Judge Tower Rules Reference


Judge Tower (also called As Soon As, ASA, or ASAP) is a Magic format about understanding the game rules really, really well. None of the usual win or loss conditions apply; none of the usual resources are constrained (except cards, which in this case is a blessing). You simply do as much as you can, as soon as you can, perfectly correctly. Or else you lose.

I can't take credit for inventing this monstrosity. I first read about it in Chris Lansdell's article on Mana Deprived (see Sources), where he attributes it to "some very evil and possibly sadistic European judges." I immediately built a stack of my own, and immediately thereafter began stumbling on interactions which weren't covered by his summary of the rules. This page is my attempt to remedy that. Judge Tower is a pedantic format, and it deserves a pedantic rulebook.



P.S. If you find a Vintage-legal interaction that's not covered by these rules, or have a contribution to the variants or recommendations, please email me! relsqui@chiliahedron.com



  1. Each player has an infinite life total.
  2. Each player has infinite mana of every type in their mana pool at all times.
    1. In mana costs that include a variable (X, Y, or Z), if the variable is constrained by other rules (for example, it will be used to choose a number of targets), the player paying the cost must choose the highest legal number. If the variable is not constrained, it equals 5.
  3. All players share one library.
    1. The owner of a card is the last player who drew it. The owner of any card which hasn't been drawn this game is the active player.
  4. All players share one graveyard.
  5. Each player's starting hand size is equal to their judge level. Players who have never been certified as judges have a starting hand size of zero.
    1. Players may not take mulligans.
  6. If an effect instructs more than one player to reveal the top card of their library, the active player reveals the top card, the next player reveals the second card from the top, and so on.


  1. Each player must play every card they can as soon as the game rules allow them to do so.
  2. Each player must activate every ability they can as soon as the game rules allow them to do so.
    1. Abilities that can be activated arbitrary number of times must be activated once per turn per legal target. If an ability has no targets, it must be activated once per turn. If it has more than one, it must be activated each turn enough times that all legal targets have been chosen at least once.
    2. If an object has multiple abilities, the last one must be activated first if possible, then the next one up, and so on in reverse order.
  3. Each player must take every special action they're allowed to take as soon as the game rules allow them to do so.
  4. If an effect gives a player a choice whether or not to do something, they must do it if possible.
    1. If an effect allows a player to choose between alternatives, they may choose freely but must choose as many options as possible.
    2. If an effect allows a player to choose an amount of something or how many times to do something, if the maximum possible amount is constrained by game state (such as Strive), they must choose the maximum. If the amount is not constrained (such as Multikicker), they must choose 5.
  5. Whenever a trigger goes on the stack, its controller must demonstrate awareness of it.
  6. All creatures must attack each turn if able.
  7. All creatures must block each turn if able.
  8. If the game state reaches an infinite loop which can't be broken by legal player actions, the players must complete the entire loop once, and then exile one of the cards involved in the loop at random.

Winning and Losing

  1. If a player breaks a game rule, that player immediately loses the game.
  2. If a player breaks any rule under Obligations, that player immediately loses the game.
  3. If a player would lose the game for any reason other than the above, or win the game other than by being the last player who hasn't lost, that player doesn't.






To Do