How To Enforce Competitive REL in Multiplayer Games
Armorcraft Judge by David Palumbo
With the growing popularity of cEDH and the increasing desire for competitive cEDH events, one fatal flaw in Magic: the Gathering's competitive ruleset has become harder and harder to ignore: Magic was designed to be played 1-versus-1.
In this article, I'm going to introduce you to the Multiplayer Supplemental Infraction Procedure Guide and Multiplayer Supplemental Tournament Rules. These documents were created by and/or consulted with Erin Leonard, Fabio Batista, Graydon Beadle, Landon Liberator, Bryan Spellman, Savannah Beard, Nicholas Hammond, Erin Leonard, Mark Mason, Tyler Bloom, Ethan Smilg, Fatty Springer, Maria Howerton-Sweid, and Seth Arar.
These supplemental rulesets are also used by Eminence Gaming in all their events, such as Mox Masters, Punt City, Silicon Dynasty, etc., so it is definitely worth understanding these rules if you hope to play cEDH on a tournament level.
As always, let's start with some important vocabulary...
Rules Enforcement Level (REL) - This is a means of communicating to players, judges, and spectators what the expectations are for the tournament in regards to how strictly the event will follow the rules and procedures of the game. This is not to say anyone should expect that rules won't be followed in some cases, but the penalties associated with rules violations will differ depending on the REL of the event.
Currently we have Regular, Competitive, and Professional REL: Regular referrs to FNM and Prereleases; Competitive refers to PTQs, Grand Prix (Day 1), MagicCon Main Events, and other events with substantial prize pools; and finally Professional refers to events such as Players Tour (previously called Pro Tour), World Championships, and Grand Prix (Day 2), the highest levels of Magic.
Infraction Procedure Guide (IPG) - The IPG is a tool provided to judges which outlines appropriate procedures, penalties, remedies, and other common policy enforcement guidelines for common issues we see in tournaments. This document is key in allowing judges to make consistent decisions on the same issues whether they occur at a Grand Prix in Japan or a PTQ in Minnesota. The IPG helps judges apply the correct fixes to issues such as Missed Triggers, Hidden Card Errors, and many other common issues we see at Magic events.
Tournament Rules - Simply put, this is a document which expressly outlines the rules of a Magic: the Gathering Tournament.
Truthfully, finding the most up-to-date version of the IPG and Tournament Rules documents isn't as easy as it used to be. WoTC redesigned their website and moved resources around, but the Judge Academy website has the Tournament Rules and IPG here.
Breaking Down The Multiplayer Supplemental Tournament Rules
You can and should read the entire MSTR and MSIPG. Heck, I think if you're serious about tournament play, you should read the entire Tournament Rules and IPG too. Understanding what penalties can be issued for which infractions can help you as a player understand what to expect from judge calls and when to respectfully appeal decisions; judges are by no means perfect, no one is.
But in case you need just a quick overview of the MSIPG, I'll go over some notable or interesting changes/additions to the Tournament Rules.
1.10a Eliminated Players of Multiplayer games are designated as Spectators for the remainder of the game. They are no longer allowed to participate in political or strategic decisions.
I think this is a great callout. We've all been in games where one player was eliminated and still is very much an active participant in the game's threat assessment and strategic conversations. I think it even feels natural for eliminated players to still be involved in the game, but the reality is that they no longer have any stake in the outcome of the game (sure, technically a draw is worth 1 point in an event, but that's not enough to warrant their involvement in the game still).
4.2a In Multiplayer tournaments, if a player requests priority and decides they do not wish to do anything, the request is nullified, priority is returned to the active player and the game state is backed up to the point after the last game action.
This rule did not immediately make sense to me, but after looking at the provided example, it turns out this is huge. Here is the example:
Example: Alice is attacking and Bob is pondering what to do while they have priority. Daniel says they will use a Cyclonic Rift at the end of Alice's turn. Thus, Bob passes priority and Charles also passes priority, followed by Daniel. Combat ends and during their second main phase, Alice plays a land and says "Pass the turn", attempting to execute the Tournament Shortcut. Then, Bob and Charles both pass priority saying "OK " on the Tournament Shortcut, knowing that Daniel would do something. However, Daniel says he changed his mind and doesn't want to do anything.
If Daniel were to pass priority here, the turn would end and Bob's turn would start, without Bob having a chance to do anything.
The Head-to-Head fix would allow Charles to have priority at this point, but Charles is fully tapped-out, so they can't initiate a new round of priority.
With this fix, we allow Alice to have priority back in their second main phase, after they played the land for the turn.
So in short, this rule means if someone says they are going to do something, and you pass priority to them to do it, but they then choose to not do it, the game 'rewinds' to before priority was passed to that player. I think if you, as a player in a cEDH tournament, take just ONE thing from the MSTR, it should be this. I think what I find most appealing and satisfying about this rule is that it clearly is designed to prevent scummy or rules-lawyery play from opponents. Big fan of this one here, well done, MSTR creators!
Multiplayer Supplemental Infraction Procedure Guide Explained
2.1a Missed Triggers
In the event that a missed trigger meets all of the criteria which would result in the remedy of the missed trigger to be that the player's opponent decides whether to put the trigger on the stack or not, the remaining opponents must come to a majority decision on the choice. If no majority decision is reached, the final decision will be made by a randomly chosen opponent.
I think on its surface, this seems like a small issue, but the number of times I've had a player miss a trigger, and the table has been stuck trying to figure out what to do is not a small number. In fact, I've had several times where one player missing a trigger benefited another player while hurting me. Pre-MSIPG, we could not figure out what to do! This is a great rule to clarify an otherwise very confusing game state.
3.2 Outside Assistance
A player, spectator, or other tournament participant does any of the following:
- Seeks play advice or private information about their match from others once they have sat for their match.
- Gives play advice or reveals private information to players who have sat for their match.
- During a game, refers to notes (other than Oracle™ pages) made before the official beginning of the current match.
(In Multiplayer game modes, this refers only to players outside of the current match. Players who offer advice or strategic lines of play to opponents within their current match have not committed Outside Assistance.)
Remember how I said that an eliminated player is considered a Spectator was a great call-out? Imagine you were eliminated from a game and began to give strategic advice. All of a sudden you've committed a infraction and could get a Warning or even a Game Loss. Keep this in mind!
And that's the MSIPG and MSTR! I hope you take the time to read it. Here are some helpful links for you to further your education:
MSTR - https://github.com/MonarchDevelopment/MIPG-and-MSTR/blob/main/MSTR.md
MSIPG - https://github.com/MonarchDevelopment/MIPG-and-MSTR/blob/main/MSIPG.md
Judge Academy Magic Documents - https://judgeacademy.com/mtg-documents/
Thanks for reading!