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Submission deadline: Tuesday, July 31st, 11:00 PM GMT
Rules and Banned List
Be sure to review the rules and banned list(s) by clicking below.
Cards on the PHM Banned List are always banned, and cards on the Land Rule Banned List are banned as well when the round uses a Land Rule.
2. Game Rules
3. Hand Construction Rules
5. Perfect Hand Magic League (PHML)
7. Variant Format Rules
Perfect Hand Magic (PHM) is a competitive strategy game for two or more players. It can be played using pencil and paper; however, it's most commonly played via an online forum. To play the game, each player secretly chooses a specified number of Magic cards which form their hand. Once all players have chosen hands, the hands are revealed and scored.
The object of the game is to choose the hand that will score the most points. The score for each hand is determined by the result that it would achieve if it were used to play two games of Magic – one match – against each competing hand; the rules for these theoretical games are covered in Section 2 – Game Rules. During each theoretical game, the player of each hand employs the strategy that maximizes the score for their hand, taking into account the strategy of their opponent(s).
A hand scores 3 points for each game that it would win, 0 points for each game that it would lose, and 1 point for each game that would end in a draw. However, a hand scores only 2 points for any match that would have a symmetrical result, regardless of whether the result would be two drawn games or a win for each hand.
The composition of a hand is limited only by a short banned list and a few restrictions on the game states that it can enable; these restrictions are covered in Section 3 – Hand Construction Rules.
2. Game Rules
2.1. Except for the changes described in these rules, games follow the rules for a normal game of Magic.
i. Changes that would take effect during the prerelease for a set take effect during the first round for which cards from that set may be submitted instead.
ii. Changes that would take effect at any other time take effect during the first round for which those rules have been in effect since the start of the round instead.
2.1b. Ignore any part of an instruction that isn't covered by these rules or by the rules of Magic.
2.2. A player's opening hand contains that player's chosen cards.
2.3. Players' libraries begin the game empty.
2.3a. A player doesn't lose the game as a result of being unable to draw a card.
2.4. An effect that would produce a random result produces the result that least benefits the owner of the source of that effect instead.
2.5. Each player is the starting player for one game in each match.
2.6. Players know the identities of all face-down cards and all cards in hidden zones, and players know which decisions have been made by other players.
2.7. If a game would continue indefinitely, then the game is a draw.
2.8. If a loop containing at least one optional action would be repeated indefinitely during a turn, then any player may propose a number of times for that loop to repeat instead. If a player does, then each other player may propose a different number and the loop is repeated for the greatest number of times proposed instead. No player is required to make a choice that would end a loop that crosses multiple turns.
2.9. Cards can't be brought into the game from outside the game.
3. Hand Construction Rules
3.1. A player may not choose an opening hand that would enable them to achieve any of the following results before an opponent's second turn would end, such that that opponent could make no sequence of decisions that would not result in at least one of these results:
i. Win the game.
ii. Take an infinite number of turns.
iii. Cause a card to leave an opponent's hand.
Ignore this rule in the following cases:
3.1a. That player's hand would be legal if that player's opponents' cards had no rules text.
3.1b. That player's hand would be legal if that player's opponents had no maximum hand size.
3.1c. That player could achieve one of these results only during a game that was restarted after an opponent's second turn had begun.
3.1d. All cards that would leave an opponent's hand during the resolution of an effect would be put onto the battlefield by that effect.
3.1e. All cards that would leave an opponent's hand during the resolution of an effect would be in that opponent's hand once that effect resolved.
3.2. A hand may contain any number of copies of any card legal in Vintage.
3.2a. An unreleased card is treated as though it's legal in Vintage if it will become legal in Vintage upon release and if the release notes for the set that contains that card were published prior to the start of the round (See rule 4.1).
3.3. A hand may not contain any cards on the PHM Banned List.
4.1. A player plays a round of PHM by submitting a list of their chosen cards to the PHM moderator.
4.2. A player may change their hand until the posted deadline.
4.2a. If a player submits an illegal hand, then the moderator will try to notify that player to change their hand prior to the deadline. If the hand is discovered to be illegal after the deadline has passed – or if the player does not submit a new hand – then the moderator may either disqualify that hand or replace it with a similar hand, in which any cards causing that hand to be illegal have been removed or replaced.
4.2b. The moderator also will try to notify a player if that player's hand doesn't enable that player to win the game against any possible hand.
4.3. A player may name their hand. If he or she doesn't, then the moderator may name it. The moderator may also rename a player's hand at their discretion.
5. Perfect Hand Magic League (PHML)
5.1. PHM League play consists of four rounds of PHM.
5.2. Each round, a player earns League points according to the following formula:
League Points = Points Scored / Number of Opponents x 100 (rounded to the nearest integer)
5.3. The player with the most League points at the end of League play is the PHM League winner.
5.3a. If multiple players have the most League points at the end of the League, then the PHM moderator may allow those players to play additional rounds until only one of those players has the most League points or until a specified number of additional rounds has been played.
6.1. A table of match results is posted at the end of each round. Each row lists one player's result against each other player. A player's points and League points are tallied at the end of their row.
6.2. A player may earn bonus League points as specified by the PHM moderator.
6.3. Each player is responsible for determining the match results for their hand.
6.3a. Players are encouraged to determine or verify additional match results.
6.3b. An undetermined match result is counted as a loss for both players in that match.
6.3c. A player may challenge any result until the moderator announces that the result is final.
7. Variant Format Rules
7.1. Perfect Hand Magic has been played with hands typically containing between one and seven cards. Additionally, the Game Rules and Hand Construction Rules have been adapted to create hundreds of variant formats. Five commonly-played variants are described in Sections 7.3-7.7.
7.2. The rules of a variant format overwrite any other applicable rules.
7.2a. Some variant formats generate continuous effects. A continuous effect generated by a variant format is treated as having the earliest timestamp within a layer or sublayer. If continuous effects generated by multiple variant formats would apply in the same layer or sublayer, assign timestamps to those effects in the order that the variant formats are listed in the rules or name of the round.
7.2b. Some variant formats require a player to make some number of decisions in addition to or instead of submitting a hand. A player's submission must comply with the Hand Construction Rules, taking into account any decisions made at this time.
7.2c. Some variant formats require players to make decisions "before the start of each game". For these decisions, follow the "Active Player, Nonactive Player order" rule, replacing "active player" with "starting player".
7.3. Land Rule Variant.
7.3a. There are three versions of the land rule variant.
i. This is the basic land rule (LR). Any player may play a basic land of their choice from outside the game any time he or she could normally play a land. A hand may not contain any cards on the Land Rule Banned List.
ii. This is the extra land rule (ELR). Any player may play a basic land of their choice from outside the game any time he or she could normally play a land. Any player may play an additional land on each of their turns from their hand. A hand may not contain any cards on the Land Rule Banned List.
iii. This is the draw land rule (DLR). If a player would draw a card from an empty library, that player puts a basic land of their choice from outside the game into their hand instead. The starting player doesn't skip the draw step of their first turn. A hand may not contain any cards on the Land Rule Banned List.
7.3b. For all versions of the land rule variant, except as allowed by its owner, a basic land can't be caused to leave the battlefield, change control, or gain another card type by an effect of a source controlled by an opponent of its owner before its owner's second turn would end.
7.5. Life Rule (LF).
7.5a. If neither player would win otherwise, then the player who maintains the higher life total wins the game.
7.5b. Irrespective of rule 7.5a, a player must choose an opening hand that enables them to win both games of a match against at least one hand, such that the player of the losing hand could make no sequence of decisions that would not result in that player losing the game. The losing hand must conform with the Hand Construction Rules but need not consider this rule.
7.6a. Players exchange hands before the start of each match. Each player must choose an opening hand that enables them to win both games of a match against a specified hand or specified hands, such that the player of any specified hand could make no sequence of decisions that would not result in the player of that specified hand losing the game. Ignore rule 3.1.
7.7a. A player earns bonus points if their hand meets specified requirements.
1. 6-0. We both go low, then Approach races life gain / stalemate.
2. 6-0. Go low life, race life gain with Approach.
4. 2-2. Counter Approach or Ogre. One wins, one stalemates.
5. 6-0. Approach races Helix, especially with mana ramp.
3 | 6 6 X 2 6 | 20 | 500
Please note, the correct play for me, if you go over our results, is generally to cast Approach on 3rd turn. I pay 18 life to Ogre, cast Approach and gain 7, and then - if needed - immediately pay 9 life to go to 0. This gives me 13 turns to race life gain and cast Approach a 2nd time.