PokePop submitted a new front page post Pokémon TCG Judge Guidance July 2018 Team Compendium has consulted with Pokémon Organized Play (OP) to review various topics that Judges have asked for clarifications on. These discussions and this guidance will clarify for Judges how OP wishes certain situations to be handled. This article is meant to explain some of these best practices and to make sure the word is spread and put into practice. This article has been reviewed and approved by OP and reflects their guidance. Impact of DPC and QPC Penalties on End of Match Resolution in Single Elimination With the recent introduction of the Double Prize Card Penalty and the Quad Prize Card Penalty, some judges are having difficulty understanding how to apply them properly and how they affect certain situations. One of those situations is how DPC and QPC affect game resolution in Single Elimination matches when time is called and the game is incomplete after the final 3 turns. The DPC and QPC penalties will be taken into account in determining the winner of that game. So, in short, these Penalties are to be taken into account in determining the winner of any incomplete game in Single Elimination. For example, if Player A has 3 Prizes left and Player B has 4 Prizes left, but Player A received a DPC penalty, meaning that Player B has to take 2 less prizes, for End of Game consideration, Player B is considered to only have 2 Prizes left and is the winner of that Game. Note that per the newest Rules and Formats document, an incomplete Game 2 in Single Elimination no longer counts toward determining the winner of the match, no matter how few Prize Cards remain to be drawn by either player. Dropped Cards While walking the tournament floor, a Judge notices a card on the floor next to a match. It is determined that the card belongs to the deck of the player that it is next to. There are a couple of possible additional points. Either it can be determined where the card belongs in the match (identified as a benched Pokémon, or card that had been played and belongs in the discard, etc.) or it can’t be determined where exactly it belongs. Currently, the only place that the Penalty Guidelines mention a dropped card is in section 8.3.2, Legal Deck list, Illegal Deck: ...The exception to this is if cards are simply missing from the deck. This usually happens if the player and a previous opponent are using similar sleeves, if cards get stuck in the player’s deck box, or if cards are dropped on the floor. OP has clarified the starting penalty for Legal List, Illegal Deck (Game Loss) assumes that the dropped card was absent from the deck since the beginning of the game. Professors should continue to use their best judgment when determining whether to deescalate this penalty from Game Loss. Perfectly acceptable circumstances for deescalating include taking into account the point at which the error was caught and the ease with which it may be reversed. Examples include any reasonable belief that the card fell innocently during the game in progress, or being able to accurately determine where the card belongs with minimal time investment. The more difficult it is to fix the problem, the more severe the penalty should be. An appropriate basis to deescalate would be to use an assessment of the damage to the game state, similar to how penalty levels are determined in Game Play Errors. For example, if it can be determined where the card should be returned to and game state damage is zero, a deescalation to Warning could be appropriate. If the card fell during the game but it can’t be determined exactly where the card belongs, choosing a place to put it such as the discard pile, would be the fix and DPC or QPC Penalties might be appropriate deescalation choices rather than a Game Loss. Judges are cautioned, however, to also be aware that a dropped card on the floor could be an opportunity for cheating and that should be taken into account. It is entirely possible that the first step to getting a desired card from the discard pile into the hand would be to “accidentally” drop it to the floor, then later “drop” cards from the hand onto the floor and pick up both them and the desired card. One should not assume cheating intent, but it is a best practice to be aware of the possibility and to consider it. Game Play Error: Major There are a couple of examples listed under GPE: Major that do not always fit into the definition of causing irreparable damage to the Game State. Specifically: Using an Ability when a card prevents its use. Playing more than one Energy card in a turn without the use of an effect that allows you to. The question comes in when the game state can be completely restored. The Energy card was played, noticed immediately, and returned to the hand. Or, similarly, the Ability was used, the opponent stops the player from taking an action that would damage the game state, or the action is 100% rewindable (attaching an energy from the discard pile, for example). The recommended starting penalty for Game Play Error: Major assumes that the game state has been irreversibly confused. However, starting penalties listed in the guidelines may be escalated or deescalated due to circumstances which may include the point at which the error was caught and the ease with which the corresponding action may be reversed. If you are able to completely restore the game state with minimal time investment and full cooperation of the players (so that there is in fact no remaining confusion to the game state), these are perfectly acceptable factors in influencing the deescalation of the starting penalty. However, judges should take care that these errors could either be occurring multiple times during the event with it not being brought to the attention of the judge staff or, similarly to the draw of an extra card, these “errors” could be taken advantage by certain players to get one free extra attachment or use of an Ability with minimal consequences. Therefore, judges should be careful about deescalating and certainly track and escalate recurring errors over time. Concessions and IDs Concessions and Intentional Draws (IDs), while not encouraged, are a very important part of the Pokémon TCG tournament structure right now. Players are under tremendous pressure to get those final points that they need for an invitation and there is a danger of players going over the line of what is legal and what is not legal. Going over that line can have dire consequences, specifically a disqualification (DQ). The problem exists that many judges and players are unsure about exactly what is allowed and not allowed in this area. It is important that both judges and players have a clear understanding of where these lines are. Otherwise, what is legal to do could be met with a DQ at one event and what should not be legal to do could be allowed with no interference at another event. What it all comes down to is that players are allowed to make a single offer. There can be some flexibility in the wording of that offer, but it should be an offer and not a request or negotiation and not begging or pleading or demands. And what is legal as a first offer can and will be considered illegal on a second offer. The General Event Rules state: “If they wish, players may make a single offer to concede a match to their opponent or propose an intentional draw…”. With this in mind, here are some examples in a table form. Basically, a player may ask to ID once and once only. Once their opponent declines, any further requests are to be penalized. Statement First Instance Second Instance Why? I offer to ID with you. Fine Illegal If they wish, players may make a single offer to… propose an intentional draw. Do you want to ID? Fine Illegal If they wish, players may make a single offer to… propose an intentional draw. Let’s ID. Fine Illegal If they wish, players may make a single offer to… propose an intentional draw. With Draws, we have enough points to make it to top cut. Can we ID? Fine Illegal If they wish, players may make a single offer to… propose an intentional draw. I offer to concede to you. Fine Illegal If they wish, players may make a single offer to concede a match to their opponent. You should concede. Illegal Illegal Players are not permitted to request an opponent’s concession. Will you concede to me? Illegal Illegal Players are not permitted to request an opponent’s concession. I would really appreciate it if you would consider conceding to me. Illegal Illegal Players are not permitted to request an opponent’s concession. When it comes to asking for a concession, the General Event Rules state: “Players are not permitted to request an opponent’s concession. Repeated requests of this nature may be perceived as coercion and penalized as such.” Just asking once is penalizable. Asking more than once constitutes coercion. With regards attributing this to a section of the Penalty Guidelines, this falls under 8.6. Unsporting Conduct: “This group of penalties covers the inappropriate actions taken by players… at an event.” In the case of a player asking for a concession, there is a cut-and-dry escalation to Disqualification the moment the offense is repeated. To be clear, the first request can get a Warning or Game Loss. A second request earns a DQ. With asking to ID, it is appropriate to escalate the severity of the penalty from Minor (Warning) through Severe (Disqualification) for each time the player asks beyond the initial legal request. This should follow that player across the tournament (ie, the escalation does not start anew with each opponent they try this with). Gentlemen’s Agreements Gentlemen’s Agreements are outside the rules of the game regarding determining end of match, however there are limited ways that players can use them in determining a winner of an otherwise Drawn match. A common example of such an agreement is that the winner of the match would be determined by who is ahead on prizes at the time of the last turn of Game 3. Note that there are some methods of determining a winner that are explicitly spelled out as illegal in the floor rules and penalty guidelines. For example, all manners of random determination are not legal. That would include, but are not limited to, flipping a coin or playing Rochambeau (Rock/Paper/Scissors). Gentlemen’s Agreements are not enforceable by judges in any manner. However, if they are started in the same way as agreements to ID, then they would be permissible. Judges should use the same guidelines in treating requests for these as they use for IDs. So, for example, stating “Neither of us will make Cut if we tie. Can we agree that whoever is ahead on prizes at the end will win if the game is incomplete?” would be acceptable to state one time and one time only to an opponent. This is not a random determination and it follows the format of suggesting an ID. But if either player chooses to not abide by the terms of the Gentleman’s Agreement, the judge must remain impartial and is not responsible for enforcing the agreement.