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Nathan and Alice are playing a Modern tournament at Competitive REL. Alice is playing Storm, and keeping track of the storm count using a spindown. "Storm count" is shorthand for "the number of spells cast this turn".

Alice casts Pyretic Ritual and copies it with Pyromancer Ascension. She announces that the storm count has increased by two, and adjusts her spindown accordingly. This is incorrect. Spell copies created by Pyromancer Ascension do not contribute towards the storm count.

When is Nathan obligated to inform Alice that the storm count is wrong? Must he inform her immediately, or can he wait until she casts a spell with storm (e.g., Grapeshot) before explaining the storm count is actually less?

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Nathan is not obligated to inform Alice that the storm count is wrong until Grapeshot's triggered ability resolves. In the section of the rules regarding player communication, there is no rule that says that players are at any time obligated to volunteer information spontaneously.

However, the rules also say "Players may not represent derived or free information incorrectly" and "Players must answer completely and honestly any specific questions pertaining to free information." According to this forum post Rainbolt found, storm count is free information. So if Alice asks what the storm count is, Nathan must give the correct answer.

Once Grapeshot's triggered ability resolves, the two players must agree on what spells are on the stack, which means that Nathan must then inform Alice of the actual number of copies of Grapeshot created. That is because, if Alice put the wrong number of copies on the stack, that would be a Game Play Error, which means that if Nathan lets her do it, that would be a Failure to Maintain Game State.

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    Of course, since it's derived information, if Alice asks what the storm count is (e.g. when turning the die to 9, actually say "the storm count is 9, right?"), then Nathan has to either not answer or answer truthfully. – Cascabel Nov 18 '15 at 19:05
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    After doing more research, I think that one small portion of your answer is incorrect according to these two posts by a L2 and L3 judge. Despite that, I think the rest of your answer is still correct and answers the question. It doesn't really matter whether it is free or derived unless the opponent actually asks you, but in my scenario, Alice never asked Nathan what the storm count was. – Rainbolt Nov 18 '15 at 20:21
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    I didn't mention it in the answer, but that rule is in the section regarding player communication. The way I see it, the spindown is intended to be a memory device to help Alice remember the storm count, not to communicate the storm count to Nathan. So, it doesn't violate the rule. If Nathan asks her and she gives the wrong number, I think that at that point he has to correct her and/or call a judge. – murgatroid99 Nov 19 '15 at 7:20
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    @corsiKa - Your comment does a much better job of explaining the point I was trying to get at: keeping track of game actions that might affect the game state should be derived info, while keeping track of game actions that are currently affecting the game state should be free info. – Hao Ye Nov 19 '15 at 10:25
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    @Hao Ye, Notes kept by players are neither derived nor free info. They aren't part of the game at all. – ikegami Nov 20 '15 at 13:50
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Based on the tournament rules, you only need to agree on the storm count when the game calls on you to know it to correctly perform a game action, so you have no obligation to correct your opponent before then, though you are not allowed to lie about it, either. Murgatroid's answer explains the details.

However, note that any confusion or disagreement is likely to require calling a judge, and that judge is likely to end up having to stand there and reconstruct the entire turn to figure out the correct count — something that can be fiendishly complicated if, for example, a Past in Flames was played as part of the combo.

So, practically speaking, this is going to be a headache for everyone involved. You're also at a disadvantage: your opponent might argue that you previously agree to their count when they incremented the number and you didn't dispute it. So you will want clear evidence to convince the judge that your version of events is correct.

In short, this move is legal, but you need to also think about it in practical terms, since you're entering a procedural quagmire:

  • If you're going to choose to wait til the last possible moment to dispute the storm count, you should keep impeccable notes. This will help ensure that you get a correct ruling, and quickly.
  • Even with the best intentions and utmost preparation, your peers may regard it as unsportsmanlike, since you're choosing to take one of the most annoying aspects of the game and magnify it significantly.
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    To be fair, "realising my opponent has miscalculated" is one of the few ways you can win against an active Storm. – deworde Nov 19 '15 at 12:25
  • "You counted ascension copies four times, so your count is actually X minus four." Problem solved. – Rainbolt Nov 19 '15 at 14:10
  • @Rainbolt "Wait, really? I don't think so." Now you have to call a judge. – Alex P Nov 19 '15 at 15:52
  • Okay, so you call a judge. Why would calling a judge complicate the situation? We agree on what the count would be if the copies were counted. The judge rules that the copies don't count. Therefore, the correct count must be the original count minus the extra. There is simply no reason why you (or a judge) should replay the entire turn when you have a baseline from which a simple subtraction will give you the correct count. – Rainbolt Nov 19 '15 at 16:19
  • @Rainbolt That's the trivial case of "My opponent is counting all the Pyro copies," a systematic error. I'm talking about "My opponent knows not to count Pyro copies, but accidentally miscounted a few Pyro copies." – Alex P Nov 19 '15 at 16:28

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