I was observing a game the other day and saw a miscommunication that resulted in a player essentially cheating. This was at an FNM.

Here is the scenario, Andrew has a 1/1 thopter token and and a Spireside Infiltrator, Nick has 2 tapped Ovalchase Daredevils.

  1. Andrew confirms his move to attacks and declares thopter token and Infiltrator as attackers. They resolve the Infiltrator's trigger
  2. Nick says "before blockers, Subtle Strike" placing the card on the table near Andrew's thopter and waiting for Andrew.
  3. Andrew then says, "in response, cast Built to Smash" placing the card from his hand directly on the thopter.
  4. Nick then replies, "then I'll give your infiltrator -1/-1 and put a counter on one of my Daredevils".

What ended up happening was Andrew just let this happen since he recognized that Nick had not finished casting the spell when he announced his Built to Smash. Technically speaking Andrew is the one who made an error in this manner, but it was clear to everyone watching that Nick intended to give the thopter -1/-1 and manipulated the communication to his benefit.

What should be done if behavior like this is observed? If the answer as a player is to report to a judge, then what would a judge's course of action be?

1 Answer 1


Technically Andrew cannot act at step 3 because at step 2 targets and modes were not fully defined so Subtle Strike wasn't technically on the stack.

So, since Andrew acted without priority, the steps should be rewound to Subtle Strike being cast. It would then need to be fully cast before priority is regained by either player.

Now, assuming that there were no modes and only a single target, I would actually say that Nick implied that he chose the thopter as his target, and since Andrew accepted the shortcut (by acting like it was on the stack and casting his spell) that Nick's choice is set. There's an old article from Wizards about "false information", but there might be something more recent.

  • So you are saying that the proper move would have been to enforce Nick's implied target of the thopter with no modes chosen since he did not announce one? If so is that outcome even possible since Subtle Strike requires at least one mode to be chosen?
    – Fr33dan
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 22:07
  • 2
    Yes and the way to fix that is just to roll back and Nick must cast the spell properly with modes and targets but by this point he has already seen the Built to Smash and can pick his targets accordingly. Is the answer just that players like Andrew need to be more careful and that there is nothing for observers or a judge to do but roll back the problem when it happens?
    – Fr33dan
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 22:43
  • 3
    @Fr33dan Yes, Andrew should play more carefully, but this is just an opinion. It is irrelevant that Andrew gave away information about his hand. Observers cannot do anything, except to say "Hang on while I call a judge." A judge would roll back the situation. Does that clear things up?
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 23:12
  • 2
    @Fr33dan If a judge is applying a fix they are probably also handing out some sort of penalty. In this case probably a Games Rule Violation to N and Failure to Maintain Gamestate to A (I could be wrong about the exact penalties though since I don't have the MTR available right now)
    – diego
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 0:27
  • 1
    You might be correct if this were an innocent mistake, but if Nick is trying to mislead Andrew by falsely representing his plays (and table positioning is part of communication), then inviting Andrew to act (by pausing and waiting) then he's trying to gain an unfair advantage through disingenuous means. If that's the case, it's absolutely a violation, even if Andrew also causes a violation by responding incorrectly.
    – Samthere
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 16:15

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