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I play low-key Magic the Gathering tournaments, like release parties and Friday Night Magic. They're good fun but I'm often stuck looking at the clock, trying to avoid a game-3 draw. I know the problem isn't me because my sets against quick-playing opponents are usually over with 20 minutes to spare.

The obvious non-procedural workarounds are:

  • Draft fast aggro
  • Try really hard to win 2-0 so you don't need to play a third game

I don't exactly have the skills to do this consistently. :)

At higher rules enforcement levels, you can call a judge if your opponent is taking too long. That option's not readily available at Regular REL, though, and generally you're supposed to be forgiving of a player's inexperience or procedural missteps. Bearing that in mind, what can I do to encourage other players to play faster without being a jerk?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm surprised that you seem to think there is no possibility of official intervention at Regular REL. From a recently updated official document on Judging at Regular REL:

  • General Unwanted Behaviours -

There will sometimes be issues that do not have official fixes, but need to be discouraged. These include, but are not limited to;

  • Players taking unreasonable amounts of time side-boarding or making play decisions
  • Inadequate shuffling after a search
  • Asking for, or providing, strategy advice during a tournament match or booster draft

In all of these cases, educate the player on better behaviour – for example, alternate shuffling techniques or the importance of allowing players to make their own decisions. Players continuing to exhibit specific unwanted behaviour after being instructed otherwise should be issued with a Game Loss.

A Judge should be available to advise persistent time-wasters that, actually, there is a limit to how long they can spend "thinking about their moves" in a game of Magic. Obviously the Judge will be gentle at first, as this is only Regular REL; but really, no one is being done any favours , if new players are not told early on that they need to play the game at reasonable pace, that is to say, fast enough that a full three games can be comfortably completed in the time allowed.

Don't be a jerk about calling a Judge over, but equally, you shouldn't be afraid of doing so. It's not being rude to ask, in a neutral and polite way, for the basic ground rules of tournament Magic to be enforced.

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Being courteous to new and/or inexperienced players is important, especially in more casual settings. Offer to answer (or find a third party to answer) any questions they may have if that's the holdup. It is understandable to be indecisive about a crucial play, but it is also their responsibility to be courteous to you and not stall out the game (whether they intend to or not).

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You're close to addressing the intent of my question, but I'd like some more specifics. Like, for instance, when someone's taking a lot of time to ponder an almost-identical board state for several turns straight, what are some behaviors I can adopt to courteously encourage faster play? –  Alex P Oct 15 '11 at 0:37
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@Alex P - Its hard to get into the specifics because everyone will take things differently and it depends on how courteous you want to be. Usually a simple "Are you done?" will let them know that they need to commit to something. Other times you might have to get a bit more pushy. At some point, they are doing you a discourtesy by continuing to take time doing nothing. –  Origami Robot Oct 15 '11 at 1:05
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