Penalty Guidelines of Magic-League

Penalty Guidelines of Magic-League

December 2012


This document indicates how rules infractions are penalized. The penalties for these are standard, and should not be deviated from except during extreme circumstances.


Rules Enforcement:

There are 2 levels of rules enforcement, each corresponding to a type of tournament/match. They are as follows:

Regular - League matches (8K) are subject to Regular rules enforcement. The focus here is for testing and having fun, so the penalties are more lenient. When ruling in these matches, the emphasis is on instructing the players in proper play habits and techniques.

Tournament  All tournament matches are subject to the Tournament level rules enforcement. Players in tournaments are expected to have a basic working knowledge of the rules and a reasonable knowledge of both their play application, and technical play.

Types of Penalties:

*Caution (C ) - The smallest penalty that can be given. This is an untracked verbal warning. Cautions are used for very minor errors and mistakes that have a very low potential for abuse. The judge giving this penalty must explain the infraction, and the consequences of repeating the infraction.

*Warning (W) - A warning is an officially tracked penalty used to inform league staff that a problem has occurred. All warnings are kept in the Magic-League Penalty Database. The judge issuing this penalty must explain the infraction, the consequences of repeating the infraction, and if possible how to avoid the infraction.

*Game Loss (GL) - The player will lose the game in progress. If a game loss is given between rounds of a tournament, the game loss is applicable to the first game of the next round. Sideboarding is allowed after a game loss penalty, except when the penalty was issued prior to the start of game 1. The player who receives the penalty will have the decision of play/draw. Game losses are used in situations where the game cannot be continued due to a player's actions or where the potential for abuse is high. A warning is always given with this penalty.

*Match Loss (ML) - The player loses the match in progress. If this penalty is given between rounds, the player loses the next match of that tournament. Match losses are used in situations involving repeat offenders, or situations that have a very high potential for abuse, but are not worthy of a disqualification. A warning is always given with this penalty.

*Disqualification (DQ) - The player is removed from the tournament immediately. Disqualifications are used in situations that damage the integrity of a tournament, for people who excessively repeat offenses, or for severe unsporting conduct. As part of the disqualification, the player automatically loses their match if it is still in progress. If the disqualification is in regards to a match which just completed (for example, it is determined that a player supplied false information to a judge for a ruling during the match), the player's last match will be changed to a loss if necessary. Judges do not need proof to disqualify a player if they are reasonably convinced that the integrity of the tournament is damaged. Disqualifications also may warrant a ban depending on the situation. A warning is always given with this penalty. If a player is disqualified after the cut to single elimination, no additional players are added to replace the disqualified player. Most disqualifications specify that the player is to receive no prize, but if a player is disqualified due to an escalation in penalization they may be eligible for prize at the discretion of League staff.

Escalation of Penalties:

The normal order of penalties for repeat offenders is caution - warning - game loss - match loss - disqualification, unless the penalty dictates otherwise. At regular rules enforcement the judge may at their discretion repeat a penalty.

Player Communication

As it is the goal of Magic-League to emulate DCI policy when possible, you are referred to section 4.1 of the Magic Tournament Rules for player communication issues, and section 4.2 for shortcuts. You are also advised to look at section 4.3, which governs taking actions in an illegal order. For the purposes of sections 4.1-4.3, we will treat Masters as Professional level events. In addition, players are expected to be familiar with Magic-League's Floor Rules.

Banned Players

Players who are banned in a league channel for any reason are not eligible to compete in tournaments. Any player caught violating this rule will be automatically disqualified from the tournament, and will further be penalized for ban evasion (which usually involves doubling the original ban). From time to time, league staff may ban players for excessive penalty history. The length of the ban are at the discretion of the staff member who issues the ban.


100. Game Play Errors

101. Game Play Error - Missed Trigger

A player fails to demonstrate awareness of a triggered ability's existence the first time it would affect the game in a visible fashion. The point at which this awareness needs to be demonstrated depends on the impact the trigger would have on the game:

  • A triggered ability that requires its controller to choose targets (other than "target opponent"), modes, or other choices when the ability is put on the stack must be announced (and those targets or modes chosen) before the controller next passes priority.
  • A triggered ability that causes a change in the visible game state (including life totals) or requires a choice upon resolution must be resolved before taking any game actions that could only take place after the triggered ability should have resolved (such as casting a Sorcery spell, or moving to the next step or phase). Casting an Instant or activating an ability does NOT mean that the ability has been missed, as it could still be on the stack.
  • A triggered ability that changes the rules of the game only requires that the controller prevent their opponent from taking any resulting illegal action (such as blocking with a single creature after attacking with a Pyreheart Wolf).
  • A triggered ability that affects the game state in non-visible ways must be announced the first time it has an effect on the visible game state (such as a creature with exalted dealing combat damage).

If the trigger has been announced or indicated at any point, is is no longer a Missed Trigger. Failure to resolve an announced trigger should be treated as Game Play Error - Game Rule Violation.

Triggered abilities that only create delayed triggered abilities automatically resolve without requiring acknowledgement. Awareness of the delayed trigger that they create must be demonstrated according to the critera above. Triggered abilities that do nothing except create one or more copies of a spell or ability (such as storm) automatically resolve, but awareness of the resulting objects must be demonstrated according to the criteria above (even though the resulting objects themselves might not be triggered abilities).

Players may not prematurely advance the game state to attempt to cause their opponents to miss their triggered abilities; for example, if a player draws a card during his or her draw step without allowing an opponent to resolve an ability that would trigger in their upkeep, the opponent still has the opportunity to fulfill the required acknowledgement by doing so at that point.

The controller of a missed triggered ability receives a warning only if the triggered ability is usually considered detrimental for the controlling player. The current game state is not a factor in determining this, although symmetrical abilities may be considered usually detrimental or not depending on which player is currently being affected.

Remedy: If the triggered ability specifies a default action associated with a choice made by the controller (usually "If you don't..." or "...unless"), resolve it immediately using the default option. If the triggered ability is a delayed triggered ability that changes the zone of an object, resolve it. For these two types of abilities, the opponent chooses whether to resolve the ability immediately or at the beginning of the next phase. These abilities do not expire and should be remedied no matter how much time has passed since they should have triggered.

If the triggered ability creates an effect whose duration has already expired, or was missed prior to the current phase in the previous player's turn, the players should continue playing.

If the triggered ability is not covered by the preceding two paragraphs, the opponent chooses whether the ability is put onto the stack. If it is, it is inserted at the appropriate place if possible, or on the bottom of the stack. No player may make choices involving objects that were not in the appropriate zone or zones when the ability should have triggered (For example, if the ability instructs a player to sacrifice a creature, that player can't sacrifice a creature that was not on the battlefield under their control when the ability should have triggered).

Penalty: Warning

102. Game Play Error - Failure to Reveal: A player forgets to reveal when required to by an effect or game rule, in order to demonstrate that the action taken was legal (if the reveal was mandatory, but not required to demonstrate that the action taken was legal, the infraction defaults to Game Play Error - Game Rule Violation). For effects where both failure to reveal and missed trigger are applicable (such as Dark Confidant), the infraction defaults to Game Play Error - Missed Trigger. Since it is significantly easier to hide these cards online than it is in paper Magic, the potential for abuse is significantly high, and is penalized as such.

Example: A player plays a Kodama's Reach and puts at least one of the selected cards in their hand without revealing it.

Example: A player forgets to reveal his face down "morph" creature when it is returned to his hand.

Remedy: If the card is uniquely identifiable, then the card can be revealed and the penalty downgraded to a warning.

Penalty: Game Loss

103. Game Play Error - Looking at Extra Cards: A player either looks at cards when they shouldn't, or looks at too many.

Example: A player looks at the top 5 cards while resolving an Impulse.

Remedy: The player stops looking at the cards, then sets aside the correct number from the top of their library. The remaining cards are shuffled, and the set aside cards are placed back on top of the library. Then the correct number is looked at.

Penalty: Warning

104. Game Play Error - Drawing Extra Cards: A player draws a card when they shouldn't have.

Example: A player controls both Dark Confidant and Standstill. The player has resolved Confidant's trigger for the turn revealing a Grizzly Bear. Their opponent then plays a spell which triggers Standstill. The player accidentally draws 4 cards instead of 3. Since the Grizzly Bear is known to be in that player's hand, it cannot be randomly selected to be put back.

Remedy: Draws are always traceable via the Action --- Undo Last Draw option (Ctrl - R), assuming that nothing else happened to the drawn card. If the draw is untraceable, the player does the same as above, but with a card selected at random from cards which were not previously known. Players also shuffle the unknown portion of their library after returning a card.

Penalty: Warning

105. Game Play Error - Improper Draw at the Start of Game: This occurs when a player draws too many cards in their initial hands, or when resolving mulligans.

Example: A player takes a mulligan, but accidentally draws 7.

Remedy: Randomly remove the number of excess cards from that player’s hand, plus one. The player is allowed to mulligan from there. In the example case, the player has 7, but should have 6. We remove the difference (1) plus 1 additional card for a total of 2 cards. The player then decides to mulligan from these 5 cards.

Penalty: Warning

106. Game Play Error - Shuffling an Ordered Library: This infraction occurs when a player knows the location of cards in their library (such as Brainstorm, or Cascade) and shuffles it without the proper reason to do so.

Example: A player activates the {0} ability of Jace the Mind Scultptor, and shuffles their library after putting two cards back

Remedy: If the cards that were ordered before the shuffle were known to both players, the penalty can be downgraded to a warning.

Penalty: Game Loss

107. Game Play Error - Game Rule Violation: Game Rule Violation is a catch-all category for game play errors which do not appear in any other place. These are commonly the result of making plays which are against the rules of the game.

Example: A player declares attacking creatures while controlling a Glacial Chasm.

Remedy: If the game has not significantly progressed, and reversing the game would not undo potentially complex plays, the judge may rewind the game to the point where the illegal action occurred. Judges are not to implement partial fixes, or fix games where game affecting decisions have been made.

Since these errors involve actions currently undertaken, judges are allowed to reverse illegal actions to make game state legal.

Penalty: Warning

108. Game Play Error - Failure to Maintain Legal Game State: A player's opponent has made an illegal play, or a play which causes an illegal game state. It is the philosophy that both players are responsible, though the player who undertakes the action is held more accountable. Players are required to remind opponents ONLY WHEN the game state has become illegal. If a judge believes that a player intentionally withheld this information to gain advantage, or to bring it up at a more advantageous time, the player is guilty of Cheating.

Example: A player does not remind his opponent that Faith's Fetters cannot enchant an Akroma, Angel of Fury when played.

Example: A player fails to pay the upkeep cost on a Pact before drawing. The opponent is NOT required to tell the player that the pact's trigger is on the stack, since the game state is legal up until the ability would resolve (losing the game is a legal game state). They ARE required to notify the player if the opponent fails to pay, but plays on, since the game state is then illegal (the player lost, but continues playing)

Remedy: Apply State Based Actions

Penalty: Warning. This penalty is not usually upgraded.

110. Tournament Errors

111. Tournament Error - Illegal Deck: A player's deck is illegal if it contains an illegal number of cards (the exception being less than 15 cards in sideboard); contains cards illegal in the format played; or contains cards that would violate a game rule (such as the 4 card limit, or multiples of restricted cards), or is in a sideboarded state at the beginning of the round.

Example: A player has 4 Mystical Tutors in a Legacy tournament.

Remedy: As part of the penalty, the player is required to make their deck legal for the format played. This involves removing all cards in violation and using only basic land to reach the minimum card limit for the format. The player then messages the TC the new security code, and continues play.

Penalty: Game Loss. If the sideboard is larger than 15 cards, the player is not allowed to access it.

112. Tournament Error - Incorrect Security Code: A player's security code is incorrect if the code that appears in their play application is different than that which appears on site. Since the security code is the online equivalent of a deck list, if the code changes we must assume the deck has also changed. Players are responsible for ensuring that all of the cards in their deck have the same card name as listed on site.

Example: A player's deck has a security code on site of 3eb042c, but in the play application it is listed as 2acd44e.

Remedy: It is the responsibility of each player to check their opponent's security code BEFORE THE MATCH BEGINS! We will not penalize a player for incorrect security code after both players keep their opening hands for game 1.

If the player corrects the issue with the security code within 5 minutes, or the issue is caused by an incompatibility between the site and the play application (such as Full Art Basic Lands) the player is allowed to continue the match.

Penalty: Game Loss. Upgraded to match loss if not corrected within 5 minutes.

113. Tournament Error - Tardiness: A player fails to respond to their opponent's message, or connect within the specified time limits set by Magic-League for their match.

Example: A player does not acknowledge attempts by his opponent to start the match within 5 minutes.

Remedy: If a player receives a match loss during Swiss rounds, they are dropped from the tournament unless they specifically tell the TC not to drop them. It is important to note that players must attempt to contact their opponent, up to and including doing a /query for an opponent not in channel.

Penalty: Game Loss at 5 minutes; Match loss at 10 minutes.

114. Tournament Error - Inactivity: A player does not respond to their opponent during a game within the specified amount of time. This penalty also includes announced inactivity.

Example: A player needs to answer a telephone call which pulls them away from their match for 6 minutes.

Remedy: Judges are to issue the penalty listed below, and are not to give time extensions. If a judge feels that this is intentional, the player is guilty of Stalling.

Penalty: Game Loss at 5 minutes; Match Loss at 10 minutes.

115. Tournament Error - Exceeding Deck Construction Time Limit: A player has not finished building their sealed deck on site after the allotted time has elapsed. Players entering a limited event are expected to be able to construct their deck within 20 minutes. This can easily be seen because that player will have an on site security code of 0 listed until they finish.

Example: A player has did not submit their decklist for a sealed trial before deckbuilding ended.

Remedy: If building takes them more than 5 minutes extra (the time allotted for inactivity), a game loss is added to the penalties listed below (2 game losses = match loss).

Penalty: Game Loss

116. Tournament Error - Disconnection: The actions of a player caused a game in progress to become disconnected, and subsequent attempts to reconnect have failed.

Example: A player takes control of one of his opponent's permanents without waiting to be given control.

Remedy: As a guide, you are referred to CMA - Flippi's article on Known MWS Bugs . The player who causes the issue leading to the disconnection will be penalized. If the judge feels that a player intentionally caused a disconnection to gain an advantage, that player is guilty of Cheating.

Penalty: Game Loss

117. Tournament Error - Ignoring an Official Announcement: A player disobeys a general direction from a judge.

Example: During a Master, a TC asks the players to stop messaging him. A player then messages him asking for pairings.

Remedy: Players may be kicked/banned from the channel at the discretion of an op.

Penalty: Warning, but upgradeable to Game Loss if announced by the TC.

118. Tournament Error - Failure to Draft: A player signs up for a draft mini, but doesn't start the draft.

Example: A player registers for a draft, but disconnects from IRC without dropping.

Remedy: These infractions are very inconvenient and time consuming, and as such will come with a severe penalty. This penalty applies only to minis.

Penalty: Removal from the draft, and possible ban from #draft4you

119. Tournament Error - Slow Play: A player takes longer than is reasonable required to complete game actions. Players are required to play at a reasonable pace even if they are involved in an untimed round or turn.

Example: A player spends an unreasonable amount of time declaring blockers.

Remedy: In addition to the penalty, a time extension of up to 3 minutes is added to the match. If this action is intentional, the player is guilty of stalling.

Penalty: Warning.

120. Unsporting Conduct

Notes: The final authority on what level of unsporting conduct an action is covered by is the judge that applies the penalty. Secondly, unsporting conduct penalties will be additive during a 24 hour period regardless of severity.

Example: A player receives two Minor Unsporting Conduct penalties in one day - The second is upgraded to game loss.

Example: A player receives one Minor then one Major Unsporting Conduct penalty in one day - The Major Unsporting Conduct is upgraded from game loss to match loss.

121. Unsporting Conduct - Minor: A player commits an action that could be disruptive to the tournament or make one of its participants feel uncomfortable.


  • 1. A player uses excessive profanity during a match.
  • 2. A player asks that a judge not rule their match, or appeals a ruling before it is given.
  • 3. A player asks for his opponent to be penalized.
  • 4. A player taunts their opponent.
  • 5. A player fails to report the results of their matches.

Remedy: As part of the penalty, judges are to tell the player what the consequences will be for further infractions.

Penalty: Warning

122. Unsporting Conduct - Major: There are three major categories of major unsporting conduct. They are:

  • 1. not accepting or following the instructions of a judge (including not joining #judges4you when asked).
  • 2. Exhibitions of bigotry or intolerance.
  • 3. Aggressive actions not directed at any person.

Example: A player argues with a judge over a ruling that was given after the judge instructs them to stop.

Remedy: Players committing this infraction may be banned at the discretion of a channel operator if this occurs in a league channel.

Penalty: Game Loss

123. Unsporting Conduct - Aggressive Behavior: Actions taken by a player which a judge deems as potentially threatening.


  • 1. A player threatens a player or judge.
  • 2. A player flagrantly defies the instructions of a judge

Remedy: As part of this penalty, the user will also be banned from league channels for an extended period of time.

Penalty: Disqualification

124. Unsporting Conduct - Bribery and Wagering: A player offers anything in exchange for a result, or two players agree that the winner receive something after a match is played, or a player makes a wager regarding the outcome of a match or tournament they are playing in.

Example: A player offers to concede a number of casual matches for a concession in a Trial.

Remedy: Players guilty of Bribery will be banned from league channels.

Penalty: Disqualification

125. Unsporting Conduct - Randomly Determining a Winner: Both players agree to use some random method to determine the winner of a match. Flipping an apprentice match via #flips is the only exception to this rule.

Example: Two players decide to roll a die to determine who wins a match.

Remedy: The offending players will be banned from league channels.

Penalty: Disqualification

130. Cheating

Note about cheating: A judge does not need concrete proof to find a player guilty of cheating. The judge only needs to be reasonably sure that cheating took place. The remedy for all cheating infractions include long term bans from league channels.

131. Cheating - Fraud: Fraud is cheating through any intentional act of misrepresentation. This includes lying to a judge, intentionally violating communication protocols, intentionally misreporting a match, intentionally making illegal plays hoping the opponent won't notice, and evading bans to join tournaments.

Example: A player intentionally plays Wrath of God with only one white mana and 3 colorless, hoping the opponent doesnt notice.

Penalty: Disqualification

132. Cheating - Stalling: Stalling is the intentional act of taking advantage of a time limit. This is not the same as playing slowly, and this requires more evidence to prove.

Example: A player intentionally slows their pace of play down towards the end of the match while leading 1-0.

Penalty: Disqualification

133. Cheating - Other: This covers all forms of cheating not previously mentioned. This includes running cheat programs.

Penalty: Disqualification

Document History

v 1.0 - Initial Penalty Guidelines

v 2.0 - Change from 4 REL to 2 REL

v 3.0 - Change from 2 REL to 3 REL. Document brought into line with DCI practices.

3.1 - Added penalties for Failure to Draft and Slow Play. Added more in depth discussion.

v 4.0 - Document changed to mirror the recent overhaul of the DCI guidelines. Added Document History.

4.1 - Added Failure to De-sideboard. Corrected disagreement with infraction names.

4.2 - Differentiated between different types of missed triggers. Included not joining j4y as Unsporting – Major. Clarified the wording of Failure to Maintain Legal Game State. Added hidden information section to Rules Violations.

4.3 - Added Incorrect Security Code - Limited. Clarified descriptions to be less ambiguous. Rules enforcement levels renamed to more accurately match DCI descriptions.

4.4 - Added Failure to Build Sealed Deck. Included non-reporting as Unsporting Conduct. Changed Illegal Sideboard to a more universal penalty. Restricted the penalization of Incorrect Security Code to the beginning of the match.

decreased NoShow limit to 5/10 minutes

5.0 - Added ban lengths for certain infractions. Changed Improper Draw at Start of Game to match DCI penalty. Added section on Banned Players.

5.1 - Added Hidden Information Violation. Updated hyperlinks. Changed definitions of unsporting conduct and made it additive. Changed upgrade path.

6.0 - Document restructured to follow DCI practices.

6.1 - Removed multiple levels of rules enforcement, as they are redundant. Added lapsing triggers. Fixed Improper draw at start of game

6.2 - Replaced lapsing triggers with new trigger rule.

6.3 - Minor change to Unsporting Conduct - Bribery and Wagering

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