Published on 07/04/2005

How the US Southwest Was Won

or, Actual Questions from Regionals

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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

Good $time_of_day, boys and girls and other! I'm starting to write this Cranial Insertion article while at the US Southwest Region Regional Championship tournament in Phoenix, Arizona! It's 8AM, and I'm the only one here -

Hold on, a player just arrived.


Stop that, Moko. You're not allowed on the laptop.

One Day Later:

And then it suddenly got busy. Very busy. We only had 134 players, with four judges to handle them, so it wasn't hellishly hectic. Nicely busy, though, with a crop of fresh-out-of-the-mouth questions! Every single one of these questions was asked at Regionals, so watch out – they're likely to pop up at the next tournament you play at, too! Some of them are virtually repeats of previous questions we've answered, but they bear repeating. Please don't make us use them again. :(

Some of them, however, deal with other subjects that you're not quite as likely to encounter. For example, the very first thing a player asked me:

o/~ Time is on my side… o/~
Q: Wait, why did you get here at 7:30? Registration isn't till 9.

A: Ah, but the judgely folk do more than walk in and say "Okay, sign up!" See those nifty numbers on the table? We put them there before you got here. All those banners? We hung them up. The tables? Well, the convention center staff did that, but if the tournament's in a store, the judges may need to set up extra tables, rearrange the room, and open a portal into another dimension to accommodate all of the players.

Granted, this event had minimal set-up required. No one else showed up till 8:30, leaving me and Moko to terrorize the streets of Phoenix.

(Note to readers in the Phoenix metropolitan area: I call Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, etc "Phoenix." Nyah! Feel free to call Green Valley, Oro Valley, and Marana "Tucson," I don't care.)

And the second big question:

Q: Why don't you have the striped shirt?

A: Official DCI judge shirts are only available at events that the DCI itself runs – Grand Prix, Pro Tours, Nationals, Worlds. Out of those, a level 1 judge can only judge a Grand Prix, so it's a little tricky to pick up a shirt. But the shirt does not make the judge – they have the same authority wearing a DCI shirt or not (they're just less noticeable).

Q: Are these sleeves legal?

A: Well that depends. The DCI has not banned any brand or type of sleeves. However, the head judge is free to declare that certain kinds of sleeves constitute as cheating, or will assign a Marked Cards – Minor/Major penalty should you fall victim to a random deck check. Avoid these three things:

1) Reflective sleeves. Hold your deck, and lift the top card slowly, moving it to the side as you lift. If you can see the card's face's reflection on the back of the card below it, it's bad.

2) Picture backs. Sleeve manufacturers are not perfect. Most sleeves with pictures on the back will all be cut slightly different. It's slight enough that you wouldn't normally notice it, but a dedicated cheater can use the differences very efficiently.

3) Old sleeves. Are there scuffs on the backs of your sleeves? Do some bend at the corner, but not all? That counts as marked cards. If there's no pattern, it's minor. If there's a lot of it, it's major. If all of your Islands have the top left corner bent and all of your forests have a small scuff on the lower right, you're going to be DQed for cheating. Make sure that your sleeves are as uniform as possible.

Q: Will Pithing Needle stop the imprint ability of a Chrome Mox?

A: Nope, it's not gonna help much. In fact, it does nothing. Oops. Chrome Mox's imprint ability is triggered (see Thijs' article on Magicese for more on at/when/whenever and colons), not activated, so it just laughs at the Needle.

Q: There are two Skull Collectors in play. Can I stack things so I still have one in play after my upkeep?

A: Sorry, no skulls for you. At the beginning of your upkeep, both of them trigger and go on the stack. When one resolves, you'll have to bounce a black creature. Then the other will still resolve, even if you bounced the Collector from which it came, and the other Collector bounces.

If the abilities targeted, they could both target one, and the second one to resolve would be countered upon resolution. But that's not what it does. Sorry!

As a young golem, Memnarch
stole candy from other babies.
Q: I target my opponent's Memnarch with my Vedalken Shackles. In response, he uses Memnarch to take my Shackles. Now what?

A: First Memnarch's ability resolves and snatches your Shackles like a dirty thief. Then your Shackles' ability resolves and you steal Memnarch like a dirty kidnapper. Even though your opponent now controls your Shackles, you control the ability. But your opponent will get to choose whether or not to untap the Shackles, so he could get Memnarch back pretty quickly! Might want to use Memnarch to steal back the Shackles.

Bonus tip!

You can use Memnarch's ability on HIMSELF! Then you'll control Memnarch independently of the Shackles, and can safely untap them.

Q: He has Adamaro, First to Desire in play, and the only card in my hand is Ideas Unbound. Will Adamaro die if I play the Ideas?

A: Indeed he will! The first step of playing a spell:

Quote from CompRules:
409.1a The player announces that he or she is playing the spell or activated ability. It moves from the zone it's in to the stack and remains there until it's countered or resolves.

When you play the spell, it goes on the stack and leaves your hand, leaving poor Adamaro to suffer a fate worse than death: State-based effects!

Q: What's the name of that legendary landwalker guy from Saviors? I want to Cranial Extraction it.

A: How about just "that legendary landwalker guy from Saviors"? Whenever you're asked to name a card, it is perfectly acceptable to use another description to uniquely identify it. So "the Last Visitor," "the legendary landwalker," and "the 7/3 green guy you killed me with last game" are all acceptable. "That guy with that unpronounceable Japanese name" is not.

Q: My opponent just used Terashi's Grasp on my Darksteel Colossus. Does he gain any life?

A: He gains a whole boatload of life! The Grasp does two things: It tries to destroy the creature, and then it gives life. These are not dependent on each other. If the artifact or enchantment can't be destroyed or if it regenerates, it just goes on to the next step and dumps an oodle of life into your opponent's total.

Q: Sacred Ground on my side, I block with an animated Blinkmoth Nexus, don't I get my Nexus back?

A: Nah, leave it in the graveyard. The key here is what's putting it in there in the first place. It may look like your opponent's creature is doing the dirty work, but no! It's actually the state-based effect that says "Lethal damage = to the graveyard with you!" Even though it's damage from your opponent's creature, it's still the SBE, so Sacred Ground doesn't see it.

Q: Right after we shuffled after game one, I realized that my opponent only won because he had two Helm of Kaldras out. Do I win now?

A: I don't see two Helms in play. In fact, I don't see play at all, but anyway. It's too late to issue a penalty for an infraction that's already passed this far; both players receive cautions for procedural error – minor (the violation counts as "major," but it's passed). Note that both players are responsible for noticing things like that, not just the guy playing with Legendary things.

You need to call over a judge AS SOON AS something wrong happens. If the game ends and everyone shuffles up, it's too late.

(shortly later)

Q: The last game was a draw, so who goes first this time?

A: After a draw, the same player who chose to play or draw for the drawn game chooses for the new game. They can make a different choice than they did the last time.

Wait a second, you just told me that your opponent won.

Q: But the rules thing, we decided to just call it a draw.

A: I'm very glad that you haven't filled out the results slip. If you had knowingly marked a draw when the game was not a draw, you would be guilty of cheating - tournament fraud, and that means DQ, bans, and all sorts of paperwork that makes judges sad.

You have to report the match results as they actually occur. While I do applaud your opponent for agreeing to sacrifice his win, he can't do that. He can concede the next game to you if he wants to, or you can intentionally draw game 2, though.

When a body meets a body...
Q: I play a Duplicant and target my opponent's Duplicant that is imprinted with my Molder Slug. How big is my Duplicant now?

A: It looks like a 2/4 to me! After Dupey removes the creature from the game, it only cares about its printed power and toughness. So if it has grabbed another Duplicant, it doesn't care about what was formerly imprinted on that Duplicant (which now actually has nothing imprinted on it).

(Last-minute edit:Carter just answered this question on Saturday School, but this article was written on 26 June. They appear completely independent of each other. There is no judge conspiracy!

(Hmm, judge conspiracy... "All players in the room are judges." Interesting card idea. "In response, I DQ you!")

Q: If I sacrifice Kagemaro, First to Suffer during my opponent's upkeep, any creatures he plays this turn will get -3/-3 too, right?

A: Wrong. When Kagemaro stabs himself, he splatters all over everything that's in play, but newcomers wear heavier coats to keep the Kami goo off of them. Whenever something says "All X do/get/gain/have Y", you have to look at what's getting hit. Think of it this way: Kagemaro is like a loudspeaker announcement that says "Would all creatures please cut off an arm?" Night of Souls' Betrayal's static ability on the other hand is a big poster asking the same. That's less confusing than the comprehensive rules quote:

Quote from CompRules:
418.3b Continuous effects from spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities that modify the characteristics or change the controller of one or more objects don't affect objects that weren't affected when the continuous effect began. Note that these work differently than continuous effects from static abilities.

Q: (judge…)

A: If the food doesn't get here soon, I vote that we start eating the players, starting with the lowest tables. Sound good?

Oh, you have a question? Speak up!

Remember, the tournament is loud, the judges are trying to watch a million things at once and do a billion things at once – and every other word they hear sounds like "judge!" You don't have to holler (though it helps), but speak up in a loud voice.

Okay, you now have the judge's attention. Problem is, there are 134 people in this room, and all the judge knows is that one of them called for him. Raise your hand, just like in school. Wave it around some if you want. Don't be shy about calling us! We love you. And we all float down here.

If you do yell, and wave your hand, and no one comes running, try again. We get distracted sometimes, giving a ruling or doing paperwork or simply trying to massage life back into our dying feet. It's not personal.

And if your friend is named George, John, or Judge, please, please, please do not yell for him across the room. You'll confuse us very badly.

Q: At the beginning of the last round, my opponent peeked at my deck when he was shuffling it, so he knew what I was playing before we started. There was a judge right behind me – why didn't he give the guy a penalty?

A: Most likely, he didn't notice. Why didn't you turn around and say "OMG DID YOU SEE THAT?!" (Note: the surgeon general advises that saying "omg" may be hazardous to your health.) Judges are only human; they miss things, especially if they're actually watching someone next to you, or looking to the head judge for the round-start announcement. And towards the end of the day, the judge is probably very tired, too.

On that note, actively trying to get a sneak peek at what you're playing will get slapped with anything from a game loss to a DQ for cheating. Someone on MTG Salvation listed it as a hot trick to help your game, but do not do it – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you try to look at the card faces while shuffling, you're going to get in BIG trouble.

Q: I'm tired. Can I just put my hand face-up on the table instead of holding it?

A: If you really want to, sure. The rules do not forbid you from revealing your hand whenever for whatever reason. You also have the right to reveal four counterspells (not Counterspells, that's not T2 legal!) and say "You might as well not play anything."

Q: Do I get free stuff if I judge?

A: Judges do usually receive some form of compensation. However, that is not a very good reason to want to become a judge. You need to enjoy the game and enjoy helping the events to go off as flawlessly as possible – if not, you're going to get tired of judging pretty quick. And you don't get free stuff just for being a judge; you have to work at events. If you're no good (perhaps because you only studied up long enough to pass the judge test), you might have trouble finding a head judge that wants you on his team.

All in all, compensation is a good thing, and it's definitely something to consider, but don't let it be your driving motive if you're thinking about becoming a judge.

And that was Regionals. Lots of fun, tired feet, and an overall great experience. Some of the highlights that don't involve rules:

*** One of the top 8 players was ill. Luckily the top 8 matches weren't timed, since he had to stop every few turns to visit the trash can. His opponent's deck wasn't THAT bad...

*** "Shouldn't there be a penalty if someone plays a second turn Umezawa's Jitte and third turn Damping Matrix?"

*** After finding magnetic letters fallen into the computer box, the TO's wife declared that "Today's event is brought to you by the letter J." Shush, it was funny at 9AM.

*** Slippery floor. Nothing like dashing over to a player and ending in a slide as I say "Hey, what's up?"

And that wraps up Regionals. The professional tournament scene is going to be quiet for a little bit, but we have the Ninth Edition release coming up, which is sure to breed new oddball questions as old cards find new friends.

Until next time, may you never have to pick chimp hair out of your laptop's keyboard.

-Eli Shiffrin, L1 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


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