Magic Ruling: Have I Said Too Much?

November 10, 2017

Let’s talk about Free Information vs. Derived Information, a concept that comes up in Competitive REL Magic events.

As an example, let’s say you’re playing in a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier (PPTQ). You control a Cultivator of Blades with two +1/+1 counters on it, as well as five 1/1 Servos. You attack with all of your creatures and declare that you’re using the Cultivator’s triggered ability to pump all of your attacking creatures.

So here’s the question. Are you required to tell you opponent how much power each individual creature has, or how much damage you’re swinging with in total?


The answer is No; because you are playing in a Competitive REL event, you do not have to state these totals for your opponent.

HOWEVER, you also may not lie about those totals.

This is because the characteristics of an object (such as its power) are considered “Derived Information.”

(As a Side Note, in Regular REL events–such as Friday Night Magic–all information is considered Free Information, and you’re obliged to provide your opponents with answers as you are able.)

For a closer look at what Derived Information means, let’s look at the following from the Magic Tournament Rules:

“Free information is information to which all players are entitled access without contamination or omissions made by their opponents. If a player is ever unable or unwilling to provide free information to an opponent that has requested it, he or she should call a judge and explain the situation. Free information consists of:
• Details of current game actions and past game actions that still affect the game state.
• The name of any visible object.
• The number and type of any counter.
• The state (whether it’s tapped, attached to another permanent, face down, etc.) and current zone of any object.
• Player life totals and the game score of the current match.
• The contents of each player’s mana pool.
• The current step and/or phase and which player(s) are active.”

“Derived information is information to which all players are entitled access, but opponents are not obliged to assist in determining and may require some skill or calculation to determine. Derived information consists of:
• The number of any kind of objects present in any game zone that are not defined as free information.
• All characteristics of objects in public zones that are not defined as free information.
• Game Rules, Tournament Policy, Oracle content and any other official information pertaining to the
current tournament. Cards are considered to have their Oracle text printed on them.”

So there we have it. But what about a situation where you have a legitimate question about the math, or card interactions, or anything of the sort? There is a very easy way to answer such questions. Raise your hand high in the air, shout “JUDGE”, and keep your hand up until a judge arrives. The judge can’t do the math for you, but can provide any clarifications you might need to do it successfully yourself.

Missed last week’s ruling? Find it here!

Andy B

Andy B. identifies equally as a writer and a gamer, and sometimes those two identities overlap. His favorite games have a tendency to change, but his current favorites include Guild Ball, The Grizzled, Tash Kalar and Time's Up.

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