This will be the first in a new series of posts issued periodically by the GoatFormat.com Judge Corps so as to clarify and update our recommendations for certain ruling and policy matters. Here, we are going to do a deep dive on Mind Crush and how its effect ought to be resolved.
Today, we address two separate but related issues regarding Mind Crush. First, we hold that hand verification, like deck verification, should not occur on online simulators for the effects of cards like Mind Crush. Second, we hold that, for all other real-world purposes, hand verification for Mind Crush should occur only when the opponent of the Mind Crush player does not have any copies of the named card in their hand.
I. Ruling History
In the past, we have stated that the user of Mind Crush is entitled to check the opponent's hand for verification in all cases. We have held this to be the case when the opponent discards zero copies of a Forbidden card, when the opponent discards one copy of a Limited card, when the opponent discards two copies of a Semi-Limited card, when the opponent discards three copies of an Unlimited card, when the opponent discards one copy of an Unlimited card with two other copies already in the Graveyard, and so on. Our ruling here was extrapolated from a few key pieces of documentation. First, a Netrep 3.0 ruling on Troop Dragon:
This ruling was issued in early 2004 and was interpreted by us to mean that verification of all sorts, whether the Hand or the Deck, would take place even when all legal copies of a card are accounted for. We revisit this interpretation here for a few reasons. First, the extrapolation from an effect like Troop Dragon to an effect like Mind Crush is strained at best. Second, it was not restated in later core versions of Netrep (e.g. 4.0). So the ruling's precedential value, for the Mind Crush issue at the very least, is questionable.
Second, a feature match between Bryan Coronel and Max Suffridge from US Nationals tells a story in which decks were verified after a Morphing Jar was banished by a Nobleman of Crossout:
While letter rulings tend to hold stronger precedential value than feature matches, the stakes and clarity of this particular feature merit separate discussion. Still, the value here is questionable, because the narrative structure of the feature makes it difficult to discern the context. It is not clear, for example, whether the players were prompted to offer their decks to each other by the judges, whether they did so entirely seriously, or whether they were obligated to do so to begin with. The offer to verify appears to have been made by the controller of the banished Morphing Jar, and it is not clear if the judges would have stopped such verification from taking place if the players were not obligated to verify. At the very least, one reasonable interpretation of the passage is that Coronel and Suffridge agreed independently of binding rulings and policies to check each other's decks. And again, the relation between this situation and the case of Mind Crush is more than a bit of a stretch. So we do not assign controlling weight to this evidence.
II. Online Hand Verification
We address two separate but related issues regarding Mind Crush. First, we are updating our policy for verification on online simulators to reflect our longstanding procedure for resolving Nobleman of Crossout. This means that hand verification for effects like Mind Crush, like deck verification for effects like Nobleman of Crossout, should never occur on online simulators. That policy is restated below:
We never had much in the way of a good reason to have different online procedures for hand verifications as opposed to deck verifications. Both are subject to the same concerns regarding slow play and notetaking. Both are not intended to convey information to the controller of the effect. Both have unique potential for abuse given the realities of online simulators. In both cases, cheaters can be easily identified and punished through the use of replays. Accordingly, we are updating our policies to treat these cases consistently.
III. Real-World Hand Verification
Second, we hold that hand verification for Mind Crush should occur in real-world matches only when the opponent of the Mind Crush player does not have any copies of the named card in their hand. If the opponent discards at least one card, the Mind Crush player is not entitled to verification. In lieu of such verification, players may call a judge if they suspect their opponent is cheating.
The official Upper Deck Entertainment (UDE) FAQs regarding Mind Crush contain only one mention of hand verification:
The inclusion of one thing is the exclusion of another. We read this ruling to mean that the Mind Crush player can only check their opponent's hand in these circumstances, and always in these circumstances, even if, for example, all three copies of a named Unlimited card are accounted for in public knowledge areas. If UDE had instead meant to require verification in all other cases, they would have said so in their rulings.
This interpretation is confirmed by a forum post in May 2005 by Steve Okegawa of Netrep fame:
This appears to have been the common understanding of Mind Crush in organized play under UDE for quite some time after 2005, as explained as late as 2008 by ness00 of the Organization:
This ruling is consistent with various longstanding policy canons by which private knowledge is generally supposed to remain private unless otherwise required by a ruling or a card effect. If it empowers any cheaters at all, it only empowers the stupidest among them, as a simple judge call would make for a clean and easy disqualification were a player found to have kept another copy of the named card in their hand. So with all of the available evidence in consideration, we think this is the most fair and accurate way to rule the card.
We do not reach the question of the extrapolation of these rulings to any other cards. Until further notice, the status quo rulings should be applied to all cards other than Mind Crush. These updates shall be effective immediately at all official GoatFormat.com events.