Yesterday, I was playing a casual game and I had a Stasis, Kismet, and Chronatog, causing my opponent to have to keep drawing, while I kept skipping my turn, with the intent of decking him.

My opponent, however, had Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn in his deck, and he can discard that every turn he draws it to shuffle his graveyard back into his library.

Who, ultimately, is required to stop choosing to continue this loop? Do I have to stop skipping my turn with Chronatog? Or does my opponent have to stop discarding Emrakul?

  • 2
    Have you seen this question? boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/4733/…
    – Colin D
    Jan 16, 2013 at 19:40
  • exactly sam i am
    – danilka1
    Jan 16, 2013 at 19:43
  • Is that necessarily a fragmented loop as defined in 716.3? My thought being that drawing a card from your library (even though both players know what that card is) is a sufficient change of game state to keep it from being a loop. Otherwise, your opponent would ultimately have to choose another action, as he would be the active player during his discard phase, and would be forced to make another choice as the active player.
    – LJ2
    Jan 16, 2013 at 19:45
  • 1
    @LJ2 It's not a significant change of game state if nothing in the game cares about how many cards have been drawn or how many turns have passed. Look at the flying/non-flying example in 716.3. Clearly the game state HAS changed, because the game counts the number of skill activations. But it's still a fragmented loop, because nothing currently cares about that number. Same for cards drawn. The fact that the loop stretches across turns doesn't matter either.
    – Hackworth
    Jan 16, 2013 at 23:31
  • amazing question.
    – Ender
    Jan 20, 2013 at 12:04

2 Answers 2


First, let's make it clear that the game doesn't force a draw.

104.4b [...] Loops that contain an optional action don’t result in a draw.

Let's also make it clear that the two players are individually doing something acceptable:

716.5. No player can be forced to perform an action that would end a loop other than actions called for by objects involved in the loop.

It's their combined actions that create a weird scenario, and boy it's a weird one. The closest rules for resolving this are:

716.3. Sometimes a loop can be fragmented, meaning that each player involved in the loop performs an independent action that results in the same game state being reached multiple times. If that happens, the active player (or, if the active player is not involved in the loop, the first player in turn order who is involved) must then make a different game choice so the loop does not continue.

And from the Infraction Procedure Guide (used in tournaments with a REL above regular),

It is also slow play if a player continues to execute a loop without being able to provide an exact number of iterations and the expected resulting game state.

In a casual setting, you should mutually accept a draw.

In a competitive setting, I think you'd be at the mercy of a judge. Neither of those is a rules is a perfect match, so a judge should probably do nothing at all, but they're close enough that he might decide to meddle (invoking either or both of those rules).

The latter rule was applied to a deck with Emrakul that self-milled. This of course, is a different situation, since both players are involved in extending the game.

The first rule is close enough that it might be enforced. The game state after the second graveyard shuffle is not 100% identical to the game state after the first graveyard shuffle because Chronatog's opponent has a different hand, but a judge might rule that it is close enough to enact 716.3, forcing you to stop Chronatog's opponent from discarding Emrakul. I doubt it, though.

Wizard's Rules Q&A forum has many judges, including one capable of giving official answers (Natedogg).

  • If 'chronotog's` ability is activated on its opponents turn, would it cause a difference in who is the one forced to 'break the loop' because of the change in the active player?
    – Colin D
    Jan 16, 2013 at 20:31
  • oh right. I guess the outcome would be the other way around (will fix in a sec), but it goes to show that 716.3 isn't designed with multi-turn loops in mind.
    – ikegami
    Jan 16, 2013 at 20:35
  • 1
    Why force Chronatog's opponent from discarding Emrakul, instead of forcing Chonatog's player to not activate Chronatog's ability? The problem is because this loop involves several turns, there is no active player.
    – Pablo
    Jan 17, 2013 at 0:10
  • 1
    @Pablo, In all of the turns, only Emrakul's owner is the Active Player. The Chronatog's controller is intentionally skipping all of his turns. (Chrono-stasis decks are fun!)
    – ikegami
    Jan 17, 2013 at 4:12
  • @ikegami that's a good point, but I'm not sure if it's right. Active player is a term only defined for a turn. Even if every turn the same player is the active player, there is no definition of "active player" in a group of several turns.
    – Pablo
    Jan 17, 2013 at 18:32

The one who doesn't want the game to draw is the one who must decide to stop the loop.

We know if a game is in an willing infinite loop (all players choose or are forced to continue it) that does not result in a game win, the game is a draw.

If both players decide to keep the loop going, then the game is a draw. If both players are okay with that outcome, then that is the outcome. If a player would rather the game not draw, perhaps because he believes he has a chance of winning, then he would make the choice to end the loop. There's no mandate that they both need to stop.

Think of it like a game of chicken.

  • Does it make any difference if it's a tournament and one player is 1-0 up? Obviously that player is not too unhappy for the infinite loop to continue until time is called. The other player definitely doesn't want to go to time, but neither does he want to end the loop if this also would result in a loss.. Jan 16, 2013 at 22:33
  • While technically it's not actually illegal to play for time if you're taking your turns in a reasonable amount of time, judges are human, and many would in fact threaten you with a DQ for stalling if you're seriously intending to drag the match out to time with no effort to win the game. Especially at non-premier events where your officials may not be zealous memorizers of every nuance. Chronatog player is basically gambling on what the head judge thinks of his scheme.
    – Affe
    Jan 17, 2013 at 18:17

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