January Magic Tournament Rules Release Notes

Posted in News on January 15, 2018

By Scott Larabee

Scott Larabee started at Wizards of the Coast in 1998, having organized premier Magic tournaments since 1996. He is currently the E-Sports and Premier Play Programs Design Manager. He enjoys Commander and board games.

The Rivals of Ixalan Prerelease took place this past weekend, so it's time for a Tournament Rules update.

In each update, most changes are small—grammar corrections, changes in language to provide better clairification on the intent of a rule, "housekeeping" updates (items that are updated each release due to new set announcements), etc. However, we sometimes have substantive changes, and those changes are listed below.

Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules Updates

Here are the Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules update notes for the latest release (the full rules can be found here), listed by the section number of the rules. To have more context, you should refer to the actual wording in the document itself.

Introduction: The schedule for 2018 Tournament Rules updates has been added.

Section 1.4 (Participation Eligibility): The list of events in which tournament officials may participate has been updated, removing old (and adding new) programs.

Section 2.14: (Tracked Totals): This section was previously called "Life Totals." However, there are certain other totals, namely poison and energy, that are tracked similar to life totals, so we have updated this section to include those. Note that you don't need to declare that you are tracking energy or poison until you gain your first energy counter or receive your first poison counter. Additionally, at Competitive or Professional Rules Enforcement Level (REL), you need to use a method to track totals that cannot be easily changed by accident. Tracking on paper is best.

Section 3.3 (Authorized Cards): We have clarified this section so it is clear that silver-bordered cards are allowed in casual play (assuming your store or group agrees).

Sections 3.7 (New Releases), 6.3 (Standard Format), 6.4 (Modern Format), and Appendix D (Booster Mixes for Limited Tournaments): These sections have been updated to reflect the Core Set 2019 release date change to July 13, 2018 (you can read more about that here).

Section 4.1 (Player Communication): A one-word addition was made here to clarify that a player's status (i.e. monarch, ascended) is free information. (For the full explanation of this change, see Toby Elliott's breakdown here).

Section 4.2 (Tournament Shortcuts): The shortcut involving adding multiple objects to the stack has been updated for clarity. For the full explanation of this change, see Toby Elliott's breakdown here.

Section 5.2 (Bribery): Wording changes to make the rules a bit more explicit.

Section 6.3 (Standard Format): Four cards have been banned in the Standard format: Attune with Aether, Rogue Refiner, Rampaging Ferocidon, and Ramunap Ruins. You can read the explanation as to why these cards were restricted in the banned and restricted announcement.

Section 8.3 (Team Communication Rules): All communication rules have been consolidated in section 4.5.

Section 10.3 (Invitation-Only Tournaments): Wording has been updated to clarify that invitation-only, non-premier tournaments need to be sanctioned as WPN Premium Tournaments. In practice, this has been true for a while, we're just playing a bit of catch-up with these rules.

That's all for this update! If you have questions about Magic Tournament Rules, I recommend the following resources:

Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules (viewable here)

This is the main rules document that governs competitive tournament play. It defines:

  • The fundamentals parts of a tournament;
  • The various roles and responsibilities of participants;
  • The mechanics of a tournament;
  • The violations that come with tournament play;
  • The various formats for tournament play; and
  • Sanctioning rules.

Infraction Procedure Guide (viewable here)

This document provides the recommended penalties and procedures to handle rules violations.

I encourage anyone who is interested in tournament-level Magic to read these documents. They are the rules under which a tournament is run, so being familiar with these documents can help you to become a better player. In some cases, the Magic Tournament Rules supersede the Magic Game Rules, so knowing these rules can keep you from entering some awkward situations. You can also contact Wizards of the Coast Game Support. Information about how to do that can be found here.

—Scott Larabee

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