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I played in my first PTQ (and got top 8!) a few weeks ago and received a warning for missing a trigger.

The situation was as follows:

It's game 3 of the last swiss round. I pass the turn with a Krallenhorde Howler after attacking, playing two creatures, playing an Evolving Wilds, and cracking it. I'm searching through my deck for a one-of basic so since it will take me a minute to find it and shuffle, I tell my opponent what I'm getting and to go ahead and take their turn while I search and shuffle. They immediately untap, upkeep, draw, play a land, and then pass the turn. I find the land, finish shuffling, and my opponent cuts.

This is where the issue happens, I put my hands on my lands, look at the board, and before untapping anything, point out that the Howler flipped back to a Duskwatch Recruiter on his upkeep and then said that on my upkeep it's going to flip back again. I have not verbally indicated passing priority or said anything up to this point. He called a judge, gave me a warning for a missed trigger.

That was the only warning I got in all of the rounds of that tournament so it didn't matter (and I won that game anyway). My question is, did I imply passing priority by touching my lands?

In general, what verbal and non-verbal actions constitute passing priority at Competitive REL?

  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but you missed the trigger of the creature flipping during his upkeep while you were messing with your deck, correct? Then it seems that the warning was for a missed trigger during your opponent's turn, not during your turn. – SocioMatt May 19 '16 at 15:39
  • Yes, I had cast two spells during my first turn in this scenario so the creature would flip back to the human side on his upkeep. Then he cast no spells on his turn, so it would flip back to the werewolf side on my upkeep. The warning was for missing the transform trigger, when it happened wasn't the relevant part. The question really comes down to what constituted my passing of priority? If I hadn't done anything to indicate passing I would have been able to treat his quick actions without any response from me as a shortcut and rewind the turn to his upkeep and point out that it transforms. – bpeav May 19 '16 at 15:43
  • @ThePeavstenator I think you're still in the clear either way, but do you know for which missed trigger you received the infraction - the transform on his upkeep for having 2 spells on your turn, or the transform on yours for having 0 spells on his turn? You can't just get a penalty for a missed trigger - you could say missed trigger penalties are a targeted infraction :-) – corsiKa May 19 '16 at 21:08
  • @corsiKa Not transforming on his upkeep. The judge was called right before I untapped and began my turn. – bpeav May 19 '16 at 21:14
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    It seems curious that the opponent can cause you to miss a trigger by just playing on without ever passing priority to you so you can resolve the trigger. It would seem more logical that the opponent has to confirm you passing priority back to them by asking if they can start on the next action/step/etc. – Cronax May 20 '16 at 6:56
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I disagree with the ruling made by the floor judge. I also disagree with upgrading the penalty to a warning.

Ruling

First, let's get some terminology down:

  • You are the controller of the trigger.
  • I interpret "action" to mean "game action". For example:
    • Resting your hands on your lands is not a game action.
    • Untapping your lands is a game action.
    • Silence is not a game action.
    • Saying "Sure." is a game action.

The following is an excerpt from the Infraction Procedure Guide:

Players may not cause triggered abilities controlled by an opponent to be missed by taking game actions or otherwise prematurely advancing the game. During an opponent’s turn, if a trigger’s controller demonstrates awareness of the trigger before they take an active role (such as taking an action or explicitly passing priority), the trigger is remembered.

What this says, quite clearly, is that your opponent cannot cause you, the controller, to miss a trigger by drawing a card, playing a land, or otherwise advancing the game without your active consent. You never assumed an active role before remembering the trigger. Therefore, you didn't miss it.

This is reinforced in the Tournament Rules:

Triggered abilities are considered to be forgotten by their controller once they have taken an action past the point where the triggered ability would have an observable impact on the game.

If your opponent had said "Draw?" and you respond with a "Sure.", then you have assumed an active role by explicitly passing priority. In that case, the trigger is definitely missed.

Penalty

Missed triggers should only be upgraded to a warning if the trigger is considered detrimental to its controller. The game state is not a factor in determining this. As noted in the IPG:

Upgrade: If the triggered ability is usually considered detrimental for the controlling player the penalty is a Warning. The current game state is not a factor in determining this, though symmetrical abilities (such as Howling Mine) may be considered usually detrimental or not depending on who is being affected

According to an L2 judge on Reddit, neither side of Duskwatch Recruiter is considered "generally detrimental". It may be situationally detrimental, but according to the IPG, the judge awarding the penalty should not be using the board state as a factor in determining whether the trigger is detrimental.

  • Probably also worth noting, it's once the controller has taken an action. In this case the opponent took an action (playing a land) and tried to shortcut all the way back to the OP's turn, but it doesn't sound like the OP did. That's definitely not a valid way to make triggers be missed. – Cascabel May 19 '16 at 18:12
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You passed priority to him when you told him to take his turn while you searched your deck (more on this in a second), and then you missed the trigger on his upkeep. So the issue wasn't with you touching your lands, it was with where the game state was when you noticed the error.

My guess is that when he went to draw a card, if you had stopped him and said "During your upkeep...," then no warning would have been issued because you were maintaining mandatory triggers. But since he drew a card and played a land, the game had passed through his upkeep. He implied priority when he went to draw a card, and that's where you would normally have caught him to make sure triggers were resolved. It is possible he realized that you'd miss your trigger and tried to speed through his turn, but the judge saw it as you not maintaining proper game state.

The moral of the story here is that you should never pass your turn while you are still taking actions, even if you don't think they take too long and won't change the outcome of your turn. While this might fly in casual games, any shortcut that involves another player taking actions while you resolve anything is probably in violation of a strict interpretation of the comprehensive rules. Under the section on shortcuts:

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....

Your opponent couldn't legally take their turn until you had put a land into play from Evolving Wilds, even though the placing of the land was a "predictable" choice. And had you waited to pass the turn until you had found your land, you may have noticed that you needed to resolve triggers during your opponent's upkeep.


In general, you should stick the shortcuts described in section 4.2 of the Tournament Rules. It's a fairly long list, but the relevant points for passing priority:

  • The statement "Go" (and equivalents such as "Your turn" and "Done") offers to keep passing priority until an opponent has priority in the end step. Opponents are assumed to be acting then unless they specify otherwise.

  • A statement such as "I'm ready for combat" or "Declare attackers?" offers to keep passing priority until an opponent has priority in the beginning of combat step. Opponents are assumed to be acting then unless they specify otherwise.

  • Whenever a player adds an object to the stack, he or she is assumed to be passing priority unless he or she explicitly announces that he or she intends to retain it. If he or she adds a group of objects to the stack without explicitly retaining priority and a player wishes to take an action at a point in the middle, the actions should be reversed up to that point.

If you plan on deviating from these with a proposed shortcut, keep in mind that you "must be clear where the game state will end up as part of the request." This may have been another issue in your proposed shortcut, because your opponent wasn't alerted to where they needed to pause the game next and there was no specific request for priority for triggered abilities.

  • I suspect that you're right about the judge's interpretation of the situation, but "take your turn while..." is not an accepted tournament shortcut, and I'm pretty sure that your interpretation isn't even a valid shortcut according to the comprehensive rules. – murgatroid99 May 19 '16 at 16:03
  • @murgatroid99 That's a good point. I'll edit the last paragraph to reflect that. – SocioMatt May 19 '16 at 16:05
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    I will emphasize that he took his turn quickly. The untap, upkeep, draw took less than a second and then he played his land and passed about 2 seconds after that. – bpeav May 19 '16 at 16:13
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    What you should have done is announce the trigger at the beginning, like "You can take your turn while I'm searching, and the Howler transforms at the beginning of your upkeep". That's the first time anyone gains priority on your opponent's turn, so there's no reason to wait to announce the trigger. – murgatroid99 May 19 '16 at 16:42
  • And if you didn't do it like mugatroid suggested you should have called the judge once they drew a card. – diego May 19 '16 at 17:04

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