One of Magic the Gathering's rules is

104.3f If a player would both win and lose the game simultaneously, he or she loses the game.


However, it seems to me like it "ought to be" the case that if there are only 2 players and
[A loses] ​ [B loses] ​ [B wins]
would occur simultaneously, then B should win, since
win-and-lose-simultaneously should be better than just-lose.
For that reason, it seems like the

Proposed Alternative : ​ ​ ​ If, simultaneously, all players would lose the game and
some players would win the game, then the players who would not win the game
lose the game, and the game is a draw between the remaining players. ​ Otherwise,
if a player would both win and lose the game simultaneously, he or she loses the game.

would make more sense. ​ However, I can't think of any situations in which that would matter.

Are there any possible situations in which my proposed alternative
would yield a different result from the actual rule?

  • It seems to me that you described in your question a situation where it behaves differently: one player loses, and another player wins and loses, all simultaneously. – murgatroid99 Oct 21 '15 at 21:33
  • 1
    Is that situation possible? ​ – user13741 Oct 21 '15 at 21:34
  • I believe it is not possible to win and lose simultaneously. There is a long discussion about this here, which ended in a forum moderator locking the thread because so many people thought they came up with a situation where the rule applied but were wrong for one reason or another. – Rainbolt Oct 21 '15 at 21:54
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    That thread was closed 5 years ago. They've printed a lot of cards since then (most notably Laboratory Maniac, which allows you to win the game during the resolution of another spell or ability) – murgatroid99 Oct 21 '15 at 22:01
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    The Comprehensive Rules strive to be comprehensive; this includes hedging a bit against potential corner-cases that will only occur because of some future design or as the result of an interaction of quirky circumstances (like specialized game mode or tournament rules). The appeal of 104.3f as written is that it's written very simply, to be a quick fall-back for truly weird stuff that doesn't require lots of brainpower to read and understand. It's not strange for the game to emphasize "losing" over "winning" because winning in MTG is usually just the state of "everyone else has already lost." – Alex P Oct 21 '15 at 23:17

Here is a combo that results in one player winning and losing the game, and another player losing:

Alice has no cards in her library or graveyard. Nathan has no cards in his graveyard.

Alice controls the following:

Nathan controls the following:

Then the following happens:

  1. Alice attacks with Laboratory Maniac
  2. Nathan chooses not to block
  3. The Sword's ability triggers. Alice chooses to target the Grizzly Bears
  4. While the Sword's ability is on the stack, Nathan activates Ward of Piety's ability twice: once targeting Alice and once targeting Nathan.
  5. Both Ward activations resolve.
  6. Sword of Fire and Ice's ability resolves. The original text of the effect is

    Sword of Fire and Ice deals 2 damage to target creature or player and you draw a card.

    • After we apply the Ward of Piety replacement and Laboratory Maniac replacement to that effect, it becomes

      Sword of Fire and Ice deals 1 damage to Alice and Sword of Fire and Ice deals 1 damage to Nathan and Alice wins the game.

    • At this point, we apply the relevant Nefarious Lich effects. The result is

      (Alice exiles 1 card from her graveyard. If she can't, she loses the game) and (Nathan exiles 1 card from his graveyard. If he can't, he loses the game) and (Alice wins the game).

  7. There are no more applicable replacement effects, so the ability finishes resolving. Neither Alice nor Nathan can exile a card from their graveyard, so the end result of this effect is

    Alice loses the game and Nathan loses the game and Alice wins the game.

This is the result of a single instruction, so it is simultaneous.

  • So, personally I'm of the opinion that Nathan deserves the draw here. – Alex P Oct 21 '15 at 23:34
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    @AlexP for future readers: that is the outcome, according to the current rules. 104.3f says that Alice loses, so they both lose simultaneously. 104.4a says that if both players lose simultaneously, the game is a draw. – murgatroid99 Oct 21 '15 at 23:39
  • Um, Nefarious Lich has a "replacement effect that replaces" something "other than card draw with card draw." ​ – user13741 Oct 21 '15 at 23:54
  • Yes it does. Sometimes it's easiest to miss what's right in front of you – murgatroid99 Oct 21 '15 at 23:59
  • @RickyDemer That doesn't really change the overall point, though. It still means that any effect that can be replaced with simultaneous win and loss must at some point in the replacement process deal damage and must at some point in the replacement process cause card draw (for different parts of the effect). There's no way that effect is more simultaneous than this one. – murgatroid99 Oct 22 '15 at 0:02

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