My take on the new rules changes

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While there were no new bannings this time around, with the prerelease of Magic Origins, there have been some major rules changes in the competitive community so far. While I rarely play competitive Magic nowadays, I expect one of the changes to affect me anyway.

First of all, the new mulligan rule. Basically, whenever you have to mulligan in the future, you will, after you have kept your starting hand, get to Scry 1 before the game begins. No matter if you mulliganed to six or zero, it’s still just Scry 1, contrary to some belief on Twitter.

templeofdeceit.hqPersonally, I believe this is an awesome change to the rules of competitive environments. We’ve all had those games where we mulliganed to five and never stood a chance because the opponent just curved out and ran us over. We’ve all also had those really easy wins against opponents who mulliganed to death or who mana screwed or mana flooded or whatever. With these rules, these things will happen less frequently. This is a very good game, and it’s also a smart move from Wizards, who have been working hard on getting Magic to become a spectator sport, and nothing ruins streaming more than boring one-sided games.

That said, I think this will also be an interesting skill tester. Imagine the following scenario: you’re playing an aggressive deck against an opponent who has the inevitability for sure (say, RUG Delver vs. Storm Combo), you’ve lost a tight game one and you need a good start game two to keep up. You mulligan a zero-lander into a hand with a Delver of Secrets, a fetchland, a Daze, a Tarmogoyf, a Brainstorm and a Spell Pierce. Clearly, a very keepable hand, even on one land. You scry and look at another land and take your first turn. The thing is though, what’s the play? Crack the fetch, shuffle away the next land and hope to draw a second one blind? Keep the land uncracked and eschew a turn of potentially flipping the Delver and attacking? I’m not sure what the correct play is, and I find this very interesting.

Secondly, the Magic Judge blog posted this post a couple of days ago, detailing the new rules for drawing extra cards. Previously, drawing extra cards was, in a REL: Competitive setting, always equal to a game loss. Now, instead, in some cases, the player drawing the extra cards will reveal his or her hand to the opponent, who will choose the amount of card excess to what the player was supposed to draw and have, and these excess cards will be shuffled back into the random portion of the library.

thoughtseize.hqThis is a big thing, and I think this is good too. I have never lost a game due to drawing extra cards, but I have won games due to this happening and me calling a judge. The thing is, this can happen even if you’re not meaning to. Drawing extra cards could be a mistake in communicating the game state, it could be a mistake in dexterity – I always shake a bit when there’s a lot on the line, like playing for T8 in a big tournament, or it could be a material thing – some card sleeves get sticky after a while, and though I never seem to have that problem, I’ve shuffled more than enough decks over many years of competitive play to recognize a deck with a bunch of beat up, dirty, sticky sleeves. As long as they can’t be classified as marked, there’s not much to do about it.

Megan and Maria, of Magic: the Amateuring fame, another excellent podcast I’d like to recommend to everybody – not just the intended audience of new and returning players, raised a good point when they discussed this change. Do you be “the good person” and choose the “correct” cards, if you happen to know the hidden information of your opponents hand, after a discard spell the turn before or something, or do you make the “bad” person play and choose the best cards? I’d say the latter in every instance of serious competitive play. The only time I’d be the “good guy” is at more casual events like prereleases or FNM drafts or places like that, and in even more casual settings, why bother with this rule? Just put back the card(s) you drew extra.

That said, I really like this rules change as well, nothing causes tilts like random game losses due to dexterity errors, and it is, again, better for the Twitch community who gets to see more Magic. Not that game losses on camera were ever really common, in fact some are quite legendary. I’ll leave you with this:

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