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

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! :)

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