Helm of Awakening combo vs Progenitus

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My opponent plays Leyline of the Void, then starts to mill my deck with Helm of Awakening. Progenitus shows up. What happens? I mean current MtGO situation, of course.
Such a situation should result in a game draw, as Helm of Awakening's trigger cannot complete and it would continually mill the library until nothing but Progenituses remain.

The issue it had with MTGO (which should be fixed) is that it could not complete this draw, and therefore games were freezing and could not complete.
Helm of Awakening makes spells cost less to play, so I'm not sure what its relevance would be here. Maybe you're thinking of Helm of Obedience?

In this case, I'd say that Leyline of the Void's replacement ability would normally cause the Helm's ability to keep going until the targeted player had decked him- or herself, because it works "until a creature card or X cards are put into that graveyard this way" and the Leyline causes none of the cards to actually be put into the graveyard, so the event it's looking for to know when to stop never actually happens.

Progenitus complicates matters a bit since it has its own replacement ability that applies if it would be put into a graveyard. So if it gets milled by the Helm, we have two abilities trying to replace the same 'put this into the graveyard' event...and by the rules for interacting replacement effects, Progenitus's owner gets to say which one applies first, so gets to choose whether to remove it from the game or shuffle it into his or her library (either makes the other replacement effect inapplicable). But since the Helm will keep milling away, the game eventually enters a loop when there are only Progeniti left in the library. The player in question could choose to break this loop anytime by simply letting the Leyline's replacement effect apply before Progenitus's own, but I think rule 421.6 applies here: it's a 'X unless Y' situation and the player can't be forced to choose Y. So the player targeted by the Helm's ability basically chooses whether to have the game end in a draw (since so long as he or she has to keep shuffling Progenitus back into his or her library, it's stuck in a loop of mandatory actions) or continue on with no cards in his or her library...I think, anyway.

(Rules on 'infinite' loops included in spoiler block below.)

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421. Handling "Infinite" Loops

421.1. Occasionally the game can get into a state in which a set of actions could be repeated forever. These rules (sometimes called the "infinity rules") govern how to break such loops.

421.2. If the loop contains one or more optional actions and one player controls them all, that player chooses a number. The loop is treated as repeating that many times or until another player intervenes, whichever comes first.

421.3. If a loop contains optional actions controlled by two players and actions by both of those players are required to continue the loop, the active player (or, if the active player is not involved, the first involved player after the active player in turn order) chooses a number. The other player then has two choices. He or she can choose a lower number, in which case the loop continues that number of times plus whatever fraction is necessary for the first player to "have the last word." Or he or she can agree to the number the first player chose, in which case the loop continues that number of times plus whatever fraction is necessary for the second player to "have the last word." (Note that either fraction may be zero.) This sequence of choices is extended to all applicable players if there are more than two players involved.
Example: In a two-player game, one player controls a creature with the ability "{0}: [This creature] gains flying," and another player controls a permanent with the ability "{0}: Target creature loses flying." The "infinity rule" ensures that regardless of which player initiated the gain/lose flying ability, the nonactive player will always have the final choice and therefore be able to determine whether the creature has flying. (Note that this assumes that the first player attempted to give the creature flying at least once.)

421.4. If the loop contains only mandatory actions, the game ends in a draw. (See rule 102.4b.)

421.5. If the loop contains more than one set of optional, independent actions, each controlled by different players, then the active player (or, if the active player is not involved, the first involved player after the active player in turn order) chooses a number for his or her set of actions. Knowing that number, the remaining players, in turn order, each choose a number for his or her sets of actions. It can be higher, lower, or the same. Then each set of actions occurs the appropriate number of times.

421.6. If the loop contains an effect that says "[X] unless [Y]," where [X] and [Y] are each actions, no player can be forced to perform [Y] to break the loop. If no player chooses to perform [Y], the loop will continue as though [X] were mandatory.
Such a situation should result in a game draw, as Helm of Awakening's trigger cannot complete and it would continually mill the library until nothing but Progenituses remain.

The issue it had with MTGO (which should be fixed) is that it could not complete this draw, and therefore games were freezing and could not complete.

No, that's wrong. Eventually, the player must choose to remove Progenitus from the game.

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1179259

421.2. If the loop contains one or more optional actions and one player controls them all, that player chooses a number. The loop is treated as repeating that many times or until another player intervenes, whichever comes first.

You cannot choose infinite, you must choose a certain number. After that many loops, Progenitus is removed from the game.
Helm of Obedience for sure. So, in MO, I'll need to concede or just loose cause of time out, isn't it?
Well, I don't know how Magic Online in particular handles these things. I'm still pretty sure that you could choose to either have the game be a draw or play on with an empty library, but it's sufficiently on the fringe of the rules that I'm not quite 101% certain and in any case I'm not familiar enough with the interface to tell you how to let the program know your decision. (That is, I don't know how MO handles conflicting replacement effects and loops in the first place -- I don't play there.)
Well, I don't know how Magic Online in particular handles these things. I'm still pretty sure that you could choose to either have the game be a draw or play on with an empty library, but it's sufficiently on the fringe of the rules that I'm not quite 101% certain and in any case I'm not familiar enough with the interface to tell you how to let the program know your decision. (That is, I don't know how MO handles conflicting replacement effects and loops in the first place -- I don't play there.)

A draw is not a legitimate choice in paper Magic.

Every time you move a Progenitus off the top of the library, you have a choice to make. Either remove it from the game or shuffle it into your library. The fact that you are making a choice as part of the loop means that, sooner or later, you have to make the opposite choice.

You're allowed to say you shuffle it into the library one hundred million times; then you're assumed to have done that, and then made the opposite choice on the next iteration. Sooner or later, your library will be empty.
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A draw is not a legitimate choice in paper Magic.

Every time you move a Progenitus off the top of the library, you have a choice to make. Either remove it from the game or shuffle it into your library. The fact that you are making a choice as part of the loop means that, sooner or later, you have to make the opposite choice.

You're allowed to say you shuffle it into the library one hundred million times; then you're assumed to have done that, and then made the opposite choice on the next iteration. Sooner or later, your library will be empty.

Let me point you at rule 421.6 again to explain why I'm not sure about this:

421.6. If the loop contains an effect that says "[X] unless [Y]," where [X] and [Y] are each actions, no player can be forced to perform [Y] to break the loop. If no player chooses to perform [Y], the loop will continue as though [X] were mandatory.

Now, whenever the Helm wants to put a card into the graveyard, two separate replacement effects try to apply to it and the card's owner chooses which to apply first. Making this choice is not optional, and neither is applying the effects; the player has to pick one or the other, which essentially works out to "this card is shuffled into your library unless you choose to remove it from the game". Which looks, in spirit at least (my uncertainty stems mainly from whether it should really count as an 'effect' contained in the loop), just like what that rule is talking about...in which case, if you choose not to break the loop, it's treated as one containing only mandatory actions and the game should indeed end in a draw.
It's not X unless Y. It's 'do you want to do X or Y'. That rule does not apply here.

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"That's what's so stupid about the whole magic thing, you know," Rincewind said. "You spend twenty years learning the spell that makes nude virgins appear in your bedroom, and then you're so poisoned by quicksilver fumes and half-blind from reading old grimoires that you can't remember what happens next."

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It's not X unless Y. It's 'do you want to do X or Y'. That rule does not apply here.

Hm. Part of me (the more irrational one, possibly ;)) is still not entirely convinced; but I will concede that it doesn't look as though at any point in the loop there exists an actual effect saying "do X unless Y" here. (Even with replacement figured in, it's always either "shuffle this card into your library" or "remove this card from the game" at any given time, not both.) So, if we're willing to call "choosing to apply Progenitus's replacement effect before the Leyline's" an optional action -- which it is, in a way, even though not taking it automatically results in the opposite happening, which would seem to be the very essence of "X unless Y" --, then we can apply rule 421.2 and put a number on it.

I wouldn't mind getting a few more informed opinions on the subject, but I suppose I could live with that.
this seems like a draw to me

,: Target opponent puts cards from the top of his or her library into his or her graveyard until a creature card or X cards are put into that graveyard this way, whichever comes first. If a creature card is put into that graveyard this way, sacrifice Helm of Obedience and put that card into play under your control. X can't be 0.

If Progenitus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Progenitus and shuffle it into its owner's library instead.

Progenitus' ability is not optional, there is no may.

Helm says to repeat putting cards into the graveyard until X cards or a creature card ends up there. Assuming the library only had Progenitus in it, the end condition on Helm will never be satisfied as it becomes "Target opponent takes cards from the top of his or her library and shuffles them into his or her library until a creature card or X cards are put into that graveyard this way, whichever comes first. If a creature card is put into that graveyard this way, sacrifice Helm of Obedience and put that card into play under your control. X can't be 0."

there is no option here, it is a draw plain and simple.

oops just noticed the Leyline of the Void

If a card would be put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.

so we have competing replacement effects
well assuming Progenitus was the only card again
it's still a draw, Progenitus either goes to the library or gets RFG'd and Helm will continue to mill from an empty library never reaching its terminating condition

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this seems like a draw to me





Progenitus' ability is not optional, there is no may.

Helm says to repeat putting cards into the graveyard until X cards or a creature card ends up there. Assuming the library only had Progenitus in it, the end condition on Helm will never be satisfied as it becomes "Target opponent takes cards from the top of his or her library and shuffles them into his or her library until a creature card or X cards are put into that graveyard this way, whichever comes first. If a creature card is put into that graveyard this way, sacrifice Helm of Obedience and put that card into play under your control. X can't be 0."

there is no option here, it is a draw plain and simple.

There was also a Leyline of the Void in play.
All Generalizations are Bad
it's still a draw, Progenitus either goes to the library or gets RFG'd and Helm will continue to mill from an empty library never reaching its terminating condition

The rules contradict you on the last bit.

416.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.
Example: If a player is holding only one card, an effect that reads "Discard two cards" causes him or her to discard only that card. If an effect moves cards out of the library (as opposed to drawing), it moves as many as possible.

So once the Helm reaches the point where there are no more cards in the library, it'll stop even though it hasn't ever seen X cards or a creature card hit the graveyard simply because there isn't anything more it can do.
The player in question could choose to break this loop anytime by simply letting the Leyline's replacement effect apply before Progenitus's own

incorrect
RFGing Progenitus will not satisfy the terminating condition of the Helm.

it ends when X cards end up in the library or a creature ends up in the library

Progenitus being RFGed does not fulfill either requirement

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The rules contradict you on the last bit.



So once the Helm reaches the point where there are no more cards in the library, it'll stop even though it hasn't ever seen X cards or a creature card hit the graveyard simply because there isn't anything more it can do.

10/1/2008 If an effect like that of Leyline of the Void prevents cards from being put into your opponent's graveyard, the process described in the first sentence of Helm of Obedience's effect will never stop. Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1.

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incorrect
RFGing Progenitus will not satisfy the terminating condition of the Helm.

it ends when X cards end up in the library or a creature ends up in the library

Progenitus being RFGed does not fulfill either requirement

The helm will do as much as it can do. If there are no cards left in the library, the effect will end. The game will not end in a draw any more than the game ends in a draw when you try to millstone someone who has no cards in their library.
All Generalizations are Bad
incorrect
RFGing Progenitus will not satisfy the terminating condition of the Helm.

it ends when X cards end up in the library or a creature ends up in the library

Progenitus being RFGed does not fulfill either requirement

However, once the library is finally empty -- which will happen if/when the library's owner has finally chosen to apply the Leyline's replacement effect first for every Progenitus in said library --, the process will stop because it is no longer possible to continue.

10/1/2008 If an effect like that of Leyline of the Void prevents cards from being put into your opponent's graveyard, the process described in the first sentence of Helm of Obedience's effect will never stop. Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1.

That ruling is badly worded either way. If the Helm stops once the library is empty -- which is what the rules say, which in turn top individual rulings --, then to say that the process will 'never' stop without further qualifier is misleading. (It appears to have misled you, for one.) On the other hand, if it was true that the process literally never stops, then the ruling would have to end with "and the game ends in a draw." because that's the natural result of repeating loops of mandatory actions with no terminating condition, and it doesn't actually do so.
10/1/2008 If an effect like that of Leyline of the Void prevents cards from being put into your opponent's graveyard, the process described in the first sentence of Helm of Obedience's effect will never stop. Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1.

If the Leyline caused an instant draw, they would have said so in the rulings. Pointing out that the entire library is removed is kind of pointless if the game ends in a draw.

As others have said, the effect stops once there are no cards left in the library and the action of "milling" a card becomes an impossible action.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
How old is rule 421.6? I don't remember it from the last time I read through that section, though it has been a while. I'm not sure if I simply don't remember it, or if it wasn't actually added until recently.

If it's a fairly recent addition, then it might be reasonable to consider that the rule is intended to cover exactly the sort of situation that has come up here. The rule may be intended to cover this and simply needs to be modified. Heck, even if it isn't a new addition, it still might be intended to cover this situation.

I agree that the current wording doesn't cover this scenario. I'm just not convinced that it isn't intended to cover it.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
The helm will do as much as it can do. If there are no cards left in the library, the effect will end. The game will not end in a draw any more than the game ends in a draw when you try to millstone someone who has no cards in their library.

right but Millstone only tries to move the card there once

Helm repeats until the terminating condition is fulfilled and with an empty library it will never stop trying

the fact that each repeated action is impossible is irrelevant
it continues to do it again and again

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That is wrong. I'm not sure how else to say it. There are many cards that work like this, and they have all been ruled to stop once the library is empty. Goblin Charbelcher, Proteus Staff, etc. This is not an open question, nor is it what the rest of the thread is about.
right but Millstone only tries to move the card there once

Helm repeats until the terminating condition is fulfilled and with an empty library it will never stop trying

the fact that each repeated action is impossible is irrelevant
it continues to do it again and again

*BEEP!*

Straight from the section on the Magic Golden Rules:

103.3. If an instruction requires taking an impossible action, it's ignored. (In many cases the card will specify consequences for this; if it doesn't, there's no effect.)

right but Millstone only tries to move the card there once

Helm repeats until the terminating condition is fulfilled and with an empty library it will never stop trying

the fact that each repeated action is impossible is irrelevant
it continues to do it again and again

So you're arguing that if you helm of obedience someone with an empty library for x=1, the game will be a draw? That's clearly wrong. See Goblin Charbelcher.
All Generalizations are Bad
So you're arguing that if you helm of obedience someone with an empty library for x=1, the game will be a draw? That's clearly wrong. See Goblin Charbelcher.

unfortunately, there are no rulings for Charbelcher in Gatherer.

however

"Do X until Y" is not impossible, X is impossible.

103.3 says ignore X not ignore "Do X until Y"
same with 416.3, X is impossible not "Do X until Y"

Charbelcher says Do X until Y and by the rules should cause a draw as well if you don't reach a land before the library runs out.

realistically Charbelcher should be rewritten
Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card or there are no cards to reveal. Goblin Charbelcher deals damage equal to the number of nonland cards revealed this way to target creature or player. If the revealed land card was a Mountain, Goblin Charbelcher deals double that damage instead. Put the revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

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realistically Charbelcher should be rewritten
Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card or there are no cards to reveal. Goblin Charbelcher deals damage equal to the number of nonland cards revealed this way to target creature or player. If the revealed land card was a Mountain, Goblin Charbelcher deals double that damage instead. Put the revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

That would be a functional change though. Your version will deal damage even if no land is found. The current wording doesn't.
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
unfortunately, there are no rulings for Charbelcher in Gatherer.

Here's one from Rune Horvik.

Q: If I use Goblin Charbelcher and I don't have any land cards in my library what happens? Do I get decked? Does it cause a loop?

A: If you don't have any lands in your library you reveal all the cards left in the library, then the Charbelcher deals 1 damage for each revealed card. Then you put all the cards back, in whatever order you want.

Even if one part of an effect fails, the other parts will try to do as much as possible. Revealing the land is just a stop condition, it's not a requirement to deal damage (it doesn't say "if you reveal a land…").

however

"Do X until Y" is not impossible, X is impossible.

103.3 says ignore X not ignore "Do X until Y"
same with 416.3, X is impossible not "Do X until Y"

Charbelcher says Do X until Y and by the rules should cause a draw as well if you don't reach a land before the library runs out.

realistically Charbelcher should be rewritten
Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card or there are no cards to reveal. Goblin Charbelcher deals damage equal to the number of nonland cards revealed this way to target creature or player. If the revealed land card was a Mountain, Goblin Charbelcher deals double that damage instead. Put the revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

I think you're misinterpreting 103.3.
All Generalizations are Bad
Your version will deal damage even if no land is found. The current wording doesn't.

Erm... what? This post and this post certainly think that the current wording also does damage when no land is revealed... (and this is why the 2-land-belcher decks work)
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That would be a functional change though. Your version will deal damage even if no land is found. The current wording doesn't.

I'm not sure what's supposed to happen if Charbelcher doesn't find a land.

by the rules as I see them it should be a draw, whether or not it has been played that way - I don't know.

but in my opinion Charbelecher should deal damage equal to the number of cards revealed unless it finds a mountain then it deals double the number of cards revealed.

by your post, I'm figuring there has been an interpretation that if no land is found it doesn't deal damage, is that right?

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Charbelcher has always dealt damage even if no land is found. It's been a key interaction in 2-land Belcher decks since the card was first printed.

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I think you're misinterpreting 103.3.

am I?

then I'm not the only one doing so...

10/1/2008 If an effect like that of Leyline of the Void prevents cards from being put into your opponent's graveyard, the process described in the first sentence of Helm of Obedience's effect will never stop. Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1.

this ruling isn't ancient either (not sure if it's dated Jan 10, 2008 or Oct 1, 2008)

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"never stop" should be read as "it won't find its own stop condition, and the process will stop when the game's rules tell it it has nothing left to do"

But really happens is that the universe implodes. Do not activate a HoO with LotV in play, or we'll all be reduced to elementary particles.
am I?

then I'm not the only one doing so...
10/1/2008 If an effect like that of Leyline of the Void prevents cards from being put into your opponent's graveyard, the process described in the first sentence of Helm of Obedience's effect will never stop. Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1.

this ruling isn't ancient either (not sure if it's date Jan 10, 2008 or Oct 1, 2008)

It explains what it means by "never stop" in the second sentence. If it meant that the game would be a draw, it would say so instead of just saying that "Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1."
All Generalizations are Bad
Erm... what? This post and this post certainly think that the current wording also does damage when no land is revealed... (and this is why the 2-land-belcher decks work)

Think first, post second. I've really got to try that sometime. :P

by your post, I'm figuring there has been an interpretation that if no land is found it doesn't deal damage, is that right?

No, I'm just an idiot is all. Ignore my previous post. :embarrass
I'm just a Pigment of your imagination.
That is wrong. I'm not sure how else to say it. There are many cards that work like this, and they have all been ruled to stop once the library is empty. Goblin Charbelcher, Proteus Staff, etc. This is not an open question, nor is it what the rest of the thread is about.

with regard to Charbelcher, I think it needs to be rewritten (see prior post)

with respect to Proteus Staff (assuming no other creature cards in library)
if the creature put on the bottom is a card, it will find that card - no issue
if the creature put on the bottom is a token, it will continue until it reaches that token which is not a "creature card" so it will trudge on unto infinity never resolving

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am I?

then I'm not the only one doing so...



this ruling isn't ancient either (not sure if it's dated Jan 10, 2008 or Oct 1, 2008)

Helm of Obedience says to put cards from library into graveyard; if there are no cards in the library, this action is impossible even to attempt, so the action is ignored and the effect stops.
MTG Rules Advisor Mirrodin_Loyalty.png

Helm of Obedience says to put cards from library into graveyard; if there are no cards in the library, this action is impossible even to attempt, so the action is ignored and the effect stops.

not according to the ruling

the process never stops

here is the instruction
1 - Do action X
2 - Repeat until condition Y

let's walk through it
1 - impossible action (ignored see Rule 100.3)
2 - condition Y not met ->repeat (fine by the rules)
1 - impossible action (ignored see rule 100.3)
2 - condition Y not met -> repeat (fine by rules)
and so on...

the loop isn't impossible, just the component action inside it is.

if it was Do X and Y until Z and one of X or Y became impossible you would just ignore that action not the whole loop, right?

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not according to the ruling

the process never stops

here is the instruction
1 - Do action X
2 - Repeat until condition Y

let's walk through it
1 - impossible action (ignored see Rule 100.3)
2 - condition Y not met ->repeat (fine by the rules)
1 - impossible action (ignored see rule 100.3)
2 - condition Y not met -> repeat (fine by rules)
and so on...

No, that's not what the ruling means. (see my last post)

If we "walk through it," the game tries to mill the top card. It does so, and repeats doing so until the library is empty. Then it tries to repeat milling the top card again. It can't. The action is ignored. Now it's done with the loop.
All Generalizations are Bad
It explains what it means by "never stop" in the second sentence. If it meant that the game would be a draw, it would say so instead of just saying that "Your opponent's entire library will be removed from the game, even if X is 1."

will never stop is different than will stop once the library is empty

I'm not disputing your interpretation because the logical extension that isn't written is The game will end in a draw. and I don't see that in the ruling.

Either way the ruling is flawed.

If the process never stops then the game is a draw, though it doesn't say that.
If the process stops once the library is empty, then it shouldn't say it never stops.

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will never stop is different than will stop once the library is empty

I'm not disputing your interpretation because the logical extension that isn't written is The game will end in a draw. and I don't see that in the ruling.

Either way the ruling is flawed.

If the process never stops then the game is a draw, though it doesn't say that.
If the process stops once the library is empty, then it shouldn't say it never stops.

So you think Goblin Charbelcher will cause the game to draw, as it's worded right now, if no lands are in the library?
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So you think Goblin Charbelcher will cause the game to draw, as it's worded right now, if no lands are in the library?

I may be wrong, but by the RAW and the text on Charbelcher - yes I think it should.

My interpretation of 103.3 says to ignore the action.

the abilities on Charbelcher, Helm and Proteus are loops with nested actions.

literally, it seems to me that you should continue the loop until it ends, even if it only contains an action that is impossible. Is the loop impossible or just the action inside it?

103.3. If an instruction requires taking an impossible action, it’s ignored. (In many cases the card will specify consequences for this; if it doesn’t, there’s no effect.)
416.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.

when I read the above 2 rules with Charbelcher in mind
it means the following:
Reveal card in library and repeat until land card found
once I run out of cards, I can not reveal a card because there aren't any to reveal (ie. impossible action)
but can I check the exit condition? yes, therefore I'm following 416.3 by doing as much as possible
I think the loop continues on because there are 2 actions
1) revealing the card
2) checking the exit condition
1 is impossible but 2 is not


if I had a hypothetical ability that said

Choose a card in your graveyard and shuffle it into your library then put the top card of your library into your graveyard, repeat until you put a land card into your graveyard.

if you have no cards in your graveyard, the first and second actions are impossible so they are ignored but the loop continues along just fine.

what if there are no lands in the library? the loop will continue on without end
how would you know if the whole loop instruction is impossible in your view?

the loop is not impossible, it is the actions within it that may be.

whether or not my interpretation is correct or not is irrelevant
the rules should be more clear and the rulings should be more clear

I suggested a wording that would make Charbelcher consistent with the RAW
by adding an extra out of the loop until you reveal a land or there are no cards to reveal

perhaps I'm in the minority for how 103.3 should be interpreted
but this whole mess could be cleaned up by either giving loops a default out in extreme cases or by clarifying how loop abilities and 103.3 interact.

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So, your contention is not that the loop doesn't end, but that it "shouldn't" end based on the current wordings/rules. Correct?

I can agree with that stance, but if that's the case, this discussion belongs in Rules Issues rather than Rules Q&A, imo.
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