Tips for players at competitive REL

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Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers, Pro Tour Qualifiers, Grand Prix Trials, and Grand Prix are run at competitive rules enforcement level (REL) which means there is a higher level of expectation on the players to know the rules and policies.

This is intended as a supplement to both GP Player Guide - Constructed and Player's Introduction to Penalties

Before the tournament

  • Write your name on your belongings. Having a name and phone number on a deckbox makes it approximately 4000% easier to return to you.
  • Call the TO or check his/her website to confirm when registration starts. You don't want to start the day with a game loss for walking in the door 15 minutes late.
  • The judge will typically give you time before the first round to review your decklist.
    • For Constructed events, make sure there are at least 60 cards in the main deck and no more than 15 in the sideboard.
    • For Limited events, make sure there are 40 cards minimum in the main deck. Don't forget to write down basic lands.
    • For all events, make sure your name is on the decklist!

During your match

  • Present your sideboard along with your deck. This avoids any problems with having cards in your deck box that could be considered part of your deck.
  • Don't keep cards in your deck box that aren't part of your deck or sideboard. (Tokens aren't cards.)
  • Count your deck and sideboard while shuffling at the start of the game, and check that your sideboard is no more than 15 cards after sideboarding between games.
  • Shuffle. Shuffle a lot. Make sure your opponent shuffles a lot. Remember that dealing your cards into piles is NOT shuffling and needs to be followed by proper shuffling. Shuffle your opponent's deck after it's presented before each game.
  • Taking notes: During a game you can only use notes taken during your current match. Between games you are allowed to refer to notes you wrote earlier, e.g. sideboard notes.
  • Record your and your opponent's life totals on paper, and announce all life total changes. If you notice a discrepancy, stop the game and call a judge.
  • Slow play: if you think your opponent is playing slowly, just ask him/her to make a play or say you think the game needs to move a bit faster. If your opponent still doesn't speed up, call a judge. During a game, there isn't any specific time limit for it to be slow play; if you're getting bored waiting, it's likely your opponent is playing too slowly.
  • Triggers:
    • You're always responsible for your own triggers; intentionally missing one is cheating. If you accidentally miss one then remember later, call a judge.
    • You're never responsible for your opponent's triggers; you can ignore them entirely.
    • If your opponent misses a trigger he/she controls that you want to happen, call a judge.
  • The following things are the most common things people are disqualified for (Hint: don't do these). If you see any of these things happen, call a judge immediately -- if you don't, you can also be disqualified.
    • Offering or accepting something to influence the result of a match. If your opponent offers you something for a match result, you must call a judge immediately. "I just want the planeswalker points, I'll give you my boosters if you concede to me" and "I'll give you $X if you concede so I can top 8" are just some examples of things that aren't allowed.
    • Improperly determining the outcome of a match. We're here to play magic to see who's the best. If a match is going to be a draw, let it be a draw. Don't roll a die, flip a coin, play rock/paper/scissors or anything else to see who wins.
    • Intentionally misrepresenting the game state or not calling a judge when an error happens (except for your opponent's triggered abilities, which you never have to point out).
    • Trying to cover up an honest mistake (not a DQ) by lying about it to the judge (totally a DQ). If you made a mistake, admit to it. Even a game loss is better than a disqualification, and we WILL find out if you're hiding something.

Dealing with judges

  • And the most important one of all: If you're unsure of what your opponent is doing, ask! If you think there is any sort of issue in your match or you're unsure about something, CALL A JUDGE. They're there to help you. You're not dragging them away from something more important. You're not annoying them. They exist to help the players have a good tournament. =)
  • It can get loud and busy at tournaments, so when you need a judge, call out "Judge!" loudly and stick your hand up until a judge reaches your table.
  • If you think something has gone wrong in a match you're watching, ask the players to pause their game and call a judge. Don't jump in and point out what you think is wrong as you may be giving them information they hadn't noticed.
  • Don't talk over your opponent when he/she is talking to a judge. A good judge will ensure that both players have a chance to tell their story. Likewise, don't interrupt or argue with a judge who is giving a ruling. Doing so may subject you to unsporting conduct penalties.
  • If you are unhappy with the ruling a judge has given, you may appeal to the head judge. The head judge's ruling is final.
  • If you need to discuss something sensitive with a judge, ask them to step away from the table. You don't need to reveal the contents of your hand to your opponent if you need to ask for a ruling, and if you want the judge to keep an eye on your opponent that doesn't have to be said right in front of them either.