Good to have you back, judges! The rock star we are featuring this week began his involvement with Magic at a young age as a player and columnist, and has continued to perform extremely well as a judge. Time to get to know AJ Kerrigan!
Name: AJ Kerrigan
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Judge start date: August 16, 2014
Why did you become a Judge? I wanted to keep travelling to events and staying involved in the community that I had grown up in, but was unfortunately at a point in my life where it was no longer financially feasible to travel to events as a player as often.
Favourite card: Dark Ritual
Least favourite card: Mental Misstep
Favourite format: Modern
Commander General: Kemba, Kha Regent
Favourite non-Magic Game: The Adventure Time CCG or Love Letter
Best tournament result: T64 of an SCG Invitational, a few GP cashes, and I’ve Top 8ed/won a bunch of States, PPTQs, and similar tournaments
Random fact about yourself: I earned an Associate Degree when I was 17 years old.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I had started playing Yu-Gi-Oh! when I was 3-years old, and a few years later, started attending a game store owned by a family friend. I tried a ton of games, but never ones that lasted or grew beyond a small scene (Bleach TCG, Flames of War, Monsterpocalypse). I stopped attending the LGS regularly for a little while, and one day while I was shopping for baseball equipment for the upcoming season, I passed a small area of a store that had packs for various card games. I bought some World of Warcraft TCG and Magic starter decks, took them to the LGS, and asked which I should play. I actually liked the mechanics of WoW TCG a little more, but since Magic was much more popular at the LGS and I had walked in on the morning of the Shards of Alara prerelease, I chose that one. I guess I made the right choice!
You used to be a columnist for Star City Games. What was that like?
It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life that I wish I had taken advantage of better. I started writing for SCG when I was only 13, so to have that kind of responsibility and opportunity really helped me develop both educationally and in terms of maturity. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time on my articles and had been better at meeting my deadlines, but at the very least, it looks amazing on a resume. It also really helped me meet a lot of people, both in the game and out, as it extended my reach in the community and also provided me an increased ability to travel to events.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
I was given so much good fortune in this game throughout my childhood, particularly in the competitive scene, so I’m mostly motivated by the idea of giving back. I want Magic players to have amazing experiences at tournaments so that they might be able to get as much from the game as I have. I continue judging so that I can keep helping run great events. I also love the leadership and teamwork experience that judging provides me, which I otherwise do not have many other opportunities for.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Find your niche. No judge will be good at everything (or even want to do everything), so look for what part of the program is most suited to either your current skill set, what you want to learn, or what you enjoy the most. There is a different part of the program for everybody, so don’t be discouraged when you can’t do it all. I’m not the greatest mentor or community developer, but I like to think I am pretty good at helping to run large events, so I stuck with that for a while. Now I have shifted towards the community development stuff in order to get better at those skills that I could use in my professional life outside of judging.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
While school has taken me away from my local community for a little bit, The Only Game in Town in Somerville, NJ will always be the store I grew up with. I’ve been going there for around 13 years now and have met some of my best friends through that store. The best part really is the camaraderie that exists. The core group of players has a really strong balance between wanting to improve at Magic, but also just wanting to enjoy their time together. Lots of late night trips to TGI Fridays and drafting at Arby’s at 2 a.m. are the kinds of things that have given me such amazing friends over the years.
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
This might be a cheap answer, but it was probably the SCG Classic that I Head Judged in Philadelphia. The other head judges were great, I met a ton of awesome people, and I really learned a lot that weekend. I absolutely loved the leadership role and I want to try to get back into those roles once I return to judging more actively than I currently am. My team for that event was also fantastic, as it was some of my favorite judges who also happen to be on the polar opposite spectrum for a lot of policy philosophy, so the lively discussions were quite nice.
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
More than anything, I think the Judge Program has helped my confidence. I went through high school and the beginning of college with a ton of doubt about my own skills and self-worth. Getting feedback, both immensely positive and actionably negative, have helped me realize that I am actually good at things, and that there are some people who actually benefit by my presence. Those two facts have helped me really develop as a person in the past two years.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I’d probably put a little bit more energy into poker, for which I’ve recently discovered a strong enjoyment. I’d also spend more time doing research, particularly in Finance and Philosophy, since I love reading/researching on those topics but don’t spend as much time on it as I would like. Lastly, I’d probably still be hanging out with all of my close Magic friends, whether it be to eat at the Reading Terminal Market, play poker, or watch various Pixar films. Mostly, I would just spend more time with my girlfriend though, since we love using weekends to explore various activities in Philadelphia.
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
I don’t remember if I saw this specifically or just heard it from someone else, but Turn to Frog plus Magus of the Moon is still one of my favorite examples for teaching non-judges the intricacies of layers and, more importantly, to always call a judge if you aren’t absolutely sure that something works like you think it should.
How do you have fun during events?
I play games with my friends between rounds. In recent years, I’ve started travelling to events with Jonathan Sukenik more often, and he’s always said that the games in between rounds with friends is the most fun part of a tournament. I know he loved the multi-hour delays between rounds at the most recent GP Charlotte because it meant more time for games. Playing things like Love Letter, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and Are You the Traitor really help me de-stress from the specifics of Magic while still letting me play games like I love to do.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I built my own major in college completely from scratch.
- I’ve acted in many small roles in commercials, T.V. shows and movies.
- I have visited every state in America at least once.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!