July Magic Tournament Rules Release Notes

Posted in News on July 9, 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 Core Set 2019 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 clarification 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 (which 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.

Section 4.4 (Loops): This is a new section dealing with "loops." A loop is a form of tournament shortcut that involves detailing a sequence of actions to be repeated and then performing a number of iterations of that sequence. For complete information on this section, you can read Toby Elliott's explanation here.

The addition of this section has caused a renumbering of the sections on triggered abilities, team/Two-Headed Giant communication, and game layout.

Section 6.3 (Standard Format): This section has been updated to include an explanation of previously published cards from Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, and Dominaria that are in included in Welcome Decks. These cards have a Core Set 2019 expansion symbol but are not found in Core Set 2019 boosters. These cards will rotate out of Standard with Core Set 2019.

Section 6.6 (Legacy Format): Two cards have been banned in the Legacy format: Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe. You can read the explanation as to why these cards were banned in the banned and restricted announcement. (Note: the banning of the cards was announced on July 2, 2018, and is already in effect as of July 6, 2018).

Section 7.7 (Booster Draft Procedure): Exception language has been added to clarify that basic lands should not be removed when drafting with Core Set 2019 boosters (as nonbasic lands can appear in the basic land slot in these boosters).

Section 10.4 (Pairing Algorithm): The requirement that Grand Prix Trials have a playoff has been removed. Grand Prix Trials are now only run on-site at Grand Prix and have a special structure. Participants in Grand Prix Trials should refer to the fact sheet for a Grand Prix for information on the structure of Grand Prix Trials.

Appendix E (Recommended Number of Rounds in Swiss Tournaments): Grand Prix Trials and Pro Tour Qualifiers are run only as side events at Grand Prix. They have a special operational structure and are not covered by the chart in this section. For information on the number of rounds for these events, refer to the fact sheet for each Grand Prix.

Appendix F (Rules Enforcement Levels of Programs): Footnote added to clarify that the Professional REL status for Day Two of Grand Prix applies to rounds that take place after a cut on Day One (but are still run on Day One).

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 fundamental 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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