Shuffle shortcut with "failure to find"

Asked by legendofa 7 months ago

Field of Ruin and Scheming Symmetry can both force an opponent to search their library. Assuming that the opponent hasn't used any scry, search, or other effects like that (the library order is still unknown), and assuming no Psychogenic Probe or other shuffle-trigger effect, can the opponent declare a failure to find the searched-for card and skip the shuffle? Would this apply more to Field of Ruin, where the searched card has a defined target? Or is the physical shuffle always required?

xtechnetia says... Accepted answer #1

Libraries are hidden zones. This means that if a player is instructed by a card effect to go search for a specific card type/name in their library, they can fail to find it even if they could (in theory) have found it.

So if Field of Ruin is used on my nonbasic land and I go search for a basic, I can fail to find one even if I really do have one in my library somewhere.

On the other hand, if it's just "a card" (like Scheming Symmetry ), you have no choice but to find something, as long as you are physically capable (i.e. your library isn't empty or whatever).

(From the Comprehensive Rules, 701.18b and 701.18d.)

Regardless, in either case, shuffling is technically required since the player did, by the game rules, search their library.

In the specific case of Field of Ruin , if used on an opponent and they immediately decline to get a basic, I suppose not shuffling would be acceptable, in a casual setting and if no player has any knowledge of how their library is stacked. (Bear in mind this includes a lot of things, like cards at the bottom from London mulligan, Terminus , etc.)

However, I would always insist on the physical shuffle, even in a casual setting. It's time you get used to spending if you play any formats with fetches and it saves the trouble of revisiting previous game actions to see if anyone could know anything about how their library is stacked.

July 19, 2019 2:07 p.m.

legendofa says... #2

This came up when we were showing a new player how to draft and build, and they didn't have sleeves and were worried about damage. It was a casual teaching environment, so we let it go. I've never had this situation in a serious environment; everyone and their dog walker runs fetches, Opt s, mulligans, whatever, like you said.

July 19, 2019 2:56 p.m.

legendofa says... #3

It's always the new people who ask the questions you've never had to answer before.

July 19, 2019 2:59 p.m.

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