Hey everyone! Welcome to another Modern Musings! Today I am going to talk about the shadier side of Magic and what you can do to protect yourself from these sinister practices.
During the 6th round in GP Lyon, Gabriel Nassif was facing off against Thomas Langlotz in the feature match area. Nassif, at 2 life, makes an important attack with Flameblade Adept into what looks like just lone Slippery Bogle with a Hyena Umbra and a Daybreak Coronet attached to it. Given that he only sees a Slippery Boggle on board, Nassif assumes that his menace creature can’t be blocked. When they move to declare blockers, Langlotz moves a Dryad Arbor from his lands to double-block the Flameblade Adept with the land and his Bogle. Nassif, confused, picks up the card, reads it, and displays incredible annoyance at the fact that is a Dryad Arbor. The question now that everyone has been asking now is: was Langlotz misrepresenting his board state? Let’s take a look at what the board looked like.
Though the sceencap is a bit fuzzy, you can clearly see that Langlotz was not hiding his Dryad behind other lands or anything like that. The main argument that people have been making is that your creatures need to be up in the creature “zone”, so to speak, which includes Dryad Arbor. There is something to be said for this argument, as keeping your Birds of Paradise back with your land might make it less likely to eat a removal spell. The real problem with Dryad Arbor though, is that Wizards of the Coast printed a version of the card that looks just like a foil basic forest.
Who was at Fault Here?
I have to say that while I am sympathetic to Nassif in this situation, the whole thing could have been resolved if he had asked: how many creatures do you have? It could have also been resolved if Nassif was looking out for Dryad Arbor as I’m sure he knows almost all Bogles lists run at least 1. If there was a language barrier, then this issue becomes more tricky, but as long as you can communicate with your opponent there shouldn’t be an issue.
Should the FTV: Realms Dryad Arbor Be Banned?
No, but I do think that if a land becomes a creature, or is a creature by default, then it should be played up with your creatures and not your lands. In fact, there is already a rule for video coverage that dictates this should be done:
“Non-creature permanents whose use may reasonably be associated with either the land or nonland area (e.g. an artifact whose only ability is a mana ability) may be located in either area, provided the overall layout is, in the judgment of tournament officials, clear. However, permanents that are also creatures (e.g. artifacts with March of the Machines on the battlefield, Dryad Arbor, or a Treetop Village that is currently a creature) must be placed in the nonland area. Players may not use other cards to intentionally obscure the presence of a permanent in any area of the battlefield.”
I think that it would not be to much of a burden to extend this to general tournament Magic as well.
Protecting Yourself from Cheating
I’d like to segue this conversation into how to protect yourself from cheaters as well. I’d like to preface this with the note that what Langlotz did was in no way cheating. I just felt that this was as good of a time as any to talk about it.
Sadly, there is cheating in Magic as there is in any game or competition where money or prizes are at stake. Fortunately, the vast majority of magic players in my experience are nice people who want to play a fair game. But there are always those few that feel they need to win at any cost or get a thrill from beating the system. So how can you protect yourself? The best rule to follow is to be vigilant. I follow a few rules that serve the dual purpose of protecting myself as well as maximizing the amount of information I have to try and make the best plays.
- Keep track of your opponents life total with pen and paper (fortunately you can no longer use dice in competitive and professional REL tournaments)
- Keep track of your opponents hand and land count
- If your opponent is performing a complicated combo very quickly, make sure you understand what is going on.
- Keep an open line of communication with your opponent. This includes verifying life totals, board state, P/T on creatures, etc.
- If you see your opponent do something suspicious, call a judge! Don’t forget that you can always talk to a judge away from the table and divulge your suspicions. This is the best way to weed out cheaters, as if a judge gets called repeatedly for the same player then they’ll know something is up beyond normal player error.
Following these rules should not only help you against cheaters, but help you form good habits as a player as well.
Well that’s all for this week. I hope you guys enjoyed my take on the Dryad Arbor controversy. Don’t forget to comment and let me know what you think about sketchy play.