Saviors of Kamigawa Prerelease

This weekend was the prerelease for Saviors of Kamigawa. As always it took place at the Magic Center, now under new ownership. I judged Saturday. It was a fairly uneventful tournament with 125 players. We were three judges plus scorekeeper, which was just enough. Personally, I would have preferred one more judge on the team. The best part was that we now have a preliminary agreement with the representative of the new owner about judging. I hope this helps to ensure that we will keep the high standard of judges we have and will enable all judges to judge if they want to.

On Sunday I planned to play in the team events. Unfortunately I only had one team member and we weren’t able to find another one. Fortunately we found a team for Carsten who needs the experience, but I had to watch the others play. There was no single event on Sunday, since I was the only person interested in one and we didn’t even manage to get a booster draft together. But I had fun nevertheless, talking and joking with all the people I know there.

I will probably play the in-store prerelease next Saturday and was already asked whether I want to judge Sunday’s event, which I will do. I really hope to get a bit play experience with the new set. Getting into the Magic Online Beta for Saviors could help here as well.

Playing with GStreamer

I played around with GStreamer today to do what I wanted to do for a long time: encode the music from a music video DVD I bought as Ogg so that I can play it with my regular music player (Rhythmbox) as well as at home (my computer at home doesn’t have a DVD drive – can you believe that?)

Screenshot of gst-streamer with my pipeline

Well, GStreamer is really cool. I used gst-editor to click me a pipeline that decoded the DVD and then encoded the audio stream using Ogg/Vorbis. Now if gst-editor would at least pretend to be stable and some of its usability would be ironed out, I would be really happy.

Switching to Subversion?

There is talk on gnome-hackers to switch from CVS to Subversion as version control system. Some people instead suggested to switch to another, fundamentally different versioning system like arch or monotone.

While I’m very much in favor of switching to Subversion, I am very against switching to a more radically different versioning system at this point for several reasons:

  • A switch to Subversion is fairly unobstrusive. Basically all the several hundred if not thousand people that are using GNOME CVS now need to do is:
    1. Learn to type “svn” instead of “cvs”.
    2. Checkout their repositories again and move possibly not-yet committed patches over to the new working copy. This is probably the most difficult task.
    3. Learn to type “svn status” instead of “cvs checkout” if they want to learn about local changes.
    4. Learn about tagging and branching by making copies. This is something most people don’t need to care about.

    Compare this to other versioning systems that work vastly different than CVS did.

  • It was pointed out that moving to arch or something similar would mean that GNOME has to move to a different development philosophy. I don’t think that this is something you can just force on the whole project and all contributors. This is something that needs a slow but steady introduction. An all-or-nothing move would probably drive people away who have better things to do with their time than to spend it learning all about versioning systems.
  • Currently there are several competing distributed versioning systems. None have proven to become the clear market leader so far. Personally I am not looking forward to learn a different system for each project that I am involved in. I feel that GNOME should not play early adopter here, but instead wait until one system establishes itself as clear leader in the F/OSS community. There are several reasons for this, one of them being that the GNOME project should not put its political weight behind any specific project.

    I still hope that some of the projects to product a distributed versioning system will merge, and work together on a better system.

In summary, while I think that GNOME should probably move on to a distributed versioning system in the long term, I do not think that this time is now. We should wait until either one system becomes a market leader and then slowly progress towards using that system. Forcing such a system on all contributors could prove very damaging to the development process. Stick to Subversion for now.

PTQ London

Yesterday we had a PTQ for London in Berlin. Two days before the event Huy, the scheduled head judge called me and asked whether I could do the HJ, since he had to leave early. Of course I happily accepted.

We had 68 players, which was a low turnout. Kamigawa seems to bore people. Personally I liked Mirrodin block much better and I hope that Ravnica with its multi-color theme will be more interesting.

Anyway, the tournament was not a success in my eyes. We had many problems with unsporting conduct, especially in the early rounds. During deck construction my scorekeeper told me that a player had given him the finger. On the request of the SK I didn’t do anything, but I asked him to call me if something like that should happen again.

And it did. Later I was told the following story by the SK: A player had approached the judge’s table and put a result slip onto a stack of already processed result slips instead of the box designated for result slips. This was certainly out of bad intent by the player, but it could have caused problems if it hadn’t been caught. Fortunately the SK noticed it and asked the player to put it into the box next time. The player asked whether he could get the result slip again and when the SK handed it to him, he deliberately put it onto the wrong stack of slips again. Then he turned away, mumbling something unfriendly, according to the SK.

After I heard of this situation, I called the player over to the judge’s table and asked him about what just happened. But instead of telling his side of the story, he immediatly began attacking the SK directly. “I can’t believe you make a scene out of this. I am at least five years older than you, … If you have ego problems, …” etc. pp. I was so baffled that I told the player right there: “Well, originally I was considering a Match Loss for Unsporting Conduct – Major, but currently I am really asking myself if I shouldn’t disqualify you.” Not very diplomatic, I agree, but I was reallybaffled.

After he had left, I discussed the appropriate penalty with the SK and another judge, but in the end I decided to give a Match Loss for Unsporting Conduct – Major. We tried to pair that player against the eternal loser BYE, so that no other player would get a benefit from this, but we failed. (It seems that it is not possible to give somebody who’s got a bye a Match Loss.) So at the beginning of the next round I went over to the table where that player was supposed to play and told him about the penalty. He argued for quite a while with me. While he kept a friendly tone, he was saying some “suboptimal” things. For example, when his opponent showed up and I told his opponent that he had already won his round and could leave, the ML’ed player interfered and said that he should stay, since things were still being discussed. (This wasn’t the case. The player had been given his chance to argue his case, but instead had used it to attack the scorekeeper.)

Later during the discussions he requested that I send a report to the DCI since he would do that as well. I refused (and I am sure that this is a good for him). He asked me how long I’ve been a L2 judge (four months now) and then told me that he is a L2 judge for eight years, so he must be right. (I checked, he’s not a judge anymore.) He asked me how I would look if this incident was publically discussed in Web forums, etc. etc. After I made it clear that ruling stood and that I didn’t see a point in discussing it further, he dropped from the tournament.

During the next round I observed a match where a large crowd of spectators had gathered around. One of the spectators was the player I had ML’ed last round. I observed the following situation: Player A has a creature equipped with a Shuriken. He announces that he would like to equip it to another of his creatures and then looks up expectantly at his opponent (lets call him B). When B said something or made an affirmative gesture (I don’t remember exactly), A said: “In response shoot your guy.” B was already putting his creature into the graveyard when I interfered. I ruled that since he had looked up at his opponent, he had passed priority and that it was too late to shoot his opponent’s guy.

A was clearly not happy. But when I asked him why he looked up, he agreed that it was because he was waiting for an reaction of his opponent. He later modified this story and claimed that he just wanted to confirm that his opponent had understood what he was doing. Things became heated and A’s behaviour was bordering on unsporting. Well, it was actually not bordering on unsporting, but was clearly unsporting, but since I didn’t want to heat up the situation more, I refrained from giving penalties. Some other players (friends of him probably) tried to calm him down and told him not to worsen the situation. Fortunately they were partially successful. Unfortunately the ML’ed player also interfered and complained loudly about the bad ruling etc. I should have given him a string reprimand at this point, but I didn’t. I left the table and asked another judge to watch the match.

I came back a minute later to tell the spectators retroactively not to interfere in rulings in the future. To which the ML’ed player replied: “You are right, but it’s hard to keep quiet when you know stuff better than the HJ.” I should have kicked him from the premises right then. (Remember that there was a crowd of players standing around.)

Towards the end of the round, the match wasn’t finished yet, so I went over there again to watch the match. It was going well into the extra turns. (No wonder, this was the cursed table 20 – every round the match at this table seemed to be the last one to finish.) Especially player A was playing extremely slow. In retrospect I think that he was deliberately playing slow for a reason I can’t fathom. He got a Slow Play warning in the end.

Rounds going well into the extra time were a problem during the tournament. One match was still not finished five minutes into the extra turns. When I went there to the judge observing the match, I misunderstood him and thought that they were in the third extra turn. I told the judge that he should award Slow Play warning if the play continued to be slowly and left, thinking that this situation was taken care of. When I went there again seven or eight minutes later, I learned that they were only in the second extra turn right now. At that point Slow Play warnings should really have been issued. No matter how complicated a board situation is, it is not possible to hold up a tournament for more than 15 minutes for just five turns.

During the later rounds things became more quiet and the top 8 were okay. But all in all this tournament was not a pleasant experience.