you could just read a card, see the word “MAY” and know that you had an optional trigger in front of you. Or see the lack of the word “MAY’ and know it is a mandatory trigger..
    You know like R&D actually decided the card should work, and not some bullshit about how a card works depending on what level of competition you are playing in.
    The DCI has grossly overstepped its boundaries here.

  44. I’m interested to see how much this gums up the works of the next tournaments that occur. If you miss a would-be mandatory effect, boohoo. Though at EDH, a casual format where ppl would care less, being casual and what not, it is mandatory.

    Also Glimpse of Nature was a stupid choice, seeing ppl are now thinking card draw spells can be ignored. You should explain that Glimpse of Nature sets up a triggered ability that lasts the rest of the turn, and THAT triggered ability’s draw is what can be ignored.

  45. @Myrenberg – It has far less to do with fears of magic getting dumbed down. As an example, assume that this change go forward as intended, and we skip ahead to a year from now.

    Timmy Noobsauce has been playing for 6 months at his local FNMs. He’s been enjoying the game, and he’s heard about an upcoming GPT (the format doesn’t matter). So he decides to sleeve up a deck, and proceeds to get brutally stomped by A) decks that abuse the corner cases of these new “may” triggered abilities and B) players that no longer need to point out his missed triggers, and happily stay silent while Timmy forgets his beneficial triggers all day long. Timmy ends the event at 0-4, and vows to never play magic again.

    Now why is this R&D’s fault? BECAUSE R&D ACTIVELY MADE A DECISION TO OMIT “MAY” ON A TON OF CARDS IN ORDER TO CODDLE NEWER PLAYERS.

    R&D may have had the best of intentions when they made Shrine of Burning Rage “noob-friendly”, but it has the degenerative effect of hindering newer players from correctly playing the game. If you create incentives for newer players to continue playing sloppy (and in this case, create a rather MASSIVE barrier for making the jump into competitive play), then you are actively reinforcing the divide between casual players and competitive players.

    This rules change is a bad egg hatched from asinine marketing research, plain and simple. R&D made the decision to coddle sloppy players so they continue to buy product, but the end result is that they are guaranteeing that a portion of sloppy players will never graduate into the competitive REL scene. If that’s not a “money first, community second” decision, I don’t know what is…

  46. I forgot to add this – It would have been much simpler and more elegant for R&D to stick with “may” wording on triggered abilities. I’m sure R&D is wringing their hands at every sloppy player that gets rules-lawyered at an FNM, but it’s freaking necessary for the integrity of the game.

  47. This is really stupid.

    Why not make the triggers optional unless an opponent points them out? This makes a lot more sense because you can still deck yourself with glimpse of nature if your opponent points it out but he’s not obligated to point it out the 99% of the time it’s bad for him. Everything’s simple and no one feels bad for losing the game because he’s playing fair.

  48. Yea, I think there’s going to be alot of convenient ‘forgetting’ of abilities in the next few events until they change this… Sure glad we banned cheaters like saito, gheytoncini… think how much more theycould cheat with these changes!

  49. This has to be one of the most assanine changes I have seen from WotC.

    So… my opponent is playing GW tokens and is on 1 life, thanks to the Suture Priest I sided in. I kill his doomed traveller. Now he can ignore that triggered ability??

    My opponent is playing a Modern version of soul sisters, with soul warden. I side in Rain of Gore. Now my opponent can gain life right up to the point that I play Rain of Gore, and then choose not to.

    I side in obstinate baloths against my opponent, who targets me with blightning. Knowing that I have two baloths in hand he cherry picks the 3 damage part and tells me to ignore discarding.

    Seriously, WTF?

  50. @ Highwayman

    The first 2, yes. The last one… You might want to re-read the new rules. Last I checked, a part of a spell is not a triggered ability or a comes into play replacement effect.

  51. Wait, so I no longer have to play Emrakul in my Enchantress deck if I’m playing at Competitive REL to stop me from decking myself? Sweet.

    You know, once upon a time, WotC didn’t make things this easy.

  52. My Answers:

    Q1: No because you could theoretically target another of your own creatures if you had any?

    Q2: A and E. It’s not optional so Amiel has to remind Noah.

    Q3: Do a little dance, make a little love and not change anything about the game state explaining Annie that the trigger was optional and missed.

    Q4: Nope and bye bye Pilgrims. It does not target so this is business as usual, even if Nadine would have controlled any creatures.

    Q5: Claustrophobia’s trigger does not target, the aura itself does so tapping is still mandatory I think?
    Curse of Stalked Prey is optional if you enchant your opponent, mandatory if you enchant yourself weird enough.
    Falkenrath Noble is optional.
    Geistcatcher’s Rig already says ‘you may’, derp.
    Gutter Grime supposing that adding the counter is considered beneficial.
    Lumberknot is optional.
    Moldgraf Monstrosity is mandatory because you exile it?
    Rage Thrower is optional.
    Sturmgeist is optional.

    Now gimme cookies Urza! 🙁 No? Mishra then?

  53. All these hypothetical scenarios remind me of when they took away manaburn… “What if my opponent is at one life, and has to pay echo on his Goblin Patrol, but the only land he has in play is an Izzet Boilerworks…” be serious. The number of times this hurts you is the 0.001% to the 99.999% of when this makes life easier because you don’t have to give a guy the token or counter he missed, and you’re not punished for him missing his own triggers anymore. My only complaint is this makes it weird that the game actually plays differently at different RELs, but I suppose most people really only play one or the other.

  54. Isn’t Erayo NOT an example of this rule because it is not a triggered ability or enters-the-battlefield replacement effect. It does not happen when Erayo comes into play and it doesn’t start with “when,” “whenever,” or “at.” I may be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time), but it seems like Erayo falls outside this rule.

  55. The way this seems to be working out is that during, the next comp/rel tournement people will be calling judges for every trigger in the game with the question wether its now a “may”, or “must” trigger.

  56. What, people still don’t get the change even after this article? Sigh. There are so many people that suggest that things would fall under 1.4, while they don’t. In most cases not even close. Please, just read before you scream stuff that just confuses more people that didn’t take the time to read.
    It’s not that hard and 1.4 won’t impact the game to a mayor extend, only in corner cases (like the fact that you can’t deck yourself with Jin-Gitaxias anymore). You’re still going to want to trigger the abilities that favor you (the optional ones) and still have to activate abilties that don’t favor you.
    For the rest the new change (3.1) benifits players who play the game correctly, since they don’t have to point out that teir oponnent is failing anymore. Forgetting triggers is now your own problem. Also, all the ‘but I didnt see it’-crap doesn’t matter anymore.

    About the difference between ELO’s, It’s weird, but seems like the right thing to do.

    Thanks for the (i.m.o.) clear article Eric.
    And great job @ Wizards!

  57. This seems stupid. Why not just leave things the way they are, and include ‘may’ on cards with optional triggers, and include ‘must’ or just word it so it’s implied just like it is now….in other words, if it isn’t broke, why fix it?

  58. You know a rules change is bad when they have to specifically add in a line that directly countermands what a previous line in that same rules change states. Howling Mine “puts cards from your library, graveyard, or exile zones into your hand or onto the battlefield. This includes drawing cards.” But then we are told that since it happens “at the same point in each players turn and [does] something to ‘that player'” it’s not optional. This reads like someone realized at the last second that these types of effects shouldn’t be considered optional so they added this symmetry clause because they couldn’t figure anything else out. I appreciate the problems of dealing with missed mandatory triggers, but this seems like a half-baked solution.

    These are nine new situations that must be evaluated for many possible actions during the course of a typical turn. I’m sure 99% of the time it’s no big deal, things will proceed as expected, but there is sure to be a brand new classic misplay moment very soon. The fact that some of the listed situations only concerns what happens with an opponent makes symmetrical effects asymmetrical, which not only changes the letter AND spirit of a card, it’s adding a layer of complication that is really not necessary, and more complicated doesn’t equate to smarter.

    Also, the use of terms like ‘beneficial effect’ is ripe for problems. Since judges aren’t supposed to consider board state, how would one consider something beneficial or not? Is gaining flying or vigilance always considered beneficial, even though in certain situations it could be the worst possible thing? I guess so.

    Heh, just thought of something. I once played a game where I had a Kira and Platinum Angel in play, and I was at negative life but close to winning. My opponent played Giant Growth or something on my Angel that would’ve boosted P/T, but Kira countered that spell. He was then able to Fireblast the Angel and win. Under these new rules, I could choose to accept the Growth on the Angel and survive a Fireblast. Unless he was smart enough to Fireblast with Growth on the stack, but whatevs.

  59. I personally hate this ruling, as magic should fall under one set of rules as a game and work that way permanently, no matter where you are playing. This is especially frustrating to me because I do not see how this helps new players at all. The biggest lesson for a new player is to RTFC and do what it says… and now there are exceptions to that rule. I think it fosters common misconceptions like “don’t get to draw a card if you forget to during your drawstep” and “sacrifice creatures whenever you want to”.

    Aside from ranting, I have an actual question. One of the bullet points reads:

    • Puts +x/+x counters, or counters linked to a beneficial effect, on a permanent you control.

    So how exactly does this work with cumulative upkeep now? Are my cumulative upkeep counters considered a beneficial effect? By whose measure? Does it depend on what the cumulative upkeep cost is as to whether i can choose to add the counter? It seems very ambiguous and subjective to me, as “beneficial” is subject to the game state and not inherent to the card or ability itself.

  60. Exactly. They go to some length to get specificity but then gum it up with unclear language. Cumulative upkeep, since it would eventually lead to losing the permanent, I think would generally not be considered beneficial, so it’s not optional. But something like Balduvian Fallen gets +1/+0 for paid upkeeps, and Braid of Fire does have what I guess would be considered a beneficial effect, essentially free mana during upkeep.

  61. Actually, cumulative upkeep is all one effect. Putting a counter on it and paying the cost would have to either all happen or not. You can’t put a counter on it and not pay the cost, or pay the cost and not put a counter on it.

  62. I’m guessing that the corner cases like mayor of avabruk (when opponent has suture priest), jin gitaxias/glimpse of nature (with few cards left in library), and deus of calamity in that horribly contrived situation that somebody posted, etc. will probably be dealt with by some clause that lets your opponent insist on the ability happening. It is an easy fix and relatively clean way for determining when “beneficial” triggers really aren’t beneficial.

  63. Everywhere in the world has to have FNM on a Friday Night, for consistency and clarity, even when this means that some TO’s can’t run it and for others attendance is lower.

    Cards must function the same in every language. If they do not that means that there has been an error in translation.

    Damage on the stack is a bad idea, because it creates a set of the rules that more experienced players can take advantage of over less familiar players that is counterintuitive, but not necessarily more skill based.

    Cards now do different things depending on what tournament you are playing in. While I won’t be sad not to have to point out to my opponents that they have me dead due to mandatory triggers, I can’t help but think that this makes things less clear for newer players than damage on the stack ever did. Being able to cast Ideas Unbound, and then bind them up a bit once drawing lots is no longer optimal seems a bit fiddly. Not being able to test online with the same set of rules as a big tournament doesn’t seem ideal. Will MODO PTQ’s run at a different rules-set level to other MODO events?

    Color me confused.

  64. Wouldn’t the same goals be accomplished, without the troubling issues by simply making all mandatory triggers optional only at the selection of the opponent. Instead of the tortuous definition of “beneficial” they are trying to make, at competitive REL, let the opponent make the call. If you don’t announce your trigger, I can choose to call you on it or not.

    This is going to be the same as it is currently 99% of the time, but the 1% that is different is the 1% that people are concerned about (glimpse, transcendence, jin-gitaxias, etc.)

    Essentially it reads: Any triggered ability that is not announced by controller may be skipped unless opponent announces the trigger.

  65. I’m a fairly competitive player. I’ve read this article 3 times and still have no idea exactly what these changes mean. All i know is that cards working differently depending on what type of event you’re playing in is an actual joke.

  66. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  67. A1.

    Yes, Nekrataal’s ability is mandatory. Note the following bullet point from the optional abilities: “Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.”

    Nekrataal’s ability could target Arthur’s own permanents and could not target an opponent, so it is not optional.

    The fact that Arthur does not currently have a legal target for Nekrataal’s ability is irrelevant (See statement in article: “According to Toby Elliott, Level 5 Judge and keeper of the MIPG, this policy does not take into account the game state”).

    A2.

    “A” is legal. (Amiel has performed out-of-order sequencing because he performed the actions on Bloodgift Demon in the wrong order, but this is not illegal and receives no penalty, as per section 4.3 of the Tournament Rules.)

    “B”, “C”, and “D” are illegal on Amiel’s part, but Noah has done nothing illegal. The Bloodgift Demon trigger is not optional (as noted in the article); however, Noah is not obligated to inform his opponent of that.

    “E” is illegal on Amiel’s part, because he missed the trigger. Noah has done nothing illegal (he is allowed to remind his opponent of the missed trigger if he so chooses).

    In “B”, “C”, “D”, and “E”, Amiel has committed the infraction “Game Play Error — Missed Trigger,” and the appropriate penalty is a Warning. Noah should not receive any penalty in any of these situations.

    A3.

    The Battle-Rattle Shaman’s ability uses “may,” so it is optional. Annie missed the trigger, but since the trigger is optional, it is assumed that she chose not to play it and no penalty should be issued. Neil is not obligated to remind her of the missed trigger. The judge should advise the players that the Battle-Rattle Shaman’s ability was not played and should issue no penalty.

    A4.

    No, the Death’s Head Buzzard’s ability is mandatory. It does not say “may” and does not fit the critera for optional abilities. (Note that it does not fit the -x/-x criterion because it is not targeted.)

    A5.

    Armored Skaab: mandatory (moving cards from library to graveyard not listed as optional)
    Ashmouth Hound: mandatory (non-targeted damage not listed as optional)
    Balefire Dragon: mandatory (non-targeted damage not listed as optional)
    Claustrophobia: mandatory (non-targeted tap not listed as optional)
    Crossway Vampire: mandatory (targeted “can’t block” not listed as optional)
    Curse of Stalked Prey: optional if attached to an opponent; mandatory if attached to self
    Falkenrath Noble: mandatory (can cause yourself to lose life, so is not optional)
    Galvanic Juggernaut: mandatory (untapping not listed as optional)
    Garruk Relentless: mandatory (transforming not listed as optional)
    Geistcatcher’s Rig: optional (uses “may”)
    Gutter Grime: optional (beneficial counter on a permanent you control and putting a permanent into play both fit the criteria for an ‘optional’ ability)
    Hamlet Captain: mandatory (non-targeted +x/+x not listed as optional)
    Lumberknot: optional (beneficial counter on a permanent you control)
    Moldgraf Monstrosity: mandatory (moving cards from your graveyard to exile not listed as optional)
    Pitchburn Devils: optional (could deal damage to opponent’s target permanent, your target permanent, or an opponent)
    Rage Thrower: mandatory (could target self)
    Selhoff Occultist: mandatory (could target self)
    Snapcaster Mage: mandatory (giving cards in graveyard Flashback not listed as optional)
    Sturmgeist: optional (drawing cards is explicitly listed as optional)
    Undead Alchemist: mandatory (exiling cards from opponent’s graveyard not listed as optional)

  68. I’m not sure about this, but I THINK what these changes amount to is no more than “missed beneficial triggers are no longer a reason for judges to give infraction penalties.” I think that if a card is printed without the word “may” on it, and the player using it misses the trigger (like if they are at 6 cards in library and the have Jin-Gitaxias out), *and the opponent points it out,* the player still doesn’t have the option of saying “that’s OK, I’m just not going to put that trigger on the stack” … it’s still not a “may” ability. Same with Glimpse, Nekrataal when Pitchburn Devils is the only legal target, etc. … I don’t think the cards are being errata’d to include a phantom “may” in the text of the ability. I think that instead, the player who is paying the most attention to the triggers and the game state is now just strictly always going to be the one with the advantage … they’ll hit their own beneficial triggers, and they’ll make sure that regardless of how shady their opponent might be when it comes to “accidentally” missing triggers that would somehow cause problems for them, those triggers go on the stack.

    I don’t think this is making “mandatory” triggers no longer mandatory. I think it just changes the enforcement guidelines when both players fail to note that the triggers could or should be put on the stack. Now, there is still a possibility that an attentive player who notes that their opponent forgot to, say, trigger a Reejery because they were too busy drawing a card from their Silvergill Adept, can stay quiet and let the game state continue because it wasn’t their own mistake to make. But there’s just never been a way to eliminate plausible deniability in that situation anyway. I think that if you stay on top of your opponent’s triggers as well as your own, there’s just no way for you to be the victim of shady players abusing this new rules change … and if you try to abuse the new rules change, you’ll either get caught by an attentive, upstanding opponent and be forced to play according to the rules of the game without a judge being called, or you’ll push things until a judge does get called and it will just turn out that much worse for you, and ONLY you. Rolling the dice on taking advantage of your opponent’s attention span has always been an option in this game, and this rules change just eliminates the possibility of repercussions against players who never intended to do that, or who were on the wrong end of that.

    Regarding this quote:
    “• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.”

    This is very incongruously written and I think it’s supposed to say “… an opponent’s target permanent,” partly because that is an intuitive way to understand the rule and partly because there’s no antecedent in the sentence to the bit at the end that refers to “targeting an opponent”, because the entire sentence is about targeting PERMANENTS and not PLAYERS. I think it’s just poorly edited, essentially a typographical error, and the actual meaning of it is that, yes, if you’ve got the only artifact on the board when you play Manic Vandal, you have to target it, and if they’ve got one and you’ve got one you can just miss the trigger and they are under no obligation to remind you. Angel of Despair, same deal … it’s only mandatory (on pain of infraction ruling from judge) if you’re the only one with any permanents at all.

    All things considered I think this was a good call by WotC as far as moderating competitive play. It doesn’t reword any cards, it doesn’t change the way gameplay works, it only changes the way judges rule on questionable game states, and ultimately what the change boils down to is, “always reward the player who is paying more attention and playing more tightly.” And for competitive events, that is a great change and one that I think needs to happen.

  69. So now I’m allowed to “forget” that Illusions of Grandeur loses me 20 life when it leaves play?
    – This isn’t optional as You Lose life, not your opponent. Though you are allowed to forget to gain the 20.

  70. Regarding this quote:
    “• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.”

    This is very incongruously written and I think it’s supposed to say “… an opponent’s permanent,” partly because that is an intuitive way to understand the rule and partly because there’s no antecedent in the rule to the bit at the end that refers to “targeting an opponent”, because the entire rule is about targeting PERMANENTS and not PLAYERS. I think it’s just poorly edited, essentially a typographical error, and the actual meaning of it is that, yes, if you’ve got the only artifact on the board when you play Manic Vandal, you have to target it, and if they’ve got one and you’ve got one you can just miss the trigger and they are under no obligation to remind you that you could’ve hit their artifact, although if that artifact is, say, a Solemn Simulacrum, they CAN remind you, and you WILL need to put the trigger on the stack targeting something. Angel of Despair, same deal … it’s only mandatory (**on pain of infraction ruling from judge**) if you’re the only one with any permanents at all. Otherwise, someone needs to say something for the trigger to happen, and if nobody does, it won’t happen. The player who is paying more attention invariably has the advantage. And that’s what I see throughout this rules change … it’s not that “mandatory” triggers aren’t mandatory, it’s just that a JUDGE needs only charge a player with an infraction if they missed a trigger that DIDN’T fall under these criteria of things that (generally speaking) are to their own advantage anyway. If, somehow, both players miss a “mandatory but beneficial” trigger that is not in fact strictly beneficial (like failing to kill a Simulacrum with a Vandal trigger when it’s their only artifact, or failing to kill a Flagstones with an Angel of Despair trigger when it’s their only permanent), well, that happened, and the player who stood to gain from their opponent’s trigger should’ve been paying more attention. And that’s OK for the game. Players have ALWAYS had the option of rolling the dice on whether or not their opponents are paying attention. And for the most part, they have always had some degree of plausible deniability when the judge comes around, which has led in the past to situations where both players get punished for a mistake that MAYBE only one of them made (but maybe they both made, necessitating the ruling!), and that’s not fair. Now, if someone makes a mistake and both people miss it, no biggie, no ruling, and whoever stood to gain from their opponent’s inattentiveness did gain … but at the same time, if you try to abuse this new ruling guideline, attentive players will call you on your nonsense, and either the game will progress in correct accordance with the rules, or a judge will be called in a legitimately unambiguous situation and a player who deserves a ruling against them will get it.

    All things considered I think this was a good call by WotC as far as moderating competitive play. It doesn’t reword any cards, it doesn’t change the way gameplay works, it only changes the way judges rule on questionable game states, and ultimately what the change boils down to is, “always reward the player who is paying more attention, playing more tightly, and playing in closer accordance with the rules.” And for competitive events, that is a great change and one that I think needs to happen. Of course, they need to clean up the wording a little bit, because the error I mentioned at the beginning of this comment is just glaringly obvious and needs to be fixed immediately.

    I’m cross-posting this to Sperling’s article on the same subject, hope that’s OK.

  71. Ack! Sorry for the doublepost! I got an error the first time I posted a comment and when I went back and tried again I decided to rewrite some of it. Feel free to delete the first one, I like the way I wrote the second one better.

  72. 1) What is the definition for “beneficial abilities” and “beneficial effects” how can this list be considered comprehensive if it doesn’t details what is considered beneficial and what’s not?

    2) “• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.”
    I can’t help but feel that the above is not written properly and should actually say “opponent’s permanents” at the end (and morkrut banshee’s abilitiy should be optional). What sense is there for making abilities that can target any player or permanent optional but not making abilities that can target any permanent but not players optional? especially in a part of the rule that is about things that happens to permanents only?

    3) Why is deceiver exarch optional? its other mode involves untapping your permanents and that isn’t on the list. so just because a modal triggered ability has one mode that can be considered optional the whole ability is optional? what happened to “and nothing else” etc? it doesn’t make sense.

    4) it has been asked whether Chalice of the Void is optional or not when an opponent casts a spell. should it be considered optional? I want to say no but then I saw deceiver exarch’s is considerd optional in your article which makes it looks like it gets decided per situation and not in general.

    5) same as 4, if it’s per situation, how much is “you control” obligatory in the different parts it is used?
    -can I decline to put tokens with Nantuko Shrine if I cast a spell? (even though the ability in general works for the opponent as well)
    -is Kor aeronaut optional if I target my creatures?

  73. so if dark confidant reveals a land i dont lose life but get an extra card, so thats beneficial, right?
    so i may chose to reveal if i know hes going to reveal a land?
    and can i draw one card of skullclamp now?
    seriously.. this seems poorly thought through

  74. See Sperling’s article from BIG problem #1 with this change. Complexity like this is ftl. The whole point of card templating is so that cards so what they say they do, at ALL levels of the game.

    Problem #2: This encourages abuse and cheating because of people like Bertoncini who will conveniently “forget” triggered abilities. If their opponent doesn’t know where it falls, and they bully them successfully, you now have yet another avenue for that type of shadiness.

    Problem #3: This radically alters a number of interactions in tournament magic for basically no gain. For example – Glimpse vs. Brain Freeze post-board out of High tide. Or the howlpack alpha vs. suture priest example above. In some cases, it prevents clever traps and outs in difficult to win situations, in effect dumbing down game strategy because of the added flexibility given to the active player being allowed to forget triggers. I understand that it prevents awkwardness like “rewind for soul warden”, but in terms of actual interesting games, it’s going to minimize the fun stories and interesting corner-case interactions that make this game so addictive.

    TL;DR: Dumbed-down strategy and too much rules lawyering FTL.

  75. I don’t think the actual effect of this change will be that big (although I dread someone coming up with a competitive deck that depends on treating some triggered effect as optional) and many of the effects are positive, but I just can’t help thinking that adding rules that are this convoluted and difficult for your average Magic player to understand the full implications of and interpret correctly is just bad design, even if the intended consequences are good.

    Magic players and judges especially can deal with and put up with a lot of complexity, but that doesn’t mean it’s good practice to introduce new convoluted rules for what seems to be a fairly minor benefit, especially ones where the MIPG redefines the functionality of cards.

  76. @ tentative – You are incorrect. “• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.” This sentence does in fact mean the opponent specifically and not his permanents. So Nekrataal is indeed mandatory as it cannot target your opponent while Pitchburn Devils isn’t mandatory because it could target your permanents, your opponent permanents, as well as your opponent.

    Also, this rule change does in fact add a phantom “may” to a large number of cards. Read the following again.

    “Traditionally, some abilities include the word ‘may’ as part of their text, indicating that their effect is optional. At Competitive and Professional REL, some additional triggered abilities and enters-the-battlefield replacement effects are considered optional. The player is not required to follow the instruction when the ability resolves, and if the ability is forgotten it will not retroactively be applied.”

    So your opponent can go ahead and set up a blazing siren around Jin-Gitaxias and you can still just ignore it.

  77. @ Cloud – Arthur’s opponent having a creature doesn’t matter. Nekrataal’s ability cannot target the opponent (the player) so it automatically becomes mandatory if at all possible.

    “• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.”

    @MrCorn – Jace, Memory Adept’s ability is not a trigger. It’s a straight effect of the ability resolving and all those targeted by it must draw 20 cards and possibly lose in the process.

  78. @Ukot: well, that’s stupid. I think my first interpretation of this change is better. I hold out some hope that this was the intention behind it, and that some clarifying measures will be taken that will make it closer to what I see as the most intuitive way of applying this idea to competitive play in practice, but if it’s true that having Ichor Wellspring out is no longer a way of preventing your opponent from happily playing Viridian Corruptor, then that’s BS, and Wizards should stick with the text on their cards instead of saying they work differently depending on what’s at stake and who’s paying attention to the match.

    I thought this rules change was actually kind of cool, but now it just looks like a nightmare for judges who will repeatedly have to rule against the text on the cards the players are using.

  79. Kal: “I remember nearly getting a game loss by allowing my opponent to forget to put counters on an arbitrarily large Gideon’s Avenger. (was like 16/16, i had 4 life and was busy tapping it down with lawkeeper).”

    In this example, a much easier change than what is happening is just to not penalize players for their opponent’s missed triggers. The only time you should have to remind your opponent about a trigger is when you are the controller of the effect. You shouldn’t be penalized for them forgetting cards under their control on their side of the board. That’s a hell of a lot easier than a list that says “for these types of cards, ignore the errata, but only at certain level events.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this works to keep players out of competitive. Seriously, players, making an ability a mandatory one instead of a “may” ability does not dumb down the game, but making different oracle text for certain events over others certainly and needlessly complicates things.

  80. @Tentative – Ichor Wellspring/Viridian Corrupter interaction does not change by these rules. Viridian Corrupter ability is written as mandatory and still functions as such under this rule. Maybe I’m missing what you mean?

  81. Cloud: Incorrect. The new rules ignore game state. It doesn’t matter who has creatures out or who doesn’t.

  82. I suppose they just have to actually errata Transcendance to be a replacement effect instead of a trigger.

    “Whenever you would lose life gain that much life instead.” Or however it would be templated.

  83. @Tyler – I’m sure several cards will need to be changed. Form of Dragon would be another one to possibly add to the list as it’s either life gain (you can ignore) or life loss (you can’t ignore) depending on the state of the game.

  84. @Ukot: you’re right, I misunderstood again. Oh well, I guess I’m just resigning myself to the complexity inherent in this new set of rules. It’s pretty ugly all things considered.

  85. The point of this new ruling is not, I gather, to allow players to get around decking themselves with mandatory mass-draw effects like Jin-Gitaxias or Forced Fruition, or to totally strip Rain of Gore of almost any functionality. Let’s be honest, it’s those weird corner cases of “what if I don’t want this beneficial effect?” that keep cards like Jin-Gitaxias (which would otherwise be all-upside) interesting.

    The point of this ruling is to allow for ease of play and judges’ rulings, and to gently punish players who forget beneficial triggers while avoiding punishing the better players who point them out.

    To that end: an ability whose effects cause it to fall under the new heading of “optional” SHOULD BE REQUIRED IF YOUR OPPONENT POINTS IT OUT. This keeps card functionality perfectly in place assuming both players are attentive, still punishes players who do not pay attention to triggered abilities, and rewards the smarter player by giving him the choice of pointing his opponent’s missed trigger out or letting it be.

  86. @Tentative – One really bad thing about this (if I understand it correctly) is with these rules if at FNM Player A controls Jin-Gitaxias with 6 or less cards and forgets about the trigger but Player B notices and calls the TO/judge the TO/judge will be for forced to put the trigger on the stack (no penalties though due to the low REL) and Player A will lose. But the exact same thing the following day at a Grand Prix Trial Player A no longer loses as it magically (no pun intended) becomes an option to skip. And this isn’t even some weird, convoluted combo to try and break the system. It’s a single card that’s very casual and even tournament playable.

  87. Also, to the people reading this as “You don’t have to ever draw a card or gain life or do anything anymore if you don’t want to,” read the damn rules (specifically the definitions of “triggered abilities” and “replacement effects”) and get back to us.

  88. @ratchet1215 – That’s the problem. These rules were meant to help the casual player by not punishing them but instead it made the game needlessly complicated. Sticking with a simple “may” template would’ve left nothing to be confused about or anything to remember as it’s written right there on the card. Going from an FNM to a PTQ for casual player is now far more confusing. Even reading and re-reading the rules will be a confusing ordeal for the average player.

  89. Would’ve it been a lot simpler to:

    Just say, “Players no longer under obligation to remind there opponents when they miss a trigger.” – I feel that if you cant remember to gain life off of your Leyline of Vitality, I shouldn’t be forced to play your game as well as mine by having to remind you all the time.

    Print more cards with “may” on them. This didnt need a rules change. It just needed a lil more ink on the cards.

    Keep everything consistent. Mtg should be mtg no matter what rules level you are playing at.

  90. “To that end: an ability whose effects cause it to fall under the new heading of “optional” SHOULD BE REQUIRED IF YOUR OPPONENT POINTS IT OUT. This keeps card functionality perfectly in place assuming both players are attentive, still punishes players who do not pay attention to triggered abilities, and rewards the smarter player by giving him the choice of pointing his opponent’s missed trigger out or letting it be.”

    THIS! If a card has a printed wording that would imply that it is switching from “not optional” to “beneficial and therefore optional” under the new rules, there should be an option for players to hold their opponents to the original wording of the card. Otherwise, this is just an Oracle errata on a massive number of cards, some of which were very recently printed.

    Very well put, and definitely along the same lines as the point that I was trying to make earlier in this thread.

  91. WOW People are really this dense? If you’re having a lot of trouble understanding just wait a week until everyone and their grandma has a handle on this and then have a friend explain it to you.

    Wizards has decided to get rid of all (or most) may abilities in future printings (this was pretty obvious in innistrad). You can argue the merits of this but they have obviously decided they WILL do this to make it easier for new/ less skilled players to compete in casual events.

    Given the above, the only way to make high level competitive events not suck is to make all that cards that WotC would normally make “MAY” abilities, still be optional (even if they arn’t optional at casual events anymore). So what do they do? They tell us the types of abilities which they normally make optional and ask us to handle them being optional at high level events. Seems simple enough.

  92. Eric,

    Thanks for the article to spell this all out. Two questions:

    1. Are you sure Decree of Silence is mandatory? It does not lose a counter when it triggers, instead it gains one. Whether that counter is related to a beneficial ability is the question (95% of the time the answer is no).

    2. More importantly I’m worried about the Regular REL events you talked about. You said “you can’t apply this at random store drafts or your FNM. If a creature died this turn, Hollowhenge Scavenger is still letting your opponent gain 5 life, whether or not he or she remembers.”

    The problem is that I am no longer required to point out missed triggers (even mandatory ones) at ANY rules enforcement level right? So when my opponent forgets to gain 5 life, who will remind them?

  93. @ BJ

    2. You are still required to point out missed triggers at all RELs. The new rule simply changes some mandatory triggers at Competitive and Professional REL to may abilities. Any other triggers that are not listed are still mandatory and you are still required to point those out if you see them or you are guilty of cheating.

  94. So when someone bounces your Kira with JtMS so they can kill it with Cursed Scroll, countering Jace’s bounce is now a may ability, so you can just put Kira back in your hand, right? See, Alex Bertoncini doesn’t cheat, he just has Future Sight. Lol.

  95. “Puts cards from your library, graveyard, or exile zones into your hand or onto the battlefield. This includes drawing cards.” Does this mean cards like Sea Drake, Dream Stalker, Horned Kavu become a lot more powerful?

    I assume only the part about returning creatures could be avoided with the champion ability, right?

    What about Stampeding Serow and the cycle of creatures that have the same functionality?

    This is the kind of change that is going to have an opposite effect because it will divide both the formats and the community. Depending on the amount and power of cards that can be abused, it could mean having two different 1.5 formats for example. A pro one with decks and strategies based on such cards and another one for casual players. From an amateur player’s point of view, it changes all of the dynamics that have made sense until today. I would not be able to play the same decks as players I admire, let alone try to imitate their plays because I am not allowed to do so. Do I have to play game A with a different set of rules in order to have the chance to play game B at some point? Why bother with game A in the first place?

  96. @BrokenWing: I don’t know if you read the rule you just quoted, but it says that a trigger is optional if it “puts cards from your library, graveyard, or exile zones into your hand or onto the battlefield.”

    That means that the card has to come from your LIBRARY, GRAVEYARD, or EXILE zone, and end up in your HAND or on the BATTLEFIELD. It cannot come from the battlefield and end up in your hand. So Sea Drake, Dream Stalker, Horned Kavu, and friends are not affected. But returning the permanent you exiled with a champion ability would be covered.

    I mean, I realize this rule is complicated, but reading it does help.

  97. Okay, so let me get this straight: If I play a viridian corrupter and the only artifact that’s in play is on my side of the field, if I’m in a pro tour- where it matters the most- I can just ignore the trigger and have it resolve, but if I’m in a random store draft where the rules are less important, I HAVE to respond to the trigger? Or would I be expected to get rid of my artifact since it’s “not beneficial?” This rules change feels really swingy to me, and it feels like having to define “beneficial” for every judge call is going to get really annoying.

  98. Nice article, very helpful explanations. Very poor rules change though unfortunately, changing the rules depending on what event you’re playing in is just very bad and unintuitive. Between split cards and now this WotC is starting to play very loose with rules procedure, creating very bad grey areas. Rules need to be cut and dry, and as intuitive as possible; I won’t say MtG is quite done yet but it seems to have tipped over the peak and is on it’s way down the hill of being buried by way too haphazard and loose playing around with the rules in the interest of trying way too hard to be overly creative where it just isn’t needed. Imagine if there was some governing body for poker that just randomly started changing rules seemingly without a process at whatever whims they felt like because a few people complain very loudly.

  99. Amiel controls bloodgift demon. Noah is behind on cards and does not remind him to draw a card.
    Amiel controls bloodgift demon AND IS AT ONE LIFE. Noah doesn’t notice, so Amiel doesn’t draw the card.

    This is a retarded rules change, sorry bros, this is ridiculous. It legitimizes cheating, that’s all.

  100. @Austin – Incorrect. Viridian Corrupter is a mandatory trigger regardless of the REL or game state. If you’re able to make a choice you must do so even if it hurts you in the process. If the VC ability was also able to target your opponent directly (obviously impossible in this case) then it would have become an optional trigger at Competitive REL. The last part of the following rule is the key here:

    “• Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent.”

  101. @Jay – Both parts need to happen as they are mandatory triggers that this rule change doesn’t affect. What does affect this is that Noah will not receive a penalty for failing (or choosing) not to notice his opponents mandatory trigger. If this happens to Amiel and it is caught then Amiel will in fact receive a warning penalty for a missed trigger. Basically, the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of the controller of the triggers and not the opponent.

  102. An ability that makes you sacrifice an enchantment is not beneficial. Until you control a Hatching plans.
    Sacrificing a hatching plans is beneficial. Until you have 2 or fewer cards in your library.
    Drawing the last card in your library is not beneficial. Until you control a Laboratory Maniac.

  103. @Jay – This change does not help you avoid life lose from your own cards so you’ll still need to sacrifice to Lich. The life gain portion of Lich is a replacement effect that becomes card draw instead so it too will not be affected by this change is it’s not a trigger (triggers is what this rule change deals with). If a card uses the word “instead” than it is affect by this change.

  104. Oops. The last part of the above is supposed to say ” If a card uses the word “instead” than it is NOT affect by this change.”

  105. @Russ
    Just say, “Players no longer under obligation to remind there opponents when they miss a trigger.” – I feel that if you cant remember to gain life off of your Leyline of Vitality, I shouldn’t be forced to play your game as well as mine by having to remind you all the time.

    Well in fact you simply call a judge ; they get Caution / Warning for it and if they repeat it gets worse and worse.

    Reason enough they reprint most of this problematic cards in new “may” form, so they actual do what you want.

    However, the existing cards are problems, and its problematic to “errata” all the cards to may ; which could work, but its also pretty misserable as they are so many (which is in fact easier to fix with a rulez change, that effects all the cards without the need of an erata on all of them).

    In the end they will for sure look in the problematic cards for “modern” ; like allways a tiny amount of cards will get a total new use and become possible quite strong ; TimeVault is the best example of such a power change because of erata / rulez changes.

    Feels pretty strange for sure ; especially as its not easy to get this rule Error Free ; as the definition of “beneficial” is really REALLY strange.

    The real discussion is the difference in REL ; thats something that might be highly wrong ; as theirs no real value to use a “really” different rule for your cards just because of REL ; yea, the tournament rulez are different, but this way, some cards play totally different, so thats for sure a bad thing.

  106. I don’t like this change, I hate erratas, and making cards work differently at different RELs is a very dangerous direction to take the game in.

  107. Seems good for both Regular and Competitive experiences. N00bs and/or scrubs should be helped to follow the game/rules, Competitive players shouldn’t.
    But, those being different games (besides experiences) seems too dangerous.

    Example: The “sideboard whenever you want” rule at prereleaseas is nice for the prerelease, and it is also nice to not presideboard at competitive events. Regardless, the games themselves follow the same rules.

  108. This is the stupidest F***ing thing I’ve ever heard. Players will abuse this to no end. Low life? Don’t reveal with Dark Confidant and draw immediately, so the ability won’t be retroactive.

    Magic already has a mechanism for dealing with this, it’s called _MAY_ abilities. Just make ALL abilities may, if that’s what you want to do.

    So glad that I recently stopped playing competitively.

    Nice. F***ing. Game.

  109. @Louis S.

    From the IPG section 3.1:
    “Players other than the controller of a trigger are under no obligation to point out that a trigger has been missed, though they may do so if they wish.”

    Unless I’m missing something, opponents don’t have to point out missed triggers anymore.

  110. Geez people, are you all retarded or something? Well, most of you anyway.

    The idea behind this change is to get rid of clumsy situations like “oh, but the add a counter to my shrine trigger is not optionall, so i get to add wait… how many counters I forgot?”

    If you forget a mandatory trigger that is considered “beneficial”, you don’t get o go back.
    At the same time, you cannot forget triggers that are not beneficial – such as the bloodgift demon, because the effect of the trigger would either loos you a life, or give your opponent a card, so you still have to choose the “lesser evil here”.

    As for smart ass plays like “whoops, I ‘forgot’ to draw 7 from jin with only 6 cards in my library” – you are indeed allowed to forget it, and with the new rule your opponent is not required to remind you of it, so as long as he forgets as well, you get to live another turn, and he can’t go “oh wait, but you had to draw 7 last turn, so you loose”.

    However – if your opponent reminds you of the ability, you can no longer say you “forgot” the trigger, and as it is mandatory (no “may” in the text box), you are required to process it.

    And “intentionally forgetting” to resolve a mandatory trigger that would be detrimental to your game (not just loosing – think a tapped out opponent with attrition and carnival of souls, but no way to block your 1/1 flyer that he could destroy with attrition if only he had the mana from carnival of souls gained thanks to your howlpack alpha token enteirng the battlefield)

    falls under the category of CHEATING, and expect it to be treated as such.

  111. @talk_sick – “However – if your opponent reminds you of the ability, you can no longer say you “forgot” the trigger, and as it is mandatory (no “may” in the text box), you are required to process it.”

    That’s incorrect.

    “The player is not required to follow the instruction when the ability resolves”

    Even if your opponent reminds you about the optional effect, you are not obligated to follow its instructions as it resolves.

  112. @really?!: you can’t do that, dark confidant’s ability is mandatory, as it can cause you to lose life. i’m pretty sure on this, but i could be wrong.

  113. Can anyone comment on how Form of Dragon would work? Depending on your life total it could be a may or mandatory.

  114. “Not an example: Decree of Silence (it loses a counter too! No good!)”

    It doesn’t. It GAINS counters.

  115. Im totally confused, what happens if my opponent intentionally “forgets” about a triggered ability that would have been negative for him and I tell him? Now that I have made him “remember”, he is obligated to make that ability resolve, right?

    Geez, this was absolutely unnecesary, i mean, why trying to fix something that isnt broken? :/

  116. IF YOUR OPPONENT NOTICES YOU FORGETTING THE TRIGGER THEN THE TRIGGER HAPPENS.

    repeat that to yoUrself Until it sinks in.

    all the situations people seem to think will cant occur if you just pay attention to the game state. they cant intentionally forget to draw a card or lose a life that will end the game in your favor……if you point out that they must do it. they can try to occlude and miss the trigger, and if they do, then thats YOUR own fault.

  117. Basically the issue on their end is trying to determine which abilities are beneficial and which are not. That is not a good idea, because game states determine if it’s beneficial or not.
    Being able to ignore life gain when a creature enters the battlefield and there’s soul warden is fine (most of the time that’s because a player forgot and in that case his opponent shouldn’t need to point it out or risk getting a warning).
    It’s NOT FINE when there’s also rain of gore on the battlefield and a player is at 1 life. Not drawing cards with Jin Gitaxas when you’re about to deck yourself (or countless other examples people came up with) is the same deal.

    They should simply make it so that if a player reminds his opponent about a mandatory trigger (like the soul warden + rain of gore example I gave), that trigger MUST resolve. While it may cause cheating when people may pretend they “thought dark confidant has an optional trigger”, if people pay attention, there should never be an issue.

  118. So this change has changed. This article will be updated soon to reflect those changes… Right now I am at FNM 🙂

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