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Competitive REL » Post: Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

March 13, 2019 01:56:54 PM [Original Post]

Eli Meyer
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

USA - Northeast

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

You are the head judge of a Standard Competitive REL event. In the middle of a match, you see a player with sharpied mountains in his BUG deck. Closer inspection reveals that they are Nexus proxies issued by another local judge, with her signature and the date of an event two weeks ago.

What'd the infraction (if any) and remedy?

This situation happened to me last month at an LCQ. It seemed like it technically was a Deck Problem–the proxies weren't legally issued, and therefore the deck didn't match the decklist. However, assessing a game loss (upgrade applies, since the problem was ‘discovered’ after the spell had become visible when it was cast) seemed draconian. I ended up not assessing an infraction at all, but I'm not 100% confident either the initial ruling that it could be infractable or my ultimate decision to deviate. I'd appreciate any input on the matter. Thanks!

March 14, 2019 08:49:24 PM [Marked as Accepted Answer]

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

USA - Northwest

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Lots of things to chime in on, here…

Originally posted by Adam Höstman:

all intentional violations of the tournament rules fall under the provision of Cheating
This is most definitely not Cheating. I'm disappointed that anyone might reach that conclusion.

Originally posted by Bartłomiej Wieszok:

By the rules this is TE-Deck Problem
Is it? If you do a Deck Check and discover that a player has shuffled a token into their deck, is that a TE-Deck Problem?

Originally posted by Jonathan Johansen:

The issue here is that a player is using proxies that were allowed in the last tournament they played in, because the Head Judge for that tournament issued them.
I agree with this - the root issue is that the player probably believes they're doing the right thing, and had no idea that they needed to jump through this particular hoop every time. I think Jonathan is getting at something that I really want to stress, here: the important thing is that the player is probably trying to comply with policy.

Originally posted by Jonathan Johansen:

would it be reasonable to start applying USC Minor if they do the same thing next tournament with full knowledge that they should have spoken to the HJ?
We no longer have generalized phrasing for “fails to follow a direct instruction”; it was too widely applied, and we needed to be more specific. That example in the IPG now reads “A player fails to follow the request of a tournament official to leave the play area.”

Where this behavior does matter, is your investigation. You *know* this player knows better, so they can't defend an inappropriate action with “I didn't know”. But in this example, they still aren't meeting all the criteria of Cheating - they're just being obnoxious, and - while undesirable - it's not really prohibited by Judge Program policy. (The TO has a lot more latitude in this area.)

Originally posted by Lev Kotlyar:

I think it falls under the nonexistent Tournament Error - Miscellaneous infraction with player education as a remedy.
*DING* Winner!!!
Although I've always called it “Tournament Error - Other”. And I'd put “infraction” in quotes, since it's not, except that sometimes players do things that we feel must certainly be an infraction … only it turns out, it isn't. It's just that pesky TE-Other that doesn't exist.

Originally posted by Francesco Scialpi:

No need to overthink this IMHO.
and that perfectly sums up my thoughts on this!

TL;DR: not a penalty, educate, approve those proxies for (re-)use in your event, don't worry, be happy.

d:^D

March 13, 2019 03:38:51 PM

Lars Harald Nordli
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

Europe - North

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Huh, that’s a strange one. I would probably not give any infraction either, but educate the player to check with each HJ for each event. I take it that the player had the Nexus of Fate that was proxied in their deckbox?

March 13, 2019 05:56:41 PM

Brock Ullom
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

USA - Northwest

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

I would issue a penalty in this scenario. The very last sentence of 3.4 says “A proxy is valid only for the duration of the tournament in which it was originally issued. ” Educate the player and explain why the proxies aren't legal. Administer the penalty then offer to authorize their current proxies or create new ones if needed.

March 13, 2019 06:41:50 PM

Brook Gardner-Durbin
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy)), GP Team-Lead-in-Training

USA - Northwest

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Originally posted by Brock Ullom:

I would issue a penalty in this scenario.
What advantage could this player have gained by using old proxies instead of getting new ones from this event's HJ?

March 13, 2019 10:53:49 PM

John Carter
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy)), Tournament Organizer

USA - Northwest

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

I'll note that at the Star City Open in Dallas a month ago, a few players brought up Nexus proxies from either previous Opens or GPs. So this isn't just an LGS or region thing.

March 13, 2019 11:39:53 PM

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

Australia and New Zealand

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Originally posted by John Carter:

I'll note that at the Star City Open in Dallas a month ago, a few players brought up Nexus proxies from either previous Opens or GPs. So this isn't just an LGS or region thing.

I don't think the issue is asking for permission to use proxies created at another event, but failing to ask permission and just playing with the previously issued proxies.

My feeling is this isn't as much a TE - Deck Problem infraction but the player not abiding by a MTR 3.4 specifically that the proxy is only valid for that tournament. There isn't an infraction relating to MTR 3.4 so education and making sure they request a proxy from the HJ of every event and that it's usually going to be ok using a previously HJ created proxy, but it is up to each HJ to agree to that or create a new proxy.

March 14, 2019 01:04:38 AM

Adam Höstman
Judge (Uncertified), Tournament Organizer

Europe - North

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Rules:
According to MTR 3.3 in sanctioned events players must use “Authorized cards”. One could argue that as long as the mountains used for the proxies were authorized they are allowed to play the tournament and we can check for infractions (IPG 3.4 Tournament Error – Decklist Problem). However

“Any other cards that are not Authorized Game Cards are prohibited in all sanctioned tournaments.
Any card that does not meet the above criteria, including homemade proxies, may not be used in a tournament that is sanctioned by a WPN store. While some events exist that allow proxies (usually for Vintage, Legacy and Commander events), those events must not be run as a sanctioned event with WER reporting software.

The cards in question are therefore not allowed to be used in sanctioned events and the player should therefore never have been allowed to register or play their deck. Therefore we apply IPG 4.8 Unsporting Conduct — Cheating
“A person breaks a rule defined by the tournament documents, lies to a Tournament Official, or notices an offense committed in their (or a teammate’s) match and does not call attention to it.
Moreover, all intentional violations of the tournament rules fall under the provision of Cheating (except for Slow Play, which is Stalling), and should not be treated simply as upgraded versions of other infractions.
The phrases “breaking a rule” and “notices an offense” include violations of the Comprehensive Rules and of the Magic Tournament Rules. Players are required to call a judge when they make an error. Additionally, because both players are responsible for the game state, players are also expected to call a judge when they notice their opponent commit an offense.

The penalty is a disqualification from the tournament.
I would argue that intent is not necessary, or if it is, that it is assumed that all players are aware of what entails ”authorized cards” when they register for sanctioned events according to MTR 3.3, and therefore intent is presumed.

However, according to MTR 5.1 Cheating instead of IPG you can issue a penalty according to Judging at Regular Rules Enforcement Level document
“A player has illegal, insufficient, or another player’s cards in their deck
Remove any cards that shouldn’t be in the deck, put back any cards that should, then add basic lands of the player’s choice if the deck is below the format’s minimum size limit. Any cards that are added to the deck should be shuffled directly into the library. If the error was discovered during a draw effect, have the player complete the draw effect after the deck is fixed and shuffled. Encourage players to count their deck and present their sideboard (face down) to their opponents before starting a game to avoid these errors.“

However Judging at Regular Rules Enforcement Level document also contains more severe penalties
“Serious Problems
Certain actions will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Every effort should be made to educate players before and during events but any player engaging in the following must be removed from your event and, at the Organizer’s discretion, removed from the venue entirely:
• Aggressive, violent, harassing or abusive behavior (physical or verbal).
Knowingly breaking or letting an opponent break game or tournament rules, or lying, in order to gain an advantage. “Bluffing” about cards opponents can’t normally see is permitted.
• Theft (including things like replacing a card in a draft with one from a player’s binder).
Removing players in this way is called a Disqualification, and we must always try to educate our players on why these actions are unacceptable. Also let the player know that while your decision is final, the Judge Program would still like to hear his or her side of the story. You can contact your local Regional Coordinator, high level Judge, or WPN Representative to guide you through the Disqualification Process.”

The emphasis seems to be that the player “knows” they are breaking a rule. So it bottoms down to whether or not the judge decided if all players should “know” MTR 3.3 by heart or not.

Edited Adam Höstman (March 15, 2019 05:57:07 PM)

March 14, 2019 05:29:16 AM

Bartłomiej Wieszok
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy)), TLC, Tournament Organizer

Europe - Central

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

@Adam - but that's not home made proxy. That proxy was given to that player by tournament official at previous sanctioned event.

I don't like that sentence, but IPG is a GUIDE, and we are JUDGES that need to judge and evaluate situations, and not heartless bureaucrats that follows instructions.

By the rules this is TE-Deck Problem and fits upgrade definition (it was discovered during deck check).

What I would do there as a HJ, is NOT to upgrade this infraction and issue only Warning. In conversation with player I would educate them that proxies are issued only for current event - that's why they have a date on them. If player believes that their copies of Nexus are still not tournament legal (because they don't want to unbend or player did not take any actions to do so) they should ask HJ for card evaluation before each and every event they attend and ask for proxies for that event. I would strongly underline to them, that this is a my good will deviation from policy, and proper penalty there would be a Game Loss.

What I believe happens there, is that player either don't know exactly how official proxies are issued (they might be under impression that since those proxies were given to them at official event, and have judges signature, then it's fine to play them whenever they want).
We need also to take into consideration how issuing a penalty there would look like. That player would receive GL for playing “mountain-proxies” instead of Nexus, and as part of fix, we would… replace old mountain proxies with our mountain proxies… It would be terrible customer service for that player. And since I believe that there was no option for potential abuse I would go with providing better customer service.

March 14, 2019 05:40:50 AM

Jonathan Johansen
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

Europe - North

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

The issue here is that a player is using proxies that were allowed in the last tournament they played in, because the Head Judge for that tournament issued them.

They would have to ask this Head Judge for a new set of (probably identical) proxies, and chose not to - saving marker ink, HJ time and basic lands. It's not unreasonable to think that you're doing the right thing because you'd just be hassling everyone for no gain if you asked, even though this is breaking MTR 3.4.

Now, USC:Cheating.

A person breaks a rule defined by the tournament documents…
Additionally… The player must be attempting to gain advantage from their action. and The player must be aware that they are doing something illegal.

Assuming they know they're breaking MTR 3.4, I can't see any advantage to even try to gain from not asking the HJ for new proxies. So it can't be cheating.

The possibly reasonable infraction is indeed Deck Problem (the decklist is legal and matches what the player intends to play), if we consider the four proxies to be any illegal cards (or to actually be Mountain) and the fix would be to authorize the four proxies (no new cards needed, if you don't want to). We don't even have to touch the deck to apply it.

Assuming it's not Deck Problem, would it be reasonable to start applying USC Minor if they do the same thing next tournament with full knowledge that they should have spoken to the HJ? If not, then what would be?

March 14, 2019 06:27:32 AM

Nicola DiPasquale
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy))

USA - Northeast

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Please let us not conflate the IPG and the JARR here when running a Competitive REL event we should be applying the infractions and penalties from the IPG.

As previously pointed out you have to fulfill three requirements in order to be considered cheating, and this player is not really gaining any advantage by playing the proxies for their Nexus of Fate in this particular case. You might argue that their deck is completed by those cards; however, those are the cards they intended to play (you can easily verify this by checking their deck list), thus no advantage in that regard. In addition you would have to dig into the circumstances surrounding when/how the player received those proxies at the other tournament, and there is still reasonable probability that the player is unaware of the MTR requirements surrounding proxies, despite having proxies from a previous tournament. It is possible that the player borrowed the deck from a friend who played it in a previous tournament and was issued the proxies. A friend could have told the player to get proxies without really explaining the reasoning for it, etc. There are a myriad of possibilities that make this scenario very unlikely to be something that falls under USC - Cheating. None of this is to say, however, that you do not want to do your due diligence and investigate the circumstances you are presented with. Thanks!

March 14, 2019 09:10:02 AM

Lev Kotlyar
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy))

Russia and Russian-speaking countries

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Originally posted by Eli Meyer:

What'd the infraction (if any) and remedy?

I think it falls under the nonexistent Tournament Error - Miscellaneous infraction with player education as a remedy.

While the situation might technically fit under Deck Problem, I don't think this is the root cause: it's not that the deck is illegal. DP doesn't even mention proxies anywhere. It sounds logical to me to treat them as checklist cards for that matter… but anyhow, it's another MTR rule that was broken, not the one TE - DP cares about.

An important aspect in my opinion here is that there is (or there should be) a notable consistency in handing out proxies for cards available in foil only: if a player is in doubt and asks for proxies no HJ can decline that request. This is what rules are telling us to do, this is the right the rules grant our players, this is a good customer service over all.

In other words, I would not penalize for something that I would allow under any circumstances.

March 14, 2019 01:10:48 PM

John Carter
Judge (Level 3 (Judge Academy)), Tournament Organizer

USA - Northwest

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Earlier I mentioned the proxy issue coming up at a SCG Open. I did not address how the issue was addressed or the thinking around that solution. I intentionally did this to see how discussion evolved without skewing any particular direction. Now I'd like to share what was done and why.

Some folks have quoted parts of MTR 3.4 before. I put the entirety below purely for ease of reference.

Here are the details we (Joe Klopchic was Open Head Judge) used to consider the issue:
1) The cards presented were very obviously proxies.
There was no possible attempt to obscure, confuse, or misrepresent what these cards were. If one of these cards shows up in a game, it is very clear to all players that the card is a proxy.

2) It was clear the cards were previously issued.
Let's face it, most players would not play with fugly judge proxies if they could avoid them. These were clearly judge-level fugly. Any signatures were functionally illegible, but the fact that any proxies presented followed the same format that we were using while creating proxies onsite (Mountains or Swamps such that they do not match colors used in the deck, minimalist info, etc.) and the players each articulated what event they were at when received such that we were not at all concerned that a player had made (forged?) judge-issued proxies. In one case, a player who approached me was one I'd previously issued proxies to months earlier.

3) When players asked for proxies, we first review the original cards as presented.
In some cases, we let the player know their cards were currently fine. Many players thought they were required to get proxies and were happy to play with actual cards if allowable. Reminders were given about maintaining a non-mark status throughout the day, and anyone who wanted proxies “just in case” were issued proxies.

You might notice that these three things cover three of the four points about proxies in the MTR (can't be homemade, must be obvious, and real cards are still required). The only sticking point then would be the final line:
“A proxy is valid only for the duration of the tournament in which it was originally issued.”

This leads to two options:
#1) No proxy can ever carry over from event to event.
This is a non-issue in limited events due to the nature of limited for hopefully obvious reasons. In constructed, the concern really only applies to the foil-only issue. For any other card, I believe, judges would all question why a player didn't replace the card between events. Thus, the concern is only with cards where all possible replacements could also be seen as similarly marked.

In this strict version, every event with relevant cards has the potential to be disrupted by issuing and re-issuing proxies. This more literal interpretation also requires judges to be more precise in their proxy issuing as verifying which specific event any given proxy originated in (or at least “not this event”) becomes a real issue.

#2) A previously-issued proxy can be validated for the current event.
In this scenario, the thought process is that the letter of the MTR was updated with the “foil-only” clause for issuing proxies, but the thought process on how that would play out was not reflected later in the section. When we were dealing only with a fringe Legacy-only card, the disruption was functionally zero. That's not where we're at right now with Nexus of Fate.

In this expansive version, judges have to weigh the potential for abuse, confusion, or disruption versus the simplicity of re-authorizing previously issued proxies. There is also an undefined element of how much responsibility anyone has of notifying judges or educating players.

Then there's the Cheating question…
Did a player break a rule?
You'll note that I still include some judge involvement even with the expansive view (re-authorizing proxies, even if it's just a thumbs up). So either version does include breaking a rule if the player never involved a judge.

Did the player get advantage?
Having proxies versus having potentially marked cards is an advantage. Note that given the response to proxies for foil-only is an automatic yes, there no version of events where a judge would force a player to play with actual cards and then insist they get penalized for those cards they refused to proxy. There could be some advantage to not standing in a line while players wait for judges to issue proxies, but that's not an in-game advantage, and we do not get weirdly meta about “advantage.” (Otherwise, one could interpret things like finishing a match after 40 minutes instead of 45 minutes an advantage because someone could then go smoke a cigarette, and they really need to calm their nerves before next round.)

Did the player know they were breaking a rule?
We can clearly demonstrate that the player knew that proxies were needed (or safer). The only rule in question is that single line from the MTR that terminates the authorization of the proxy. I cannot think of a time where I've actually heard myself or others tell a player explicitly that a given proxy is valid only for a given event. Until the foil-only addendum, this would never have been a realistic possibility. Even if I always told every player every time, that doesn't cover players coming from some other event who dealt with other judges. Do we really think a player knew that line existed and then tried to hide their previously-issued proxy?

In order for Cheating to apply, a player would have to know the documents well enough to know there's this line but also not approach the judges to show them their prior proxies. It turns out, anyone at a given event pedantic enough to know that's a rule that exists, in my experience, is either a judge at the event or one of the players who already checked in at the start of the day. As such, I would likely never disqualify player for Cheating as I do not seriously believe I'd find that intersection of knowledge plus willful avoidance. (If the facts say otherwise, I'd do otherwise, but lots of experience says the intersection is functionally non-existent.)

Where did we end up?
Players who brought up prior proxies had those proxies automatically re-authorized. No, marks were added to the proxies to indicate validity in that specific event, and no record was made of who had come up though red-shirt-type folks could at least make a mental note of whose faces they saw. At no point during the weekend was a judge ever called, to my knowledge, to table to question the validity of a proxy.

What if a proxy were discovered that could be proven to be a previously-issued, currently-not-yet-approved proxy?
I would, and I'd bet Klopchic would agree, ask the player where it came from, immediately authorize the proxy, and re-evaluate the legality of the deck, and ask the player to check in with head judges for any future events (i.e. educate and move on). As noted above, this only applies to foil-only issues.

Why?
This is a good example of judges being able to demonstrate judgment that is a quality of life improvement for the players. We want players to give us a heads up anytime weirdness occurs, and we want players to feel like the event they play in are fair and fun. Players seem to understand why these proxies exist, but they aren't expressing great concern over their opponent's proxies (a measure of fairness). Issuing proxies or even reviewing proxies is somewhat disruptive to events, but issuing and reviewing takes less time than completely reissuing, and that leaves us bandwidth to focus on things players do ask about. When dealing with players over the issue, I believe there is much graver concern with disrupting events to stop matches and grill players over their proxies. Even if we decide no action is the correct outcome, scrutinizing players and asking question about a thing that no player in the room cares about turns judges into thugs. If someone has a proxy that causes confusion or homemade, then some sort of action would make sense.

I'm happy to respect other judges' proxies at my events for foil-only cards. I'd prefer players at least check in, but if I find they haven't, then the approach I'd take is a friendly chat rather than a strict investigation.


MTR 190121
3.4 Proxy Cards
A proxy card is used during competition to represent an otherwise legal Magic card or checklist card that can no
longer be included in a deck without the deck being marked. For a proxy to be issued, the card it is replacing must
meet at least one of the following criteria:

• The card has been accidentally damaged or excessively worn in the current tournament, including
damaged or misprinted Limited product. Proxies are not allowed as substitutes for cards that their owner
has damaged intentionally or through negligence.
• The card is a foil card for which no non-foil printing exists.

Players may not create their own proxies; they may only be created by the Head Judge who has sole discretion as
to whether the creation of a proxy is appropriate. When a judge creates a proxy, it is included in the player’s deck
and must be denoted as a proxy in a clear and conspicuous manner. The original card is kept nearby during the
match and replaces the proxy while in a public zone as long as it is recognizable. A proxy is valid only for the
duration of the tournament in which it was originally issued.

March 14, 2019 04:04:48 PM

Francesco Scialpi
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

Italy and Malta

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

No need to overthink this IMHO.

A player is caught using proxies that aren't authorized by tournament HJ (they have the real cards with them).
Incidentally, those proxies were authorized by another judge in another tournament - that reinforces the hypothesis that proxies are good ones, and that the player is in good faith.

+1 for “no penalty, educate, move on”.

March 14, 2019 08:49:24 PM [Marked as Accepted Answer]

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

USA - Northwest

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Lots of things to chime in on, here…

Originally posted by Adam Höstman:

all intentional violations of the tournament rules fall under the provision of Cheating
This is most definitely not Cheating. I'm disappointed that anyone might reach that conclusion.

Originally posted by Bartłomiej Wieszok:

By the rules this is TE-Deck Problem
Is it? If you do a Deck Check and discover that a player has shuffled a token into their deck, is that a TE-Deck Problem?

Originally posted by Jonathan Johansen:

The issue here is that a player is using proxies that were allowed in the last tournament they played in, because the Head Judge for that tournament issued them.
I agree with this - the root issue is that the player probably believes they're doing the right thing, and had no idea that they needed to jump through this particular hoop every time. I think Jonathan is getting at something that I really want to stress, here: the important thing is that the player is probably trying to comply with policy.

Originally posted by Jonathan Johansen:

would it be reasonable to start applying USC Minor if they do the same thing next tournament with full knowledge that they should have spoken to the HJ?
We no longer have generalized phrasing for “fails to follow a direct instruction”; it was too widely applied, and we needed to be more specific. That example in the IPG now reads “A player fails to follow the request of a tournament official to leave the play area.”

Where this behavior does matter, is your investigation. You *know* this player knows better, so they can't defend an inappropriate action with “I didn't know”. But in this example, they still aren't meeting all the criteria of Cheating - they're just being obnoxious, and - while undesirable - it's not really prohibited by Judge Program policy. (The TO has a lot more latitude in this area.)

Originally posted by Lev Kotlyar:

I think it falls under the nonexistent Tournament Error - Miscellaneous infraction with player education as a remedy.
*DING* Winner!!!
Although I've always called it “Tournament Error - Other”. And I'd put “infraction” in quotes, since it's not, except that sometimes players do things that we feel must certainly be an infraction … only it turns out, it isn't. It's just that pesky TE-Other that doesn't exist.

Originally posted by Francesco Scialpi:

No need to overthink this IMHO.
and that perfectly sums up my thoughts on this!

TL;DR: not a penalty, educate, approve those proxies for (re-)use in your event, don't worry, be happy.

d:^D

March 15, 2019 12:35:56 PM

Isaac King
Judge (Level 2 (Judge Academy))

Gainesville, Florida, United States of America

Strict enforcement of Proxy policy

Originally posted by Scott Marshall:

Is it? If you do a Deck Check and discover that a player has shuffled a token into their deck, is that a TE-Deck Problem?

This isn't quite the same though- if we treat the proxies similar to tokens and just ignore them, the deck will only have 56 cards in it.


Originally posted by Jonathan Johansen:

Assuming they know they're breaking MTR 3.4, I can't see any advantage to even try to gain from not asking the HJ for new proxies. So it can't be cheating.

While I agree that this scenario probably isn't Cheating, it looks like you're slightly misunderstanding the definition of Cheating. We don't care about whether the player actually gained an advantage, or even whether there was any advantage to be gained. We just care that they were attempting to do so. If a player is trying to do something dishonest, we don't want that player in our event- whether they succeeded is irrelevant.