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JUDGE POINTS: Worlds Rulings

Sheldon Menery

With a combination of varying formats, the 2001 World Championships had its share of interesting and informative rulings and problems. Although the majority of the interesting problems came from the Extended portion-played for the first time at a major event since Apocalypse became legal-the Standard and Rochester Draft portions offered up their fair share as well.

The judging staff at Worlds was quite impressive

Echo/Mana Short. Echo is a triggered ability that goes on the stack at the beginning of upkeep. If Mana Short is played by the opponent in response, the Echo player's lands will become tapped and mana pool emptied before the time comes to pay for the Echo. That means that short of artifact or creature mana (Fire Diamond or Llanowar Elves, for example), there's no way for the Echo player to make a mana payment when the Echo ability resolves. Remember that Mana Short is not a counterspell. Playing it in response to a spell being played will not "unpay" any mana that's already been paid.

Oath of Druids. Another triggered ability at beginning of upkeep, the Oath checks at that time to see if it will go on the stack at all. If its condition is met (its controller has fewer creatures than the opponent), it goes on the stack. It also checks on resolution to see if the condition is still true. Having an equal number of creatures, one of them with unpaid Echo, will not cause the Oath to trigger. That's because the condition isn't met at the beginning of upkeep; the ability will never go on the stack in the first place.

Sylvan Library. A card that has historically confused Judges and players alike, Sylvan Library interacts with the way the normal draw in the Draw Step works. A player's normal draw goes on the stack on top of any beginning of draw step triggers. At the beginning of the draw step, the Library's ability goes on the stack. The player draws the normal card, then resolves the Library. The card drawn with the normal draw may be one of the cards put back during the resolution of the Library's ability.

Sylvan Library/Abundance. This combo effectively nets its controller two additional cards per turn for free. That's because Abundance has a replacement ability. It replaces each draw with a revealing cards until one of the named type is found. Since Sylvan Library's ability has an "if you do" clause, the player doesn't have to pay any life because no cards were actually drawn.

Worship. Worship doesn't affect damage, it changes what unprevented damage does to its controller's life total. Anything that triggers on damage being dealt will still trigger, even if that player is already at 1 life. Worship is contingent on its controller also controlling a creature when the damage resolves (if it's combat damage) or the spell or ability dealing damage resolves. Worship will not help with loss of life due to a spell or ability (such as Exotic Disease) or due to mana burn; it only affects damage.

Masticore. This is Penalty Guideline guidance, not a card interaction ruling. There were several instances of players neglecting to discard a card to pay Masticore's beginning-of-upkeep triggered ability. If a player neglects to put the ability on the stack, his opponent should call a Judge immediately. The penalty is a warning for a Procedural Error-Misrepresentation. Corrective action can be taken immediately. If the infraction isn't discovered until later (like during the Cleanup Step when the player realizes he has 8 cards, or on during the opponent's turn), the penalty is more severe because the player has had the advantage of having more cards in his hand that he's supposed to. A Game Loss is the appropriate penalty. Any time players have extra cards, there is a chance they will go unnoticed by their opponent, potentially giving that player a significant advantage. Because of the potential for abuse, the penalty for infractions where a player ends up with extra cards is fairly severe.

Failure to pay Masticore's beginning of upkeep triggered ability can result in a Game Loss

Basic Land vs. "Counts as . . . " or "is." "Counts as" is obsolete terminology, but is used here because it's still in the vernacular. Now, the term is simply "is," such as Taiga, which is a mountain and a forest in addition to its land type. There are five basic lands in Magic: plains, island, swamp, mountain forest. Only these five cards are basic lands. Any other land is a non-basic land. Basic and non-basic aren't subtypes, they're categories. Some abilities search for land cards (such as Mountain Valley, which searches for a forest or mountain). They would find a Taiga. Others search for a basic land card (such as Lay of the Land). They wouldn't find a Taiga, they would only one of the basic five, because Taiga is a non-basic land.

Cycling. Cycling is an activated ability, and a card with Cycling has that activated ability regardless of what zone it's in. That means that a land with Cycling does not untap if the opponent has Tsabo's Web in play.

Slow Play. A major story of the Worlds event, slow play is difficult to judge because it can't always be ruled completely objectively. It's not necessary for you to determine whether or not a player is intentionally stalling. All players have the responsibility to play quickly enough so their opponent is not at a significant disadvantage because of the time limit. What I noticed most at Worlds was that players spent time wasting time: tapping lands very slowly, tapping then untapping them, taking excessive time to tap the creatures they're attacking with, etc. These little time-wasters contribute to taking more time than is necessary. High-level Magic is about making difficult decisions in complex situations in a timely fashion. If players take more time than they should-intentionally or not-they're guilty of slow play. This is a sufficiently important issue; we'll cover slow play in detail in a future "Judge Points" article.

Exceeding the pre-game time limit. Section 23 of the DCI Universal Tournament rules provides that players have 3 minutes to sideboard and shuffle their decks before presenting them to their opponents. If you don't hold players to this limit, they will exceed it as a matter of habit. I ran into a situation where I even counted down the time for the players (3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute) and they still exceeded the allowed time. Even after giving them a reasonable amount of additional time, they seemed in no hurry to complete their actions. I warned them both and asked them if either had previously received a warning for a similar offense. One said yes, and his penalty was upgraded to a game loss.

Even at the highest levels of competition, players don't understand every card ruling or interaction, every penalty or infraction. It's up to the Judges to inform, train, and discipline. Like most major events, the 2001 World Championships provided us with the opportunity to do all three.

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