Judging at Regular REL - Tokens & View Obstruction

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
I am a Rules Advisor, studying to become a L1 judge.  I have begun helping out at my local FNMs (which are all Regular REL), and sometimes situations arise in which I am uncertain what the official ruling should be.

The most recent situation involved two players who had gotten into a very complicated board state, complete with multiple creatures for each side, as well as numerous creature tokens.  

Issue #1 - Neither player was using official token cards - instead both players were using dice.

Issue #2 - So many creatures had entered the battlefield that they were stretching out to either side of the players' playspaces.  As a result of this, one of the "tokens" that player A controlled was technically placed behind a deckbox, which had been placed at the top right corner of Player A's playmat.  When they had begun the game, the deckbox had quite clearly been out of the way, but as the board state progressed, a token was placed on the battlefield in a position technically below/behind the deckbox, obscuring it from the view of Player B.  I genuinely believe this was unintentional.

So, the game goes on, and Player B attacks Player A.  Player A announces his blocks, moving each blocking creature in front of the attacker that it is blocking.  As he moves the token that had been placed behind the deck box, Player A voices his disapproval that he did not know that token existed, and it was not visible on the battlefield.

Judge is called.  How would this be ruled?

First of all, I understand that this is why judges insist that players play with official token cards at Competitive and higher RELs.  Since this event, our local game store has also instituted such a rule, asking politely but firmly that all players use official token cards or face down cards to represent tokens, and not dice or coins (which are easy to miss on a complex board, and unable to display their status as tapped).

While both players are failing to use official token cards, the current issue mainly arises from a token belonging to Player A.  Since Player A did not use an official token card, his board state was not clearly able to be determined, since the token was behind a deck box, and not visible to Player B.  (Additionally, it is Player A's deck box.)

Yet is it not Player B's duty to remember that a token was created?  If Player A followed all the correct steps in the token's creation (Announcing that he is casting Blade Splicer, and verbally announcing that he gets a 3/3 Golem token when it enters the battlefield), then should it just be seen as "Player A forgot about the extra token", despite the fact that he could not currently see it from where he was sitting?

So, this occurs, and Player B wants to be able to back up the game before he made attacks, since he feels that the game state was misrepresented.  He doesn't believe that Player A intentionally hid a token behind his deck box, but nevertheless feels that he did not have all of the public information that should be available to him at the time of his Declaring Attackers.

How should this be ruled?  Should the game back up to the Declare Attackers step?  Should either player get a Warning?  And if so, for what?

Thanks for your help.
I'm not sure about the hidden token question, but I've never heard of official token cards being required.  As far as I know, the comp rules and the MTR both state that anything can be used for tokens.

Both players are responsible for maintaing game state. That includes # and type of permenants on the field. If Player 1 did not keep track, is that really Player 2's fault?
First of all, judges don't insist that official tokens be used. We don't care what players use for tokens, as long as it's clear to both players how to distinguish different tokens and as long as tapped and untapped status are distinguishable.
Also, face-down Magic cards are not necessarily a good option, especially if somebody is playing without sleeves. However, if your store wants to encourage players to use tokens, it's probably a good idea to have some on hand to pass out if need be.

On to the actual issue... From what you've described, there's obviously been a communication issue. When deciding whether or not to back up, you have to weigh the fact that player B could not see the entirety of A's side of the battlefield, the question how much B should be required to remember of which creatures A has created in the past, and the question how much (potential) useful additional information B has gained from seeing how A was going to declare blockers.
I don't think there should be any noticeable burden on either player to remember that their opponent created some creatures some turns ago, and which of these creatures still survive. If a player wants to know what's on the battlefield, he should only need to look at the battlefield, and be able to see everything.
Since the token was placed by A behind his own deckbox, I feel that I'd weigh the fact that B could not see the token most, and back up to the declaration of attackers. Yes, B may have gained some information from how A was gonig to declare blockers, but from how you describe it I think that can be weighed less the obscuring of the token.

Now, this assessment may change if "enough" things have happened between the declaration of attackers and the discovery of the "extra" token, and other factors that one would have to have been there for might also change it, like how much B was surprised by other blocks, and which pump effects he had forgotten about.

Either way, I'd ask both players to be more careful about their playing area in the future and whether or not something might obscure a player's view. No warnings, mainly because there are no formal warnings at REL Regular.

DCI Lvl 2 Judge

Both players are responsible for maintaing game state. That includes # and type of permenants on the field. If Player 1 did not keep track, is that really Player 2's fault?


Ah yes, the Cheatyface defense.

Let's keep stuff like that in Un-land where it belongs shall we.

Sign In to post comments