Most Common Procedural Errors

Posted in NEWS on June 2, 2000

By Wizards of the Coast

Adam Cetnerowski

As a judge I have witnessed many procedural errors committed by players. Some of them are very 'popular' among players. To guarantee the integrity and smooth-running of the tournament, you (as a judge) should make sure that players commit as little of these errors as possible. I grant that some of the errors listed below are mentioned in a different category, but they happen often and come up, because the player fails to follow a procedure set by the floor rules.

1. Illegal decklist - it's hard to make sure everyone plays a legal deck. Deck checks are OK, but they work only if the player gets punished and remembers the lesson. If I have a larger judging staff, then the judge responsible for collecting deck lists scans them, but obviously cannot catch every error. I also provide a Banned and Restricted list for the player's use. Also, if asked to check a decklist before the tournament, I don't hesitate to do this.

2. Tardiness - some players are very undisciplined. To insure a safety margin, when asked how much time till the next round, I usually give the time till the current round is over. I also tend to be lenient. If I see players running to their seats, I will not issue Warnings, I'll just give them a verbal caution.

3. Method to track life - most of the local players have learned that they can't get away with this. I tend to observe the game tables (especially before round 1) and try to spot players without some way to track life. Usually, if a player has something for round 1, he'll use it all the way.

4. Failure to use counters - this is a plague, especially at prerelease tournaments. This can easily lead to misunderstandings and failure to agree on reality. Usually a verbal caution will suffice, but at higher REL or with a repeat offender, I issue a warning.

5. Illegal tokens and counters - Magic cards (especially those from the graveyard) are often used to represent tokens and counters. This is a bad habit from informal Magic games. As above, depending on the tournament I either issue a verbal or written penalty.

6. Placing a card in the graveyard before resolution - this again is sloppy play and bad habits from informal Magic. The best way to fight this is to observe matches from time to time, and point this out to players (especially new ones). Also, when I am called to make a ruling, if the situation is complicated I watch the whole interaction, demonstrating at the same time, how the stack works, how it should be represented and how it resolves. A lot of these situations can be solved, if the cards go on the stack, instead of the graveyard.

7. Littering - I remember that at the first tournament I judged, the head judge called me over and said: 'I'll give you an important job now. Clean that spilled cola up.' Players tend to be messy (especially at long tournaments) and leave a lot of stuff behind. I do not tolerate this; especially that often I have to clean the mess up. If I see a player leaving an area messy, I walk up to him and tell him to clean up. I will not hesitate to issue a warning, if he does not comply. I also remind players at the start of the tournament.

These according to my experience are the most often committed procedural errors. Some may not agree with me, but that's fine. Finishing up, I'd just like to remind everyone, about the suggestion that appeared on dcijudge-l some time ago: Take a minute at the begging of each round to remind players of a rule from the rulebook or the floor rules. I usually mention one of the above errors.

Adam Cetnerowski