At exactly what stage of combat would a Competitive REL judge change his ruling from "The trigger happens" to "Your opponent decides" to "The trigger was missed"?

The trigger happens -> Your opponent decides -> The trigger was missed

To help answer this question, I have enumerated a few stages of combat. Feel free to reference these in your answer. Please assume a clean slate - no judge warnings, no prior history of poor conduct, and a generally positive but strict attitude from both players involved.

Declare Attackers Step

  1. My opponent declares Ash Zealot, Ash Zealot, and Legion Loyalist as attackers
  2. My opponent pauses for five seconds
  3. My opponent passes
  4. I pass

Declare Blockers Step

  1. I block Legion Loyalist with Elvish Mystic
  2. My opponent pauses for five seconds
  3. My opponent passes
  4. I pass

Combat Damage Step

  1. My opponent assigns first strike damage from the two Ash Zealots. He neglects to assign Legion Loyalist's damage.

I shouldn't need to continue. Once we arrive at the combat damage step, the trigger has clearly been forgotten. If for some reason the trigger could still be "remembered" after first strike damage has already been dealt, please explain why.

In a real game, players generally do not explicitly pass priority. Generally, one of the players will simply offer "Declare blockers?" If this would have an effect on the judge's ruling, please explain. I suspect that explicit priority passes would be more incriminating than shortcuts.

Why am I asking this question?

When I declare blockers, I need to determine if the trigger occurred without reminding my opponent while he still has a chance to "remember" it.

  • 1
    Even though you are asking for an objective judgement that will be consistent in future games, the body of your question seems to be soliciting opinions. I would suggest editing that part out because it might make some people think the question is opinion based and vote to close it.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 15:50
  • @murgatroid99 Can you edit the paragraph you are concerned about? I'm the last person who will be bothered by aggressive edits made in good faith. If there was something in that paragraph that might be still relevant to the question, try to see if it can be salvaged. (This is my way of saying I don't know which paragraph you are referring to, but I trust your judgement)
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 16:18
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    At the risk of being pedantic about MTG rules on the internet (...) your question is phrased a bit backward. The trigger happened, the rules of the game are unwavering on this point. What you're trying to do is get a read on your opponent to determine how likely he or she is to make a play error in the future. There is no aid for you here in the mechanics of the game. This is about social card-sharping skills.
    – Affe
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 20:35
  • @Affe My question is not about whether my opponent is "likely to make an error in the future". Did I say something that made you believe that I was asking for gambling advice?
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 21:11
  • @Rainbolt Well, I suppose that given the answer to the question, you do end up in the situation of trying to guess whether your opponent will mess up, since the trigger can't be considered missed until the first strike damage step, so at the time you're trying to declare blockers, you don't know whether it's going to be missed or not. But obviously you had to ask the question to find out that the rules work that way.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 21:44

2 Answers 2


The DCI Infraction Procedure Guide, describes very specifically how the judge should rule various infractions, and section 2.1 covers missed triggers. It describes both when a trigger is considered to be missed and what the penalty should be. In your case, Legion Loyalist's Battalion ability changes the game state in non-visible ways by giving abilities to creatures. Therefore, according to that document, its controller has to mention it the first time it would affect visible state or it is forgotten. In this particular case, that means that the trigger is considered forgotten if the player doesn't mention it by the time Legion Loyalist would deal first strike damage.

When this happens, the judge is instructed to issue a warning only if the triggered ability's effect would be detrimental to its controller. Otherwise, they are not supposed to intervene unless they think the player is intentionally missing the triggers. This is one of those non-intervention casees.

If a judge does intervene, the Additional Remedy subsection at the end of the missed triggers section describes how the game state may be corrected. In this case, the ability does not "specify a default action associated with a choice made by the controller" and is not "a delayed triggered ability that changes the zone of an object". The triggered ability creates an effect (granting abilities) so if that effect's "duration has already expired" (at the end of that player's turn), then play continues and the ability is ignored. Otherwise, the judge follows the final paragraph of that subsection and

the opponent chooses whether the triggered ability is added to the stack. If it is, it’s inserted at the appropriate place on the stack if possible or on the bottom of the stack.

The overall effect of this is that if a judge is called over in regards to this missed trigger, then if it is still the same turn, then the ability's controller's opponent (you) chooses whether the ability goes on the stack. Otherwise, you ignore it and move on.

  • I am having trouble relating your answer to the official Missed Trigger Guide for Gatecrash. For Legion Loyalist, it says: "If the duration of "until end of turn" has expired, instruct the players to continue playing. Otherwise, if within a turn of the missed trigger, opponent chooses whether it goes on the stack." This implies that, at some point in the game, the opponent has the option to allow the trigger to be placed onto the stack. When is this taken into account?
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 16:34
  • @Rainbolt I didn't include the Additional Remedies because your question specifically asks when the trigger is considered to be missed, and I answered that. Additional Remedies covers correcting the game state after the trigger has been missed. And remember that the guide you linked is about how to judge, so if a judge comes over to deal with the problem, if it is during the same turn they will ask the opponent (you) whether or not the trigger resolves.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 17:10

It depends on whether the trigger is important for the game state. I suggest reading the DCI Infraction Procedure Guide, section 2.1 about missed triggers, for specific triggers you could have in mind. Summarily, if the game state is no longer restorable, the trigger will either be resolved in a delayed manner or not be resolved at all, depending on what the trigger does.

In the case of your example, whether the trigger is remembered or not changes nothing to the game state in the end, since your opponent will probably assign Legion Loyalist's damages at the second combat damage step. In the end, the result will be the same, so if a judge comes after that, he would let it pass. The first strike is not detrimental to your opponent, so the judge will assume it was not intentional to forget it, and no one gets a warning. Both players continue to play as if the trigger wasn't forgotten. If the judge was there from the beginning, well, I guess it's his job to see the forgotten trigger.

But let's say you have something to play at the end of the first combat damage step. In that case, from the moment you do that "something", the trigger will be considered missed since the game will no longer be in restorable state (example: casting an instant to destroy the legion loyalist).

  • Your last paragraph is completely wrong. Section 2.1 of the Infraction Procedure guide specifically says "Failure to Maintain Game State penalties are never issued to players who did not control the ability."
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 16:59
  • This is refering to the "Failure to Maintain Game State" penalty, not the "Unsporting Conduct - Cheating Infraction" which can still be applied. That is, if both player UNINTENTIONALLY forgot the trigger, the player who didn't control that trigger can't get a "Failure to Maintain Game State" penalty if the game state is in a non-restorable state. The "Unsporting Conduct - Cheating Infraction" penalty however, can still be issued (in the case you intentionally omitted the advantageous trigger).
    – user8111
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 17:03
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    Only the owner of the trigger can be punished for forgetting it. See section 4.4 of the Tournament Rules, which says: Triggered Abilities Players are not required to point out the existence of triggered abilities that they do not control
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 17:06
  • 1
    @user8111 As Murgatroid99 pointed out, that very section literally says "Not reminding an opponent about his or her triggered abilities is never Failure to Maintain Game State or Cheating." You shouldn't view this as a "contradiction". You should view it as an "exception".
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 17:25
  • 1
    MtG history lesson! : google "Charles Gindy Worlds 2009" and "Brian Kibler Angel of Despair Trigger" to see why those rules were reworked to their current wording :)
    – Affe
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 18:41

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