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One of my standard decks is a 4-Color Rites deck. It has a few combos where infinite "dies" triggers are used. One of them involves having a Catacomb Sifter in play with a Brood Monitor and an Eldrazi Displacer.

The combo involves sacrificing the 3 scions created by the Brood Monitor, which creates 3 "scry 1" triggers from the Catacomb Sifter and adds 3 colorless mana to your pool. The mana just created then is used to activate the Eldrazi Displacer's ability to flicker the Brood Monitor. The Brood Monitor then enters the battlefield and it's triggered ability causes it to create 3 new Eldrazi Scions. This can be repeated infinitely, creating an infinite number of scry 1 triggers.

At regular REL events like FNM, I describe this to my opponents and ask if I can just cut to the card I'm looking for as long as I keep my deck in order. At competitive REL events would this be an appropriate shortcut to propose?

Another question: if the infinite triggers were scry 2 or more, then could you stack your deck as well? Are you allowed to just grab your deck and cut/stack it as a shortcut or is that not an appropriate shortcut for all RELs?

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An Official Ruling (requires a Judge Apps account to view) by high-level tournament judges explicitly says that you can take those shortcuts:

A player with the ability to scry 1 ‘infinitely’ may shortcut this action by examining the library without reordering it and cutting it to a specific location. A player with the ability to scry 2 or more infinitely may shortcut this action by rearranging her library in any way she likes, but she must do so quickly. Players are not required to know the mathematics or technical steps behind this.

Technically, by the definition in the Comprehensive Rules, each of those situations would actually involve two shortcuts. The rule that's relevant here is 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. This sequence may be a non-repetitive series of choices, a loop that repeats a specified number of times, multiple loops, or nested loops, and may even cross multiple turns. It can’t include conditional actions, where the outcome of a game event determines the next action a player takes. The ending point of this sequence must be a place where a player has priority, though it need not be the player proposing the shortcut.

The highlighted part is what makes this tricky. Technically, you can't say "I scry until I see a particular card", but we can work around that.

Scry 1

In the case where you can only Scry 1 a number of times, and you want to search your deck for a particular card and cut to have that card on top, you would use two shortcuts to technically make this work:

  1. Scry 1 N times, where N is the number of cards in your library, and choose to put the card on the bottom each time. This is functionally equivalent to looking at your entire library without changing its order.

  2. Choose a card with K cards on top of it, then Scry K and choose to put the card on bottom each time. This is equivalent to cutting the deck just above the card you are looking for.

Scry 2+

This case is a little more complicated. When you want to stack your deck, you're not just scrying a certain number of cards to the bottom; you're taking a large number of steps of reordering two cards at a time to eventually end up at the desired order. But it still can be done according to the rules using these shortcuts:

  1. Scry 2 N/2 times (rounded up), where N is the number of cards in your library (or enough to see your whole library), and choose to put the cards on the bottom each time. As in the first case, you have to know the current order of your library to deterministically make the next shortcut.

  2. Technically, to be fully compliant with the rules, here you would lay out exactly the sequence of scrys you would do to get the order you want (like "Put the top card on bottom, then put the second from top card on bottom, then put the top card on bottom, etc."). Unfortunately, working out that sequence and reciting it would probably take as long as just doing it manually, which would probably count as slow play. However, it's likely that your opponent would accept "Now that I know the order of my library, I could give a sequence of scrys to arbitrarily reorder my deck, so I would like to skip that and just stack my deck".

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Yes, you can propose any shortcut you like, at any time. If the sequence of plays is legal and your opponent accepts it, you are free to do your combo as you described. At a sanctioned event, preferably ask a judge before taking the shortcut you describe.

The Rules Enforcement Level (REL) doesn't really come into play here. What you are proposing is perfectly fine under the comprehensive rules:

716.1a The rules for taking shortcuts are largely unformalized. As long as each player in the game understands the intent of each other player, any shortcut system they use is acceptable.

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. This sequence may be a non-repetitive series of choices, a loop that repeats a specified number of times, multiple loops, or nested loops, and may even cross multiple turns. It can’t include conditional actions, where the outcome of a game event determines the next action a player takes. The ending point of this sequence must be a place where a player has priority, though it need not be the player proposing the shortcut.

The only possible obstacle to the way you want to handle "infinite scry n" is that even when infinite scrying, you are not allowed to look at your deck as a whole, only n cards at a time. You would have to memorize the order of cards to decide when to stop scrying. However, you are allowed to take notes during the game as described in the Tournament rules, section 2.11, so you could write down the order of cards as you scry them. Therefore, you could easily argue that it is equivalent to looking at your whole deck instead, and in the interest of swift play, it should be acceptable to look at the whole deck.

Be aware though, especially at competitive REL, that action could be deemed illegal and a judge might award you a Warning for "Game Play Error — Looking at Extra Cards". When in doubt, always ask a judge at the event.

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    I don't understand why you say that they should ask a judge before proposing a shortcut. I see nothing in the Tournament Rules that indicates that judges should be involved in proposing/announcing shortcuts. – murgatroid99 May 19 '16 at 17:59
  • Not for proposing the shortcut itself, but whether the proposed shortcut itself is legal. As I wrote, Scry N only allows looking at N cards at a time, and even if I described a sequence involving any number of Scry N effects, I would still only be allowed to look at N cards at a time. At no point am I allowed to look at more than N cards at the same time, which would be the case if I picked up and looked at my whole library. But again, instead of taking notes I could simply look at the whole library instead. Taking notes is covered by the tournament rules, however. – Hackworth May 19 '16 at 18:06
  • Therefore, it seems prudent to ask a judge whether I could replace the process of writing down the order of my library, N cards at a time, with just looking at the whole library, which, again, is not allowed as per the Scry rules, as long as N < library size. – Hackworth May 19 '16 at 18:08
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    It depends on how you look at it. This shortcut allows you to look at every card an arbitrary number of times, which is functionally equivalent to looking at all of the cards at once. If a shortcut allows you to make (for example) multiple tokens at the same time, there's no clear reason that it wouldn't also let you access multiple pieces of hidden information simultaneously. – murgatroid99 May 19 '16 at 18:20
  • Is taking notes a "game choice"? Is choosing what to write down based on what card one sees a "conditional" act? Would writing down the order of one's entire deck be "slow play"? – Acccumulation May 21 at 17:06

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