I arrived on Friday at a very dark and lonely parking lot. The ground was muddy, and the weather gods had just decided that now would be the perfect time for the next bit of rain. Inside our location for the weekend, things were much better. Everybody had to take off their shoes to not track the mud inside, which made the atmosphere almost homely.
I quickly dropped my bags on a bed upstairs and went back down to greet all the old and new Judge friends. The dinner for that evening was salad with soup and was a very lovely affair.
After dinner we played board games with the Pro Tour streams in the background.
Richard had a nice surprise for 8 lucky judges: a MM2015 draft! Cards against Humanity was definitely my favorite game of the evening, and starting a new round of Tichu after midnight was probably the worst decision of the night. But much fun was had and I wasn’t even the last one to tuck in.
Saturday morning came too soon. I started out with a fresh (read: cold) shower and got breakfast afterwards. At 10 A.M. sharp, Richard kicked off the seminar day with the ‘State of the Union’ address. This is the only fixed seminar each weekend that tells us about the number of judges and other statistical Magic Judge-related things. The most important item in this seminar (I think) was the fact that the next Judge conference will be held in June instead of October!
This was my first conference where we had a choice of next seminar. There were two separated rooms where seminars would be held. I went to the “Area Captains” seminar from Teun, because it would explain what I’m supposed to do as area captain. I heard the “Pedantic Learning” seminar from Jonas was also very interesting.
After a quick lunch with some more games, the next choice was to be made: “Official Rulings” by Toby or “Organizing Events” by Kenny. I chose the former because I like the rules conundrums that Toby comes up with, and I was not disappointed. A nice few difficult rulings and disagreement amongst the groups of judges gave a good insight in the “Why” of ‘O’fficial rulings.
Next up was a tough choice between “Tournament Logistics” and “Bribery/Wagering.” Although Anniek made a nice pitch, Teun and Jona hooked me with their entertaining 30-second pitch. The bribery section of the IPG is very strict, so we got explanations about the reasoning for that and how to handle players who commit bribery/wagering. To top it off, there was a small quiz included in the slides. We had to name certain cards and their editions based solely on the art which was included in the slides.
A short break later we got to decide again after a nice pitch from Jurgen and Emilien. I went for the long (2 hours) seminar from Jurgen on the subject of “The Box”, instead of listening to Emilien’s shorter seminar on “GP Preparation.”
The seminar from Jurgen was based on the book “Leadership and Self-Deception” and split into three separate parts. The concept of the box is a very interesting one, which cannot be explained in the space I want to use here. So I recommend to read the book yourself! Or ask Jurgen when you see him.
After 2.5 hours, “The Box” seminar was over and we were about to start the Magic quiz with our quizmaster Mark. This quiz was very hard, but also very entertaining. Name 5 magic cards with every vowel in the English name…? I decided that this quiz was way too hard for me and helped on preparing dinner instead. I cut a lot of veggies and did some dishes, all for the greater good.
During dinner I had some interesting conversations on the topic of community building and annoying players.
After a good dinner (props to Kenny!) there was more free time. Richard had another surprise: JAPANESE MM2015 draft! While some other judges were lucky enough to play in that draft, I found three other players for more games of Tichu. At the end of the evening I was very pleased with so much fun and went to bed.
Sunday morning came not quite as early as Saturday morning. This is probably because I hit the mattress a bit earlier. I chose a hot shower this time and went for breakfast afterwards.
After breakfast I made the final preparations for my own seminar. It turned out that Han had to go home the previous evening, so I had the whole audience to myself. So much for my perfectly practiced pitch (ahum).
My seminar on the subject of ‘Learning From your Mistakes’ was a group hug seminar. Write down your biggest mistake/learning opportunity, discuss in groups, listen to my seminar, and work out the best way to learn from the mistake you wrote down. I was happy to see every judge work seriously on this seminar and the hour was gone before I noticed.
Next up was a pitch from Michel and Norbert for their seminars on “Slow Play” and “State-Based Actions.” I listened to the seminar on slow play where we got some tips on assessing slow play and had some discussion on when to call slow play. The seminar also gave some pointers on how to explain the problems of slow play to the players.
The lunch was good again, and I got to trade some cards from my binder for German ones.
The last seminar of the weekend was actually more of a workshop. First we got an explanation on cheating and how to investigate by Frank, but the fun part came after that. In groups of 6 we set of with an L3 judge to practice our investigation skills. A deck of cards gave random combinations of event/judges/players/situation configuration. Then two judges were briefed on their role as player. The assigned judges started the scenario and everyone acted or watched in the unfolding scenario. Once a scenario was complete, we reviewed what we just did. The most interesting scenario for me was the ‘marked cards investigation’ where I learned how to turn ‘I’m going to do a magic trick’ into a chance to observe if the player knew his deck was marked.
With the final seminar behind us, it was time to clean up. Richard assigned team-leads for cleaning toilets, rooms upstairs, floor downstairs, and kitchen. The resulting teams worked smoothly in order to return the location to the state we found it. After 45 minutes it was time to pick up our participation foils and head home.
I had a very pleasant weekend with lot’s of learning, socializing and gaming.
It’s good to meet other judges and learn about difficult rulings and investigations.
Thanks again to Richard for organizing this superb weekend!
Thanks to Evan Cherry for proofreading!