Judges are neutral arbiters and enforcers of policy and rules. A judge shouldn’t intervene in a game unless they believe a rules violation has occurred, a player with a concern or question requests assistance, or the judge wishes to prevent a situation from escalating. Judges don’t stop play errors from occurring, but instead deal with errors that have occurred, penalize those who violate rules or policy, and promote fair play and sporting conduct by example and diplomacy. Judges may intervene to prevent or preempt errors occurring outside of a game. Knowledge of a player’s history or skill does not alter an infraction, but it may be taken into account during an investigation.
The purpose of a penalty is to educate the player not to make similar mistakes in the future. This is done through both an explanation of where the rules or policies were violated and a penalty to reinforce the education. Penalties are also for the deterrence and education of every other player in the event and are also used to track player behavior over time.
If a minor violation is quickly handled by the players to their mutual satisfaction, a judge does not need to intervene. If the players are playing in a way that is clear to both players, but might cause confusion to an external observer, judges are encouraged to request that the players make the situation clear, but not assess an infraction or issue any penalty. In both these situations, the judge should ensure that the game progresses normally. More significant violations are addressed by first identifying what infraction applies, then proceeding with the corresponding instructions.
Only the Head Judge is authorized to issue penalties that deviate from these guidelines. The Head Judge may not deviate from this guide’s procedures except in significant and exceptional circumstances or a situation that has no applicable philosophy for guidance. Significant and exceptional circumstances are rare—a table collapses, a booster contains cards from a different set, etc. The Rules Enforcement Level, round of the tournament, age or experience-level of the player, desire to educate the player, and certification level of the judge are NOT exceptional circumstances. If another judge feels deviation is appropriate, they must consult with the Head Judge.
Judges are human and make mistakes. When a judge makes a mistake, they should acknowledge the mistake, apologize to the players, and fix it if it is not too late. If a member of the tournament staff gives a player erroneous information that causes them to commit a violation, the Head Judge is authorized to downgrade the penalty. For example, a player asks a judge whether a card is legal for a format and is told yes. When that player’s deck is found to be illegal because of these cards, the Head Judge applies the normal procedure for fixing the decklist, but may downgrade the penalty to a Warning because of the direct error of the judge. If a player clearly acts on erroneous information provided by a judge during the game, the Head Judge may consider a backup to the point of the action taken, even if that action did not lead to a violation.
Warnings are used in situations of incorrect play when a small amount of time is needed to implement the corrective procedure. The purpose of a Warning is to alert judges and players involved that a problem has occurred and to keep a permanent record of the infraction. A time extension should be issued if the ruling has taken more than a minute.
A Game Loss ends the current game immediately and the player who committed the infraction is considered to have lost the game for the purpose of match reporting. The player receiving a Game Loss chooses whether to play or draw in the next game of that match, if applicable. If a Game Loss is issued before the match begins, neither player in that match may use sideboards (if the tournament uses them) for the first game they play.
Game Losses are applied immediately if the game is still ongoing, or to the player’s next game if it is not, unless otherwise specified. If a player would receive two or more Game Losses at the same time, they only receive one. If simultaneous Game Loss penalties are issued to each player, they are recorded, but do not affect the match score.
A Match Loss is a severe penalty that is usually issued when the match itself has been compromised.
Match Losses are applied to the match during which the offense occurred unless the offender's match has already ended, in which case the penalty will be applied to that player’s next match.
A Disqualification is issued for activity that damages the integrity of a tournament as a whole or for severe unsporting conduct.
The recipient of a Disqualification does not need to be a player in the tournament. They may be a spectator or other bystander. If this happens, they must be entered into the tournament in Wizards Event Reporter (“WER”) so that they may be disqualified and reported to the DCI.
Disqualification can occur without proof of action so long as the Head Judge determines sufficient information exists to believe the tournament’s integrity may have been compromised. It is recommended that the Head Judge’s report reflect this fact.
When this penalty is applied, the player loses their current match and is dropped from the tournament. If a player has already received prizes at the time they are disqualified, that player may keep those prizes but does not receive any additional prizes or awards they may be due. A player that is disqualified from a tournament does not receive Planeswalker Points or Professional Points for that tournament.
When a player is disqualified during a tournament, they are removed from the tournament and do not take up a place in the standings. This means that all players in the tournament will advance one spot in the standings and are entitled to any prizes the new standing would offer. If the Disqualification takes place after a cut is made, no additional players advance in place of the disqualified player although they do move up a spot in the standings. For example, if a player is disqualified during the quarterfinal round of a Magic Tabletop Mythic Qualifier, the former 9th place finisher does not advance into the single elimination top 8, but they do move into 8th place in the standings.
More information about the Disqualification process may be found at http://blogs.magicjudges.org/o/disqualification-process/.
Penalties are included with the tournament report so that a permanent record can be kept in the DCI Penalty Database. Additionally, any penalty of Game Loss or higher should be reported to the Head Judge, and it is recommended that only the Head Judge issue penalties of this nature (with the exception of Tardiness (3.1) and Decklist Problems (3.4)).
Being enrolled in the tournament is not a requirement to receive a penalty. Although these guidelines refer to players, other people in the venue, such as spectators, staff, or judges may be enrolled into (and dropped from) the tournament in order to receive a penalty. Penalties are still issued even if a player drops from the tournament before it would take effect.
Any time a penalty is issued, the judge must explain the infraction, the procedure for fixing the situation, and the penalty to all players involved. If the Head Judge chooses to deviate from the Infraction Procedure Guide, the Head Judge is expected to explain the standard penalty and the reason for deviation.
Some infractions include remedies to handle the offense beyond the base penalty. These procedures exist to protect officials from accusations of unfairness, bias, or favoritism. If a judge makes a ruling that is consistent with quoted text, then the complaints of a player shift from accusation of unfairness by the judge to accusations of unfair policy. Deviations from these procedures may raise accusations against the judge from the player(s) involved, or from those who hear about it. These procedures do not, and should not, take into account the game being played, the current situation that the game is in, or who will benefit strategically from the procedure associated with a penalty. While it is tempting to try to “fix” game situations, the danger of missing a subtle detail or showing favoritism to a player (even unintentionally) makes it a bad idea.
If an error leads to multiple related infractions, only issue one with the most severe penalty.
The remedy for some infractions in this document includes shuffling the randomized portion of the library. This requires first determining whether any portion of the library is non-random, such as cards that have been manipulated on the top or bottom of the library, and separating those. Check with both players to verify this, and check the graveyard, exile, and battlefield for library manipulation cards, such as Brainstorm and cards with the scry mechanic. Once the library has been shuffled, any manipulated cards are returned to their correct locations.
Shuffles performed by a judge as part of a remedy are not considered shuffles for game purposes.
Some infractions in this document permit the judge to consider the possibility of a backup. Due to the amount of information that may become available to players and might affect their play, backups are regarded as a solution of last resort, only applied in situations where leaving the game in the current state is a substantially worse solution. A good backup will result in a situation where the gained information makes no difference and the line of play remains the same (excepting the error, which has been fixed). This means limiting backups to situations with minimal decision trees.
Only the Head Judge may authorize a backup. At large tournaments, they may choose to delegate this responsibility to Team Leaders.
To perform a backup, each individual action since the point of the error is reversed, starting with the most recent ones and working backwards. Every action must be reversed; no parts of the sequence should be omitted or reordered. If the identity of a card involved in reversing an action is unknown to one of the players (usually because it was drawn), a random card is chosen from the possible candidates. Actions that caused a player to learn the identity of cards at a specific location in the library are reversed by shuffling those cards into the random portion of the library unless they were subsequently drawn; cards being returned to the library as part of the backup should not be shuffled at that stage if their identity was known to only one player.
Backups involving random/unknown elements should be approached with extreme caution, especially if they cause or threaten to cause a situation in which a player will end up with different cards than they would once they have correctly drawn those cards. For example, returning cards to the library when a player has the ability to shuffle their library is not something that should be done except in extreme situations.
Some remedies state a simple backup may be performed. A simple backup is backing up the last action completed (or one currently in progress) and is sometimes used to make another portion of the prescribed remedy smoother. A simple backup should not involve any random elements.
Some infractions in this document refer to “sets” of cards. A set is a physically distinct group of cards defined by a game rule or effect. It may correspond to a specific zone, or may only represent a part of a zone. A set may consist of a single card.
Cards are considered to be part of a set until they join another set. There is no in-between state and any card that has not yet been seen is part of the previous set (unless the new set is hidden).
Game Play Errors are caused by incorrect or inaccurate play of the game such that it results in violations of the Magic Comprehensive Rules. Many offenses fit into this category and it would be impossible to list them all. The guide below is designed to give judges a framework for assessing how to handle a Game Play Error.
Most Game Play Error infractions are assumed to have been committed unintentionally. If the judge believes that the error was intentional, they should first consider whether an Unsporting Conduct — Cheating infraction has occurred.
With the exception of Failure to Maintain Game State, which is never upgraded, the third or subsequent penalty for a Game Play Error offense in the same category is upgraded to a Game Loss. For multi-day tournaments, the penalty count for these infractions resets between days.
A triggered ability triggers, but the player controlling the ability doesn’t demonstrate awareness of the trigger’s existence by the first time that it would affect the game in a visible fashion.
The point by which the player needs to demonstrate this awareness depends on the impact that the trigger would have on the game:
Once any of the above obligations has been fulfilled, further problems are treated as a Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation.
Triggered abilities that do nothing except create delayed triggered abilities automatically resolve without requiring acknowledgment. Awareness of the resulting delayed trigger must be demonstrated at the appropriate point. Triggered abilities that do nothing except create one or more copies of a spell or ability (such as storm or cipher) automatically resolve, but awareness of the resulting objects must be demonstrated using the same requirements as described above (even though the objects may not be triggered abilities).
Abilities consisting of an action followed by "when you do" in the same ability are considered communicated by the announcement of the action. This is most commonly the case for exert and similar abilities.
If a triggered ability would have no impact on the game, it’s not an infraction to fail to demonstrate awareness of it. For example, if the effect of a triggered ability instructs its controller to sacrifice a creature, a player who controls no creatures isn’t required to demonstrate awareness of the ability. Similarly, a player demonstrating awareness of an optional trigger with no visible effect is assumed to have made the affirmative choice unless the opponent responds.
Judges do not intervene in a missed trigger situation unless they intend to issue a Warning or have reason to suspect that the controller is intentionally missing their triggered abilities.
A player controlling another player is responsible for that player’s triggers in addition to their own.
Triggered abilities are common and invisible, so players should not be harshly penalized when forgetting about one. Players are expected to remember their own triggered abilities; intentionally ignoring one may be Unsporting Conduct — Cheating (unless the ability would have no impact on the game as described above). Even if an opponent is involved in the announcement or resolution of the ability, the controller is still responsible for ensuring the opponents make the appropriate choices and take the appropriate actions. Opponents are not required to point out triggered abilities that they do not control, though they may do so if they wish.
Triggered abilities are assumed to be remembered until otherwise indicated, and the impact on the game state may not be immediately apparent. The opponent’s benefit is in not having to point out triggered abilities, although this does not mean that they can cause triggers to be missed. If an opponent requires information about the precise timing of a triggered ability or needs details about a game object that may be affected by a resolved triggered ability, that player may need to acknowledge that ability’s existence before its controller does. A player who makes a play that may or may not be legal depending on whether an opponent's uncommunicated trigger has been remembered has not committed an infraction; their play either succeeds, confirming that the trigger has been missed, or is rewound.
Players may not cause triggered abilities controlled by an opponent to be missed by taking game actions or otherwise prematurely advancing the game. During an opponent’s turn, if a trigger’s controller demonstrates awareness of the trigger before they take an active role (such as taking an action or explicitly passing priority), the trigger is remembered. The Out-of-Order Sequencing rules (MTR section 4.3) may also be applicable, especially as they relate to batches of actions or resolving items on the stack in an improper order.
If the triggered ability is an enters-the-battlefield trigger of an Aura that affects only the enchanted permanent and causes a visible change to that permanent, resolve the ability immediately.
If the triggered ability is a delayed triggered ability that undoes a zone change (including token creation) caused by the effect that created the delayed triggered ability, the opponent chooses whether to resolve the ability the next time a player would get priority or when a player would get priority at the start of the next phase. The new zone does not need to be the same as the one the card was originally moved from.
For all other triggered abilities if the ability was missed prior to the current phase in the previous turn, instruct the players to continue playing. If the triggered ability created an effect whose duration has already expired, instruct the players to continue playing.
If the triggered ability isn’t covered by the previous paragraphs, the opponent chooses whether the triggered ability is added to the stack. If it is, it’s inserted at the appropriate place on the stack if possible or on the bottom of the stack. No player may make choices involving objects that would not have been legal choices when the ability should have triggered. For example, if the ability instructs a player to sacrifice a creature, that player can't sacrifice a creature that wasn't on the battlefield when the ability should have triggered.
If the triggered ability is usually considered detrimental for the controlling player and they own the card responsible for the trigger, the penalty is a Warning. The current game state is not a factor in determining this, though symmetrical abilities (such as Howling Mine) may be considered usually detrimental or not depending on who is being affected.
A player takes an action that may have enabled them to see the faces of cards that they were not entitled to see.
This penalty is applied only once if one or more cards are seen in the same action or sequence of actions.
A player can accidentally look at extra cards easily and this infraction handles situations where a dexterity or rules error has led to a player seeing cards that they shouldn’t have. Cards in a library are considered to be there until they touch cards in another hidden set. Once those cards have joined another hidden set, the infraction is handled as a Hidden Card Error or Game Rule Violation.
Players should not use this penalty to get a “free shuffle” or to attempt to shuffle away cards they don’t want to draw; doing so may be Unsporting Conduct — Cheating. Players also are not allowed to use this penalty as a stalling mechanism. The library is already randomized, so shuffling in the revealed cards should not involve excessive effort.
If the cards were in the library, shuffle any previously unknown cards from a deck back into the random portion of the library, then put any previously known cards back in their correct locations.
A player commits an error in the game that cannot be corrected by only publicly available information. It is not a Hidden Card Error if the opponent acknowledges the action or controls the continuous effect modifying the game rule that was violated. This infraction only applies when a card whose identity is known to only one player is in a hidden set of cards both before and after the error.
If an additional card is seen but not added to the set, the infraction is Game Play Error — Looking at Extra Cards
Though the game state cannot be reversed to the ‘correct’ state, this error can be mitigated by giving the opponent sufficient knowledge and ability to offset the error so that it is less likely to generate advantage.
If cards are placed into a public zone, then their order is known and the infraction can be handled as a Game Rule Violation. Order cannot be determined from card faces only visible to one player unless the card is in a uniquely identifiable position (such as on top of the library, or as the only card in hand.)
Be careful not to apply this infraction in situations where a publicly-correctable error subsequently leads to an uncorrectable situation such as a Brainstorm cast using green mana. In these situations, the infraction is based on that root cause.
Information about cards previously known by the opponent, such as cards previously revealed while on the top of the library or by a previous look at the hand, may be taken into account while determining the set of cards to which the remedy applies.
Always operate on the smallest set possible to remedy the error. This may mean applying the remedy to only part of a set defined by an instruction. For example, if a player resolves Collected Company, picks up three cards with one hand and then four cards with the other, the last drawn set of four cards should be used for the remedy, instead of the full set of seven cards.
In cases where the infraction was immediately followed by moving a card from the affected set to a known location, such as by discarding, putting cards on top of the library, or playing a land, a simple backup to the point just after the error may be performed.
If the set of cards that contained the problem no longer exists, there is no remedy to be applied.
If the error put cards into a set prematurely and other operations involving cards in the set should have been performed first, the player reveals the set of cards that contains the excess and their opponent chooses a number of previously-unknown cards. Put those cards aside until the point at which they should have been legally added, then return them to the set.
If the error involves one or more cards that were supposed to be revealed, the player reveals the set of cards that contains the unrevealed cards and their opponent chooses that many previously- unknown cards. Treat those as the cards that were ‘revealed’ and return them to the set that was being selected from; the player then reperforms the action. If recreating the original selection set and reperforming the action would be too disruptive, leave the selected cards in hand.
If a set affected by the error contains more cards than it is supposed to contain, the player reveals the set of cards that contains the excess and their opponent chooses a number of previously- unknown cards sufficient to reduce the set to the correct size. These excess cards are returned to the correct location. If that location is the library, they should be shuffled into the random portion unless the owner previously knew the identity of the card/cards illegally moved; that many cards, chosen by the opponent, are returned to the original location instead. For example, if a player playing with Sphinx of Jwar Isle illegally draws a card, that card should be returned to the top of the library.
If a face-down card cast using a morph ability is discovered during the game to not have a morph ability, the penalty is a Game Loss. If the player has one or more cards with a morph ability in hand, has not added previously unknown cards to their hand since casting the card found in violation, and has discovered the error themselves, the upgrade does not apply and they may swap the card for a card with the morph ability in hand.
A player makes an error as part in one of the steps of the mulligan process. Once the mulligan process is complete and the game begins, any excess cards arising from an improper mulligan should be treated as Game Rule Violation handled as Game Play Error - Hidden Card Error.
Trivial Unintentional process errors that provide no advantage, such as declaring an intent to mulligan early or exiling too many cards to Serum Powder, are not an infraction.
Errors prior to the beginning of the game have a less disruptive option—a forced mulligan—that is not available at any other point during the game.
This infraction covers the majority of game situations in which a player makes an error or fails to follow a game procedure correctly. It handles violations of the Comprehensive Rules that are not covered by the other Game Play Errors.
While Game Rule Violations can be attributed to one player, they usually occur publicly and both players are expected to be mindful of what is happening in the game. It is tempting to try and “fix” these errors, but it is important that they be handled consistently, regardless of their impact on the game.
First, consider a simple backup (see section 1.4).
If a simple backup is not sufficient and the infraction falls into one or more of the following categories, and only into those categories perform the appropriate partial fix:
For each of these fixes, a simple backup may be performed beforehand if it makes applying the fix smoother. Triggered abilities are generated from these partial fixes only if they would have occurred had the action been taken at the correct time.
Otherwise, a full backup may be considered or the game state may be left as is.
For most Game Play Errors not caught within a time that a player If the game has proceeded past a point where an opponent could reasonably be expected to notice the error, the opponent has also committed an infraction. In most cases, the infraction is Game Play Error — Failure to Maintain Game State. However, if penalty. If the judge believes that both players were responsible for a the Game Rule Violation, such as due to the opponent controlling the continuous effect modifying the rules of the game that led to the Game Rule Violation or a player taking action based on another players instruction, both players receive they have instead committed a Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation. For example, if a player casts Path to Exile on an opponent’s creature and the opponent puts the creature into the graveyard, once the game has continued both players will have committed this infraction a Game Rule Violation.
A player allows another player in the game to commit a Game Play Error and does not point it out immediately. If a judge believes a player is intentionally not pointing out other players’ illegal actions, either for their own advantage, or in the hope of bringing it up at a more strategically advantageous time, they should consider an Unsporting Conduct — Cheating infraction. Not reminding an opponent about their triggered abilities is never Failure to Maintain Game State nor Cheating.
If an error is caught before a player could gain advantage, then the dangers of the ongoing game state becoming corrupted are much lower. If the error is allowed to persist, at least some of the fault lies with the opponent, who has also failed to notice the error.
Tournament errors are violations of the Magic Tournament Rules. If the judge believes that the error was intentional, they should consider Unsporting Conduct — Cheating.
If a player violates the Magic Tournament Rules in a way that is not covered by one of the infractions listed below, the judge should explain the appropriate procedure to the player, but not issue a penalty. Continued or willful disregard of these rules may require further investigation.
A second or subsequent Warning for a Tournament Error offense in the same category is upgraded to a Game Loss if the player has already received a Warning for an offense in the same category. For multi-day tournaments, the penalty count for these infractions resets between days.
A player is not in their seat at the beginning of a round, or has not completed tasks assigned within the time allocated. If a round begins before the previous round would have ended (due to all players finishing early), tardiness does not apply until the scheduled end of the previous round.
If, before or during a match, a player requests and receives permission from a judge for a delay for a legitimate task, such as a bathroom break or finding replacements for missing cards, that player has up to 10 minutes to perform that task before they are considered tardy. If the player takes more than 10 minutes, a Match Loss will be applied. Otherwise, no penalty will be applied and a time extension given for the time taken.
Players are responsible for being on time and in the correct seat for their matches, and for completing registrations in a timely manner. The Tournament Organizer may announce that they are giving the players some additional time before a penalty is issued. Otherwise, the penalty is issued as soon as the round begins.
The players are given a time extension corresponding to the length of the tardiness.
A player not in their seat 10 minutes into the round will receive a Match Loss and will be dropped from the tournament unless they report to the Head Judge or Scorekeeper before the end of the round.
A player who arrives at their seat before 1 minute has elapsed in the round receives a Warning.
A player, spectator, or other tournament participant does any of the following:
These criteria also apply to any deck construction and draft portions of a limited tournament. Additionally, no notes of any kind may be made during a draft. Some team formats have additional communication rules that may modify the definition of this infraction.
Notes made outside the current match may only be referenced between games, and must have been in the player’s possession since the beginning of the match.
Tournaments test the skill of a player, not their ability to follow external advice or directions. Any strategy advice, play advice, or construction advice from an external source is considered outside assistance.
Visual modifications to cards, including brief text, that provide minor strategic information or hints are acceptable and not considered notes. Detailed instructions or complex strategic advice may not be written on cards. The Head Judge is the final arbiter on what cards and notes are acceptable for a tournament. Spectators who commit this infraction may be asked to leave the venue if they are not enrolled in the tournament.
If the information acquired is information that the player would have access to between games, the penalty is a Game Loss.
A player takes longer than is reasonably required to complete game actions. If a judge believes a player is intentionally playing slowly to take advantage of a time limit, the infraction is Unsporting Conduct — Stalling.
It is also slow play if a player continues to execute a loop without being able to provide an exact number of iterations and the expected resulting game state.
All players have the responsibility to play quickly enough so that their opponents are not at a significant disadvantage because of the time limit. A player may be playing slowly without realizing it. A comment of “I need you to play faster” is often appropriate and all that is needed. Further slow play should be penalized.
In the event that the match exceeds the time limit, two additional turns are added to the number of additional turns played. This turn extension occurs before any end-of-match procedure can begin and after any time extensions that may have been issued.
No additional turns are awarded if the match is already in additional turns, though the Warning still applies.
The decklist is illegal, doesn’t match what the player intended to play, or needs to be modified due to card loss over the course of the tournament.
This infraction does not cover errors in registration made by another participant prior to a sealed pool swap. Those should be corrected at the discretion of the judge.
Decklists are used to ensure that decks are not altered in the course of a tournament. Judges and other tournament officials should be vigilant about reminding players before the tournament begins of the importance of submitting a legal decklist, and playing with a legal deck. A player normally receives a Game Loss if their decklist is altered after tournament play has begun.
Penalties for decklist errors discovered outside the context of the match and its procedures (such as those discovered through decklist counting) are issued at the start of the next match unless the judge believes there is strong evidence the deck itself is illegal.
Ambiguous or unclear names on a decklist may allow a player to manipulate the contents of their deck up until the point at which they are discovered. Truncated names of storyline characters on decklists (planeswalkers and other legendary permanents) are acceptable as long as they are the only representation of that character in the format and are treated as referring to that card, even if other cards begin with the same name.
The Head Judge may choose to not issue this penalty if they believe that what the player wrote on their decklist is obvious and unambiguous, even if not entirely accurate. In Limited tournaments, the Head Judge may choose not to issue this penalty for incorrectly marked basic land counts if they believe the correct land count is obvious. This should be determined solely by what is written on the decklist, and not based on intent or the actual contents of the deck; needing to check the deck for confirmation is a sign that the entry is not obvious.
If the decklist contains illegal cards, remove them.
Alter the decklist to match the deck the player is actually playing. If the deck/sideboard and decklist both violate a maximum cards restriction (usually too many cards in a sideboard, more than four of a card, or the same card in two decks in a Unified Constructed format), remove cards as directed by the player to make the decklist legal.
If the deck contains too few cards, the player chooses to add any combination of cards named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain or Forest to reach the minimum number. Alter the decklist to reflect this. These changes may be reverted without penalty if the player is subsequently able to locate identical replacements to legal original cards.
The contents of a deck or sideboard do not match the decklist registered and the decklist represents what the player intended to play.
If there are extra cards stored with the sideboard that could conceivably be played in the player’s deck, they will be considered a part of the sideboard unless they are:
Cards in different sleeves, tokens, and double-faced cards for which checklists are being used are ignored when determining deck (not sideboard) legality.
If a player is unable to locate cards (or identical equivalents) from their main deck, treat it as a Decklist Problem instead. If sideboard cards are missing, make a note of this, but issue no penalty.
Players are expected to call attention to deck errors immediately, and not gain any potential advantage from having the cards in their deck.
The most common forms of deck error are failure to desideboard and having a card in the wrong deck. Both of these are difficult to gain advantage from without obvious cheating. Allowing the opponent to choose which card they would otherwise be working with is sufficient to compensate for the easily discovered situations. Duplicates of cards that begin in the main deck are more problematic, as they are not as easy to realize and catch, and thus mandate an upgraded penalty.
A window in which the error is a Game Loss is necessary to discourage intentional abuse of the minimum number of cards in the deck. Once that point has passed, the opponent agrees that the deck is valid. Judges should always be mindful of the abuse possibilities when investigating these infractions.
Locate any cards missing from the deck and any incorrect cards in any game zone. Reveal those cards to the opponent. The opponent chooses which of the missing cards replaces each incorrect card; any extras are shuffled into the random portion of the library. If more cards are being removed than added, prioritize ones not in the library first. If there are still additional cards not in the library that need replacing, they are replaced by random cards from the random portion of the library. If the missing card(s) are with the sideboard and it isn't the first game, choose the ones to be returned to the deck at random from main deck cards in the sideboard.
If the missing card(s) were in a previous or current opponent’s deck, issue penalties to both players.
A player commits a technical error during a draft.
Errors in draft are disruptive and may become more so if they are not caught quickly.
Announcements prior to the draft or the specific tournament rules for the format may specify additional penalties for Limited Procedure Violations.
A player violates the Communication policies detailed in section 4 of the Magic Tournament Rules and the judge believes their opponent has taken an in-game action or clearly chosen not to act based on the erroneous information. This infraction only applies to violations of that policy and not to general communication confusion.
Clear communication is essential when playing Magic. Though many offenses will be intentional, it is possible for a player to make a genuine mistake that causes confusion and these should not be penalized harshly.
A player may commit this infraction in situations where they have not spoken. A physically ambiguous board state is not automatically a penalty, but judges are encouraged to tell players to fix ambiguous placements before they might become problematic.
Misapplication of a shortcut is usually not a Communication Policy Violation, as the default interpretation applies in ambiguous situations and the opponent is able to act on that shortcut. Any deviation from a tournament shortcut requires a clear explanation.
A backup may be considered to the point of the action, not the erroneous communication.
Cards or sleeves in a player’s deck have inconsistencies on them that might allow them to be differentiated from each other while in the library. This includes scuff marks, nail marks, discoloration, bent corners, and curving from foils.
Sleeves and cards often become worn over the course of a tournament, and, as long as the player is not attempting to take advantage of this, addressing the situation is sufficient in most cases. Note that almost all sleeves can be considered marked in some way; judges should keep this in mind when determining penalties. In cases of marked cards, educating players to shuffle their cards and sleeves before sleeving the cards is very important.
This infraction applies only to cards in a player’s deck. Differently-marked sleeves in the sideboard are not illegal unless they are put into the deck without being changed. Unless investigating, judges are encouraged to alert players about concerns with marked sideboard cards.
The player needs to replace the card(s) or sleeve(s) with an unmarked version or, if no sleeves are being used, use sleeves that conceal the markings. If the cards themselves have become marked through play in the tournament, the Head Judge may decide to issue a proxy.
A player unintentionally fails to sufficiently shuffle their deck or a portion of their deck before presenting it to their opponent, or fails to present it to their opponent for further randomization. A deck is not shuffled if the judge believes a player could know the position or distribution of one or more cards in their deck.
Players are expected to shuffle their deck thoroughly when it is required and are expected to have the skill and understanding of randomization to do so. However, as the opponent has the opportunity to shuffle after the player does, the potential for advantage is lowered if tournament policy is followed.
Any time cards in a deck could be seen, including during shuffling, it is no longer shuffled, even if the player only knows the position of one or two cards. Players are expected to take care in shuffling not to reveal cards to themselves, their teammates, or their opponents.
A player should shuffle their deck using multiple methods. Patterned pile-shuffling is only allowed at the start of a game. Any manipulation, weaving, or stacking prior to randomization is acceptable, as long as the deck is thoroughly shuffled afterwards.
Shuffle the appropriate portion of the deck thoroughly.
Unsporting conduct is disruptive behavior that may affect the safety, competitiveness, enjoyment, or integrity of a tournament in a significantly negative fashion.
Unsporting behavior is not the same as a lack of sporting behavior. There is a wide middle ground of “competitive” behavior that is certainly neither “nice” nor “sporting” but still doesn’t qualify as “unsporting.” The Head Judge is the final arbiter on what constitutes unsporting conduct.
Judges should inform the player how their conduct is disruptive. The player is expected to correct the situation and behavior immediately. However, while making sure that the player understands the severity of their actions is important, judges should focus first on calming a situation, and deal with infractions and penalties afterwards.
A player takes action that is disruptive to the tournament or its participants. It may affect the comfort level of those around the individual, but determining whether this is the case is not required.
All participants should expect a safe and enjoyable environment at a tournament, and a player needs to be made aware if their behavior is unacceptable so that this environment may be maintained.
The player must correct the problem immediately. Subsequent Unsporting Conduct — Minor infractions, even for different offenses, will result in a Game Loss. If a Game Loss is issued for repeated infractions, and it occurs at the end of a game, it is acceptable for the judge to apply the penalty to the next game instead.
A player takes action towards one or more individuals that could reasonably be expected to create a feeling of being harassed, threatened, bullied, or stalked. This may include insults based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. Threats of physical violence should be treated as Unsporting Conduct – Aggressive Behavior.
It is possible for an offender to commit this infraction without intending malice or harm to the subject of the harassment.
A safe environment is a basic expectation of any tournament attendee. Harassment undermines the safety and integrity of a tournament. Players who purposefully create harmful or unwelcoming situations in a tournament are expected to immediately correct the behavior and demonstrate remorse or be removed.
Because of the confrontational nature of this infraction, judges need to end any match in progress and separate the players. Care should be taken not to escalate the situation if at all possible. The offender will be removed from the area to receive the penalty, and education about why the behavior is unacceptable regardless of excuse. They may need a few moments to cool down afterwards. Apologizing is encouraged, but the desire of the other individuals to not interact with their harasser must be respected.
Officials must investigate these matters as soon as they are brought to their attention. If they determine that the infraction does not meet the criteria for Unsporting Conduct – Major, it is still recommended that the players be talked to to avoid future misunderstandings.
The player must correct the behavior immediately. If the offense occurs at the end of a match, it is acceptable for the judge to apply the penalty to the next match instead.
If the offense was committed with malicious intent, the player displays no remorse, or the offense is repeated at a later time, the penalty is Disqualification and removal from the venue.
A player uses or offers to use a method that is not part of the current game (including actions not legal in the current game) to determine the outcome of a game or match, or uses language designed to trick someone who may not know it's against the rules to make such an offer.
If the player was aware that what they were doing was against the rules, the infraction is Unsporting Conduct — Cheating.
Using an outside-the-game method to determine a winner compromises the integrity of the tournament.
Matches that result in a draw due to time are expected to be reported as such and are not excluded from this penalty if the players use an illegal method to determine the outcome.
A player offers an incentive to entice an opponent into conceding, drawing, or changing the results of a match, encourages such an offer, or accepts such an offer. Refer to section 5.2 of the Magic Tournament Rules for a more detailed description of what constitutes bribery.
Wagering occurs when a player or spectator at a tournament places or offers to place a bet on the outcome of a tournament, match or any portion of a tournament or match. The wager does not need to be monetary, nor is it relevant if a player is not betting on their own match.
If the player was aware that what they were doing was against the rules, the infraction is Unsporting Conduct — Cheating.
Bribery and wagering disrupt the integrity of the tournament and are strictly forbidden.
The safety of all people at a tournament is of paramount importance. There will be no tolerance of physical abuse or intimidation.
The offender should be asked to leave the venue by the organizer.
A player steals materials from the tournament, including but not limited to cards or tournament equipment.
Players enter a tournament expecting that their materials will be protected. This does not absolve the players from their responsibility to keep an eye on their possessions, but they should expect to be able to retain the product they began with or were given for the tournament. Other instances of theft not involving tournament materials are the responsibility of the Tournament Organizer, though judges are encouraged to help in any way possible.
The offender should be asked to leave the venue by the organizer.
A person breaks a rule defined by the tournament documents, lies to a tournament official, or notices an offense committed in their (or a teammate's) match and does not call attention to it.
Additionally, the offense must meet the following criteria for it to be considered Cheating:
If all criteria are not met, the offense is not Cheating and is handled by a different infraction. Cheating will often appear on the surface as a Game Play Error or Tournament Error, and must be investigated by the judge to make a determination of intent and awareness.