July 2021 Magic Tournament Rules Release Notes
As the world slowly moves back toward in-person competitive play, we're making updates to the Magic Tournament Rules (MTR). Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has introduced some creative new wrinkles to Magic play that require support, so along with the usual housekeeping of format legalities and set release dates, there are three big new changes. But first, the housekeeping items:
- Information about new sets has been added. Dates when these sets become legal in the various formats (as well as when older sets rotate out of Standard) have been added.
- Some wording has been updated in Section 1 to account for the fact that Wizards Event Reporter (WER) is no longer used.
- Most tournaments will use Eventlink* for event management and scorekeeping (which does not use DCI numbers). A small number of events may still use Wizards Large Tournament Reporter (WLTR) for event management. We have updated some language in Section 1 to account for DCI number requirements for events that use WLTR.
Now for the meatier changes
You See Three Doors in Front of You
If it's Tomb of Horrors, two of them will pretty much kill you instantly. Fortunately, the ones chosen for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms are a bit friendlier.
Dungeons are unusual. They are technically cards, but not cards in any way that people traditionally interact with them. It's more like a supplemental game board. You don't need to have a copy of the card when you venture into it. You can use anything you want, from pulling it up in Gatherer or drawing it out on paper, all the way up to 3D printed renditions that you traverse with your favorite D&D miniature. Please keep in mind the available space and your other players; sure, your full-scale rendition with a team of actors playing parts looks amazing, but it might not be practical in the aisles of your local game store.
As they are cards, dungeons have their own Oracle text, so rules about misrepresentation still apply. Your dungeon does need to be the actual dungeon; you don't get to be the DM and improvise what's in that 10x10 room!
The new rules on dungeons are in section 3.3 (Authorized Cards).
Break Out the Dice Bag
Now that die rolling has come to black-bordered Magic, we need rules to support it. Most of them are common sense. We don't actually care that you use the die specified as long as the randomization method gives an equal chance for each of the possibilities. You can use a d12 to roll a d6, or pull up a random number generator app.
Just like dungeons, you can bring whatever dice you want, but if they're so heavy that they dent the table when you roll them, or so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to read the numbers, the judge may ask you to find another way to generate numbers.
Spindown life trackers are prohibited. We're not going to worry about it in casual play, but at Competitive REL, we expect the numbers to be distributed appropriately to reduce any potential for manipulating dice rolls. How easy they are to manipulate is a matter of debate, but with the wide array of other randomization methods available, keeping them out removes any potential appearance of impropriety.
We also threw in a little quality-of-life improvement where you don't need to roll any irrelevant dice. If you are supposed to roll two dice and take the higher one and the first roll gives you the high result, then you can skip the second (assuming nothing else cares).
The new rules on dice can be found in the new section 3.9 (Die Rolling).
I Cast Jobs's Magical Assistant
Smartphones have become more and more ubiquitous and more and more useful for helping to smooth Magic gameplay. Did you notice that both the above sections mentioned using them? Between that and the Magic: The Gathering Companion app to assist tournament play, we felt now was a good time to revisit the rules around electronic devices.
A few years ago, we opened Regular Rules Enforcement Level to allow electronic device usage, and that was quite successful. Now, we're unifying the rules across all Rules Enforcement Levels—you can use your device during matches if you do it out in the open. This allows for looking up Oracle text in Gatherer, or using a die-rolling app, but keeps the concerning behavior—outside assistance—in check.
Electronic device use is still prohibited during drafts and Limited deck building, as the idea of "publicly visible" doesn't apply as cleanly and there's no reasons to be using them during those periods.
The revised rules on electronic devices can be found in section 2.12 (Electronic Devices).
What about the IPG?
This Infraction Procedure Guide (IPG) provides judges with information on how to handle the game when things have gone wrong. We had a long set of notes for things to check on, such as "make sure the backup section talks about die rolling," but it turns out that the current text has them all covered.
That's not to say that mechanics over the past year wouldn't have presented tournament challenges. Mutate was likely to be a Game Rule Violation machine thanks to the "non-Human" clause. Companion raised a bunch of questions about verification. Modal double-faced cards had all kinds of rules complexities. But they all fit into the general framework we have without needing tweaks.
The mechanic that produced the most discussion was foretell and failing to reveal the cards at the end of the game. Was it like morph, where we have special rules to prevent abuse? It's harder to abuse and lacks the same board presence as an illegally played morph; situations where it's a valuable bluff aren't as potent. The cards must still be revealed at the end of the game, and if there's a situation that seems particularly suspicious, judges can always do spot-foretell-checks to look for cheating. Unintentionally failing to reveal is handled as a Hidden Card Error with a warning and no further action taken.
As more in-person tournaments get underway, we look forward to seeing if there are unusual situations that need special handling. There's a lot to explore in new paper play. Enjoy the adventure!
If you have questions about Magic Tournament Rules, we recommend the following resources:
Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules
The Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules document 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
- Sanctioning rules
Infraction Procedure Guide
The Infraction Procedure Guide provides the recommended penalties and procedures to handle rules violations.
We 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 on the Wizards of the Coast Support site.
—Scott Larabee & Toby Elliott