Magic the Gathering

Public View of Judges

I’m very disappointed with recent articles about judges. Terry Soh’s premium article on Star City Games seems to stand out. I have to admit that I haven’t read the article, since I don’t have SCG premium, but the comments about this article are enlightening. Also, Noah Weil’s article from today doesn’t portray judges in a good light, although I have the feeling that Noah intended it to do. It’s also full of miscomprehensions:

Why would someone become a judge? In my view, there are four reasons. They are: compensation, ensuring a good time, ensuring a fair time, or wielding a desperately needed pseudo-power to feel some kind of pitiful self worth on the backs and misery of others.

He goes on to explain that compensation is a good reason to become a judge. To become a judge just to grab the judge compensation is usually frowned upon by other judges. Also, let’s face it: the compensation is really not that great. For ten hours of hard (but fun!) work at a PTQ you usually get between half a box and a full box of product, depending on the TO. Now compare that to the money you would earn at a real job. Suddenly the comp doesn’t look that good anymore, does it?

Noah then goes on to explain that a judge that wants to ensure a good time is usually not good at his job. He argues with an example from by far the worst officiated tournament [he] had ever been to. Great!

Noah never discusses the other two of his reasons to become a judge, but that’s not really relevant, since he is missing the most important aspect of becoming and staying a judge: it is fun!

Anyways, I have decided to write an article about what it means to be a judge. I will do interviews with other judges, players, the WotC judge manager, and will then submit it to Magic sites. Maybe this will help players to understand judges better.

Update: I just learned from SCG’s editor that Noah’s article is a first part of a series and we will see part two shortly. Nevertheless I am not sure that he really understands what makes most judges tick. But we will see, I am already getting the first replies to the interview I sent out to multiple judges.

Magic the Gathering

Tracking Repeat Penalties

Penalties are supposed to be upgraded when a certain offence is repeated during a tournament. In small tournaments with only few judges that works well, since all judges communicate efficiently (in German we would say: “sie tratschen wie Waschweiber”). But the larger the tournament gets the more difficult it gets to learn about previous penalties.

Normally a repeat offence is only noticed after the match of a player is already over and the result is entered into DCIR. At this point it’s already to late to upgrade the penalty. Also at really large tournaments the scorekeeper is not able to enter all the penalties during the round.

There are multiple possible solutions to this problem. Please keep in mind that repeat offences during a match are normally not a problem, since these are usually noted down on the result entry slip and the opponent tends to remember them as well.

  • The ideal dream-world solution is that each judge has a handheld device that lets him enter penalties that get entered automatically into DCIR. This handheld device would also let you see the warning history of all players at this tournament. Of course this is not feasible for the lack of appropriate software (fixable) and affordable hardware (not so easily fixable).
  • Another solution is to ask the player who will get a penalty whether he got a similar penalty before in this event. If he lies about this, it should be noticed when the repeat penalty is entered and could be penalised with a disqualification. Nevertheless this is not an ideal solution, since there remains a grey area. For example a player could claim that he didn’t think that a previous penalty was really “similar” to the penalty just given. Or, if you ask for any penalties, they could claim that they had forgotten about them.
  • Finally, another solution is to print out the list of warnings after each round and let each judge read through it from time to time. I know that the main problem with that method is memory. I have a really bad memory, especially for names and faces, so this is a method that is very difficult for me to use. Also, not all judges will be equally up-to-date.

I will suggest that we experiment with the different methods at our next events and I know that others from #mtgjudge will as well. I think I will suggest a mix up the latter two methods since that seems to be the most feasible. If I remember I will report back on my experiences at this place. If you have any other methods or comments, please let me know.

Magic the Gathering

Judge Article Up!

Since the Wizards page is back up, I can confirm that my judge article about the Rodgau PTQs “between the years” is really up.

Here are some more pictures from that event.

Update: One thing that wasn’t presented well in the article was how bad I was feeling during the whole tournament. At the evening before the first tournament, I agreed to fetch some friends from the train station. So I walked through the cold rain towards the station that consisted just of the platform with two small shelters. On my way there I got a call that they had just missed their train and would arrive 20 minutes later. So I waited for 20 minutes when I got a second call that the train had been cancelled and they would arrive another 20 minutes later. So I was out in the cold for more than an hour and this is probably when I got a severe cold.

This cold didn’t make itself felt until the next evening, though. While calling the draft I suddenly started to feel really bad. At this point I though it was food poisoning from the pizza I had eaten earlier. During the night I had to run to the bathroom multiple times and was generally feeling very bad.

The next day I only had herbal tea for breakfast and felt very weak, but not really ill anymore, so I though I had it all behind me. I did not eat properly this day and when I went to bed, I got chest pains. In the morning the chest pains had grown stronger and I had a slight headache. So I took an Aspirin against the headache. It worked and after a healthy breakfast my chest pains had gone as well. I didn’t come to the obvious conclusion that this was the because of the painkiller, though …

So later in the day (I was team leading), the chest pains grew stronger again and I had to sit down early and was felling ill. So I wasn’t able to lead my team as much as I would have liked to. Fortunately they were experienced and didn’t need much help.

Magic the Gathering

Judge Article Up?

flame- told me earlier on #mtgjudge that my judge report is finally up at the DCI page. Unfortunately that page is currently down. So I have to wait a little bit longer …

Magic the Gathering

GP Leipzig Judge Photo

The judges of GP Leipzig:

This picture is from flame-‘s blog. I added the names with the help of flame- and other members of #mtgjudge. Thanks all! Missing on this picture are at least MJH, Thomas Kugler, and Martin Damen.

Magic the Gathering


In other news, I’m still not listed as a level 2 judge, the tournament where I made top 4 is still listed as “cancelled”, and finally (and most importantly) the judge article that I submitted at the beginning of january is still not posted. Frustrating …