Players other than the controller of a trigger are under no obligation to point out that a trigger has been missed, though they may do so if they wish.
Is it me or do the rules changes for triggers spell trouble for all levels of Magic play, not just the higher RELs? The recent update to the Infraction Procedure Guide allows for a different proceedure for missed triggers and defines exactly what optional and non-optional triggers are.
What's annoying in addition is being required to re-learn new complex rules in an era when Wizards are purportedly looking to make the game easier to access. We can cite the recent move by Wizards to move away from "may" triggers as they are deemed to confusing as a clear and relevant example. This change is effectively a complete U-turn on that policy making a huge swath of previously obligatory triggers effectively optional if a player or both players aren't vigilant enough. Worse still, they have set down criteria as to which triggers are optional and which are not. You'll see why I say "worse" a little later.
I don't know about your playgroup, I can only comment on mine. We have a very casual playgroup but with time restraints. Our ongoing policy (now that Marc is gone!) is that "Go!" actually means "I've finished my turn and there's no take-backs." The triggered ability on a permanent that doesn't say "may" means that it will happen, even if it's initially missed by everybody and we need to rewind. This may seem a little strict for a very casual group but it's one of the best learning tools we can implement. No-one is afraid to dish out advice, detailed explainations are available before and after the fact and we're pretty honest as to what we consider douchy plays and, for the most part, we avoid inflicting them on our group. Outside of that, it's your responsability to know your deck and to pay attention. You snooze, you lose!
Where it gets sticky is when a player decides that the new policy applies to our group. It's in the IPG after all. Who cares that Wizards say it's only for high REL events? Johnny had to play with these rules at the PTQ, the Grand Prix, States and the National Qualifier, why should it be any different here? Why do we blindly stick to the Commander rules & banned list if we're going to pick and mix other policies?
Here's an annotated version of the definition of what now constitutes an optional ability with additional commentary on the "exceptions" (i.e.: those that seem optional but are not) courtesy of Jason Wong's excellent article over on www.manadeprived.com.
An optional ability does one or more of the following things, and nothing else:
- Gains you life or causes an opponent to lose life. (Soul Warden)
- Puts cards from your library, graveyard, or exile zones into your hand or onto the battlefield. This includes drawing cards. (Elvish Visionary)
- Causes opponents to put objects from their hand or the battlefield into the library, graveyard or exile. (Ravenous Rats)
- Puts a permanent into play under your control or gives you control of a permanent. (Sower of Temptation)
- Puts +x/+x counters, or counters linked to a beneficial effect, on a permanent you control. (Shrine of Burning Rage)
- Gives +x/+x or a beneficial ability to a target creature you control. (Chasm Drake)
- Exiles, damages, destroys, taps, or gives -x/-x to an opponent’s target permanent. If the ability could target your own permanents, it is not optional unless that ability could target an opponent. (Kor Hookmaster is optional, Acidic Slime is not optional, Inferno Titan is optional)
- Gives you additional turns or phases. (Lighthouse Chronologist)
- Counters a spell or conditionally counters a spell, but only when cast by an opponent. (Chancellor of the Annex)
Abilities that trigger at the same point in each player’s turn and do something to “that player” (e.g. Howling Mine) are never optional.
Here are some abilities that you may think are optional, but are not:
- Frost Titan’s first ability – In the list of allowable actions for optional abilities, there is an entry that says “… conditionally counters a spell, but only when cast by an opponent.” Frost Titan’s ability does this when your opponent casts Doom Blade, but not when your opponent activates Royal Assassin. Since it is not optional sometimes, it is never optional.
- Dark Confidant – The ability puts a card into your hand, but it also does something else. Since it doesn’t fit into exactly into the options listed, it is not optional.
- Crypt Cobra – This follows the philosophy of optional abilities, but it is not covered in the list of acceptable actions.
- Morkrut Banshee – Like Acidic Slime, it can target permanents you control as well, while not being able to target your opponent.
- Manic Vandal when only your opponent controls artifacts – The “optionalness” of an ability is not influenced by the game state. In a vacuum, Manic Vandal could target an artifact you control. Even though you don’t control any artifacts, the ability is not optional.
Particularly confusing are the differences between effects like Inferno Titan and Acidic Slime/Manic Vandal. Why would damage be optional but destruction not be optional? Both are encompassed by the same definition but a difference is being made in the application of the definition. In the same definition, Manic Vandal is not optional because theoretically you could control artifacts even if you don't just right now. The issue I have with this is that all three cards are worded to say that it happens, not that you may choose. This was my "worse still": Complex game just got more complex.
How about the +X/+X rule with something that gives multiple creatures +1/+1 counters like Mayael's Aria? If you put counters on some of your creatures but not all you've obviously not missed the trigger. Does that allow you to go back and complete the process for a creature you may have forgotten?
The other side of the coin is that, if for some reason you forgot to draw your 7 cards, you don't get to rewind now. How many Commander playgroups are going to want to continue to implement the old ruling (which, I suppose, is still the current ruling seeing as Commander isn't concerned by the REL changes) when you can choose to implement the new ruling and have the Jin-Gitaxias player skip drawing those cards?
I can say with some honesty: Not many.
As a good man once said about Jin-Gitaxias, he's a Knut!!
At least, I think that's what he said.