ith over 15,000 cards registered for the Constructed part of Day One, and over 9,000 for the draft part, Nationals judges fielded questions aplenty. During rounds four and five, I wandered the event floor, talking to my fellow judges about interesting rulings and card interactions they had seen.
Tarmogoyf is a popular fellow today, and when a card is that popular, there are bound to be questions about it. Many of the issues with Tarmogoyf involved players having to constantly evaluate just how big it is, especially as the graveyards get bigger. The most common question about the Lhurgoyf was whether Incinerate kills a 2/3 when there are no instants in any graveyard. And the answer is that it does not-state-based effects aren't checked until after Incinerate has finished resolving and gone to the graveyard, at which time Tarmogoyf will be a 3/4.
In its brief time in Standard, Edge of Autumn has turned into a popular card, more for its cycling ability than its Rampant Growth effect. What happens, though, when a player cycles Edge of Autumn by sacrificing a Flagstones of Trokair-does he search for a Plains first or draw first? In this case, the search happens first, since it goes on the stack on top of the card draw from cycling.
Converted mana cost is normally straightforward: just take the mana cost and make a single numeral out of it. Confusion creeps in when dealing with spells, especially spells when they're flashed back (perfectly on theme for X Week) Conflagrate normally costs , so a Conflagrate where X=2 has a converted mana cost of 5. But when Conflagrate is flashed back, and the only mana paid is the part of that cost, what is its CMC then? is a known value, regardless of whether mana was paid, Mountains were sacrificed (Firecat Blitz), a card was pitched (Shining Shoal), or cards were discarded. If Conflagrate is flashed back with 3 cards being discarded, is 3, and is 7.
The Project X deck, featuring Saffi Eriksdotter and Crypt Champion, is normally used to gaining an absurd amount of life and daring the opponent to win. Sometimes, though, the deck is missing a vital piece like Essence Warden. If the opponent conveniently has a Court Hussar in the graveyard when this happens, then Saffi and Crypt Champion are all that's needed. Keep doing the combo-the opponent will have to return Court Hussar to play each time, adding more and more cards to their hand. Do this enough times for them to have their whole deck in hand, then pass the turn, and that adds up to an unconventional win.
Shortcuts are an important part of the game. If players had to announce everything that happened, even a one-hour round might see one game finished. Shortcuts are especially useful when neither player speaks the same language(s). That's not the case at U.S. Nationals, but shortcuts can sometimes create a language barrier of their own. If a player has a Thrill of the Hunt in the graveyard, taps a Plains, and sort of points the Thrill toward one of his creatures, what just happened? Did he play it or not? Obviously, the two players in this game disagreed over whether the card had been played, and the judges needed to sort it out. The key point to take away from this is that shortcuts are a great way to help the game along, but they need to be clear to both players.
Deciding who goes first is also an important part of the game. Most players use dice to figure this out. Does it matter which dice are rolled, though? Two players each rolled the same two dice and came up with the same sum. So they rolled again, but the second player only used one of those dice, sideboarding in another with the same number of sides. The judges ruled that dice are random, and as long as the same number and kind of dice are being rolled, then the result is the result.
For the draft portion of Day One, 15 players hurt their own chances by making clerical errors on their decklists. The penalty for misregistering a deck is a game loss, putting the player at a disadvantage in the match. In Limited events, 39-card lists are common, but today also saw a zero-card list and a 32-card list. Head Judge Scott Marshall stressed that attention to detail is important when registering a deck, and inattention to detail puts a player in the hole right away.