Editor´s note: This article is a joint effort by a lot of writers, editors, translators and reviewers. The full list can be found at the end of the article!
During the weekend from June 30th to July 2nd the Spain split of the Iberian Judge Conferences 2017 was held in Madrid. 53 judges gathered in the Colegio Mayor Universitario San Pablo, a college dorm that opened its doors for us and let us enjoy its facilities.
Some numbers on attendees:
- Level 3: 5
- Level 2: 23
- Level 1: 25
Attendees came from many different places: north, south, east, west, center… And there were both veterans and rookies alike. The best part is that everyone came ready to enjoy a great weekend, with seminars, ludic activities, Magic tournaments, and a lot of talking.
Training and Seminars
Let’s take a look at the planification for seminars and training activities. Seminars had three different orientations:
- For less experienced judges
- For more experienced judges
- For everyone
First, Elsa Gara talks about seminars in the Room 1, focused in less experienced judges:
I began my day on Saturday morning very nervous and excited, as these were my first conferences and I didn’t knew what I was in for. The first seminar was given by Paco Plana and was about The first competitive event that every judge eventually has to confront. He explained us how to plan in advance depending on which role we have for the tournament, be it HJ or FJ, as well as how to act during the tournament and what to do at the end of it. Afterwards, we had a very useful seminar about Creating communities at local stores, given by Miky Moya, in which we learned how to identify what kind of communities each store in our area have and what is our role in them. After a break we attended a seminar about Triggered abilities, given by Miguel Calvo, that I found really handy and interesting, as it showed us some examples of triggered abilities and how to handle missing them.
Sunday Monday arrived and I was still impatient to keep learning, but I had forgot how nervous I was the day before. In our first seminar Aruna told us How to give a ruling, very useful to improve the way we answer players in tournaments. Afterwards, Sandra gave the Road to Level 2 seminar in which we learned how that process works and how to face it in order to succeed.
Natalia was in Room 2, with more advanced seminars aimed towards more experienced judges:
We began with Max, explaining the characteristics of a Shortcut, both the ones defined by the MTR and the ones made up by players during a match. He continued by explaining some examples of shortcuts that made the seminar very fun, and while we were at it he explained the way in which the combat shortcut has recently changed.
After this we got a good talk on Conflict Management with Peke. It’s very important to know how to manage conflicts and quickly intervene:
…to keep them off escalating. This is one of those things that you don’t think about when you become a judge, but you can find yourself in eventually nonetheless. Peke explained us the DARDO method (Disengage, Attend, Repeat, Disengage (again), and Observe) to manage issues step by step. It’s useful to have a procedure to follow in these cases, as it provides both guidance and reassurance, and Peke’s advice is always very helpful.
After a small break we took a look at Backups with Ch0b1, who managed to create a wonderful presentation using examples both from GRV and CPV. We also were reminded that backups are a last resort solution in front of situations that would be worse if left as-is, that we need to look into many aspects before deciding to do one, and that we don’t have to confuse them with partial fixes.
On Sunday we had two seminars. The first, Investigations with Peke, demonstrated how an investigation does not need to be about something big and complex, since we can always make a couple of questions while delivering a ruling, check on small details like the color distribution on the sideboard of a limited deck, watch a game… We saw that there are different kinds of investigations: empirical, cooperative, argued, and combative. We also commented on the necessity of talking to each player individually and separated from each one, which points we’ll want to check while investigating, and the obvious conclusion that, after all, we must finally deliver a ruling to the players.
The second seminar was about L1 Mentoring, by Reke. We kicked it off with a group activity, emulating the questions that a player looking for becoming a judge always asks to us. I liked this part because the members of each group gave advice to each other and the most experienced judges explained how they approach these players. Afterwards, we reviewed the requisites to become a L1 and the study materials. Finally, we learned the next steps on the process after a successful or failed exam.
But there were seminars oriented at all levels, as well, focused on personal and community development. Manuel tells us about them:
On Saturday, Sandra and Mónica talked about Gender diversity and how to create welcoming environments, a very important subject in this modern, diverse society we live in. It was a very welcomed seminar that made us question our own behaviours and reactions. It also included some helpful examples based on actual situations that helped us understand how to face them.
On Sunday we also all gathered to attend the last two seminars. Feedback and Reviews, given by AJ, explained how to make a constructive review and to avoid destructive behaviours towards others judges. And last, but not least, Kepa updated us on local Projects and invited everyone to be proactive in the community participating in the many projects that we are currently developing in our region. Oh, and he showed us his very own personal card that Wizards had printed! Or maybe not.
One of the most important parts about the conferences is community building. In addition to a great tournament on Friday night, we had many more activities designed to have a fun weekend. A very important and welcomed one was the Q&A on Saturday afternoon with the region’s Level 3s, in which everyone made a bunch of questions about the inner workings and upcoming changes in our region and the international community. Afterwards we took the traditional photo with all the attendees, and our HJ for this year’s Nationals ended in the swimming pool.
But we had many more activities during the weekend. Jose Luis Morales gives us his vision of them:
Not everything are seminars and work during the conferences, and that’s why we had some activities that made this weekend a very fun one.
On Friday afternoon we held a draft tournament were some judges had the opportunity to show their abilities as players and try to reach glory. Others had the opportunity to learn from their buddies while judging the tournament.
On Saturday afternoon we had a gymkhana organised by Antonio Iglesias and other judges. We teamed up to test ourselves in a more stressing environment, with trials including Magic knowledge questions, community questions and judging skills.
With the gymkhana finished some judges played a match of indoor football, where teams were divided into North and South. The result is the least important thing, the focus was on enjoying a fun afternoon with the rest of the community. Other judges preferred to play paddle or relax in the swimming pool. Chaos Draft aficionados had their time too, playing a wide range of expansions (even Kamigawa!) and having lots of fun.
At night, after dinner, we played some community games. The first one, “Elves, Giants, and Mages” was very funny. Each of the two teams had to decide which magic tribe to mimic, knowing that Mages can enchant Giants, Giants crush Elves, and Elves bite Mages in the calfs. After the confrontation the losing team had to go back to their “lair” as fast as they could while the winning team tried to chase and get them. No one was hurt while playing (although it was close) and the winner team got a commemorative card.
In the second game, our coleagues Kepa and Reke took us to Amonkhet universe where we they encouraged us to offer offerings to the different gods, in which some judges ended up mummified with toilet paper and performing dances and offering to dazzle the jury gods.
Furthermore, night talks, board games, swimming in the pool (be it by yourself or with a little “help” from others), and Magic matches were all happening throughout the entire weekend. It was a bit sad looking at everyone leaving little by little on Sunday afternoon, but alas, everything has to come to an end.
Ah, I almost forgot. During lunch, and since there were a lot of judges gathered together, the L3 gave some recognitions to the community:
- To Aruna Prem, for his excellent work leading the project focused on producing articles for players;
- To Kepa Arrieta, for his management of the projects in the region. He does a great job uniting ideas and energising projects;
- To [Miguel Calvo, for his great contribution on social networks on behalf the entire judge community;
And two special recognitions:
- Rookie of the year for Agustín Ruíz-Escribano for his great implication in the Alicante community, despite his short time as a judge; and
- RC’s Chosen for Mónica González for her great job during this past year, energising a lot of work groups and bringing in a lot of great ideas.
Review and Coordination: