There are three topics to address concerning deck-checking. The Why, Who
The deckcheck is a tool to ensure the integrity of the tournament. Winners
are publicised and congratulated and it damages the integrity of the
tournament when suspicions linger and it was not made official by a
deckcheck that all was in order.
You can check each player, but have not the resources to do. Therefore you
have to select them by some criterion. Check a whole table. No need to
give extra time to more matches than minimally necessary. The table is
selected randomly either by whim or by using the DCI-reporter function in
the menu Perform. Later in the tournament i prefer tables, which are still
in contention for prizes or the cutoff. There the threat for the integrity
of the tournament is greater. Finally when you suspect someone of
stacking, marked cards etc. you can select him or her and his opponent for
the usual deckcheck. Last Saturday March 4th i did just that at the PTQ
New York in Berlin, Germany. Both of my judges reported suspicous
behaviour of players.
One was observed to sort his deck between rounds into land and spells and
alternating them two spells and one land. His next match was scheduled for
a deckcheck in order to confirm, that he shuffles sufficiently.
Another player was observed during the preparations for his or her third
game. The player knew full well that a judge was watching and looked
repeatedly and furtively whether the judge was still present. The player
seemed to shuffle reluctantly and was quite nervous. The presence of the
judge insured the good shuffling this game. But next round his match was
selected for a deckcheck in order to aleviate the suspicion of his or her
bad conscience to manipulate the deck routinely.
Check each round. Do not stand right at their table when you intend to
check their decks, rather observe them from afar. Step in and collect both
decks and sideboards when the decks are presented for shuffling and
cutting. Now the players declared that they finished the preparations for
You check first whether the deck is stacked. If some lands collected into
clumps and some spells collected into clumps it is more likely to be
randomised. If cards of a combo or functionally dependant cards are close
together and this is the case with three to for pairs or triples the deck
is more likely to be insufficiently randomised. This makes it necessary
that one is familiar with the workings of the current decks.
Next you check for uniform appearance of the cards (and sleeves). In the
course of a tournament new sleeves degrade but the sideboard cards degrade
to a lesser degree. Used sleeves can be used as well as long as the all
look similar. Look for scratches, folds, holograms impressed to the
backside from the front, grime and nicks at the edge. Sort the cards
according to their appearance into two or more piles and examine the
contents in order to determine whether there is a pattern or not.
Lastly you compare the deck and sideboard to the lists to check the
legality of both and if the player desideboarded.
To date i did not perform a scheduled deckcheck in a second or third game
of a match. This only looses the ability to detect a failure to
desideboard. Therefore it can be done without any problems.
Yours Lutz Hofmann LvL 2