Magic Tournament Rules Release Notes

Posted in News on January 16, 2017

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.

Aether Revolt Prereleases took place last weekend, so it's time for a Tournament Rules update. Release notes are posted for each update to inform players, stores, and judges of the changes and updates that have been made.

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. These are listed below with little or no commentary. Other changes are a bit more complex.

There are three main tournament policy documents that are eligible for update each quarter:

Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules (viewable here)

This is the main rules document that governs 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 judges the appropriate penalties and procedures to handle rules violations that occur during a tournament held at Competitive or Professional Rules Enforcement Level (REL), as well as the underlying philosophy that guides their implementation.

This document is maintained by long-time judge Toby Elliott. His judge blog contains the notes for each release of this document.

Judging at Regular Rules Enforcement Level (viewable here)

This document provides guidelines for dealing with penalties and infractions at most non–premier level events.

I encourage anyone that 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.


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.

General change throughout the rules document: Past documents have used the terms "event" and "tournament" interchangeably. We have cleaned this up and now use the term "tournament" in all appropriate instances.

Introduction: Last week, we announced that Banned and Restricted announcements will now be made both on the Monday after Standard-legal set Prereleases and five weeks after a Pro Tour. Since each Banned and Restricted announcements necessitates a Magic Tournament Rules update, that schedule is now defined in this section.

Section 2.4 (Conceding or Intentionally Drawing Games or Matches): There are a lot of creative ways to score an intentional draw. Entering a match result as 0-0-3 has long been the correct way to report an intentional draw. We have clarified that you can also use the "0-0" result button in Wizards Event Report (WER) to enter an intentional draw. This will automatically enter a result of 0-0-3 for that match.

Section 2.6 (Time Extensions): Featured matches that involve video coverage of those matches often do not start at the same time as the main tournament, often take additional time for the players to get to those matches, and are not always timed separately. Additionally, situations involving the video production can take time away from players playing. To account for these situations, we are giving featured matches that involve video coverage a 3-minute time extension (plus any time that elapsed between the start of the round and the arrival of players at the feature match area). Note that if featured matches are timed independently, this extension is not given.

Section 3.9 (Shuffling): In the previous Tournament Rules update, we announced rule changes regarding "pile shuffling." Based on observation and feedback, we are now restricting pile shuffling to once per game and only at the beginning of that game. Remember: "pile shuffling" is not sufficient shuffling. It should only be used to count the cards in a deck.

Section 4.2 (Tournament Shortcuts): The language of the shortcut dealing with targeting a planeswalker with a damage spell to redirect that damage to the controlling player has been updated to make it clear that the redirection portion of the shortcut only applies when targeting an opponent's planeswalker.

Section 6.1 (Deck Construction Restrictions): We have clarified that Masterpiece Series cards may only be played in formats where the card is already legal. This has always been true, but we have specifically referred to the Masterpiece Series by name to avoid any confusion.

Section 6.3 (Standard Format Deck Construction): Since we announced this earlier than the normal schedule, you probably already know this change. Three cards have been banned in the Standard format: Emrakul, the Promised End; Reflector Mage; and Smuggler's Copter. You can read the explanation as to why these cards were banned in the Banned and Restricted announcement.

Section 6.4 (Modern Format Deck Construction): We also banned two cards in the Modern format: Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll. You can read the explanation as to why these cards were banned in the Banned and Restricted announcement.

Section 7.2 (Card Use in Limited Tournaments): Like Section 6.1 above, we have clarified Masterpiece Series use in Limited tournaments.

Appendix B (Time Limits): Based on player feedback (particularly from Pro Tour and Grand Prix tournaments), we have lengthened the review period between boosters during a booster draft. The review period between the first and second boosters is now 60 seconds (previously 30 seconds). The review period between the second and third boosters is now 90 seconds (previously 45 seconds).

Appendix D (Recommended Booster Mix for Limited Tournaments): Various updates and additions due to the announcement of new expansions.

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

  • Ask a judge. Judges are easily the most available resource available for questions about tournament rules.
  • The judge program has a chat forum available for rules questions at
  • You can also contact Wizards of the Coast Game Support. Information about how to do that can be found here.

—Scott Larabee

Latest News Articles


May 26, 2022

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Product Delays by, Wizards of the Coast

Due to ongoing production delays, various Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate product will be delayed or limited in the following regions at launch: APAC The following product i...

Learn More


May 12, 2022

Your Sneak Peek at Double Masters 2022, Dominaria United, and Beyond by, Wizards of the Coast

Announcement Day is here, and this month it's big. It's jumbo. It's so oversized it's at least double what one could expect. It's massive and masterful and united so much Magic. It's a re...

Learn More



News Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All