Cranial Insertion: Thirty Common Mistakes
By Eli Shiffrin on August 27th, 2006 · Filed in Cranial Insertion · Comments not available just now
Thirty Common Mistakes
or, Don't Do Any of These Things
By Eli Shiffrin, Thijs van Ommen, and Tom Fowler
[This article has been translated into Spanish here.]
Due to events beyond our control, I shall now break my vow of silence and resume writing earlier than planned. What shall I tell you all today? Hmm, I think I'll recite Homer's Odyssey in modern Klingon...
Nah, I don't know Klingon. Instead I'm going to expound upon the article Thirty Common Mistakes Players Make. This will not only bring the list to all of you who don't read the judge articles, but it'll clarify any points for new players. All credit for the original list goes to the DCI judge mailing list and to Andy Heckt for compiling it; thanks, folks!
Even if you're a great player, you'll want to read over this list. You just might learn something new. We'll return next week with more questions, hopefully from the floor of Grand Prix Phoenix, but also yours -- so email them all to email@example.com for greater glory!
Before we begin, please keep in mind what Brian said last week regarding non-card rulings. When we mention penalties for infractions in this article (or any article, really), those are not set in stone - they're only the penalty suggested in the Penalty Guidelines and may occasionally be upgraded or downgraded based on other factors.
Too... many... tokens...1. Tokens and Counters – either using non-token cards or same item for two different types of tokens. - Or, more generally, having indecipherable tokens. If you're not using the spiffy official token cards, you need to make it very clear which sort of token is what. If your only token generator is Meloku, the Clouded Mirror, it's not much work to tell which tokens are which because they're all the same. But then when you add in Rakdos Guildmage, Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree, and Flock of Rabid Sheep, it can get confusing.
Quick and easy answer? Use scraps of paper. Write down the name, color, power, toughness, and any abilities of your tokens. And make sure that you can tell if they're tapped or not – coins are for counters, not for tokens.
2. Conceding with the expectation of being compensated later. - Of course, asking, "Will you give me a pack if I concede?" is an instant DQ. Conceding and then asking for a pack after you've scooped is okay, but you're probably not going to get one.
3. Not presenting your sideboard with your deck. Having your sideboard mixed with other cards. - After you shuffle your deck and present it to your opponent, you're supposed to present your sideboard so that it's clearly distinquished. In Constructed Events, the opponent is allowed to count the sideboard as well. At events like FNM or Prereleases, chances are your opponent won't care that you didn't present the sideboard, but you're really supposed to do this.
4. Unable to reliably track your own life total. - Don't trust your opponent to keep track of your life for you. Don't trust your memory, either. Pen and paper, people! Or one of those life counters with a wheel. Not dice, please. Bumping the table should not shave ten points off your life total.
5. Looking at extra cards - either via PE-Major (e.g. activating a Top that's no longer in play) or shuffling clumsiness. - Slow down and be careful. Make sure that your Top is there before you look at your cards (tapping it with your finger is a good habit), and make sure that your Compulsive Research doesn't get countered before you gleefully draw cards.
Same with shuffling. Don't rush and turn the game into a 60-Card-Pickup match.
6. Drawing too many cards at the beginning of the game, especially after a mulligan. - This also falls under "slow down and be careful." If you draw too many cards, you get a forced mulligan.
7. Not calling a judge when someone makes a procedural error. - We all know that forgetting to pay cumulative upkeep before drawing means that the permanent is sacrificed, and now you know that drawing extra cards in your opening hand results in a mulligan, but it's not your job or right to enforce those policies. Call the judge, even if it's a minor and easy situation.
8. Not shuffling an opponent's deck, especially REL 3+. - So, how many of you knew that you're required to shuffle your opponent's deck at REL3 and higher events? This means PTQs, Regionals, Grand Prix, Nationals, and all Pro-level events. You have the right to do so at any event as well, and it's generally a good idea.
9. Insufficiently randomizing the deck. - Shuffle lots. It supposedly takes seven riffle shuffles to randomize a deck of 52 cards, eight for 60. Pile shuffling isn't really randomization, though it's a way to help break up card clumps that you may not be able to do with riffle shuffles. Mana-weaving isn't randomization at all. It's stacking your deck, and that makes judges sad.
10. Forgetting to check to reset to your original deck before a new match. - In other words, desideboard! Flip through your deck between matches and make sure that there are no sideboard cards floating around in your main deck, or use some method to remind yourself which cards in your sideboard don't belong there. Failure to desideboard really is a silly way to get yourself a game loss.
11. Returning cards to each player's appropriate deck at the end of a game. - "You got Fetters in my Zoo deck!" "You got Zoo deck in my Fetters!"
Don't let this happen to you. Try keeping permanents you don't own (and that are not flip cards) turned 180° from your others. And if you're using black sleeves and your opponent is using white sleeves, I devoutly hope that this will never be an issue. . . .
12. Profanity. - Yes, inviting your deck to copulate vigorously with itself for not providing you with that fourth land is an offense. Making this offer at 90 decibels is an even bigger offense. Making it at 180 decibels, while a very impressive feat, is a very bad offense. These fall under Unsporting Conduct, ranging from minor to severe, at the judge's discretion.
What is normal for the tournament venue and local culture determine where the infraction falls. Mild profanity in a casual environment with only late-teenage players is obviously not as much of an issue as the same profanity while playing Magic in a church with 10-year-olds.
13. Littering. - Don't be a litterbug. Pick up after yourself. Trashing the location falls under Procedural Errors. A little trash is minor, much trash is major, and leaving half-eaten sandwiches rotting on the table is rather severe.
14. Asking your opponent for a ruling. Few opponents will look out for your best interests. - Even if your opponent is a certified judge, he's not a judge at the event. Or if he is, either you're playing casually or there's something really wrong.
The real issue isn't whether or not your opponent will lie to you (which would enter an exciting realm of penalties) but whether he's correct.
15. Discussion with someone not your opponent or official about the current game-state of any match. - Spectators should be seen and not heard. Or not even seen. The only people that you should talk to about the match in progress are your opponent, judges, and any other officials that you probably won't have to worry about until you get to a Grand Prix or higher.
Asking spectators for help is also right out.
"Watch me pull a rabbit16. Using excessively worn sleeves. - No marked cards, please. Even if they're all worn similarly, that's still a Not Good Thing.
out of my card sleeves."
17. Using sleeves that have clearly been pointed out as not allowed. - While the DCI does not ban any sleeves, individual head judges may – especially highly reflective sleeves. It should also be noted that if someone says "Don't do this," you probably should not do that.
18. Having some cards in deck (unsleeved) upside down. - This is more for your benefit to reduce confusion and flipping cards around, but reversed cards can also end up being marked cards if you shuffle them into your deck with the cards all oriented the same so that the sleeves are oriented differently.
19. Using differently worn sleeves for sideboarded cards. - It's nice to be able to quickly pick out your sideboard cards, but it's not nice for them to be marked. On the other hand, if you switch the sleeves when you sideboard them in, you're okay.
20. No DCI# or name on decklist. - Really now, we learned this in kindergarten. Put your name on your stuff! How else can the judges find your decklist if you need it (or if they need it to deck-check you?)
If you don't name and number your list, don't think that it won't be connected to you – the judges will find out whose it is, and they won't be happy with you.
21. Forgetting lands on decklist. - Lands are cards. Even basic lands. Show them some love.
This is especially a problem while filling out limited decklists. After you make sure that you've marked off all of the limited cards you're playing, don't forget to fill in the basic lands you're using! That 24-card decklist will get you a game loss.
22. Illegible writing. - Judges are not pharmacists. If your "Zombify" looks more like "Zobfires", we're going to be dragging you up to explain what a Zobfire is and in which set it was printed. This applies to all parts of the decklist –- make sure that judges can read your name and DCI number, too!
23. Overly abbreviated or incorrect card names. - "Meloku, Clouded Mirror" is okay even though that is not quite the card's name. But when you start getting down to "Meloku," "Mirror," or "M.C.M." you've got a problem. Even though there is only one Meloku, one Jitte, and one Ghost Council, you must write out the full name.
Incorrect names and nicknames are also bad. "Bob" is not a card, as much as it should be. Neither is "Puppy," "Koala," nor "G/B Dual." And if you list a real card that's not in your deck, like Sky Swallower instead of Simic Sky Swallower, you're in all sorts of trouble.
24. Incorrectly filling out played/total columns on limited decklists. - Or not filling them out at all, which is extremely bad unless you're not actually playing. If you only mark down 39 of the 40 cards in your deck, you're looking at a game loss for an illegal deck, but if you mark down a card that you're not playing instead of one you are, you may be investigated for the savage cheats.
25. Using tally marks/check marks instead of numbers on Limited decklists. - For Ravnica-Guildpact-Dissension, probably all of your cards will be one and tally marks will look like a 1, but Time Spiral is coming! Even though you will never have 11 of the same card (unless of course you're radically cheating), write 2, not ||. If nothing else, it'll make the math a lot easier.
26. Not alphabetizing cards when registering sealed card pool to be passed. - You very likely won't get a penalty if you don't have your cards alphabetized, but it helps everyone if you do. The player who receives your cards needs to check what he's received against the list you made before he does anything else, and the faster he can do so, the better.
Sign here.27. Leaving the table/playing area before signing the result slip. - Don't forget to sign the slip, even if you lost. The judges will have to track you down with a tranquilizer gun – er, with the slip, and get you to sign it. Refusing to sign it at all pushes it into Unsporting Conduct for disobeying a tournament official.
If you win, you should not only sign the slip but turn it in yourself.
28. Players failing to communicate match result (more common when result slips aren't being used).
It never fails. One table is still unreported, but no one's playing. When match slips aren't used, the winner needs to let a judge know as soon as possible so the next round can start up ASAP.
29. Not recording unfinished games as a draw on the result sheet. - When time is called on Swiss rounds, the active player finishes his turn, and then the players have five more turns. After that, if no one has won, the game is a draw. It needs to be reported as such for tiebreakers.
30. Not verifying results and/or drops before signing (and/or entirely forgetting to sign and/or to submit the results). - If you sign a results slip that says you lose when you really won, you've lost. Once you sign the slip, it's final, so make sure it's right first. At least you don't have to read any fine print about WotC claiming your soul for signing the results slip. . . .
Any more common mistakes you see that you think players should watch themselves for? Drop a comment in the article discussion thread. And for bonus points this week, print out the original article to show to new players at your local events or the Time Spiral prerelease.
Until next time, have fun not making mistakes!
By Eli Shiffrin on August 27th, 2006 · Filed in Cranial Insertion · Comments not available just now
About Eli Shiffrin
Eli is a level 3 Regional Judge certified by the DCI, currently based in Tucson, Arizona and serving the entire AZ/SoCal region. You can often find him at Magic Tower Games in Marana for FNM or at the state events in Phoenix, where he is bouncing around with lots of coffee and possibly an energy drink in him.