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My son likes to play Conundrum Sphinx because of the "mini game" its ability triggers. When naming the card on top of your library, how specific do you have to be?

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You have to be able to uniquely identify the card, you don't necessarily have to get the name correct.

The reason for this is while the Comprehensive Rules say you have to actually name the card (CR 201.3), the Tournament Rules state that you can get the Oracle text of the card (which includes the name) as long as you can uniquely identify it (MTR 3.6). In order to not waste time calling a judge to get the Oracle text of a card every time you need to name a card you just need to uniquely identify a card in order to 'name' it.

For example in a standard tournament if I wanted to name Jace, the Living Guildpact I couldn't just say "Jace" since Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is also in Standard, and that doesn't uniquely identify which one you are talking about. However you could say "The Jace that doesn't transform" or "The Jace that costs 4" since both of those statements uniquily identifies what card you are talking about in Standard. Note that in Modern you would need to find a different way to describe the card since both of those statements also describe Jace, Architect of Thought

Note that for transforming or flip cards for the Conundrum Sphinx, or something like Memoricide it doesn't matter what name you pick (or uniquely identify), but it does matter for cards like Pithing Needle. For those you have to identify the appropriate side, so if you wanted to name Jace, Telepath Unbound for Pithing Needle you could say "The transformed version of Jace" or something similar.

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  • Ahhhh, tournament rules, that's what I should have looked for. Although addendum, your example of "The jace that isn't a creature" doesn't work, because of this: "If the player wants to name the back face of a double-faced card, the player may do so." There are technically 3 valid Jace namings in standard.
    – Waterseas
    Jul 31 '15 at 17:10
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    Also note that the same card printed in a different language is considered to have the same name, for the purposes of "name a card" abilities. So if you have English, Portuguese, and Korean printings of Island in your deck, naming "Island" will successfully match any of those Islands (as would naming "Ilha" or "섬", though doing this could be poorly received in some cases). Jul 31 '15 at 17:20
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    @DanHenderson Technically no. You need to specify one side or the other. If your unique identifier could apply to both sides, you need to be more specific. It's relevant because of cards like Pithing Needle and Phyrexian Revoker.
    – Waterseas
    Jul 31 '15 at 17:31
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    If you have a reviewable decklist to show you only have one flavor of Jace in your deck, is just saying "Jace" specific enough, even if you can't remember its name?
    – corsiKa
    Jul 31 '15 at 18:16
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    Ah, I didn't realize your opponent couldn't review your decklist (not having been in any tournaments besides Prerelease and FNM). Aug 31 '15 at 18:03
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You have to give the actual name, or a description specific enough that it could only apply to a single card. Even in professional Magic, a player has the right to ask a judge for the name and text of a card if they can uniquely describe it.

Of course, in casual play it would make more sense to only require the description to be unique among cards in the active decks.

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