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If someone has assembled the Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin combo, and they say "make a bunch of dudes and kill you", without telling me the number, what happens?

The problem with asking him is that this is a situation where the player is committing a minor rules violation — he's not proposing a proper shortcut — and he gets rewarded for doing that by getting free information: he knows that I'm interested in the number of Deceiver Exarchs that he's making

Is there a way to handle this situation without rewarding my opponent with free information?

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Just out of curiosity, why are you really interested in the number? Surely no one is going to say, okay, I'll make exactly enough to take you down to zero, and you don't have a way to kill 500 tokens that won't kill all of them, do you? –  Jefromi Apr 27 at 16:54
    
@Jefromi, I can imagine that cards like Batwing Brume care –  Ivo Beckers Apr 27 at 17:15
    
@Jefromi and rakdos charm too. The big problem is that most exarch-twin players will start playing around rakdos charm if I ask them how many tokens that they're making –  Sam I am Apr 27 at 17:18
    
Oh okay, right. Maybe you can figure out how to ask them so casually that they'll say "a million" and hand it to you! –  Jefromi Apr 27 at 17:38
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"and kill you" is not an accepted shortcut. Force your opponent to go through the motions every time, regardless as to whether or not you can do anything. –  bengoesboom Apr 28 at 2:09

2 Answers 2

There's not a lot you can do to screw over a player for being vague. Because the rules-provided answer is basically "Force them to be less vague."

Really what players are doing when they say they make "a bunch" of tokens is telling their opponent "Look, I have my combo. Gonna scoop now?" If you do anything other than scoop, of course they're gonna play more tightly — since now they're actually playing it out.

Get in the habit of always asking for clarification. Then you're not giving away any information about your own plan.

About the most "underhanded" things you can legitimately do are:

  • Ask really casually and hope they say something a little more definite.

    "So, that's what, a million damage heading my way?"
    "Yup."
    "After blockers, I'll Rakdos Charm."

    I think most competitive players would call a judge on you and you'd end up in an annoying argument about who exactly said what when. You might also develop a reputation for pettiness of poor sportsmanship.

  • Ask someone to slow it down and show you the combo steps. As they do so, they'll probably announce a specific number as part of a shortcut. (This works better with Rakdos Charm than Batwing Brume, because you can do it while they execute the combo instead of having to wait for them to declare attackers.) This is a trick that may actually get you some wins against the more complex combo decks, when they just straight-up botch their combo.

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"Underhanded" sounds like it's bad and something I should avoid based on that first example. Could you give a couple of examples of good conduct for this scenario? –  doppelgreener Apr 28 at 12:23
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@JonathanHobbs I did: "Get in the habit of always asking for clarification. Then you're not giving away any information." –  Alex P Apr 28 at 13:20
    
@AlexP That only works if you can force everyone else to always ask for clarification too. –  Sam I am Apr 30 at 16:36
    
It's "underhanded" because you're trying for a "gotcha" moment. I don't think it's Bad per se, since you're simply using the same trick they're using. But making them walk through the motions every time is the smarter play, since it can force them to play around cards you don't have (not to mention just proper play). –  Allen Gould Apr 30 at 16:36
    
@SamIam Not necessarily - if you always ask for clarification, then the opponent doesn't gain information on whether the answer matters particularly in this instance. (Maybe you have the Charm this time, maybe you don't. If you ask both times, they don't know if this is the one they should worry about). –  Allen Gould Apr 30 at 16:37

According to the Comprehensive Rules on shortcuts:

716.2a At any point in the game, the player with priority may suggest a shortcut by describing a sequence of game choices, for all players, that may be legally taken based on the current game state and the predictable results of the sequence of choices. This sequence may be a non-repetitive series of choices, a loop that repeats a specified number of times, multiple loops, or nested loops, and may even cross multiple turns.

(Emphasis mine)

This rule is never contradicted in the Tournament Rules and should thus hold true to any play environment.

This rule states that a shortcut loop requires that the number of iterations of the loop be specified. Therefore, an arbitrary number of loop iterations (such as "a bunch") is never a legal shortcut. You should get in the habit of always specifying an exact number of loop iterations when declaring shortcuts such as this, and ask that your opponents do the same. No information about any player's plans is given away if the rule is applied consistently.

In your situation, I would simply say,

"You have to specify how many a bunch is."

This language ("you have to") shows that you're just requesting the shortcut rules be followed properly, not that you're necessarily interested in the exact number, or have a number in mind that would please you.

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Really, there's no reason not to say a defined but absurdly large number, like "one billion." You're not going to need more than a billion damage. –  Southpaw Hare Apr 28 at 13:23
    
@Southpaw See the answer above. In some cases, doing more than you need can end up killing you instead, so you might not always want to go with one billion... –  bwarner Apr 28 at 15:09
    
@bwarner Well yeah, I get that - in some cases you'd either want a big number or a small number - however, if you're going to big a big number, I don't see a reason not to just pick one. Either say a reasonable number like "20," or a big one like "a billion." –  Southpaw Hare Apr 28 at 15:26

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