Magic the Gathering

Record Deduction as Penalty?

There has been discussion recently at dcijudge-l and other places about the proper penalties in two-headed giant matches. In 2HG matches, only one game is played per match. This means that a Game Loss actually equals a Match Loss and this is considered too hard a penalty for many rules infractions that warrant the former.

This got me into thinking: What if we replace the current system of Game/Match Losses with a deduction of points from the player’s or team’s current tournament record? A Game Loss could equal a deduction of one point, while a Match Loss would mean a deduction of three points. Such a system has several advantages, but also disadvantages.


  • Solves the two-headed giant problem.
  • Lowers the incentive to rules cheese, since a player doesn’t get an immediate advantage if his or her opponent gets a Game or Match Loss.
  • Is more fair in situations, where a player gets a penalty for stuff that happens outside a match. (For example, a Game Loss for an illegal deck list, or Unsporting Conduct during a break.) With the current system, a player that is not involved get a “free” Game or Match win.
  • Is more flexible, since the number of point deductions is not limited to 1 or 3.


  • How to handle single-elimination tournaments?
  • What about games where the game state is irrevocably damaged?
  • Lower the incentive to call a judge when you notice that an opponent commits a seemingly accidental rules infraction, since you can’t “hope” for a Game/Match Loss.
  • Penalties in this system have no influence on your rating.

I think that some of the disadvantages could be solved by “falling back” to the old system in situations where this is necessary.

I am not sure whether such a system is feasible, but it’s at least an interesting thought experiment.

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