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.

Magic the Gathering

Tracking Repeat Penalties

Penalties are supposed to be upgraded when a certain offence is repeated during a tournament. In small tournaments with only few judges that works well, since all judges communicate efficiently (in German we would say: “sie tratschen wie Waschweiber”). But the larger the tournament gets the more difficult it gets to learn about previous penalties.

Normally a repeat offence is only noticed after the match of a player is already over and the result is entered into DCIR. At this point it’s already to late to upgrade the penalty. Also at really large tournaments the scorekeeper is not able to enter all the penalties during the round.

There are multiple possible solutions to this problem. Please keep in mind that repeat offences during a match are normally not a problem, since these are usually noted down on the result entry slip and the opponent tends to remember them as well.

  • The ideal dream-world solution is that each judge has a handheld device that lets him enter penalties that get entered automatically into DCIR. This handheld device would also let you see the warning history of all players at this tournament. Of course this is not feasible for the lack of appropriate software (fixable) and affordable hardware (not so easily fixable).
  • Another solution is to ask the player who will get a penalty whether he got a similar penalty before in this event. If he lies about this, it should be noticed when the repeat penalty is entered and could be penalised with a disqualification. Nevertheless this is not an ideal solution, since there remains a grey area. For example a player could claim that he didn’t think that a previous penalty was really “similar” to the penalty just given. Or, if you ask for any penalties, they could claim that they had forgotten about them.
  • Finally, another solution is to print out the list of warnings after each round and let each judge read through it from time to time. I know that the main problem with that method is memory. I have a really bad memory, especially for names and faces, so this is a method that is very difficult for me to use. Also, not all judges will be equally up-to-date.

I will suggest that we experiment with the different methods at our next events and I know that others from #mtgjudge will as well. I think I will suggest a mix up the latter two methods since that seems to be the most feasible. If I remember I will report back on my experiences at this place. If you have any other methods or comments, please let me know.