The implications of voluntary failure in a deck search.

Discussion in 'Compendium Notices' started by bulbasnore, Apr 29, 2008.

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  1. bulbasnore

    bulbasnore Administrator Staff Member Trader Feedback Mod

    At a World Championship not too long ago, the judge staff and Team Compendium learned from the Pokémon Card Laboratory (PCL) judges that a specific search inside the deck can fail voluntarily.

    :confused: What did you say?

    OK, suppose you play this card,


    Professor Elm's Training Method

    and start looking through your deck, you see Infernape and Monferno, but your Delcatty ex is prized. Drat! You don't have a place to play the others and you don't want to add a card to your hand, because next turn you'll play Steven's Advice and you might have too many cards in your hand to play it. What to do, OH, what to do!? Well, with voluntary failure of specific deck search, you just don't take the evolution card you were told to take. Instead, shuffle your deck and move on.

    :eek: So, I can play a card to no effect?

    Er, not exactly. Let's go back to the beginning.

    What does The Game know about your deck?

    Remember who we're talking about here: The Game. Not you. Not your opponent. Not the tournament judge.

    The following aspects of the cards in your game are public knowledge, that is, you, your opponent and The Game know them:
    1. Number of cards in hand, in deck, in discard, in play.
    2. Nature of cards in cards in play, in discard.
    That's pretty much it!

    Specifically with regard to the deck, the Rules Team has published this meta-ruling (a ruling that is the basis for other rulings):
    While you know there are evolutions in your deck, The Game does not.

    :redface: But, I just used night Maintenance and put that Infernape into my deck.

    Well, The Game has a 'short memory'. Let's keep going.

    No process of deduction, logic or history can reveal the contents of your deck to The Game.

    Essentially, the nature of the cards in your deck, except in the moment they are revealed, remains unknown to The Game. Therefore, you are allowed to play a card and search again for the "exact same thing" you just search for, even though you know it isn't there.

    Therefore, when you play a card to search for a specific card or type of card in your deck, it is considered that The Game does not know and shall not remember whether that card is in your deck, unless you select it and bring it out (in which case, its not in your deck :tongue:).

    So, when a card like this,


    Quick Ball

    makes you reveal most of your deck, all that is immediately forgotten by The Game when you shuffle. Your opponent may try to remember, for strategy reasons, but that won't compel any game actions by you.

    In summary, because the nature of the contents of the deck is neither public knowledge nor known to The Game, a voluntary failure of a specific deck search can take place even when:
    • Another effect made known that a card of a certain type was placed into the deck on the same turn.
    • A certain card was revealed to be in the deck during the same turn.
    • Another search for the same card or type of card just took place and failed.
    Cool, eh?

    :cool: So, I guess you guys have to fix that Quick Search ruling, huh?

    That brings up a good point, let's have a look at the ruling.

    The ruling you picked up on is this one:

    Here's the big bird -


    Pidgeot (RG)

    Notice the Quick Search :ppowr: says, "choose any 1 card". So, what did we say is public knowledge about your deck? Right, the number of cards in it. If you have cards in your deck, you may Quick Search. If you do Quick Search, you must take a card, because The Game knows you have 1 to choose. The contradiction proves the rule, you might say.

    :mad: OK, how 'bout a more modern example than PETM and Quick Search?


    The week following the meta-ruling that expressed the concept that deck contents are not public knowledge, we had a rules question in Ask the Masters forum that nicely applied the concept via this poor fellow,



    This might arise, as follows. You 'know' your opponent is going to Constrain you next turn and you have to get the big hitter facing you out of the way, but your attack is 10 HP short. Fortunately, you have Castaway to get the Strength Charm Pokémon Tool that will give you the extra power needed to clear that big monster. But, you know you don't want to give your opponent the chance to force you to discard two cards next turn. Castaway says to get the Basic Energy and a Supporter, too! In comes the voluntary fail of a specific deck search meta-ruling! You can look through your deck, passing by all the Basic Energies and Supporters and take just the Pokémon Tool -- your Strength Charm! Bwahaha. You could even look through your deck and a actually not find the Strength Charm and take nothing. And cry.

    :nonono: Oh great, another zero effect move for someone to stall with.

    Well, no and maybe. Let's take a look at what it is, and what you can do about its abuse.

    Is it really zero effect if you play Castaway with no intent to take anything from the deck? Well, it's subtle, but absolutely, there are two effects. You are getting a look at your deck contents with the search and you are randomizing the deck with the shuffle. In fact, I doubt you would be allowed to just play the Castaway without those two things. That is, you probably couldn't say: "I play Castaway, but I voluntarily fail. Now, I will evolve, attach and attack." You have to perform the effects required on the card.

    Could someone stall in this way? Maybe. But typically there is clock watching, other slow play or lots of other "going through the motions" that is happening ... this is just one more behavior to give it away.

    As with any of that, you have to buck up and call a judge and make your specific case, "I am going to win in two turns, and my opponent seems to be doing every last thing to the limit of time to make sure I don't get those turns and now he has just played a Castaway and found nothing." or "My opponent seems to be overthinking every play, and not to be giving me a chance to take my turns." or "My opponent just went from searching hand to discard to deck to hand to deck to discard to hand to deck; this is the second time and I've mentioned it to him before. I need a normal pace to have a chance to play my deck." or "My opponent just played Holon Mentor and found nothing, then Great Ball and found nothing and now has just had his Pachi do a Call for Family and found nothing, I submit this is stalling."

    Then, ask for what you want, "May we please have a 5 minute extension? And would you watch the match?"

    Specifically on voluntary fails, A judge CAN observe the deck during the search or review it afterward the same turn and use that as PART of the basis of for deciding whether there will be an extension or other penalty.

    Judges, you CAN give extensions, if a player will not respond to your request to pick up the pace. Players, I would definitely not wait until the last two minutes to request a judge review your match for slow-play or suspected stalling, and I would politely request the extension after that review. Don't forget your appeal to the Head Judge, too.

    :rolleyes: Hey, is this about voluntary fail or about stalling?

    Stall prevention is part of it, but its also a bigger issue. Not too off-topic, but let's move along and look at why this article was written.

    Some players have long been aware of this fundamental concept of the game and naturally apply it to their strategy.

    Here's one way I've observed it applied to strategy at Regionals. A player has a useless Celio's Network in hand. He needs a Psychic energy! With Claydol's Cosmic Power he wants to draw the maximum in hopes of getting it. OK, the player plays Celio, gives his deck a quick look, yup there's an energy, voluntarily fails the search, quick shuffle. Cosmic Power, drop two cards from the hand under the deck, draw 5 instead of 4, woohoo, there it is!

    We can talk about further illustrations in the comments on this post.

    As long as voluntary fail of specific deck search remains a legal play, and I can't imagine that changing, then everyone should be aware of it, its limits and its implications for strategy and game play... plus, I think its kinda neat to know.

    :pokeball: And that's time!
    Last edited: May 2, 2008
  2. B_B_C

    B_B_C New Member

    Whao....... Good artical.
  3. Flygon999

    Flygon999 New Member

    Nice artical. Really helpful. Thanks bulbasnore!!!
  4. chriscobi634

    chriscobi634 New Member

    very helpful to know. Great article, it is an interesting read.
  5. Black Mamba

    Black Mamba New Member

    This is GREAT!

    Really opens up some interesting strategies for me! :)
  6. Kenshin's Garde

    Kenshin's Garde New Member

    wait, i thought it's been like this since the game has been out?
  7. Skitty

    Skitty New Member

    Thank you for wrighting that. It'll be helpfull to the people that weren't sure about it.
  8. Cyrus

    Cyrus Iron Chef - Master Emeritus

    Amazing article, and extremely useful to the uninitiated.

    More people need to be aware that all that's needed to avoid a cheap time win is to request a time extension-especially on deck search spam!
  9. AnimeDDR110

    AnimeDDR110 New Member

    Very well written article.
    Thanks. I now know a little something more than i wouldn't have known before.
  10. mumsascrappa

    mumsascrappa Active Member

    smooth read!!!! Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to put this together!
  11. WinkWinkNudgeNudge

    WinkWinkNudgeNudge New Member

    This is one of the questions that I got wrong on my first professor test. I based my answer on the meta ruling that said that you could not perform an action that had no game effect (i.e. using a potion to heal a Pokemon with no damage). So I learned the right answer but not the right theory for that answer. The concepts of "what the game knows" and of the "forgetful deck" are extremely helpful for both understanding and more importantly explaining the rulings.

    Thank you Bulbasnore.
  12. Pikamaster

    Pikamaster Active Member

    The only thing about looking to the deck, discard pile then hand over and over is that they get 30 seconds for a trainer as you probably well know. So if they take to long, you can call a judge and get a time extension, and a caution for them. Then if they continue to stall, they might even get the penalty escalated into a prize penalty. But great article anyway.
  13. meganium45

    meganium45 Active Member

    This should be on EVERY judge's clipboard!

    I am printing it as we speak!

    Well, well done Kim.

    You don't need my approval, in any regards, but I am thoroughly impressed.

  14. Mystery Thing

    Mystery Thing Administrator

    ooh, good to know. I totally ruled the other way on a Celio at Regionals.

    At least I'll know for Nationals ^_^'
  15. PkmnManiac

    PkmnManiac New Member

    Man....I think my head hurts from trying to understand all of this.e

    Are you saying that I can use a card that lets me search my deck, but take anything?
  16. homeofmew

    homeofmew Active Member

    I'm still confuzed on quick ball lol.
    what if you know there is no pokes in your deck then can you play one?
    like you used quick ball, no pokes can you use a quick ball again?
  17. meganium45

    meganium45 Active Member

    Yes Tina, because under this analysis, the game "forgets" the contents of the deck the moment it is turned back over and shuffled.

  18. bullados

    bullados <a href="

    Can we get a copy of this on the Front Page when it's ready? Only the Judges and those that are A-R about the rulings really look into this section. It'd be more helpful to the community in general where it's more visible.

    This is a GREAT resource, and it will be used at my BRs.
  19. Azure Kite

    Azure Kite New Member

    Wow....I knew you could call a judge over to watch the pace of play and all that, but I never knew you could play cards to get them out of your hand in certain instances. I had been told before that that was not allowed. Great article, thanks for the knowledge, this will really help peoples games!
  20. smacktack15

    smacktack15 New Member

    Can you use a night maintenance on your second turn (with no cards in your discard pile) even though it would have no effect???

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