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We're a local unofficial Magic gathering group in Hixson, TN.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Some Sad News Followed By Good News

(Forgive the attrocious font size and placement. I'm copying this directly from my Facebook post and it doesn't translate well to Blogger.)

I have some bad news to be followed immediately by good news.

It's with great sadness that I have to announce June 9th, 2012 will be our last weekend of play at the Baha'i Faith Center. Our Baha'i watcher, Rachel, will be moving out of town and won't be able to continue her role as Baha'i's watcher over the group. The Baha'i Faith Center will not put another person in to watch over us.

HOWEVER...we are not homeless. One of our players has offered some empty space in his apartment for us to use. However, he is going to wait to check his lease agreement and get some neighbors' opinions before finalizing his intent with us. If worst came to worst and we could not use his place, we'd meet at Packard's Games and Movies inside Northgate Mall (in the old GameStop store). Stay tuned for more details on this front, but WE WILL HAVE A PLACE TO PLAY PAST JUNE 9TH.

I'll post an event for June 9th for everyone to get together for a farewell lunch and/or dinner to say goodbye to Rachel and our Baha'i home of around 10 years. If you can make it out this way that day, I'd encourage you to swing by and wish our "adopted mother" farewell and good luck. :)

While this ends an era, it is the start of a new age. We may not be as encumbered by time limits, we don't have to have as strict a set of behavioral rules, and we get to stay local and casual, the intent of Saturday Morning Magic of Hixson. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

REPEAL: Cavern of Souls Ruling

In the post below I said it was ruled that you must declare Cavern of Souls' colored mana to make the creature uncounterable.

After a week or so and review among different judges and players, the ruling is reversed.

The NEW ruling is this: The only time it matters is if you're casting a creature of the named creature type (otherwise you can only use the colorless ability). When you do cast a creature of the named creature type, the assumption will be that you're choosing the (generally) most favorable ability, which in this case is to use the colored mana therefore making your creature uncounterable.

How will we handle this? Basically...the same. The only time colorless goes into a creature of the named creature type is if the player casting the spell says so. Otherwise, it's assumed he chose the (generally) more favorable "make colored mana and it's uncounterable."

Clear as mud? :P lol.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Few Rulings Notes: Cavern of Souls and Missed Triggers

Hey all!

I wanted to go over a couple rulings issues that we're bound to encounter in the weeks to come, and one includes certain effects that are being re-templated due to some Profeesional-level events rules changes.

1) Cavern of Souls: How do I know the creature being cast is counterable or not?

First, let's look at Cavern of Souls (image from magiccards.info):

So at first glance, it's an easy card to comprehend, right? Name a creature type when it enters the battlefield, then you either get 1 colorless mana or a colored mana that makes your named creature type spell uncounterable. Not too shabby!

BUT...it came up as one of the biggest controversies at Pro Tour: Avacyn Restored.

A player attempted to cast a Huntmaster of the Fells by tapping a Forest, Mountain, Mountain, and Cavern of Souls (with Cavern set on Human, most likely).

His opponent immediately cast Dissipate to counter the Huntmaster.

The first player called a judge. After explaining the situation, the judge ruled that the opponent can attempt to Dissipate the Huntmaster because the player didn't specify if he was adding Colorless or colored mana in for Huntmaster's casting.

So why was the announcement so important? Look at the tapping order of his lands. By putting in Forest and Mountain, he's already signaled he's got the colored part of the casting cost taken care of.

The extra Mountain obviously went to Colorless.

But the Cavern of Souls tapping could have been either for colorless or colored mana. And that's a very important distinction. One that was not communicated clearly.

So you know how it turned out. Since the player casting Huntmaster didn't declare which part of Cavern of Souls he was using, it was assumed colorless and Huntmaster could be countered by Dissipate.

So how will we work this at League? We have 2 options, either of which are just as good as the other.

   A) You can announce the use of colored mana as you cast each creature. If you decide to do this, then any lack of announcement may be taken as you not using the colored mana, therefore opening your creature spell up to be countered.

   B) Both you and your opponent can agree at the start of a game/match that you will always use the Cavern of Souls' second ability to make the named creature type uncounterable. This way, there is no question of the intentions and doesn't have to be checked on for each casting.

   C) If a creature with only colored costs (ie: Colorless mana symbols don't appear anywhere in the cost(s)) is being cast and Cavern of Souls is being tapped to pay any costs for the creature, use the KISS method: It's obvious he/she got the colored mana from the Cavern of Souls, so it's uncounterable. Keep it simple, stupid! (For example: Cavern of Souls calling Elf and being used to pay for a Llanowar Elves should be clear that the Llanowar Elves is uncounterable, whether the casting players says it or not)

2) Missed Triggers Policy

This section of the rules deals with how to handle an opponent missing triggers that don't have may in the ability. For example, dealing with effects like Shrine of Boundless Growth versus stuff like Blood Seeker.

At Professional REL (Rules Enforcement Level), which I believe is mostly for Grand Prix and Pro Tour events, the rules on handling missed triggers changed a bit.

While under previous rules it'd been either a Communication issue or Failure to Maintain Game State problem (I forget which, or it could have been either depending on the situation), at Profession REL the updated rules have stated that you are no longer responsible for your opponent missing Triggered Effect triggers that don't use "may" in their effect. You missing your own triggers is considered a "VBT", or Very Bad Thing, though, and can get a penalty levied against you.

However, at Regular REL (which is mostly Pre-Releases, FNMs, basically lower-level events), the rules are unchanged from before: If a mandatory trigger (one that doesn't use the word "may") should trigger and either player notices it before the other, they are obligated to point it out. It could result in penalties, I'm not clear on that, for Failure to Maintain Game State if it's not pointed out.

At Saturday Morning Magic of Hixson, even though we're not DCI-sanctioned we do like to try and stick as close as possible to the spirit of most DCI rules (for example, our matches being 30 minutes is to help with the time constraints we have at the Baha'i Center), even if we don't follow them exactly, while still allowing for flexibility, in part for that we're not sanctioned and mostly for being more about fun than competitiveness. (for example, if someone looks at extra cards by accident you're free to just let it go or deal with it how you see fit, or if someone wants a take-back you may grant it but are under no obligation to do so in a tournament setting).

So we have 2 disparate policies, both of which are legal. So how do will we handle situations concerning missed triggers at SMM tournaments?

We're going to stick closer to the Regular REL rule with a few changes.

MISSED TRIGGERS, MANDATORY: If you notice an opponent has missed their mandatory trigger(s) (those that don't have "may" written in them), you are obligated to point out to your opponent the trigger was missed as soon as you notice it (also note I said "if you notice". It happens that both players miss mandatory triggers, so it's a bit of a draw if both just flat miss it/them). The reason for this is to keep the game state as accurate as possible at all times. You and your opponent may agree to have the missed mandatory trigger go on the stack X times, with X being the number of times both players can agree the effect should have triggered. (You may both agree on 0 and just make note of it for future triggers, especially if it's been quite a few turns since the triggers should have gone on the stack).

Should a judge call be needed to resolve the missed triggers issue, both players may get warnings/penalties for Failure to Maintain Game State as the judge sees fit.  IMPORTANT: Should someone be found to have ignored opponent's missed mandatory triggers and not told their opponent, warnings/penalties will be given in this order: Warning, Warning, Game Loss, Match Loss, Disqualification. Do not tempt repeated intentional offenses in other tournaments. IMPORTANT 2: I'm sure I'll never have to go to even a Game Loss on anyone. This group is good about correcting in-game mistakes once they're noticed. :) I'm just putting it there to avoid anyone possibly going "but if all we get is a Warning, what good is it to have the rule in the first place?"

MISSED TRIGGERS, OPTIONAL (MAY): If you or your opponent misses an optional trigger (one that says "you may..."), the player under whom it activates is the only player responsible for pointing out the trigger and resolving it. The opponent has no obligation to point out missed optional triggers. When a "may" effect is ignored, it's assumed the player chose not to carry out the effect once the trigger came up for resolution. Should a judge be called to resolve a situation like this, the judge will usually favor the opponent and you'll get nothing off the call. Both players may, however, choose to put the trigger on the stack X times if they can both agree on how many times the trigger was missed.  (You may both agree on 0 and just make note of it for future triggers, especially if it's been quite a few turns since the triggers should have gone on the stack).  The opponent is under no obligation to grant this request, so it works similar to asking for a take-back in one of our tournaments.

A couple important notes in this section:

1) Even though we're a much more casual League, we do still need rules so that if things go wrong we can fix them and help provide correction for the future.

2) These rules are meant to help you. If you miss some triggers that are beneficial to you, you're gonna get sick and tired of your opponent going "*sigh* You forgot the trigger...again! Grr..." lol.

3) You will probably never need a judge to fix the game state. I've provided an out for you in that you can either choose to fix the game state as close as possible or just keep in mind you have the triggers coming up in future turns. It's when both players don't agree that a judge needs called, and I've tried to explain what you can expect the outcome to be when that happens.

These were 2 big rulings issues of the past month that have caused a bit of confusion even among pros about how they should be handled. Hopefully the rules are clear for our group now (Cavern of Souls should be clear as day. The Missed Triggers, not so much possibly).

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment here or E-mail me.

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you for the Avacyn Restored League starting next Saturday! :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Soulbond and Miracle and How To Play Them

Hey everyone!
  I wanted to give a bit of an introductory lesson on how to use the two new mechanics in Avacyn Restored, Souldbond and Miracle. Hopefully this will answer a lot of questions before Saturday, but I'll still go over a demonstration of the effects Saturday just to be sure everyone is up to speed.

  First off, let's look at Soulbond.

  (And before I start off, let me say that I'll emphasize a lot of rulings by using bold, italicize, underline, and/or ALL CAPS! I do this only to make sure certain rules points hit home. It's not because I think everyone's dumb or anything. lol!)

Image from magiccards.info

As you see, Soulbond has some lengthy reminder text. But what it basically boils down to is when the Soulbond creature or another creature enters the battlefield, they may pair up. When they do, both creatures get whatever bonus(es) the Soulbond creature gives to itself and the other creature. This is a triggered ability and can be responded to.

For example, take Llanowar Elves coming onto the battlefield while Wolfir Silverheart is also out. Normally, you have a 4/4 and a 1/1. But you choose to pair the Llanowar Elves with the Wolfir Silverheart. Now, because both are paired to each other, the Llanowar Elves is now a 5/5 creature while Wolfir Silverheart is an 8/8. BUT...as it's a triggered ability for pairing the creatures, you could Lightning Bolt the Llanowar Elves and destroy it before the Soulbond would get a chance to up its toughness.

Now, how do you signal which creatures are being paired when one enters the battlefield? I've asked this question of the Rules Manager at Wizards of the Coast and here's the response: You can overlay one with the other and simply say "these are together." That's it. You don't have to explicitly say "These are paired" or "These are soulbound" or anything.

What I would not suggest, however, is to keep the cards separate and declare that they are paired. If you get to moving creatures around and they get separated from each other, while technically they are still paired together it makes it difficult to accurately read the board state.

A few other quick highlights of the Soulbond mechanic:
1) If one of the pair dies, gets returned to the hand, is no longer a creature (perhaps you animated a Treetop Villiage and cast Wolfir Silverheart to give it +4/+4), etc, the pairing goes away and you can make a new pair with a new creature that enters the battlefield. In other words, cards are either paired or they're not. If they were once paired but something happened to one creature in the pair, the leftover creature is no longer paired.

2) You get a couple of chances to respond to make sure a pair doesn't happen.
    A) Technically, there's no time where you have to declare your pair for your opponent to know what you're up to. In other words, when you cast the creature you're wanting to use in a pair, you don't have to declare it then. Also, when the triggered ability for the pairing comes up (technically, it's a "When this enters the battlefield..." trigger), you do not have to announce the pair when it goes on the stack. You only declare the actual pair on resolution of the triggered "enters the battlefield" ability.

    B) The two creatures in a pair are individual creatures in every other way. In other words, just because one attacks, the other does not necessarily have to.

3) A "pair" is exactly that: 2 creatures. You cannot Soulbond onto a creature that's paired with another. So let's say all you have is a Soulbond creature already paired with any other creature. When you bring in another Soulbond creature, it cannot pair with either of the first 2 as they are already in a pair. The new Soulbond creature would then just have to wait for another creature to enter before being able to pair with it.

Next up we have another new mechanic, one that changes the timing of when you can cast certain spells. We have for you a recap of Miracle!

Image from magiccards.info

Miracle basically is an effect that lets you play certain spells earlier than normal for a reduced cost...as long as it's the very first card you draw for any turn. (Yes, this even includes your opponent's turns, for stuff like Faithless Looting that can be done at Instant speed).

In fact, I'm sure you've noticed the border of the card looks a bit different than normal. This is so you'll be able to quickly identify the card as a Miracle card instead of having to see the text box to be sure.

Miracle cards are a tricky bunch because normally when you draw a card it goes straight to your hand.

"Then how will we know if someone who plays a Miracle for its Miracle cost really drew it as their first card?"

Here's how casting a Miracle card will work: When you draw your very first card for the turn, look at it. If it's a Miracle card, think about whether you want to use it or not. IF YOU DO WANT TO CAST FOR ITS MIRACLE COST, go ahead and reveal it. Then, once everything else tied to the card being drawn is complete (example: for Faithless Looting, you've drawn you 2 cards and then discarded 2), you can cast it for its Miracle cost. This is your ONLY chance in a turn to get the reduced miracle cost!

If you pass up paying the Miracle cost after you draw it as your first card of the turn, there's no turning back.  After you decide not to cast it for its Miracle cost at the right timing, you have to look at the regular casting cost from there on out. (Barring effects that can put a card in your hand back on top of your deck and drawing it as your first card next turn, of course.)

Also, Miracle changes the timing of casting the card. Sorceries and Instants alike can be cast when the card is first drawn. This follows a basic rule of the game: "Card text overrides normal rules." Normally, you couldn't cast a Sorcery until it's your Main Phase and the stack is clear. Miracle, on the other hand, like Suspend in Time Spiral block, ignores the conventional timings and allows you an earlier play than normal for Sorceries that have Miracle. Again, though, YOU MUST CAST YOUR MIRACLE SORCERY WHEN IT'S THE FIRST CARD DRAWN TO GET THE BENEFIT OF PLAYING "OUT OF ORDER"! If you do not, then it's just a regular ol' Sorcery and you can only cast it for its normal cost on your turn in one of your Main Phases when the stack is empty.

Another question that's bound to come up: "Let's say a card lets you draw 2 cards. Assume those are the first 2 cards drawn for the turn by that player. You draw 2 Miracle cards. What happens?"

This is fairly easy if you're familiar with how the game treats multiple draws. If an effect would tell you to draw X cards, you are really drawing 1 card X times. So for our example, "draw 2 cards" means more like "draw 1 card, then draw 1 card."

So, knowing that, here you're drawing 2 cards. Both happen to be Miracles. First off, you've just passed up your ability to play any Miracle cards. Why? You drew past the 1st card of the turn. If you do that, you're acknowledging you're not wanting to play any Miracles for their reduced cost.

So let's say you are more careful. What then? Well, same as before of course! Draw the first card in that chain of drawing cards. Look at it. If it's a Miracle, delcare your intention to cast it (remember, by the full technicality of the rules, you never cast anything during an effect's resolution. You always wait until after. Anything that would happen during a resolution happens after instead.)

Finally, I'm sure we'll have this come up because some of Red's "Looting" (a mix of drawing cards and discarding in the same effect): "What happens if I have no cards in my hand, I use Desolate Lighthouse's ability on my opponent's turn, and draw a Miracle card. Do I still get to use it?" Unfortunately, the answer is "no", and here's why. If, during the resolution of a spell or effect, you have anything come up that could go on the stack, you have to wait for the whole spell/effect to resolve before putting anything on the stack. Then, if everything's still okay for putting the new effect on the stack, you do so.

SO...let's get back to our example: You have an empty hand and 5 lands (an Island, Mountain, Forest, Plains, and Desolate Lighthouse, let's say). You tap an Island, Moutain, Forest, and Desolate Lighthouse to use the Lighthouse's effect. You draw your first card...GASP! It's a Terminus! You immediately think "I'll reveal it and I'll get to cast it for 1 and wipe the board. Sweet!"

Unfortunately, you forgot the other part of Desolate Lighthouse. You still have to discard a card. :(

So now you have to discard the Terminus. Then, Miracle checks. "Cast this card from your hand for its Miracle cost...*game looks at your hand*...your hand's empty, so nothing happens."

So in short: If you activate a "draw, then discard" effect and end up with no cards in your hand, you can't use a Miracle card because by the time you could cast the card it's no longer in your hand.

Again, I'll do a recap of these rules when we do our pre-draft announcements Saturday morning around 11:00 AM. If there's something you don't understand, feel free to ask it now or you can wait until Saturday if you wish.

So until then or sooner, take care everyone! :)

Avacyn Restored Post-Release Promo Distribution

Hey guys!
  The regulars at SMM are familiar with how I handle promo card distribution for the Post-Releases we do. Basically, if you have been to a Pre-Release you get more priority to get a Release promo and if you haven't you generally get the Release promo or a pick of the promos.

  Below will be the policy for Avacyn Restored Post-Release this Saturday. I have had to do the policy this way to better safeguard that, if I get a limited number of promos, my pre-pays and non-Pre-Release players can get their hands on something good they missed out on.

1) If someone pre-paid their entry fee, they get the first crack at the promos. Then, once they each have 1 promo, those who did not pre-pay get their turn at the promos.

2) As I regrettably don't have the order in which people pre-paid, I'll simply have a list of pre-pays and go from that list in some order.

(Before the next 2 bits, let me say why I did it this way: Those who went to a Pre-Release got a certain promo. I give first priority of that promo to those who did NOT go to a Pre-Release. If they choose to pass it up, NORMALLY I give the Release Promo instead. However, I am afraid I'll have limited quantities of both. Thus, why this rule may seem like a change in the normal way we do things.)

3) Anyone who did NOT go to a Pre-Release gets first crack at the Pre-Release promo Moonsilver Spear. You may pass it up, but it doesn't guarantee you a Restoration Angel FNM/Release promo later.

4) Anyone who DID go to a Pre-Release gets first crack at the FNM/Release promo Restoration Angel. You may pass it up, bit it doesn't guarantee you a Moonsilver Spear later.

5) Once the Pre-Pays are taken care of, the non-Pre-Pays will get their choice of promos in the same fashion (those who went to a Pre-Release will get first crack at Restoration Angel while those who didn't will get first crack at Moonsilver Spear, then with whatever's left if you turned down one you'll get the other).

So for example, say A B C and D all pre-paid while E and F did not. A, C, and F went to a Pre-Release, while B D, and E did not. I get 3 of each promo to distribute.

First choice will go to A, B, C, and D. They Pre-Paid.

A and C get first crack at a Restoration Angel (of the pre-pays, they went to a Pre-Release). A passes but C takes the Angel. (promos now 3 Spears and 2 Angels). A gets nothing yet.

B and D get first crack at a Moonsilver Spear promo (of the pre-pays, they did not go to a Pre-Release). B and D both pass.

A gets first crack at either promo now. Let's say A chooses a Spear (now 2 of each left). B and D now choose the Restoration Angel promo. (now 2 Spears and 0 Angels).

Normally, E and F would then make their choices in the same manner. However, with only 2 Spears left they'll get Spears for their promos.

If you have any questions or need anything re-explained, feel free to post here or at the blog.

Until then or Saturday, take care! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Avacyn Restored Post-Release THIS SATURDAY! Details Included Here

Hey all!

This upcoming weekend is the weekend many of us have been waiting for: The local Avacyn Restored Post-Release!

Since I tend to ramble a lot and put stuff willy-nilly in my posts, I'll instead break everything down so anyone who's interested only in certain details can find it with ease (if you've never drafted with us or need a refresher, though, I'd suggest you read the whole blog post).

EVENT: Avacyn Restored Post-Release Draft

TIME: Doors open at 10:30 AM. We'll do announcements around 11:00 AM. After announcements, we'll draft. As you come in, try to go ahead and pay me the entry fee and then get 3 packs of Avacyn Restored. This will reduce the set-up time we'll need before we draft. We expect to be done around 3:30 PM, but we'll try and get done before that.

ENTRY FEE: $9  ($8.25 for the 3 packs you'll use for drafting + $.75 to go into a prize pool for more prizes from packs of Avacyn Restored).

WILL LOOSE PACKS BE SOLD? I'll have 2 boxes of Avacyn Restored for drafting and regular pack buying. Regular pack purchases are $2.75 per pack. I'll start selling loose packs after I'm sure I'll have enough packs to let anyone who wants to draft to do so.
DRAFT PROCEDURE: In case you've never drafted with the Saturday Morning Magic clan, here's how it works: 

1) Actual drafting works just like you'd expect. Open your first pack, pick a card, and pass to the left. You keep passing cards until everyone has 15 cards. Then open the 2nd pack, pass to the right and continue until all 15 of those are gone. Then open the 3rd pack, pass to the left, and continue until all the cards are gone. 

2) Deck minimum is 40 cards, and we'll have basic land piles for you to use.

3) Here's where our drafts are different: We don't keep all the Rares/foils we draft. That's right! Part of the low cost for the draft is that we use the Rares/foils from the packs as part of the prizes. "But what if I open a Tamiyo or Avacyn? I want to keep it!" That's the beauty of our system! Read into the next section to find out how we use the Rares/foils.

PRIZES: When you open a pack in the draft, write down any Rares and foils you open. Then draft as normal until the 2nd pack. On the 2nd pack, again write down any Rares and foils you open. Same for the 3rd pack.

When the tournament is over, everyone may pick 1 (ONE) Rare/foil they opened and choose to keep it out of the prize pool and keep it. This is referred to as "reserving" a card. So yes, if you open a Tamiyo and want to keep it, it's yours with no worries! :) The only time you'll run into problems is if you open 2 cards you really want to keep. :(

The option to reserve a Rare/foil is optional, so if you do this it'll be considered your first pick from the prize pool. 

After anyone who wanted to "reserve" a Rare/foil has theirs, anyone who did NOT "reserve" gets first pick of what's left (in finishing order) but only 1 prize per person. Then, once everyone has one prize picked out, we start with the winner and go down the finishing order for a 2nd round of picks from the prize pool. Then we'll do a 3rd and a 4th pass until either everyone's done or all the prizes are picked out.

TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE: It's a double elimination system in a way.

1) The first round is paired randomly among all players.

2) When the first round ends, all winners will be put into one bracket and all the losers will be put into another bracket. The winners run for 1st - whatever half the field would be (so if we get 10 players, the winner's bracket is for 1st - 5th). The losers bracket is for the bottom half of positions (6th - 10th, in our example).

3) After each round, a new "losers" bracket will be put in to determine the bottom half of the placings left after that round. For example, in our 10-person tournament, after the 2nd round 3 players get to advance on. They're playing for 1st - 3rd. That leaves 4th and 5th to be determined by the 2 losers Round 2.

4) The overall winner, after all reserves are picked and everyone has picked up 1 prize, gets 1st pick of prizes. 2nd gets 2nd pick, and so on.

5) We have a document outlining what happens with match rounds and what happens with overtime rules. Please refer to it here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m5i_x-BI3n78sCbdpwCc6HBAu77uyibTceOyRL-Wprw/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1

6) Match rounds will be 30 minutes in an attempt to finish as soon as possible.

I think that's most of what needs to be said. If there's anything else, I'll cover it in the announcements or, if you want to post a question here, I'll answer it here.

I'll put up another post this week outlining a few specific rulings issues related to Avacyn Restored, especially regarding Miracles and Soulbond as those issues have come up a bit from stories I've read and heard.

Until then or Saturday, have a good week! We hope to see you for the draft. :)