This is a dual question but the answer from the first part directly leads into the second.

Watching Magic the gathering streamers I've heard the term "Garbage Time" used occasionally. It typically refers to when the opponent is losing the game, but do we have any definitive definition for the term or a possible set of conditions that indicate it is Garbage Time?

In what settings is appropriate for a player to scoop to Garbage time? Such as if a deck is caught in a Teferi lock, as posted in this question. Or in the case a deck has their main or only win con peeled from their deck, such as Unmoored Ego removing all copies of Lotus Field from the Pioneer Lotus Storm deck. Would it be expected for an opponent to concede a game they have virtually no chance at winning*?

*excluding if the opponent was trying to push the timer in order to get a draw

  • 3
    Do you have any sort of source for that expression? An article, a video clip, anything? Because right now I'd vote to close this as unclear.
    – Hackworth
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:18
  • @Hackworth It's a term I've heard referenced watching Magic Streams. With the structure asking for a better definition, why would the question be closed as unclear? Jan 21, 2020 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia has a Garbage time article that defines it as follows:

Garbage time is a term used to refer to the period toward the end of a timed sports competition that has become a blowout when the outcome of the game has already been decided, and the coaches of one or both teams will decide to replace their best players with substitutes. This serves to give those substitutes, who are usually less experienced or younger players, actual playing experience, as well as to protect the best players from the possibility of injury.

Garbage time owes its name to the fact that this period in a game is frequently marked by a significant drop in the quality of game play...

Magic: the Gathering can similarly have games where the winner is effectively already decided but neither player has officially lost.

Players are often expected to concede in situations like that, and in many cases it is strategically a good option for them to do so, but the rules do not require them to do so. As long as a player is progressing through their turn and taking individual game actions in a timely manner, they are not in violation of slow play rules.

  • Why would it matter strategically? The only thing I can think of is not exposing more contents of your deck for future matches; but that should apply equally in both directions.
    – GendoIkari
    Jan 17, 2020 at 22:02
  • 5
    If you concede a game you can't win, you have more time to win future games in the match.
    – murgatroid99
    Jan 17, 2020 at 22:08
  • Ah ok. I didn't know that the time limit was per match as opposed to per game.
    – GendoIkari
    Jan 17, 2020 at 22:18
  • There used to be a strategy where you won your first game and then sided in Scheherazade to extend the second game into a draw through long subgames. Jan 18, 2020 at 8:10
  • Some professionals will concede games at major tournaments to have to do less thinking. Going through 20+ games a day can be mentally taxing and cutting one early can save energy. Jan 21, 2020 at 15:48

There are a variety of reasons why a player would not concede:

  1. They want to see more of the opponent's deck. Yes, their opponent sees more of their deck, but it's not always symmetrical, both in terms of how much information is revealed, and how useful that information is. In an extreme case, if the lock consists of not being allowed to draw, there is little risk of additional information being revealed. Another case would be where they're playing a deck with only one main variant, while the opponent is playing a deck with lots of variants.

  2. They don't know that the opponent has their win condition. Sure, it may actually be the case that the opponent has set up a combo with X, Y, and Z, but until they actually draw Z, there's a possibility they may be bluffing. Maybe they didn't have room for Z, but they have "Show X and Y and hope the opponent concedes" as their alternative win condition.

  3. They don't have a counter, but they don't know their opponent knows this. If they could have a counter, but don't, they may want to play on so as to not reveal this.

  4. Time reasons

  • I remember hearing about an Arena stream that spent over an hour in a single game because the opponent was using Nexus of Fate but didn't have access to their wincon, so they just repeatedly ran through their combo in an attempt to get the streamer to concede. Jan 18, 2020 at 8:00

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