Rules and Policy

One particularly conspicuous requirement for L2 is the rules and policy exam. This 50-question test is aimed at ensuring new L2’s have the necessary knowledge to function in their roles of increased responsibility, including head judging PPTQ’s and certifying new L1’s. If you’re concerned about your ability to pass that test, you’re in the right place.

Why is this important?
First and foremost, because it’s what the players want. When asked what they expect from judges, players overwhelmingly refer to this quality. In my experience, players have expectations about judges’ rules and policy that might be considered rather unreasonable (or at least out of line with what the judge program actually requires). It makes sense if you think about it from their perspective. What do they see judges doing at events? Posting pairings, handing out slips, doing deck checks, and taking calls. Which of these tasks could not be accomplished by a highly trained monkey?

Second, because it’s what the judge program expects. As alluded to before, L2’s need to be so competent in rules and policy knowledge that they can certify L1’s. How can you do that without having a substantially higher understanding than what is required for that level? Or how can you hear appeals as the head judge of a large competitive REL tournament without an even more firm grasp on rules and policy than what is required to run a local regular REL event?

Finally, if not for the players or the judge program, then for yourself. As an L2, you will be a leader in your local community. Few things will help your leadership ethos more than being considered an expert. A strong rules knowledge is among the most conspicuous things you can excel at, and it can make it easier for you to convince players and other judges that they’re putting their faith in the right person when they trust you.

For as important as players say it is, judges don’t tend to view it the same way. What I’ve noticed is that L0’s and newly certified L1’s tend to have great desire to increase their rules knowledge, but as these judges get more experienced, they tend to focus their improvement on other areas like mentorship, team leading, and tournament operations while their enthusiasm for learning more about the rules wanes. There are several potential reasons for this. Maybe studying the rules isn’t as fun, or is less useful in real life than practicing those other areas. Maybe after learning enough about the rules to handle basic calls, further study is deemed less important. This is all true, but the fact remains that the rules exam is one of the most objectively difficult parts of the process. There are several excellent judges whose advancement has been (temporarily) thwarted by failing a rules exam. As I tell my own mentees, “I’d rather see you go in overprepared than underprepared.”

Besides reviewing the L1 exam topics listed on the L1 Prep page, here are some additional topics you will want to be familiar with as you prepare for the L2 exam.

Continuous effects
Replacement effects
Characteristic-defining abilities
Linked abilities
Triggered abilities

Missed Trigger
Hidden Card Error
Game Rule Violation
Deck/Decklist Problem
Tournament Shortcuts
Out-of-Order Sequencing
Classes of Information