So you’d like to become a Magic Judge…
What Is a Magic Judge?
Judges are neutral arbiters of the game; to run consistent and fair tournaments; to make the game friendly and fun for all the players involved. Judges do this by answering calls, helping to fix mistakes and ensure the integrity of Magic events.
Outside of events, judges are ambassadors of the community, helping players, store owners, and judge candidates. Judges help make Magic: The Gathering™ a great experience for players!
Why Do You Want to Become a Judge?
There are numerous reasons for wanting to become a judge beyond helping out at Magic events. No matter your reason once you have made that decision what follows are a number of steps that you will need to complete, not necessarily in this order though. Some will be easier than others, some you may have already completed just because you are already playing in events such as Friday Night Magic or Grand Prix Trials.
Find a Store Willing to Have You Judge Events
The reality of WPN Organized Play is that most events are run out of stores, therefore most of the training to become a judge has to happen at a store. You can’t become a judge without judging events, one of the requirements is to judge two events. Finding a store to judge at is a good first step but may be the hardest to achieve.
If you are not already a regular at a store, find one near to where you live or work and start playing in Magic events there. Get to know the store owner or member of staff that runs these events and whoever judges those events. If there isn’t currently someone considered by the players to be the person they ask rules questions, start to become that person. If there already is, get to know them, discuss rulings with them and soon you will be another person the players ask rules questions.
If you do have a regular store but don’t feel confident enough to answer rules questions and you want to start judging to get that confidence then you should come back to this step later.
If you are already the player that everyone asks questions then you’re acting in the way most judges do at Regular REL, becoming a judge for the event is just formalizing this, talk to the store owner or person responsible for running the Magic events and see if you can be the judge on record for the Regular REL events you play in.
Once you have found a store that lets you judge their events you are now essentially a Magic Judge, just without any level, some will call you a Level 0, more accurately you are an uncertified Magic Judge, and a Level 1 candidate Magic Judge. Once you are judging you will need the next step if you haven’t already.
Find Another Judge to Mentor You
The Magic Judge Program relies on mentoring to learn, it’s a natural part of social interaction with other judges.
Finding someone to mentor you who can also administer the test is ideal, but a mentor could be anyone, of any level. Anyone that you trust to be able to help you find answers to things you aren’t sure about and provide constructive feedback on how you are progressing would make a good mentor.
A mentor doesn’t even have to be someone that is local, it’s possible to receive some of the benefits from mentoring via email, IRC or other communication methods. This type of mentoring can be essential if there are no other local judges, it can also supplement a local mentor.
This could be your first step to becoming a judge, knowing another judge could help you find a store that will let you judge their events. If you don’t know any other judges the best way to fix that would be to contact your Regional Coordinator, a judge that looks after judging matters within your region. Use this link to contact yours and this other one to find out more about Regional Coordinators.
Learn Common Rules and Policy
Judging is a continuous improvement process and there will be many different methods that you can use to continue to improve your knowledge. If you don’t already have a reasonably good understanding of the basic Magic Rules this should be the first step to becoming a judge. You need to be able to judge events and if you aren’t able to answer rules questions efficiently you won’t be able to convince a store to let you judge. Often though this step has already happened through playing Magic and seeing how things work at tournaments.
- Basic Rules and Format information
- Comprehensive Rules & Judging at Regular REL
- Preparing for the Level 1 Exam
Sit the Level 1 Judge Exam
This is the formal process required to become a Certified Level 1 Judge, this is the final step in becoming a Level 1 Judge, but it’s not the final step to judging. If you enjoy judging then your next step may be asking the question “How do I become a Level 2 Judge?”.