What Defines a Gameplay Disruption
A Gameplay Disruption occurs whenever a game step, sequence, or mandatory occurrence is overlooked or performed erroneously. Essentially, this type of disruption is associated with someone making a single, honest, unintentional mistake during gameplay. For dealing with issues regarding repeated or intentional abuse or violation of the rules, see the Cheating section of Unsporting Conduct under 3. Event Disruptions.
The potential for one player or the other to gain advantage by overlooking a step or mandatory occurrence is very real, which is why these disruptions are taken seriously. Even if a player did not intend to overlook a rule, they could still benefit enough to turn the game in their favor. Thus, it is imperative that these disruptions be dealt with in order to restore the integrity of the game. To do this, Judges are encouraged to use one of three main resolutions: play on, resolve now, or rewind.
The play on resolution means that, after both players acknowledge the mistake and the Judge determines that neither player was given notable advantage because of it, the game is continued without “going back” and resolving or correcting the mistake.
The resolve now solution is used when the overlooked rule or ability in question can still be retroactively applied without giving either player major advantage while not applying it will give one player advantage over the other.
The rewind solution is used when neither of the other two solutions can be used without giving one player significant advantage over the other. For this solution, players reverse their actions and “back up” the game to the point where the mistake was made, correct it, then continue on from that point as normal. Please note that this solution can be very disruptive to the flow of the game and the tournament round, and therefore should only be used if neither of the other two solutions will work.
The further from an oversight a game advances, the more complicated the rewind procedure becomes. If the game has advanced to a point where rewinding would undo a significant portion of the game, the Judge can decide, on their judgment, that the game cannot be rewound. If this happens, then the players must simply play on.
As a general rule, it is up to the Judge to decide what action is necessary to resolve an issue. If a Judge is uncertain about what to do, they should call the Head Judge to help determine a solution.
The three types of gameplay disruptions are: Missed Mandatory Abilities, Missed Game Steps, and Illegal Game States. Generally, if the gameplay disruption is relatively small and only happens once, then the player receives a Normal Warning, if even that. If a disruption is larger (meaning it significantly disrupts the flow of an event) or a player commits the same gameplay-related infraction more than once, then a larger penalty may be warranted.
Missed Mandatory Abilities
A missed mandatory ability occurs whenever a forced or automatic card ability that should have occurred is skipped or overlooked. A forced mandatory ability that should not occur, but is resolved by mistake, also counts as a missed mandatory ability.
Players are expected to play the game accurately, and to resolve all mandatory card abilities as necessary. All players are responsible for all mandatory abilities.
Examples of mandatory abilities include conditional card text (“when X occurs, do Y,” etc.) and non-optional keyword abilities.
Missed Game Steps
A missed game step (or game effect) occurs whenever a forced or automatic game occurrence that should have occurred is skipped or overlooked. A forced game occurrence that should not occur, but is resolved by mistake, is also considered a missed game step.
Players are expected to play the game accurately, and to resolve all mandatory game occurrences as necessary. All players are responsible for all mandatory game occurrences.
Examples of game steps include the collection of resources at the beginning of a round or the removal of tokens/cards at the end of the round.
Illegal Game State
An illegal game state occurs any time an ability or game step is resolved in an incorrect or inaccurate manner.
Players are expected to play the game accurately, and to resolve all game steps and abilities correctly. All players are responsible for maintaining a legal game state at all times.
Examples of illegal game states include when a player performs an illegal action or incorrectly resolves a card ability (such as if they misread a number).
Repeated Gameplay Disruptions
The guidelines laid out in this section have been in reference to the first time a player accidentally commits any of these infractions over the course of an event. Even expert players are capable of making the occasional mistake, thus the first time one of these incidents occurs in an event is often excusable (unless it leads to a much larger disruption of the event overall). However, if a player repeats the same mistake a second or third time over the course of the same event, then this is a more serious infraction.
As mentioned earlier in this document, the purpose of a Warning—of a penalty system in general—is to inform a player when they have committed an infraction and to educate them so that it does not happen again. If a player does not heed this warning and performs the same mistake again, then this suggests that either the player failed to take the warning seriously or the “mistake” was actually intentional. In the case of the latter, the involved leader should investigate for cheating.
Regardless of the reason behind it, a repeated infraction should be taken seriously, and thus warrants a Hard Warning at the very least.