I started judging at Regular last week, and one thing that made me uncomfortable was watching players break rules. Sometimes the opponent would look at me like, "Are you really going to let this happen?" I tried my best to educate the players without providing an unfair advantage or being a pesky judge who intervenes every thirty seconds, but I'd rather have a set of official rules that I can follow so that I know when to intervene.

For example, one player declared an attacker, the opponent declared a blocker, then the first player declared another attacker, and then the opponent looked to me for intervention. Not sure if I should intervene, I decided to ask the player, "Do you have a question?" He took the bait, and I was able to correct the situation and educate the players on how declaring attackers works.

When should I intervene in a match?

  • 'Sometimes the opponent would look at me like, "Are you really going to let this happen?"' If this is actually occurring, you should let players know that they should call a judge to fix errors in the game and that at Competitive REL, taking advantage of an opponent's errors (that aren't missing triggers) can be UC-Cheating.
    – Hao Ye
    Jul 16, 2015 at 17:57
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    @HaoYe Absolutely. I should have reminded players to speak up when they have a question. I'm a little crowd-shy, so I approached the problem by leaning in asking the players directly, "Do you have a question?" I think it worked well, but an announcement would have been better.
    – Rainbolt
    Jul 16, 2015 at 18:06
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    Do you have an example? You should never allow an actual violation of game rules to go uncorrected. Two matches later they try it again and say "Well last time the judge was looking right at it and didn't say anything" and now both they and their opponent think that's how the game is played. The amount of "Sloppy Play" that ultimately leads to legal game states that is tolerated at Regular is maybe more flexible.
    – Affe
    Jul 16, 2015 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


The Magic: the Gathering Tournament Rules (MTR) makes it clear that a judge should not intervene before a rule has been broken, but should intervene after a rule has been broken. In other words, a judge should be reactive, not proactive.

Judges do not intervene in a game to prevent illegal actions, but do intervene as soon as a rule has been broken or to prevent a situation from escalating.

The Infraction Procedure Guide (IPG) states basically the same thing. Keep in mind that, as made clear by a recent rules update, the IPG is only meant to be used at Competitive and Professional REL.

A judge shouldn’t intervene in a game unless he or she believes a rules violation has occurred, a player with a concern or question requests assistance, or the judge wishes to prevent a situation from escalating. Judges don’t stop play errors from occurring, but instead deal with errors that have occurred, penalize those who violate rules or policy, and promote fair play and sporting conduct by example and diplomacy. Judges may intervene to prevent or preempt errors occurring outside of a game

Judging at Regular (JAR) covers Regular REL. At Regular, the judge is allowed (but not required) to intervene for missed triggers. Again, this is optional, and you should intervene at your discretion.

You should intervene if you see something illegal happen in a match, but beyond this you can exercise your discretion. For example, whether you step in when you see a player miss a trigger should be determined by the tone you want to strike for your event – it may be appropriate to provide this extra help in a more causal environment, but less so if your play group is more competitive.


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