Welcome to the oh-so-timely Wave 13 Eh-xemplar Highlights! Wave 14 should be announced shortly, so what better way to build hype than to revisit some of the amazing things our judge peers did during the first quarter of 2018! This wave, we’ve placed emphasis on player experience–after all, as judges our goals is to ensure our tournaments run smoothly, rulings are fair and accurate, and ultimately that our players are having a great time! This article focuses on extraordinary efforts by Canadian judges to improve the experiences of our local players at events and in the community at large.
From Adam Jennings to Daniel Morton
Dan, first off I would like to thank you for all of the work you do as part of our LGS in providing an amazing place to play. You have been the key instigator in fostering a more casual and welcoming environment locally, from coming up with new weekly mini games at our FNMs, to new casual format events to entice the more casual players into the store. You have been great at setting up events to introduce our casual players to the competitive scene, and have gone as far as providing cheap but still competitive deck options to new players. Along with Mike, you have helped me greatly with our class of prospective judges, giving them plenty of example rule calls and taking the time to discuss the proper answers and course of actions with them. You continue to improve as a judge and I greatly look forward to what you will come up with next.
First, this nomination for Dan Morton, who has been a foundational rock in his local community, upon which much has been built. Casual Magic players make up the bulk of the millions who play the game, but for those of us who play competitively, it’s always exciting to see folks grow and learn about tournament Magic. Plus, bigger tournaments are awesome!
This nomination hits on the core exemplar criteria as well!
Specificity: Adam calls out Dan’s organizing of various events, his mentorship of judge candidates, his interest in rogue formats, and especially his provisioning of cheap, competitive decks to help people take the plunge. Awesome stuff.
Praiseworthiness: Being a local judge has its own set of challenges, especially while educating new players. Magic is a complicated game and taking the time to help your players understand Magic’s intricacies is important. Providing decks for new players to get involved with, and supporting the sporadic and differing interests of his player base is certainly worth recognition.
From Aaron Maclean to Dylan Harkness
After spending two days on main events in Seattle, I got to work with you on ODEs, specifically turbo town. You really helped me change my mentality from serious judging to a role of making sure players are having fun first. I saw how much you cared about how long players had to wait to find an opponent. Watching you wade through the crowds calling out for players to join a seated player to get a match going was great. I was shocked at how often you were successful in convincing a random player walking by to join a match in Turbo town. We had a young player waiting quite a long time to play pauper. The extra effort you put in into tracking down an opponent for him was gratifying to watch.
Dylan’s nomination really stands out to us for ‘going the extra mile.’ Turbo Town can be, as Aaron points out, not the most exciting place for judges, especially folks who might be burning to join the main event floor. Instead, Dylan turned Turbo Town into one of the best places to be at GP Seattle and really validated the experiences of players who had purchased turbo tickets.
This nomination is included in this Wave’s highlights because of the following:
Specificity: Aaron talks broadly about Dylan’s work at the GP, and he details the ways in which Dylan made a positive impact not only on the players, but on Aaron himself, by helping to shift Aaron’s perspective on Turbo Town. Moreover, Aaron calls out a specific instance where a young player was waiting for a long time to play Pauper and Dylan took a personal interest in tracking down an opponent for them so they could play and enjoy themselves.
Praiseworthiness and Positive Impact on Judging: Happy judges make happy players. You brought energy and vigor to Turbo Town and it was infectious. Because of your hard work, Aaron was able to instill more value and excitement in his own work. Well done, Dylan; you really made an impression.
From Kaitlin McLachlan to Kenny Dolson
Kenny, at GP Columbus, I watched you take a few consecutive calls for one table in Day 2 of the main event. The very first one you took, you had to deliver a hard ruling which made the players fairly upset and they were pretty on guard when you approached the table for a second time. In the few moments you spoke to those players, you had them laughing and chatting with you. They then continued to look for you to answer more calls later in the round. Those individuals continued to talk about “the cool judge” that helped them long after you had moved to another task. Your professionalism in the moments that force you to give hard rulings, and your customer service and positive attitude in the moments that allow it, make a huge difference in the player experience. Well done, keep up the great work!
This is an extremely well-written nomination, but also a striking action in its own right. Kenny’s ability to bounce back from a tough interaction with players, and to engage with them on a personal level so as to improve their day is really special. The complicated calls can be fun, the harsh penalties and can be challenging, but Kenny shows us each call needs to be approached with tact, care, and empathy because a single interaction can totally make (or break) a player’s day.
Specificity: Delivering hard rulings is a fact of judging at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level. More often than not, our rulings and fixes are going to impact a player in a way they perceive to be wrong or unfair. Depending on the size of an event, it’s likely you’ll see the same players over and over, so diplomacy and professionalism, especially during tough calls are important to building rapport and trust. Still, to deliver a “hard”, “upsetting” ruling in a round and still have the players refer to him as “the cool judge” is a testament to Kenny’s capacity for improving player experience at his events.
Praiseworthiness: I hate to ride an old cliche, but it’s the little things that count. While much has been made about outstanding GP performances, Kenny’s attention to detail across two calls, and his ability to genuinely make it for these players is something we should be striving to emulate at every event we attend, no matter how small.
From Ryan Carroll to John Williams
I worked alongside John as a floor judge for the Face to Face Halifax Open on April 14th, 2018. I’d like to recognize John for an exemplar nomination for his incredible improvement as a tournament judge that I’ve observed over the last year.
John was assigned to Paper duties for this tournament, and he performed admirably. Slips, pairings and standings were ready when they absolutely needed to be at the beginning of the round.
When he finished those duties, he was on the floor, answering calls. I observed him on many calls, and he has shown a great improvement in interacting with people. Before, he was less personal with people, not explaining a ruling quite as thoroughly so that the players wouldn’t be left with a good explanation. Now, he seems more comfortable with himself as a judge, as someone to whom players can expect a fair and good judgement from. He is also more able to explain himself and his logic when discussing things with other judges in the tournament.
We’ve included this nomination for its success in these areas:
Specificity: Ryan covers specific areas of John’s growth up to this Face to Face Open. He’s made improvements in player interactions and diplomacy, but also with logic and explanations. Even the most experienced non-judges struggle with policy philosophy, and so a ruling they deem ‘unfair’ can really damage a tournament for them. John’s emphasis on improving judge calls therefore will likely make many positive experiences in the future and build trust with players who could have walked away from a call disappointed or angry.
Praiseworthiness: John has shown tremendous growth according to Ryan, but also some of his other area judges, and by putting his best judging foot forward, John has greatly improved the tournament experience for players in his events. Judging, like so many other skills, takes dedication and practice, and John has brought those in full force. Moreover, working on interpersonal skills can be so much more daunting than sports practice or even PPTQ grinding, so kudos John for your hard work!
From Allison Macrae to Nick Picard
Your continuous dedication to creating trivia events for every Prerelease that you judge, the time and effort you put into the prep work and actually hosting all create a wonderful Prerelease experience for the players. It is a delight to be able to work on the trivia events with you, but even without any help you managed to put together a great and very well researched trivia quiz. Thank you for all of your contributions over and above judging the events themselves.
Not all heroes wear capes. Nick’s work at his local Prereleases shows just how much good judges can do when they leverage their visibility in their communities. This trivia sounds like a truly awesome idea and I hope that after reading this, more folks will bring trivia to their shops!
Specificity: These kinds of extra-curricular gaming activities take a lot of energy to organize and run within another event, not to mention the prep work involved. Still, the payoff sounds huge and Nick’s locals are very lucky to have him around. Not only does a game like this service the newer players and help them have fun, but the grinders, the folks scrubbing out, and the parents who brought their kids to Prerelease all get to be just a little bit more engaged in the game because of initiatives like this!
Praiseworthiness: Suffice to say that hosting trivia night and helping to judge a Prerelease sets a pretty high bar for the rest of us. Nick’s work is truly exceptional. A big thanks to Allison for bringing his work to our attention!
Wave 13 has come and gone–and indeed Wave 14 is deep in review, so we’ll be back very soon with more Canadian Eh-xemplar highlights.
Until then, remember that Wave 15 nominations close November 20, 2018.