Presence of Gond combo and Game clock question

Asked by PooperDix 11 months ago

So I played a paper Pauper tournament against this Gond deck, not having ever witnessed the combo. So my deck is a slow control deck and takes a long time to get lethal. My opponent plays midnight guard, and on his next turn plays the presence of gond. When he does he mentions he will tap it oh a million times. In actuality he didn't tap once, yet all of a sudden he has a million tokens and gained a million life because he had a soul warden in play. Why is it we cannot play say a faceless butcher when there are no creatures in play? Easy, because idiot! Read the card gosh! Well if you read the Presence of gond card, and midnight guard part of that process is tapping and untapping, sure if the opponent is cool with it then fine, but shouldn't that be a question you offer when you go infinite? Why do you get to skip the steps? The clock is ticking, and if I am not mistaken you can't count to a million in a lifetime. I should have been able to say ok since you never tapped Midnight guard, then you have zero tokens. I say all this because the match ended up being a draw, but we could have sat there for the rest of the clock time watching him make tokens too, and then it would have instead been a loss for me, so I guess I could be thankful. I just want to know what you guys think about all this.

It depends on the playgroup you are with. Every play group I have ever played with has been totally fine allowing a player to skip steps during an infinite combo as long as they have demonstrated the combo is indeed infinite. In the situation you described, every play group I have been with would have been fine with the player saying "I do this a million times to get a million tokens" without actually tapping once. But again, it is per play group.

November 2, 2018 5:32 p.m.

Caerwyn says... Accepted answer #2

Couple things:

First, please try to link your cards using double brackets: Presence of Gond; Midnight Guard; Soul Warden; Faceless Butcher.

Second, it helps to add some paragraphs. When formatting on this site, you have to have a full line of "empty" space to distinguish between paragraphs.

Third, you can play Faceless Butcher when no other creatures are in play. It's not ideal, but it can still be done.

Fourth, you could count to a million in a lifetime pretty easily. Count to a thousand you can probably do this in an hour (that's only one number every 3 seconds)--you'd only have to do that a thousand times. Now, you couldn't do it in one sitting, but it's still possible to complete well within a lifetime.

Now, on to the actual question:

Shortcuts are defined by Rule 720 (generally) and Tournament Rule 4:2 (for sanctioned play). Per rule 720, a player may announce they are taking a shortcut--such as quickly repeating a loop a set number of times. In response, you have two general options:

  1. Allow the shortcut to move forward unimpeded.

  2. Say you are going to interrupt the shortcut (i.e. Counterspell), and thus decide the loop terminates at a point of your choosing.

While the implementation of shortcuts, and the exact manner of the shortcut is "largely informal", the rules clearly establish they are a part of the game.

Thus, you would really be in the wrong to prevent a loop for no reason other than "I want to waste everyone else's time and stubbornly cling to a stalemate, even though, by all rights, I should lose this game."


Rule 720.2a:

At any point in the game, the player with priority may suggest a shortcut by describing a sequence of game choices, for all players, that may be legally taken based on the current game state and the predictable results of the sequence of choices. This sequence may be a non-repetitive series of choices, a loop that repeats a specified number of times, multiple loops, or nested loops, and may even cross multiple turns. It can’t include conditional actions, where the outcome of a game event determines the next action a player takes. The ending point of this sequence must be a place where a player has priority, though it need not be the player proposing the shortcut.


Each other player, in turn order starting after the player who suggested the shortcut, may either accept the proposed sequence, or shorten it by naming a place where they will make a game choice that’s different than what’s been proposed. (The player doesn’t need to specify at this time what the new choice will be.) This place becomes the new ending point of the proposed sequence.

November 2, 2018 6:29 p.m. Edited.

PooperDix says... #3

Thank you for answering. Faceless butcher doesn't say may exile, and so I assumed that meant it needed a legal target to be played.

This line of thinking actually started whilst playing against my Best friend and long time Opponent, who refuses to play in tournaments but will not hesitate to fabricate and bend rules at times to his advantage, and many of times for the sake of choosing my battles, let it slide.

So on one of these occasions where I have yet to even check (because I have been playing pauper and only pauper all year since) if it was correct he mentioned that planeswalkers cannot gain a loyalty point if for instance it says ;

+1 Target Player Discards a Card

He told me I cannot +1 if there isn't a legal target; a player with a card to discard, and so I began to target myself in that game just to get that +1.

If it seems to make sense I go with it. TBH the rules for MTG have gotten too extensive the last 20 years and I miss the simplistic days when had banding and didnt use it cause it was confusing as hell.

Ok so all that being said, I am going by hearsay here.. a bit, at least with the counting to a million thing, maybe it was a billion. Whatever the case, until this last tournament I never really considered the clock to be anything to worry about, I either stomped throw in 2 or 3 turns or fell flat on my face to an atom or gurmag.

I meant to get a lot more in depth and wanted to discuss the legal aspect of time in this thread. I guess I should just be a good player and read the rules on it. Thanks for the excellent answer.

Also IDK how to link a card, or even remove a comment, on my page or anyone else's! Feel free to help.

November 2, 2018 7:54 p.m.

PooperDix says... #4

@ therealspecialK, that sounds right and is reasonable, and it's not like the guy was noticeably taking too much time, and I didn't give it a second thought, especially since it was the first time in a tournament an opponent had an infinite combo effect. I was too busy picking my jaw up off the floor. As much as I like to net deck in this format and all, there are things I have missed.

November 2, 2018 8:04 p.m.

PooperDix says... #5

November 2, 2018 8:07 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #6

Your friend is incorrect about about the Planeswalker rule as well. The other player is still a valid target, even if they have no cards in hand.

The rules of Magic are very complex and long, but surprising well written. Still, there’s a lot of them, so feel free to post here if you have questions - that’s the best way to lear. If you ever want Banding explained, I’ll be happy to - I think I’m one of four people in the world who love that ability.

For your site questions:

To delete a post on this site you have to upgrade your account by paying a one-time nominal fee.

Code blocks are not working well right now, so it might glitch, in which case I will repost. To link for a card, use the following code:

November 2, 2018 8:18 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #7

Code did not work. You can use the following, without spaces:

[ [ Fireball ] ]


Edit: seems you figured it out while I was messing around with glitches. Disregard!

November 2, 2018 8:19 p.m. Edited.

Kogarashi says... #8

As for Faceless Butcher, you can cast it just fine without a valid target for its ability, because its ability doesn't go on the stack while you're casting it. You cast the Butcher and, as long as no one else counters it or something, it will enter the battlefield. Then its ETB ability will trigger and you will attempt to choose a target for it. With no legal targets, the ability will "fizzle" and be removed from the stack, but the Butcher is still on the battlefield.

And in general, planeswalker abilities are written in such a way that you should always be able to activate a plus ability, even if you get no effect from it, so you can actually increase your planeswalker's loyalty. This is why you can target a player with no cards in hand for a discard ability, or target a tapped creature for a "tap target creature" ability, and so on. Planeswalkers like Garruk, Apex Predator will give you an alternate plus ability to use if one of them must absolutely have a valid target in order to be activated. One of the few that I can think of where this isn't true is Koth of the Hammer, where if there are no mountains on the battlefield, you can't actually use his plus ability. However, if there are mountains but they're all untapped, you can still use him because you can still "untap" a tapped mountain.

November 2, 2018 9:01 p.m.

Kogarashi says... #9

Sorry, that last line should say "you can still 'untap' an untapped mountain."

November 2, 2018 9:46 p.m.

PooperDix says... #10

Man I gotta pay to edit my friends freakin laptop spellcheck corrections, that's annoying, so above, in my first comment I didn't mean to say: throw, that was supposed to say: thru. I also meant to say Atog not Atom. I really try to think out of the box, and wanted more pondering my question as opposed to a direct pointing of the rules, but perhaps I was rushed in my proposal of the question. Kogarashi thank you for the expansion on my question being answered so quickly.

@ all So take what I am saying as perhaps something argued at the feet of the supreme commander judge council in the grand halls of the supreme court of MTG, coming from the; you gotta follow verbatim, unless everyone else playing is on board and you cannot make the assumption that they are ok with you going infinite, then again I suppose I answered with the; ok I will take the rest of the timer to tap and untapped until we have a stalemate.

So then to that end of the stalemate, do the rules say anything on this I wonder ??

Or am I just barking up the wrong tree?

November 2, 2018 10:45 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #11

Your “@all” comment is a tad nonsensical. I am not entirely sure what you are trying to say? I will try to answer based on my understanding.

I believe you are arguing the presumption should be against infinite combos, rather than for allowing the use of shortcuts?

That would be an awful rule. Infinite combos are an important part of the game - a shift in presumption would destroy one of the three Magic archetypes.

Further, it is unacceptable to create a presumption that allows a sore loser to hold the game hostage, and force a stalemate when they deserve to lose.

The rule is perfect as it is - you shortcut the infinite combo, unless another player has a means of stopping the combo. It’s the only way to ensure the game functions properly.

If the game ends in a legitimate stalemate after time and turns, that game is a draw.

November 2, 2018 11:22 p.m. Edited.

Gidgetimer says... #12

Rules Q&A is for information on and citing of rules to help people play correctly. If you want discussion, this isn't the right place to do it. Here you get factual answers on how the game is played. The blind eternities forum is more the place for discussion on how you think the rules should work instead of answers on how they do.

720.2a and 720.2b are the actual rules on what you are asking, as cdkime said the rules of MtG are well written, if a bit thick. You are allowed to verbally say a series of actions and your opponents either allow the actions to happen as described or they name a place where they would like to take an action different than the described one. There is no option to delay the game by making people take physical actions to represent the game actions they described. If someone says they are going to take a different action and then don't they are guilty of slow play and can be penalized.

November 3, 2018 3:14 a.m.

PooperDix says... #13

Thanks, feel like you guys are harassing a bit much, i wasn't a sore loser by any means, it was a tight match up, I countered his midnight guard and he responded with a pyroblast, to which I responded to with another counter spell.

I appreciate you guys taking the time to explain the rules

Gidgetimer can you ever forgive me for wanting to discuss things? Also please expand on the last line of your last comment, I'm not sure what you are trying to say, are you implying something at me?

geez and I never said I wanted the rules changed. I guess my line of thinking going back to my friends misinterpretation really set me in the wrong direction, I like combo decks. Going infinite is awesome.

November 3, 2018 9:08 p.m.

PooperDix says... #14

**$&%$&^^%& Stoopid computer correcting my words, it's my friends moms, I didn't mean to say harassing i meant to say HARSHING (my vibe)

November 3, 2018 9:10 p.m.

PooperDix says... #15

I was coming from a place of well if I have to target myself to even use my planes walker this turn and discard a card that I would rather play, than hmmmmmm what would you think. How would you interpret that from there on? (rhetorical question), sorry conversation over I guess.

November 3, 2018 9:13 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #16

I'll post my response to your most recent comments on your wall, rather than further distancing this thread from the purpose of this forum.

Since your question has been properly answered, please be sure to click the "Mark as Answer" button on the answering post.

November 3, 2018 9:43 p.m.

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