Sunday, April 26, 2009

What is Turnabout?

Date of last update: March 29, 2013

Turnabout is a way of playing Magic: the Gathering using constructed decks that I developed and ran at GenCon from 1996 to 2002. It is unique among constructed formats in that the classic "four-of" rule (whereby no deck may contain more than four of any card that is not a basic land) is waived. This does not break the format, because half of the match is played against the deck you bring.

Deck Construction Rules
  1. Decks must consist of 60 or more cards. No sideboards are used.
  2. You may have as many copies of any non-banned card as you wish.
  3. The banned list consists of:
  • Ante cards
  • Cards that fetch other cards from outside the game (Examples: Ring of Ma'Ruf, Research/Development, and the Wishes)
As usual, cards that would not normally be tournament legal (such as silver- and gold-bordered cards and counterfeit cards) are not permitted.

Match Rules
  1. A match consists of two games. It is recommended that these matches be untimed if possible. If that is not possible, the next best option is to use a chess clock with either delay timing or Bronstein timing and give each player 10 minutes base time with a three-second delay. (This option will be discussed in another article.) If that is not possible, divide the base match time in half for each game, and invoke the Judge Armageddon Clock at the end of the turn in which game time expires. Play continues until the game is over. The judge may set the speed at which the Judge Armageddon Clock runs based on his or her assessment of the state of the game.
  2. For the first game of the match, players play with their opponent's deck against their own deck. When handing the deck to the opponent, the player states which of the scoring options (Dominaria, Phyrexia, Tolaria, or other) this deck will use in the event it loses a game. The opponent is allowed to look through the deck to see what it does. As a result, the pre-game preparation period for the first game is extended to five minutes.
  3. For the second game of the match, players play their own deck. As they presumably know what their own deck does, there is no extension of the pre-game preparation period for the second game. The person who played first in the first game plays second in the second game, and vice versa. (This necessarily means that the same deck starts both games.)

Judge Armageddon Clock

Judge Armageddon Clock
Emblem (Nothing can stop an emblem's effects from taking place.)
Judge Armageddon Clock may only be played by a judge.

When Judge Armageddon Clock enters the command zone, the judge chooses a number.

At the beginning of each upkeep, put the chosen number of doom counters on Judge Armageddon Clock. Then invoke doom. (Each team chooses one — each other team loses life equal to the number of doom counters; or each other team gains poison counters equal to half the number of doom counters, rounded up; or each opponent exiles cards from the top of their libraries equal to twice the number of doom counters.)
Scoring Rules
  1. This format does not use the standard DCI game and match point scoring system. Instead, the two games of each match can give a certain number of match points that only apply to that match. The player who has the most match points after two games wins the match. Each match awards a total of 30 Victory points, and the difference between the players' match point scores determines the division of those Victory Points between them.
  2. When registering for the tournament, players choose on of the available scoring options. When a player's deck loses (regardless of who is playing it), the winner gains match points based on the scoring option chosen. Currently, three scoring options are recognized; the Tournament Organizer and/or Head Judge may allow others. In all cases, the minimum match point value for a win is 10; the maximum is 30 (adjust values outside that range to the closest allowed value).
    • Dominaria: This is the default scoring option. When a Dominaria deck loses, the winner gains match points equal to 10 plus his or her current life total.
    • Tolaria: This option is commonly used by "mill" decks that try to run the opponent out of cards. When a Tolaria deck loses, the winner gets match points equal to 10 plus half the number of cards remaining in his or her library (rounded up).
    • Phyrexia: This option is often used by decks that inflict poison counters. When a Phyrexia deck loses, the winner gets match points equal to 30 minus twice the number of poison counters the winner has.
  3. Pairing is usually done using a Swiss system based on the number of Victory Points earned to date. Players are paired against others with similar scores, but in no case will a person play the same opponent during a particular session. Other pairing methods are possible.
  4. When Swiss pairing is used, players are ranked based on their final Swiss score. Elimination finals are normally not used.
Victory Point Division
If both players end with the same match point total, the match is a draw and both players earn 15 Victory Points. Otherwise, take the difference between the two match point scores and divide the Victory Points as follows:

  • 1-3 MP difference: 16-14
  • 4-6 MP difference: 17-13
  • 7-9 MP difference: 18-12
  • 10-12 MP difference: 19-11
  • 13-15 MP difference: 20-10
  • 16-18 MP difference: 21-9
  • 19-22 MP difference: 22-8
  • 23-26 MP difference: 23-7
  • 27-30 MP difference: 24-6
  • 31-35 MP difference: 25-5
  • 36-40 MP difference: 26-4
  • 41-45 MP difference: 27-3
  • 46-50 MP difference: 28-2
  • 51-55 MP difference: 29-1
  • 56-60 MP difference: 30-0