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Here's an article published on Hipsters of the Coast about a 107-minute MTG Arena game. The core idea is, one player was playing a deck that had no win condition except 4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. The deck wins by first getting Teferi to its ultimate, cast some spells to exile all the opponent's permanents, and then use Teferi's -3 to put itself back to the library. Since the opponent can't cast spells, they'll eventually draw their entire library and lose.

At least, that's the plan. In this particular game, the opponent countered or killed all four Teferi. That leaves the player with no way to win. However, he's still able to loop Nexus of Fate to take all the turns and never lose either.

Question: if this happens in paper Magic, is the game drawn?

marked as duplicate by Andrew, Zags, Toon Krijthe, Malco, Joe W Feb 19 at 22:14

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  • I am unclear; which player has Nexus? The same as the Teferi player, or the opponent? – GendoIkari Feb 19 at 13:57
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    Even after reading the original article, I'm having trouble following the question because of all the extra details. Is it actually simply the case that there is one player that has no cards in their library other than a Nexus of Fate, and nothing on the battlefield they can use to win, so they are simply taking infinite turns with Nexus of Fate? Is Teferi at all relevant to the situation that is actually occurring, or is that just the background of how the situation came about? – GendoIkari Feb 19 at 14:04
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    Possible duplicate of What happens in the event of a standoff in Magic? I think the fourth example, a spell that gets shuffled back into the deck when cast applies, though in that case it was both players needing to be involved in the loop. – Andrew Feb 19 at 15:38
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    @GendoIkari While I originally intended boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/45162/9999 to be about a different but related scenario, I've realized it's just a more generalized version of this question and added a case to include the scenario described here – Zags Feb 19 at 16:01
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    @GendoIkari The case was in the answer. I have added the case to the question as well – Zags Feb 19 at 16:05

No. If you in a situation like that in paper magic, you'll have to create a shortcut per CR:

720.1b Occasionally the game gets into a state in which a set of actions could be repeated indefinitely (thus creating a "loop"). In that case, the shortcut rules can be used to determine how many times those actions are repeated without having to actually perform them, and how the loop is broken.

Also per MTR 4.4, you can't ‘opt-out’ of shortcutting a loop:

A player may not ‘opt-out’ of shortcutting a loop, nor may they make irrelevant changes between iterations in an attempt to make it appear as though there is no loop. Once a loop has been shortcut, it may not be restarted until the game has changed in a relevant way.

The game could be drawn if both players were involved in a loop both would choose to continue indefinitely, but this is not the case:

If two or more players are involved in maintaining a loop across turns, each player chooses a number of iterations to perform, or announces their intent to continue indefinitely. If all players choose to continue indefinitely, the game is a draw.

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    Do you mean the person looping Nexus of Fate will be forced to stop and pass the turn? – Allure Feb 19 at 9:02
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    Exactly. Once their opponent has changed the game state they could loop a second time, but that would also be a finite loop. – Arcanist Lupus Feb 19 at 13:01
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    Note that the loop rules technically apply in Arena too, but they haven't figured out how to implement them yet. – Arcanist Lupus Feb 19 at 13:02
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    Also, a loop that can't be stopped by the players (because all the actions involved are mandatory) will cause the game to end in a draw. – Arcanist Lupus Feb 19 at 13:04
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    Nah, rather than a flaw in Arena, this is a rule that requires some human interpretation. Notice that there is no description of what constitutes a loop in the rules. Rather, it relies on humans to recognize one when they see it. It can be a very complex thing to detect through an algorithm (such as, for example, when it includes cards going into a seemingly randomized state of shuffling a deck) yet a human will be able to recognize it as such. This gets even more complicated when the player is changing irrelevant details. Basically, it's just a thing computers are no good at... – Jasper Feb 19 at 14:22

You can't stall indefinitely using Nexus of Fate because it is an optional ability loop involving just you.

From the Tournament Rules section 4.4:

If one player is involved in maintaining the loop, they choose a number of iterations. The other players, in turn order, agree to that number or announce a lower number after which they intend to intervene. The game advances through the lowest number of iterations chosen and the player who chose that number receives priority.


A player may not 'opt-out' of shortcutting a loop, nor may they make irrelevant changes between iterations in an attempt to make it appear as though there is no loop. Once a loop has been shortcut, it may not be restarted until the game has changed in a relevant way. Proposing loops as an effort to use up time on the clock is Stalling.

In order for a loop of optional abilities to cause the game to end in a draw, it has to be a multi-turn loop involving multiple players. See What happens in the event of a standoff in Magic?.

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