Next level side events

Note: This article is only here temporarily and will be removed once it is in the queue for the Europe-East blog


I have a confession to make.

I like judging legacy. A lot. Much more than can be considered healthy by any means. Maybe it’s my love for the format, maybe it’s the friendly community, maybe it’s the fact that the format is dominated by a single blue card?

So, when GP Amsterdam came I was disappointed to find out I was not judging legacy side events on Sunday. In fact, I wasn’t judging any events at all! Or… did I? As my team lead, a raven-haired Pole explained, a high level judge meeting had stolen the previous HJ away and I had inherited Legacy double up – the first legacy side event of the day!
Fast forward to three hours later and I’m standing before a smiling Romanian, asking to trade positions and be the head of legacy 2. We figure things out the Balkan way and the event is mine!

As the day closes, I am happy. Because I had fun and because according to the player’s feedback, they had fun too! This article is an attempt to recollect some of the practices I use after (a few) years of judging these mid-sized events.

Which REL is this applicable for?
Regular and what I call semi-competitive (that is competitive REL events where the atmosphere is more relaxed – the players may know each other, not so big prizes on the line, or just an overall friendly community).

What head count is this applicable for?
0-150. Above that you’re probably no longer a relaxed event – reread rule #1!

Why should I do this?
Because you enjoy to! This isn’t policy and I doubt it ever will (or should) be. These are some suggestions on how to go the extra kilometer (sorry imperial system), if you so desire.

1) Talk my breath away
The opening announcement is statistically the only chance you have to communicate with all the players in your tournament. You need to convey some vital information, but the tone and emotion in your voice can set the mood for the tournament. Yes, you need to welcome them to the tournament and mention the basic details, but you can also spare one sentence to make a joke, or (ideally before the round start bit)
Caveats: If you make any format-relevant comment, be very aware of where the line for OA is – you do not want to cross it before your tournament has even officially started!

2) The No-Show must go on
There you go, delivering your awesome speech. And then you’re done. And everyone starts playing. Except the lonely player at table 58 who is looking into the empty chair across from them. You explain to them that they need to wait for 10 minutes, but what can you do to make this person’s tournament better? Well, if you have no judge calls and you feel like it, why don’t you sit across from the player and ask them how their day is going? Where do they come from, what is their favorite mtg color and what they are playing? Just a friendly chat of 5 minutes is all it takes and you improved someone’s day, then release them once the clock strikes 40:00 (or whatever is your round time – tardiness wait). Perhaps you will even make a new friend ; I know I have!

3) Turn this thing a-round
Round times are probably the #1 cause of delays and player annoyance in a tournament. While this may sound fairly simple and I do not expect you to PurpleFox your homeland PPTQs, paying special attention to the crucial 10 last minutes and the last few tables can bring improved performance in a situation where every minute counts.

4) We didn’t start the fire
Most of the stores in my home country tend to have a watercooler that is employee-only. This means players may not access it, of course. However, before the Top 8 I always asked and got permission to get 8 glasses of water for the players. This is more important than you would expect since:
– Some of those players may not have even had the chance to catch a break between rounds so far
– They have played about 5 rounds already and are about to play 3 more, in a far more stressful atmosphere
– Judges are not the only ones who should stay hydrated
This small gesture can mean the world to some players and I have actually gotten feedback from them that this was one of their favourite PPTQ habits of judges.

Have any additional tips or tricks you use to improve player’s experience? Interested in presenting your opinion about how all of this sucks and we would be much better without it? Let us know in the comments below, or contact me directly