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Why did I get a Game Loss? Part 2

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Last week we went through some easily avoided Game Loss infractions to make sure that you play your match. This week we’ll go through some other Game Loss infractions that require that you pay attention to avoid and a little bit of DCI philosophy. Imagine the following situation:

You are playing in a PTQ and are shuffling up for game two with a judge watching. You and your opponent had a close game one and are discussing how a topdecked Oblivion Ring won the game for him. You finish shuffling and present your deck. Your opponent shuffles, cuts your deck, and hands it back to you. Before you draw your opening hand, the judge stops the match and points out that you forgot to put the card Oblivion Ring removed from the game back into your deck. He informs you that you have presented an illegal deck and will receive a Game Loss for this infraction.

This doesn’t seem fair to you, does it? The judge was standing there watching you. Why didn’t he say something earlier? Well, let me quote the very first paragraph from the DCI Penalty Guidelines that sums up the core philosophy of what we do as judges.

“Judges at tournaments are to be neutral arbiters and enforcers of policy and rules. Judges do not intervene in games unless a rules violation occurs, they believe a rules violation may have occurred, a player has a concern or question, or to prevent a situation from escalating. Judges do not stop play errors from occurring, but deal with errors that have occurred, penalize those who violate rules or policy, and promote fair play and sporting conduct by example and diplomacy.”

The bolding is mine.

This means that the responsibility for missing this card falls squarely on your shoulders. You have had ample opportunity to discover the error on your own. Always count your deck by pile shuffling before you present it to your opponent. This ensures that you have all of your cards and none of your opponent’s in your deck. You’re also allowed to make notes about the current match in progress. Jot something down quickly next to your life total to remind you about cards in the RFG zone.

One big reason why this philosophy exists is consistency. We want players to have the same excellent tournament experience no matter where they play in the world. And that means that we handle common situations in the same manner. We cannot see every card that every player has removed from the game and we cannot remind every player to put it back in their decks. Because we cannot provide that service to everyone, we provide it to no one.

The second reason this happens, and this mostly applies to in game errors, is that we are human. We will make mistakes occasionally. We will miss things occasionally. By placing the burden of responsibility for the game state on the players, we are empowering you with the game. Everything that happens is because of you and it gives you more of a feeling that you affect your own destiny.

Another great example that I see is the matter of sleeves. Inevitably, some players when given a Marked Cards - Pattern infraction claim that a judge looked at their sleeves earlier. While this may be true, and the sleeves may have been good then, it is your job to check your sleeves every round and repair any problems that you may have discovered. When we look at a player’s sleeves at the beginning of the tournament, we are looking at them at that moment, not how they may look after six or seven rounds of sideboarding and shuffling.

Speaking of shuffling, if you don’t do it enough, you could get a penalty. Judges watch for Insufficient Randomization and it is an easy infraction to spot. There are two main methods of shuffling; pile and riffle. If you perform both of these methods multiple times, you are shuffling well. Just remember, if you know the position of any card in your deck, it is no longer random and you must start your shuffling process over again.

All players should be familiar with the Penalty Guidelines and the Floor Rules (they can be found by following this link). “Because I didn’t know I couldn’t do that” is not a valid excuse and will not get you out of a penalty.

Next week we’ll take a look at one of the most easily confused of interactions: power and toughness layers. Be afraid! Be very afraid!

-- Erik

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