Published on 04/29/2024

NRG St. Paul - Tournament Report

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The ghost of St. Paul?

On April 20th & 21st I helped judge two events, a 10K Modern and a 5K Legacy for Nerd Rage Games in St. Paul, MN. The following questions were asked by players to judges, or were issues the judges found while interacting with players.

And as usual, if you have any questions about Magic cards don't hesitate to send us a tweet @CranialTweet, or for the more in-depth questions, an email to .

10K Modern:
Player Count: 237
Rounds of Swiss: 9
Decklists & Top 8: Click here
Main Event Judge staff: 10
Side Events Judge staff: 2

Outside of the Head Judge, the main staff was split into two teams: Deck checks with four judges, and five judges taking care of all other logistics. I was assigned End of Round. My primary responsibility was to verify all finished matches were reported, to let the Head Judge know about those that were missing, and to assign judges to matches that were still ongoing near the end of the round to make sure those matches get reported as soon as possible, to make the next round start as quickly as possible.

I got quite a few more questions from players during this tournament compared to the one on Sunday, since I was on the deck checks team on Sunday.

Q: Judge, I accidentally tried to draw a card during my first turn when I had the first turn of the game. It never touched the rest of my hand, but I did see the card. What do we do?

A: The eighth card (which is still separate from the hand) should be shuffled back into the random portion of the library. The penalty is a warning and the infraction is Game Play Error — Looking at Extra Cards.

Q: Judge, my opponent has a The One Ring with no burden counters on it. If they activate it to draw cards and I respond by Leyline Binding it, do they draw one card or no cards?

A: They will draw zero cards. Leyline Binding will exile the Ring before its activated ability resolves. This isn't usually a problem, an ability can resolve independent of its source. However, the Ring's ability says to add a counter to the Ring, which isn't on the battlefield, so it doesn't get one. The ability then instructs its controller to draw a card for each burden counter on the ring. Since the Ring isn't on the battlefield, it uses Last Known Information to determine how many counters it had last time it was on the battlefield, which was zero, so the opponent draws zero cards.

Q: Judge, my opponent just sacrificed all their lands to Scapeshift to put five Mountains, a Stomping Ground, and a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle onto the battlefield. Before any of the triggers resolved, I respond by channeling Boseiju, Who Endures destroying the Stomping Ground, and the opponent failed to find a land. Does my opponent still get to deal 18 damage or do they deal less damage?

A: They deal 3 damage. Valakut's triggered ability has an intervening if clause. Like most triggers it will trigger whenever its triggering condition is met, but because of the intervening if, it also checks to see if its triggering condition is still met. If it's not true as it goes to resolve, the ability fails to function.

In the above case, Valakut hits the board simultaneously with six land with the Mountain subtype. This causes Valakut to trigger six times. Each Mountain sees five other Mountains, and the ability goes on the stack (choosing targets at this time). Before any of those six triggers can resolve, one Mountain (the Stomping Ground) gets destroyed, the opponent however fails to find another land in their deck with the Mountain sub-type. As each of these six triggers attempts to resolve, they check again to see if there are five Mountains other than the one that caused this specific trigger to happen. For five of these triggers it's no longer true, so they fail to function. However, the trigger caused by the Stomping Ground that was blown up by Boseiju, there are still five Mountains other than it on the battlefield, so this one trigger will still resolve.

Note: If the opponent had found a Steam Vents with the Boseiju, all six triggers would still resolve dealing 3 damage each. The intervening if clause doesn't care if they are the same five other Mountains, there just need to be five other Mountains.

Q: I currently have Lavaspur Boots equipped to my animated Inkmoth Nexus. When I pass turn to my opponent, will the Boots stay attached to the Nexus even though it won't be a creature?

A: An Equipment can only be attached to creature. If the creature stops being a creature, the Equipment becomes unattached (state-based action 704.5n). The Boots will become unattached during the cleanup step as the Nexus stops being a creature.

You ensnared me with this question.

Q: Judge, this is game two of our match, and I just activated my Karn, the Great Creator to get the Ensnaring Bridge from my sideboard. The thing is, there are only 14 cards in my sideboard and the Ensnaring Bridge is missing, I now realize I forgot to put it back in my sideboard after game one and it's currently in my deck meaning I started this game with 61 cards. What do we do?

A: We do nothing. As this game started you presented a legal deck (61 cards with a 14 card sideboard). When sideboarding you can add any number of cards from your sideboard to your deck and put any cards from your main deck into your sideboard, so long as you end up with no less than 60 cards in the main deck and no more than 15 cards in your sideboard. There is no penalty and there is no fix, you simply won't be "wishing" for the Ensnaring Bridge from your sideboard this game. You will have to choose a different card that is in your sideboard.

Q: Judge, my opponent just cast Cityscape Leveler from their hand and is using its cast trigger to target my creature. If I give my creature protection from artifacts with Apostle's Blessing, will that save my creature even though the cast trigger is not an artifact?

A: Apostle's Blessing can save your creature from being targeted by Cityscape Leveler.

One of the four benefits of protection stops a player or permanent from being targeted by spells with the quality it has protection from and also stops it from being targeted by abilities from a source with the stated quality. In this case, the cast trigger's source is an artifact spell.

702.16b A permanent or player with protection can't be targeted by spells with the stated quality and can't be targeted by abilities from a source with the stated quality.

Q: Judge, my opponent controls a Dryad Arbor, if I cast this Blood Moon from my hand, will the Dryad stop being a creature?

A: Blood Moon turns all non-basic lands into Mountains. This doesn't change the name, supertype, or card types that the land has. It replaces all land subtypes it has with Mountain, and it replaces all abilities it has with ": add .". The Dryad Arbor is still a creature, its name is still Dryad Arbor and it still has the creature type Dryad. It now has the subtype Mountain instead of Forest, and its only tap ability makes instead of .

Q: Judge, my opponent is currently casting a Territorial Kavu while they have "domain" of four. Can I counter it with Stern Scolding?

A: You can't. It's true that most abilities of permanents only function while they are on the battlefield, with two main exceptions.

Exception 1: The ability could only work from a zone other than the battlefield. Clearly defining power and/or toughness does work from the battlefield, so this exception is not our road block.

Exception 2: The ability is a Characteristic Defining ability (CDA). */* is almost always a (CDA). The Kavu's ability defining its power and toughness is a CDA that works in all zones (the stack, the graveyard, hand, library, etc).

Here are two examples of creatures that usually have more than 2 power, but never when they are spells on the stack. Nighthowler doesn't have a CDA, so while it's a creature spell, it's always a 0/0. Feral Hydra is a 0/0 as a spell since it doesn't have its counters while on the stack.

Q: Judge, I just attacked with my Territorial Kavu choosing the mode "Discard a card. If you do, draw a card.". My opponent stops me before discarding and casts Orchish Bowmasters. Can I change the mode I'm using now? Can I choose not to discard or not to draw?

A: You can't change the mode. You must discard a card if you can, and you must draw a card if you can.

Modes for spells and abilities are chosen as they are put on the stack, and are locked in until they resolve. Neither the discard nor the draw part of this mode is optional (no "may discard" or "may draw").

Q: Judge, my opponent controls a Dauthi Voidwalker. If I cast a Fallaji Archaeologist, can I still get a card back even though the cards got exiled?

A: You can. Strange as it may seem, the Archaeologist tracks the cards it mills even if they are replaced with getting exiled and can still put a card into your hand that is not a land or creature.

Q: Judge, I know Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp increases the number of +1/+1 counters my Modular creatures pass when they die. But does Zabaz also increase the number of +1/+1 counters they enter the battlefield with?

A: Short answer: No.

Long answer:
Zabaz's ability reads as "If a modular triggered ability would put one or more +1/+1 counters on a creature you control, that many plus one +1/+1 counters are put on it instead." The important part here is "if a modular triggered ability would..."

Modular is two abilities: one is a replacement effect, the other is a trigger. Zabaz only helps the triggered portion (the death trigger). Zabaz doesn't help the replacement effect (the +1/+1 counters the creature enters with).

5K Legacy:
Player Count: 177
Rounds of Swiss: 8
Decklists & Top 8: Click here
Main Event Judge staff: 9
Side Events Judge staff: 2

Outside of the Head Judge, the main staff was split into two teams: Deck checks with 4 judges, and 4 judges taking care of all other logistics. For this tournament, I was assigned to Deck Checks. Our team's goal was to check three tables (or six decks) per round, usually two at the beginning of round and one mid-round. Yes, that does mean taking decks after the table has played one or two games and both players have sideboarded. A general rule of thumb is you want to deck check at least 10% of the whole tournament and it's fine if the same person gets deck checked more than once.

Q: Judge, I have Soulless Jailer from my sideboard on the battlefield to slow down my opponent. Can I sacrifice it to my Goblin Engineer to put the Grindstone from my graveyard onto the battlefield?

A: This works! Goblin Engineer's activated ability has a cost (sacrifice an artifact) which is paid well in advance of trying to move an artifact from your graveyard to the battlefield. Since the Jailer will be long dead before you try to move the Grindstone, the Jailer's ability won't prevent the move.

Q: Judge, I have Soulless Jailer from my sideboard on the battlefield to slow down my opponent. Can I sacrifice it to my Goblin Welder to reanimate the Painter's Servant from my graveyard?

A: You can't! Welder tries to do this "exchange" simultaneously. The millisecond before a permanent is put on the battlefield the game checks to see if it can be put on the battlefield and how it would be modified before it does, and then applies those restrictions or modifications. The millisecond before the swap, the Jailer is still on the battlefield preventing the Painter's Servant from entering. Worse yet, you complete the actions as best as you can, so you still have to sacrifice the Jailer.

Hopefully the answer to your question won't
lead to an outburst of violence.

Q: Judge, I control Counterbalance and my opponent knows I have a land on top of my library. So during my draw step, after drawing for the turn, my opponent casts Violent Outburst knowing the only card he could cascade into is a Crashing Footfalls. Does my Counterbalance trigger resolve first, or does the cascade trigger?

A: Both the cascade and Counterbalance will trigger at the same time. However, because it's your turn, your Counterbalance trigger is put on the stack first, with the cascade above it. First the cascade resolves. The opponent will cascade into a Crashing Footfalls, which will trigger your Counterbalance again. The newest Counterbalance trigger will resolve first, and if it reveals a land or another card with mana value 0, you will counter the Footfalls. Then, if you can't reveal a zero mana value card, the first Counterbalance trigger will resolve and you get the chance to reveal a 3 mana value card to counter Outburst. If you can't, then Violent Outburst resolves.

Q: Judge, it is currently my opponent's turn and they are protected by The One Ring's trigger and have no creatures. I control an Orcish Bowmasters and an Orc Army with one +1/+1 counter on it. If my opponent taps their Ring to draw a card (their second draw of the turn), if I target my Orc Army with my Bowmasters trigger, will the Orc Army get the +1/+1 counter in time not to die?

A: It will! We follow the instructions of the Bowmasters trigger in the order written, which will deal 1 damage first, then the Orc Army will gain a +1/+1 counter. State based actions aren't checked until after the whole ability has resolved. By this time it's a 2/2 with 1 damage marked on it, so it survives.

Q: During a deck check, we noticed a player's deck list had no copies of Ugin, the Ineffable and was marked as having four copies of Basalt Monolith, but the physical deck had only three copies of Monolith and was running an Ugin, the Ineffable. Upon talking with player, it became clear he thought the list he submitted at was the configuration he was physically playing and that was what he wanted to continue to play the rest of the tournament. The deck list was wrong, but the deck was correct. What infraction happened, and what penalty and fix should we apply?

A: The infraction is Tournament Error — Decklist Problem and the penalty is a Game Loss. We change the deck list to match the cards the player is playing.

Q: During a deck check, we noticed a player's deck list had no basic Swamps in the main board but did have one in the sideboard. The deck list showed 60 cards main and 15 sideboard. While looking at the physical deck, there was one Swamp in the main board of 61 cards and one Swamp in the sideboard of 15 cards. Upon talking with player, it became clear he wanted to play with no Swamps main board and only 60 cards main. Well before the tournament, he had thought of running it at 60 cards with a basic main board, but decided to swap it out for a non-basic and thinks he must have forgotten to physically remove the Swamp when he added the other land. What infraction happened, and what penalty and fix should we apply?

A: The infraction is Tournament Error — Deck Problem and the penalty is a Warning. We change the deck to match the deck list, the player removes the extra Swamp (and should make sure not to store it with his deck or sideboard).

Q: During a deck check, we noticed a player had twelve cards triple sleeved, while the remaining cards in deck were only double sleeved. The triple sleeved cards were all main board cards. Four were a playset of one card, four were a playset of a different card, two cards were the only two copies of one card, and the last two were the only copies of two different cards. These cards were a mixture of permanents, spells, and lands. It's possible a person could identify these cards if they were on top of the library, or while shuffling without seeing the face of the cards. (They might be able to tell they are one of the twelve, but not which of the twelve). After an investigation it was determined the player was unaware these cards could be identified this way and we don't think the player was cheating. What penalty and fix should we apply?

A: The infraction is Tournament Error — Marked Cards and the penalty is a Warning. We instructed the player to remove the third sleeve from the twelve cards to match the deck. If the player wanted to, they could change to triple-sleeving the whole deck between matches, but for time reasons they couldn't do that during this match.

Q: After finishing a match a player came to me with this question. "I didn't know how to handle this during the match so I just tolerated it, but my opponent (redacted) while were playing our match. It made me uncomfortable, but I didn't want to shame the opponent or come across as a jerk. What could I do in the future if something similar happens?"

For the anonymity of the players involved, we will just describe the (redacted) as something slightly unhygienic that is not to the point of Unsporting Conduct, but that some people might consider gross or off-putting.

A: Anytime a player wants to ask a question without letting their opponent clue in to what's being asked, a player can ask to talk to the judge away from the table. You can even bring cards from your hand (or graveyard) with you so it looks like the question has to do with those cards.

A player is not required to confront their opponent about these kinds of issues directly. If a confrontation goes poorly, we now have two players upset at each other but that still need to complete a match. If a judge handles this poorly, the players get to be unhappy with the judge rather than with each other.

This sort of thing is delicate and if you are a less experienced judge, there is no shame or issue in getting your Head Judge involved before taking any action. My suggested course of action is to "answer" the player's question, then stay close and directly watch the match. (This is good practice after an away-from-table answer that is going to get asked again at the match, so it will look fairly normal to players.) If the issue repeats, politely pull the opponent to the side (so the conversation can be private) and say something like "I noticed you were having a problem with (redacted) and if you need a few minutes to freshen up or use the facilities, please do. You won't lose any time at all on the match, you will get a time extension for however long you need to get this resolved." We want to make both players feel comfortable and safe.

I want to thank the Head Judges (Rob & Elijah) as well as the rest of the judge staff, the people from NRG, and a extra thank you to Josh for hosting me for the weekend. It was fun, and I hope to see you all again soon.

- Justin Hovdenes AKA Hovey
Level 2 Magic Judge
Rapid City, SD


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