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Tournament Operations » Post: Timer


Dec. 5, 2016 12:41:35 AM

john bai
Judge (Level 1 (Historical))



Hello everyone,
I'm here to discuss one of the major issue what all the tournament with a huge number of player; what will be argue with about all the hign level REL—The Time.
The significance of time that was wasting often make people to make a new plan of the tournament. Although if there was too much time been wasting, it hurts.

So I was thinking about not just how did it happened, but also, why did it happened.

Often times, majority of players do not have a clear mind about time, for GP especially, because a lot local just want to come and have fun! If so, insted of making policise about how to punish players, is there a better way to pervent the error?

Here is my solution:
By separating the time bettwen players, it can help making player not to waste time, or even talking advantage with out notice. often time watching game on the floor, the player who goes second is not always the player with the last additional, and I mean, is that even fair to have a very good player(rule wise) player every thing in time, but talking disadvantage as having way less time than the pther player?

The way I was thinking about is, by having a 40min tournament as an example, have a clock of 20min on each side and give two additional turn on at end for each player. It can also be clear on passing turn, and we could expand our policy even forther on time.(etc, slow play, give your opponent two min). If bring those thing is a issue, we can make this into a prodect just like sleeves and deck boxes, it alway appear for some kind of store.

That's what can I think about so far, but I would like to hear disccutions and commonts around it.

–John B

Edited john bai (Dec. 5, 2016 12:43:32 AM)

Dec. 5, 2016 01:16:54 AM

Jeremie Granat
Forum Moderator
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy)), L3 Panel Lead, Scorekeeper, Tournament Organizer

German-speaking countries


Hi John,

Thanks for the idea!

Have you read this article by Riki? It's actually pretty good and explain the problems with having clocks at MtG tournaments :)

If you can find solutions inherent in the clock problems Riki explains in his article, I'm sure we could work something out.


Dec. 5, 2016 02:59:01 PM

john bai
Judge (Level 1 (Historical))



First, thanks for interduce the existence of this article.

And here is my thoughts
This is definitely not something to start with in a tournament that have a hugh number of players involved, the same where you can't let a two years old kid who just learned how to walk run for olympics; this require a strong backround of knowledge and experience of both judges and players.
“This just kill the fun of magic”(I might of changed some word…). I liked this line from the article. This should start with tournaments that isn't as “much fun” as others such as top 8 of GP, PT, or even world championship since the players at this point should know how do time works with some additional help from judges. I mean, do you care more about “that tournament was hard” and just forget it since there is nothing else to do with it, or a strong feeling of regret and tones of arguments of the 1000 change of price?

How to start with:
We should not just call this as a “timer”, but a magic item. Min of $15, that's less than a lot of the playmats, and if we put some cover of special picture of the story line, it would likely for some players come and buy those(in GP). Of couse, those players is not going to be the majority. Although is surely something what can make money off. Additionally, if we give out those as price for like the top 100s, five years after, have of the tournament are likely have one of those; Some one might get some from their friend, not just the timer, but also the experience of how to use it. And then start from five years, players can use those in their FNMs, and then, we can push those into Comp REL. (I would say 15 years after).

How to use it:
Will, first thing first, the “normal” clock needs to be change. There should be a two buttens wihch for pasing turn and priorities(turn off AP, and turn on NAP), and for resolve a spell(stop or start time for both players). But if we can devolope the cover of outside, since we want to make magic better, I assuming we can also do “something” inside.
Also, as I talked about the knowledge of how to use it, as time pass on, people will start have a skill of how to use it. And so, before it, I do not recognize to use it in Comp REL.

Edited john bai (Dec. 5, 2016 03:02:15 PM)

Dec. 5, 2016 03:20:51 PM

David Poon
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy)), Scorekeeper



Inconsequential side-note: if timers ever became a thing in MtG tournaments, it would effectively make possible the playing of Four Horsemen!

Personally, I think that using timers changes Magic into a different game. Just as MTGO makes infinite combo decks harder to play because of the medium, adding timers to paper Magic would very much change the feel of paper tournaments. Emphasis would be put on hitting the button, and I think games in general would become less friendly. Control decks would gain a clear time advantage. It seems possible to implement timers, but at the cost of changing the game as we know it.

Dec. 5, 2016 07:16:28 PM

Scott Marshall
Forum Moderator
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy)), Hall of Fame

USA - Northwest


Originally posted by john bai:

such as top 8 of GP, PT, or even world championship
uhhh… John, those are all untimed events… and they're still fun, despite having so much at stake.

For me, the descriptions Riki gave of the interactions with the clock convinced me that it'd be a terrible thing to introduce to Magic.


Edited Scott Marshall (Dec. 5, 2016 07:16:54 PM)

Dec. 6, 2016 12:14:53 PM

Marc DeArmond
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

USA - Northwest


If timers were to be used for tournaments it would need to be in an all inclusive system like MTGO. This would drastically change the game, system, and overall workings of a number of decks. This becomes impractical in situations like GPs but could be reasonable for Pro Tours and the World Championships. This would limit game times significantly and also decrease the need for judges.

Dec. 6, 2016 12:42:39 PM

Bryan Spellman
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy))

USA - Northwest


A long time ago, I was also wishing for time clocks. I did this when I was a player and asked judges about it when I became a judge.
It seems simple enough, right? Chess has clocks. MTGO has clocks. Why can't GPS have clocks?!?

Once you start thinking of the logistics, it becomes almost impossible.

The problem lies with priority passes. Hop onto Magic Online. Turn on every stop and play a match. Don't allow yourself to F6.

You should begin to see the problems. The number of times players would have to hit a clock during a match is ridiculous.

Players don't fully understand priority passes. They also pass priority a lot without ever having to say anything. Some turns are much simpler than others. A simple draw/go would require both players hitting the clock between every phase.

What do you do when a player says “Judge! My opponent didn't hit the clock to pass priority at the beginning of his combat step a few minutes ago. We both hit the clock every time We were supposed to after that, so now my clock time used was his and his clock time used was actually my time”

Sent from my iPhone

Dec. 6, 2016 01:17:31 PM

Duncan McGregor
Judge (Level 2 (Historical))



Originally posted by Bryan Spellman:

What do you do when a player says “Judge! My opponent didn't hit the clock to pass priority at the beginning of his combat step a few minutes ago. We both hit the clock every time We were supposed to after that, so now my clock time used was his and his clock time used was actually my time”

This, at least, isn't an issue. Chess clocks (and chess clock apps) have two buttons - one for each player. Hitting your button stops your time and starts the opponent's, and hitting it again won't toggle anything. In the example given, it would have just been a few extra seconds (between when the opponent should have hit the button, and when the player passed back) that were logged to the wrong person.

The other issues with chess clocks still stand, though, and I am solidly in the camp that chess clocks for Real Life Magic will cause more problems than they solve.

Dec. 6, 2016 01:42:10 PM

Riki Hayashi
Judge (Level 3 (Historical)), Scorekeeper, Tournament Organizer

USA - Midatlantic


I like how this article is now so old that people are refuting the cost aspect in the comments by citing smart phone apps, something that probably existed in 2009, but not really on a mass scale that could be almost universally adopted by the population. Times certainly change!

Dec. 6, 2016 02:04:27 PM

Ricardo Ruiz
Judge (Level 1 (Legacy Judge Program))

Hispanic America - South


Originally posted by Riki Hayashi:

I like how this article is now so old that people are refuting the cost aspect in the comments by citing smart phone apps, something that probably existed in 2009, but not really on a mass scale that could be almost universally adopted by the population. Times certainly change!

This one is a big no for me. I work in IT and i can tell you, unless is an oficial app from wizard and even them i would not trust it if it is installed in the phone of my oponent, and i would expect the same in the other direction so again we have a problem

Dec. 6, 2016 10:24:50 PM

Andrew Goulart
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy)), Scorekeeper, Tournament Organizer

USA - Northwest


As was already stated earlier, the biggest problem with this format of time keeping is that it requires the passing of every priority step. You do something, push the button to give your opponent the chance to respond, they push the button back if they don't have a response. You could bypass this by letting NAP press the button to take priority from AP when they want to do something (and in turn have a reverse clock, where pressing the button starts your timer and stops your opponent) but then you have the “Judge, my opponent took his turn without hitting his clock and now I'm down a full minute on my clock before we noticed!”

The solution, then, is to give two buttons on both sides of the clock - One to take priority if you want to use it, and one to pass priority to the opponent. You would use them as follows:

Game Start:

AP presses Take Priority button and starts turn.
AP plays land, plays spell, spell resolves.
AP presses the Pass Priority button and NAP takes turn.
NAP plays land, ends turn, and presses the Pass Priority button. AP takes their turn.
AP plays a second land, plays spell, NAP presses Take Priority button to take priority with spell on stack.
NAP casts a counter spell to counter AP's spell, and presses the Pass Priority button.
AP has no response, spell gets countered and continues turn.
AP presses the Pass Priority button to end turn.

— Clearly its better than just a single button clock, but it still isn't pretty.

So lets just say no to tournament clocks, mkay?

Dec. 7, 2016 12:51:19 AM

Mark Brown
Forum Moderator
Judge (Level 2 (Legacy Judge Program)), Regional Coordinator (Australia and New Zealand), Scorekeeper

Australia and New Zealand


I don't think time clocks in Magic tournaments are going to work, but I think it is wrong that we would expect players to have to pass priority at every priority point the rules require to have clocks. It could be handled the exact same way that players currently pass priority, just with a specific action rather than what is currently often non-verbal indications.

You would also be responsible for your own clock management, so if you forgot to “clock” when passing priority, it's your time lost.

Overall I think the transition to using clocks would be horrible for most players, and I hate to think what judging would be like having to stop the time when giving rulings, having rewinds having to take into account the clock, dealing with clock disputes - my opponent started my clock too early etc.

Dec. 8, 2016 09:21:45 AM

Justin Gardner
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

USA - Central


Riki: Can you explain why you believe a clock would make stalling more prevalent? Being an experienced chess player (as well as playing MtGO) I'm confident that pretending to think about your next move after your opponent has forgotten to hit the clock should not be considered stalling (and is rarely even a problem, since it only takes a few games for people to stop forgetting).

Dec. 9, 2016 12:34:25 PM

john bai
Judge (Level 1 (Historical))



Thanks for ideas!

The mean point that I want to say is not about that how much easier would it be for judges, but simply about how should we hold justice to make players taking equal amount of time, for the torment be FAIR.