Anthony begins his turn by drawing a card. He then immediately turns his creatures sideways and declares "I attack with Runeclaw Bear and Alpine Grizzly."

Anthony's opponent, Nathan, has 6 life. Nathan has Crippling Chill and Kill Shot in hand, and the mana available to cast either but not both. He has not yet acknowledged Anthony's shortcut to move to combat, nor has he denied it.

Which of the following is true?

  1. Nathan must immediately deny Anthony's shortcut.
  2. Nathan may deny the shortcut after pausing to think about what he wants to do.

I am specifically interested in two cases: Regular REL and Competitive REL. If the answer depends on which one is in effect, please cover both. I am not interested in casual play, but you can certainly cover that if you want to.

  • In competitive REL, this is not a valid shortcut. Anthony should call a judge. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 15:30
  • @bengoesboom, How so?
    – ikegami
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 15:39
  • 2
    @diego, A list of predefined shortcuts doesn't make other shortcuts invalid.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 15:42
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    Just to be clear, proposing a shortcut and acting on it by turning your creatures sideways are two different things. The proposed shortcut was valid. The actions taken in addition to that by Anthony were sloppy and would be reversed if the shortcut was denied.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 15:45
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    The reason I said this is not valid is that it was not proposed. Anthony's opponent moved past any sort of proposal directly into acting, preventing Anthony from ever acting when he would have priority. At this point, the game state has reached a state (presumably Nathan passing priority in the "declare attackers" phase) in an invalid way. To correct the game state, you should call a judge. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 19:42

2 Answers 2


Regarding shortcuts, the relevant rules for this scenario are:

716.1a The rules for taking shortcuts are largely unformalized. As long as each player in the game understands the intent of each other player, any shortcut system they use is acceptable.

as well as

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. It can’t include conditional actions, where the outcome of a game event determines the next action a player takes. The ending point of this sequence must be a place where a player has priority, though it need not be the player proposing the shortcut.

716.2b Each other player, in turn order starting after the player who suggested the shortcut, may either accept the proposed sequence, or shorten it by naming a place where he or she will make a game choice that’s different than what’s been proposed. (The player doesn’t need to specify at this time what the new choice will be.) This place becomes the new ending point of the proposed sequence.

716.2c Once the last player has either accepted or shortened the shortcut proposal, the shortcut is taken. The game advances to the last proposed ending point, with all game choices contained in the shortcut proposal having been taken. If the shortcut was shortened from the original proposal, the player who now has priority must make a different game choice than what was originally proposed for that player.

Regarding this specific question, when a player is proposing to do an action that can only be taken in a certain step that would occur after the player's last known step, it is a well-known shortcut that the player is going to change phases until the first phase where they can take that action. In this case, after drawing for Draw Phase, Anthony is proposing a shortcut to get to Combat phase, ending Draw phase and ending First Main phase without doing anything in either. This is a perfectly valid shortcut.

Once Nathan proposes this shortcut, Nathan is then allowed to propose a shortened shortcut, where he will make a game choice that's different than what Anthony proposed. In this particular case, the most likely proposal from Nathan would be to go until the 'Beginning of Combat Step'. This is a normal decision in the course of a game, and thus Nathan can take his time to decide on this proposal, within reason of course. This is the same at both Regular REL and Competitive REL. If Nathan takes an action before proposing a shortened shortcut, such as casting a spell or activating an ability, it is assumed that he is accepting the shortcut that Anthony proposed.

Note: Once Nathan proposes a shortened shortcut, Anthony is not then allowed to instead do something in his First Main phase; he has to go with the shortened shortcut. In this case, that would be advancing to end of his First Main phase and passing priority.

  • FYI - You have the names of the players flipped. Anthony is the active player, and the one proposing the shortcut.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 16:14
  • @Rainbolt Fixed, not sure why I didn't catch that XD
    – Waterseas
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 16:23
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    Awesome. Now I have a tough choice between your answer and Diego's. I usually wait a couple of days before accepting one, so we'll see where the voting goes.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 16:31
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    Strategy nit: Nathan is better off letting it go to the Beginning of Combat Step so Anthony doesn't get another chance to play Sorceries.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 17:48
  • @ikegami Good catch. Mind if I edit my answer with that?
    – Waterseas
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:42

There is nothing in the Magic Tournament Rules about timing when interrupting a shorcut. All it says is "A player may interrupt a tournament shortcut by explaining how he or she is deviating from it or at which point in the middle he or she wishes to take an action." So there is no reason you wouldn't be able to have a moment to think about it.

Obviously if you do anything that acknowledges the attack as being valid like casting your Kill Shot or otherwise using or passing priority it is too late to deny them their shortcut. Anytime prior to this point though should be fine, as long as you don't fall into Slow Play territory.

Personally, if I were Nathan what I would do in this situation is when Anthony declares attackers say "Wait, I might have something before declare attackers" and then once I have taken a moment to decide what to do either say "Ok, go ahead" or "Before declare attackers I..."


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