Magic: the Gathering
Judge School
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Judge School
MTG cards

Judge School

This series of articles is dedicated to studying the rules of MTG. Who is it targeted at?

  • At those who wish to streamline their knowledge of the Comprehensive rules and the Toudnament rules;
  • at those who like to solve interesting problems;
  • at those who plan on partaking in serious tournaments.

To sum up — at all inquisitive players in general, and candidates for judge level 1.

Each class contains:

  • theoretical information about the chosen subject;
  • quotes from official sources on any relevant rules;
  • comments and examples to the rules;
  • recommendations on working with rule infractions and quotes of related parts of the judging policy;
  • problems on these rules and policies.

Our work doesn't end on the bottom of the page. There is homework in store for you.

For each homework problem there is a solution, but do not rush for it — try to solve each problem on your own to test yourself.

If you have questions about the theory or practical part, or, by chance — nobody's perfect, you spot an error in the article, don't hesitate to contact us.

Good luck!


Written by Irina Samonova, L2

Translated by Witas Spasovski, L1

Priority, Stack, Turn structure

Priority and the stack are two ground level notions in MTG.

Tournament shortcuts

Officially admitted shortcuts and examples of their use in a real game.

State-based actions

Each time a player receives priority, the game state is checked for 22 different conditions in charge of the paramount events in the game — losing a game, death of a creature etc. Actions are performed whenever any of the conditions are met.

Abilities and effects

There are only 4 types of abilities in MTG. This article explains how to distinguish them, what zones they function in, about effects granting or removing abilities, as well as about links between multiple abilities.

Casting spells

Following step by step how spells are actually cast.

Activated abilities

Explaining how abilities are activated and what limits exist on activating them.

Triggered abilities

Figuring out how to discern triggers; where they trigger from; when do they trigger; how does a trigger's text define its properties; and what to do with a missed trigger.

Mana abilities

Making it clear how to discern mana abilities, how they function, how are they different from all other abilities.


When is a spell or ability targeted? When are targets chosen? How can a target be changed? In what case does a spell or ability get countered because of losing the target? How do Shroud and Hexproof really work?

Combat phase

Discussing the most difficult phase of any turn — the combat phase.

Attack of the clones, or Copying

Everything you need to know about copying permanents, spells and abilities. Sorting out what copiable values are, what effects impact these values, what is copied when, and what is never copied.

Copying permanents and cards
Copying spells and abilities

Everything under control

Who is a controller, how is he different from owner? What does it mean to gain control?

Controling another player

What does it mean to “control another player”? What may be done in this case, and what may not?

Shuffling the deck

Sorting out who may and who must shuffle a deck during a match, how and when exactly.

Irina Samonova © 1999-2017

Magic the Gathering is TM and copyright Wizards of the Coast, Inc, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved.