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Policy Changes Coming With Pro Tour Magic Origins

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Pro Tour Magic Origins will be more than a chance to see the greatest in the game battle with the newest. New rules and policies will be going to effect, and they reach across everything from those playing on camera and watching at home to, eventually, everyone that sits down to play Magic.

Mulligan Scry

The biggest change coming is how the mulligan rule works. The new rules read as follows:

103.4. Each player draws a number of cards equal to his or her starting hand size, which is normally seven. (Some effects can modify a player’s starting hand size.) A player who is dissatisfied with his or her initial hand may take a mulligan. First, the starting player declares whether or not he or she will take a mulligan. Then each other player in turn order does the same. Once each player has made a declaration, all players who decided to take mulligans do so at the same time. To take a mulligan, a player shuffles his or her hand back into his or her library, then draws a new hand of one fewer cards than he or she had before. If a player kept his or her hand of cards, those cards become the player’s opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. This process is then repeated until no player takes a mulligan. (Note that if a player’s hand size reaches zero cards, that player must keep that hand.) Then, beginning with the starting player and proceeding in turn order, any player whose opening hand has fewer cards than his or her starting hand size may scry 1.

It really boils down to this: If a player mulligans, and after they decide to keep a new hand, they resolve a scry 1 before the game begins.

Anecdotally, this rule changes was suggested by Pro Tour Hall of Fame player Patrick Chapin:

Immediate praise for the rules change is high, though a staggered rollout beginning only at the Pro Tour will create confusion as begs the question: Why the delay in implementation across all events? Unlike other recent major rules changes, such as "damage on the stack" going away as of the Magic 2010 Prerelease, limiting this to the Pro Tour implies a few things:

  • The change was decided recently, too soon for Magic Online to implement it with the Magic Origins release.
  • The change is experimental, and player feedback from viewers and the Pro Tour will decide if the rollout will continue or the rule will be reverted.
  • The change isn't final, and deeper scry may be tested later to generate the "interactive games" Wizards is seeking.

Whatever the issues holding it back, the Pro Tour will be our first glimpse into a new future for Magic.

Video Review

Beginning at Pro Tour Magic Origins, and only at Pro Tours, the World Championship, and World Magic Cup, head judges will have discretion to use video from a feature match while investigating rules infractions in feature matches.

Interestingly, the announcement stated that a "judge stationed to watch the broadcast" would be the one to stop a match. This indicates a dedicated judge for matches, something that was rolled back when table judges were removed from feature matches. How this judge will be different from the table judges of old isn't clear, but enforcing the rules at the game's highest levels seems to be the goal.

However, what isn't clear is whether this solves situations like "the Chapin issue" that would cause a ruling off-camera to result in one penalty while the same situation on-camera finds another. Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir seems the most relevant in recent memory driving this change:

Lands in Back

Finally, and likewise starting with Pro Tour Magic Origins but carrying over for all Grand Prix, World Championships, and the World Magic Cup, players participating in video feature matches will be required to position cards in specific ways:

  • Creatures must be in front of lands, and nothing can be behind lands.
  • The library can be on either side of the play area (left or right).
  • The graveyard must be adjacent to the library (player can choose which side of play area both are on).
  • The exile zone must be near the library/graveyard and must be distinct from the graveyard.
  • If a card is exiled by a permanent in play, the exiled card must be placed in proximity to the exiling permanent such that it is obvious that the two are associated.
  • All untapped cards in play must face the controller of that card.

This has been affectionally called "the anti-Sullivan rule" by players given Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir Top 8 player Adrian's Sullivan's preferences for playing:

Ostensibly for the convenience of viewers at home trying to follow along with games, it will also standardize what broadcasters can expect to see in matches. Aiding those covering events in the booth should also drive better information and discussions as well, driving a better overall broadcast.

While these placements won't be enforced anywhere off camera, the penalty for failing to adhere to the rule isn't clear. It won't be long before a player decides to exercise "civil disobedience" in a feature match.

Reactions

The general reaction across the community for all of these changes is mostly positive, though with any change there are concerns too:

Where do you sit with the rules changes? Are you excited to watch from home and test out how mulligans might feel soon? Pro Tour Magic Origins begins July 31!


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