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When my opponent asks if I am "tapped out" is it reasonable to assume they are referring to land only?

Say for example my opponent goes to declare attackers and asks if I am "tapped out". I have no land available but 3 untapped white creatures on the field and and Devouring Light in my hand. I might mention them as blockers, but if they could not block his creatures for some reason I might just say yes. Would that be considered dishonest? What is the best way to answer this question?

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Why would your opponent need to ask this? As far as I understand it, whether someone is "tapped out" can be determined just by looking at the board. –  jwodder Jul 27 at 20:20
    
I've heard players ask questions like that just for confirmation, to make sure they're not missing anything. –  murgatroid99 Jul 27 at 20:24
3  
Or sometimes to badger people who purposely play with messy or confusing boards thinking it gives them some kind of pro edge. e.g., "Yes I am going to ask you if your inkmoth nexus is tapped every time it's relevant until you take it out from under that stack of darksteel citadels you tried to slip it into and put it where I can see it." :) –  Affe Jul 27 at 21:09
    
@Affe, Some players just suck at tapping cards well. One of the players in my meta frequently taps his cards... diagonally, making it hard to distinguish them from cards that just rotated a bit because you looked at them funny. It's not out of malice, though, it's just a bad habit. –  Brian S Jul 28 at 14:27
    
@BrianS: that's not messy, that's old school. Back in the days of Revised, the tap symbol was a diagonally placed T. I used to tap like that. –  SQB Aug 15 at 20:13

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

First, let me tell you about your obligations with regards to providing information.

There are three categories of information: free, derived and private.

Free information is information to which all players are entitled access without contamination or omissions made by their opponents. If a player is ever unable or unwilling to provide free information to an opponent that has requested it, he or she should call a judge and explain the situation. Free information includes:

  • [...]
  • The physical status (tapped/flipped/unattached/phased) and current zone of any object.
  • [...]

Derived information is information to which all players are entitled access, but opponents are not obliged to assist in determining and may require some skill or calculation to determine. Derived information includes:

  • [...]

Private information is information to which players have access only if they are able to determine it from the current visual game state or their own record of previous game actions.

  • [...]

Also,

At Regular REL, all derived information is instead considered free.

If he's seeking to know which of your permanents are tapped, you are obligated to answer.

If he's seeking for more than that, you are only obligated to answer when Regular Rule Enforcement Level is in effect. (This is the REL used at events such as FNM.) Determining which of your permanents are lands or which of them have mana abilities is derived information.

Whether you are obligated to answer or not, all answers must be truthful and without omission.


On to your question. Given that he didn't mention lands or mana, I see three alternatives.

  1. You can could ask what he means.
  2. You could overload him with information. For example, "I have many untapped permanents. J, K, L and M are untapped." For all you know, he's asking if you have any potential blockers. If not, "Oh, you just wanted to know about land? Dully noted."
  3. You could misdirect while being fully truthful. For example, "only non-lands aren't tapped".
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I almost always do the third option. If someone asks me if I am "tapped out" or things like that, I tell them "I have all but X lands tapped." or "All my lands are tapped." I sort of make my opponent look for things (i.e. a Voyagin Satyr untapped, etc.) without lying or just giving away information. Alternatively, at FNM if I suspect it's a newer player, I help them out and tell them I can produce mana (or whatever). –  Milo Gertjejansen Jul 28 at 17:42
    
Could you provide a link to the document quoted? I'd like to read up on the differences between free and derived information. –  Fr33dan Jul 28 at 18:50
    
Go to MTG's rule page, follow Magic Tournament Rules, find the document titled "Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules". It's in section 4.1, Player Communication. –  ikegami Jul 28 at 18:54

In situations like this, it's probably best to just respond more specifically, and see if they ask anything else. They are likely asking about available mana, so you could say "I have no untapped lands" or "I can't tap anything for mana." Then you can let them probe further if that's not what they meant.

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Personally, the way I would respond to this question depends on what type of event I'm playing in (if any) and who I'm playing against.

I'd always interpret "tapped out" as referring to land.

At the kitchen table with friends, you might err on the side of providing ample information with a response such as "Yes, all my lands are tapped and I can't produce any mana." Of course, you shouldn't say anything that indicates you can't cast any spells because that would be misinformation. You're also not obligated to provide any information that indicates you can cast any spells, if your opponent wants to call your bluff he or she should do so in-game.

At a competitive event, your opponent may be asking this question because they can't tell whether or not your lands are tapped. A truly sporting player probably isn't asking this question to trick you into revealing your hand, but rather to deduce what cards you may be representing by your board state. In a competitive setting, "yes" is an ethical and honest response to the question.

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