If you’ve been selected to be on staff for your first large event, or would like some refreshers, this article is for you. This is only one part of preparation for a large Magic event, and this article will help tie in some ideas to plant in your mind what to expect at your first tournament! The first article will go over some considerations for preparing for your event.
The second will cover things to think about while at the tournament!
Just as many judges on their first tournament have questions they don’t know where to ask, and things they may not realize to ask “what” can come up; the first Grand Prix or Premier event can be daunting, both as a staff member and the logistical challenges of the event.
Preparation and travel plan recommendations
1. When going to a large tournament, the first considerations you need to think about are travel and housing (if it’s a multi-day event). Often times, judges will coordinate hotels on the event forum with a spreadsheet and it’s a good way to meet new judges and find lodgings. The Tournament Organizers (TOs) will sometimes put a hotel block information link on the event page to find a hotel, too. Having easy access to the event hall can be a huge benefit, but some options cost more than others. (Ask your fellow Judges in the event forum, you be amazed at how fellow judges are willing to help you out when it comes to accommodation or even sightseeing both pre and post event)
2. When booking a flight, make sure you have enough time to get to the event, and enough time after the event to pack up and get to the airport. It’s unlikely you can leave early if your flight is on Sunday evening, and if your flight is delayed getting in, being late can be an awful feeling for your first Grand Prix and getting situated.
3. Once a work schedule is published, check when your start time is, and when your end time is. If you have specific needs on travel time for arrival and departure, there is usually a work-shift request form before the schedule is published- make use of that for your specific needs. Otherwise, be ready for a variety of shifts- they tend to be ten hours long, and you should not expect to leave early, as your teams or co-judges will be expecting your help! Getting to the event hall a few minutes before your start time to find where you are meeting your team or if you need to put a bag away safely can help you avoid being late to your start time, and sometimes let you check out the hall before players arrive.
4. If you have concerns about staffing, questions about judge shirts/attire, contact the judge manager (you can find them at the top of the event page in JudgeApps) directly, as there’s a “Send Email” link at the top of the Event Page. Any reply you make from a forum announcement by email or on forums will send your response to EVERY other judge and staff member. Do you really want to let every judge know about your needs of travel, or question about the schedule?
5. One minor suggestion that can be useful for events is an easy to carry small snack. Shifts can often be long, and having a snack in a pocket you can consume quickly while off the floor can be rejuvenateing. You cannot expect there to always be a room to securely hold a backpack or bag, and in the times there is one, it is often far enough away that it is unreachable in a 10 minute break. Take into consideration your own food needs for the event! (Read the section in Preparing for your first tournament for other suggestions on supplies for judging.)
6. Another common concern for judges is how to get compensated for your shifts. Depending on the organizer, there’s often a person to speak to during the event, so listen during morning meetings about how this will be handled, and check with your team lead sometime during the weekend. You will often get compensation in the form of a check- so you can’t rely on that compensation immediately to cover hotel or travel or food. Make sure you’ve got enough resources to get yourself through the weekend before the event starts; it’ll make your life very much easier.
7. Think about things we remind players about – have a shower and use deodorant before the event. Be considerate of other people and judges. Eat some breakfast before your shift – it’s a long day, and having food in your stomach can vitalize your judging. Drink lots of liquids throughout the day. Be on your best behavior, and represent the judge program well!
Don’t forget to get a refresher on current rules and interactions before you go! Going over common card interactions, new rules and rulings, and even asking other judges about some of their recent calls will help you be more confident when you’re out on the floor taking rulings. Taking some extra time to brush up with rules and policy articles such as The Rules Tip Blog or The Knowledge Pool leading up to the event is a great way to be as prepared as possible going into your first big Magic event!
Remember to look for part 2 of this article, where we cover considerations for tournaments while at the event!