Policy Clarification: Cryptic Spires

Cryptic Spires is a new card with a brand-new mechanic for tournament Magic. Found in every draft pack of Double Masters 2022 (set code 2X2), it is a nonbasic land with five mana symbols and the text, “As you create your deck, circle two of the colors below.” This is a mechanic reminiscent of the Legacy mechanic introduced in the Mystery Booster: Convention Edition on the cards Gold Mine and Inspirational Antelope . Specifically, before you play any games, you choose the two colors of mana that each individual Cryptic Spires will produce. If you are playing multiple copies, each may have different or the same choices made. In tournaments where Continuous Construction applies (MTR 7.3), each Cryptic Spires may have its choices changed between games. However, 2X2 Sealed is a format that can be used for this season’s Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs), which are intended to be run at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level (Comp REL for short). Comp REL events require decklists, which means Continuous Construction cannot apply. Today, we’re going to look at how current policy addresses errors that players may make when including Cryptic Spires in their decks at Comp REL events.

First, I highly recommend reading both the Double Masters 2022 Release Notes section on Cryptic Spires (link) and Toby Elliot’s blog post about it (link).

Important takeaway: at Comp REL, the choices for each Cryptic Spires must be made on both the card and the decklist. We will be looking at scenarios where this has been done incorrectly and assuming no ill intent (if the player is attempting to intentionally abuse any ambiguity in Cryptic Spires, this is Cheating and the player should be Disqualified).

Example #1:

Ada is playing three Cryptic Spires in their deck. Ada marked that all three were White and Blue on their decklist, but neglected to mark anything on their Cryptic Spires. Their opponent points this out once Ada plays their first Cryptic Spires and calls a judge.

Solution #1: Deck Problem – Warning, have Ada mark each Cryptic Spires as it comes up, and mark the remaining ones before the next game begins. This situation is impossible to abuse, since there is only one possibility for each Cryptic Spires to be based on the decklist. If the player has tried to claim that their Cryptic Spires produced anything other than White or Blue, then this is an extremely easy-to-catch cheat that is unlikely to be attempted. Investigate with due diligence, but know that this particular error is likely to be unintentional.

Example #2:

Ariel is playing two Cryptic Spires in their deck. On their decklist, Ariel marked that one Cryptic Spires should produce Blue and Red while the other should produce Blue and Black. Ariel also neglected to mark anything on their Cryptic Spires. Ariel draws one of their Cryptic Spires and immediately notices that nothing is marked and calls a judge.

Solution #2: Deck Problem – Warning, have Ariel mark each Cryptic Spires as noted on the decklist, then have Ariel’s opponent choose which one is added to Ariel’s hand. We are taking this guidance from the first paragraph of the Additional Remedy section of Deck Problem (IPG 3.5). Effectively, we are treating the unmarked Cryptic Spires as cards that do not belong in the deck and “replacing” them with the correctly-marked Cryptic Spires.

Example #2.5:

Same situation as Example #2, except the error is not realized until several turns after the first Cryptic Spires is played.

Solution #2.5: Deck Problem – Game Loss, have Ariel mark each Cryptic Spires before the next game. Here, we have hit a scenario that very closely resembles the second upgrade option for Deck Problem. Cryptic Spires may not be a sideboard card, but we are still in a situation where an incorrect card has caused strategic decisions to be made based on its presence. The ambiguity of the Cryptic Spires only serves to exacerbate the problem, so a Game Loss is appropriate in this scenario. It also serves as a large incentive for the player to point the error out on their own, as that would be Example #2 above (a Warning).

Example #3:

Angel has not marked any colors for at least one Cryptic Spires on their decklist. The way this is discovered is largely irrelevant.

Solution #3: Decklist Problem – Game Loss, have Angel mark all Cryptic Spires in their deck and on their decklist with their intended colors. The Game Loss infraction does not depend on whether the Cryptic Spires in Angel’s deck have already been marked, but such markings should be taken into account when modifying the decklist. We take guidance from the line of Decklist Problem (IPG 3.4) that states, “Ambiguous or unclear names on a decklist may allow a player to manipulate the contents of their deck up until the point at which they are discovered.”

Example #4:

Ahim is playing three Cryptic Spires in their deck. They have registered one each of White and Blue, Blue and Green, and White and Green. Upon discovery in a deckcheck, it is revealed that the three Cryptic Spires in their deck are marked as White and Blue, Blue and Red, and White and Red.

Solution #4a: Deck Problem – Warning, have Ahim fix the markings on their Cryptic Spires to match their decklist.


Solution #4b: Decklist Problem – Game Loss, fix Ahim’s decklist to match the Cryptic Spires in their deck.

Here, it will largely fall to which set of Cryptic Spires is actually correct for Ahim’s deck. Since the decklist is supposed to be the final arbiter of what a player is playing, altering it comes with a steeper penalty.

It bears repeating that all of these examples assume no ill intent on the player’s part. Every scenario should be investigated to ascertain whether the error is unintentional or not. If the player is intentionally failing to mark their Cryptic Spires in order to gain an advantage, the solution is to issue a Disqualification to the player for Cheating. This also applies to the opponent in Example #2.5, as players are expected to call attention to an error they notice as soon as possible. However, please use these examples as guidance for any unintentional Cryptic Spires situations you encounter in your Comp REL events, such as RCQs.

Have another situation that doesn’t fit one of these scenarios? Head over to the Judge Academy Discord server to continue the conversation!

If you’d like to contact me, you can find me on the Judge Academy Discord server or by email to daniel@judgeacademy.com


  1. Eli Meyer

    Does the list in Example 4 have both red and green cards in it?

    The Philosophy of decklist errors says that the Head Judge may chose not to issue the penalty if the meaning of the decklist is obvious but incorrect, and specifically mentions errors of the wrong basics in limited, where a player might simply have written the number in the wrong box of a decklist sheet. If the rest of the deck is 100% Jeskai, then I’d issue no penalty and correct the decklist.