Hello Judges! This week we head out to the US east coast to find this week’s Judge of the Week: Benjamin (Ben) Bloodworth, an L2 from Tallahassee, FL! He became a L1 on January 8, 2012 at an SCG Open in Atlanta. He then leveled up to L2 on October 28, 2012 at a PTQ hosted by Armada Games. Raven Fox administered the L1 test and Ben McDole administered the L2 test. Take it away, Ben!
Why did you become a judge?
I own Gamescape, a LAN center and hobby store in Tallahassee, FL. My initial interest was so that I could run Grand Prix Trials and Star City Games Invitational Qualifiers at my store. I have always enjoyed teaching people to play Magic and often answered rules questions anyway. Becoming a judge enabled me to run competitive events at my store and make official the work I had been doing anyway.
Favorite non-Magic Game: Arkham Horror
Best tournament result: 13th at a PTQ
Random fact about yourself: I can juggle.
Tell us an embarrassing story that you’re not afraid of everyone knowing.
I failed both my level 1 and level 2 tests the first time I took them. I felt like I let everyone down.
How did you get involved in magic in the first place?
Some friends of mine introduced me to Magic in 1994. I liked the strategy and challenge of trying to build a deck that could beat my friends.
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
It has given me more confidence and improved my conflict resolution skills.
You were nominated by Matt Williams, who said that as a TO you work very hard to make your players feel welcome. What are some things that you have done to make your players feel welcome? What are some things that you think other TOs could do to improve their magic community?
I listen to what my players want and if it is possible, I give it to them. It can be tricky at times discerning what the majority of your players want vs what the vocal minority wants, but talking about your plans with your players is very helpful.
Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Running your ideas by your players and getting feedback first makes them feel important. They feel like they’re contributing to something and so they are more likely to play at your store because they are invested in it.
I think some TOs treat events as though they are doing the players a favor. They don’t take the event seriously, it starts late, has poor prize support or are condescending to the players. Each event is an opportunity to gain new customers and may be the only impression a new player gets from your store. You want to treat them respectfully and make sure they have a good time so that they are more likely to return to future events. Asking yourself if you were a player, would you be happy with how the event is running is a good starting point.
What motivates you to continue being a judge?
Meeting other judges, interacting with new people, teaching people new mechanics, and ensuring events are run as smoothly as possible.
What is one tip you have for other judges?
Players “generally” have a better understanding of the game state than you. If you’re walking by a match and see something strange, make sure you check everything on the board before interrupting the match to verify that something is legal. You are interrupting the players’ thought process. It can take some time for them to get back on track. They generally know why the board state is the way it is.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
We have a lot of really good players. A few of them have been to the Pro Tour more than once. Someone from Tallahassee has gone to the Pro Tour every season since Pro Tour Dark Ascension.
What is your favourite non-magic hobby?
I enjoy playing video games. The game I play the most is currently League of Legends. I don’t have a lot of free time so a game that can be played with friends and completed in 30 minutes to an hour fits in well with my schedule.
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
Every judge dinner that I’ve gone to with other Florida judges. There’s always good stories and much laughter.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I was at an SCG Open and cast a Loxodon Smiter by tapping three lands. Unfortunately none of the three lands produced white mana. It may or may not be common knowledge but having 3 mana in your pool is not the only requirement to cast a Loxodon Smiter. As it turns out, two mana must be specific different colors, notably white and green.
What has been your favourite magic event that you’ve judged?
2013 Alabama State Championship at Fanatix. It was my first time head judging an event for another store. Fanatix is about an hour and a half away and we often get players from their store at our larger events. I was very glad I could help them out.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The magician Humfrey from the Xanth novels because his magical ability is knowing the answer to any question.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I’d have more time to hang out with the friends I’ve made because of Magic.
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
Melira, Sylvok Outcast with an activated Inkmoth Nexus that is equipped with a Sword. It’s always fun explaining that the Inkmoth doesn’t deal any damage but the Sword’s trigger ability still happens.
What is your favorite “after event” story?
It’s more of a before event story. At FNM the night before a PTQ, Alex Smith – a local player, stood up in front of all of our players and publicly thanked me for bringing a competitive Magic scene to Tallahassee. He organized a group of local players, got donations from them and purchased a customized playmat and all of the Unhinged full art land lithographs as tokens of appreciation.
That may seem more like a tournament organizer story, but I wouldn’t have been able to bring those events to Tallahassee if I hadn’t been running competitive events. I couldn’t have run the competitive events if I weren’t a judge. It was all possible because of the judge program.
How do you have fun during events?
I have fun talking to other judges and interacting with the players.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
Starting tournaments on time.
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
I would be a Djinn. My players asked me to bring bigger tournaments to Tallahassee and I’ve fulfilled those wishes.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I own a store and work full time. I don’t have time for non-magic hobbies.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
Head judging events for other stores. Head judging is a huge responsibility. From making sure the tournament starts on time, rounds finish in a timely manner and being the ultimate authority in a rules dispute, the head judge is ultimately responsible for the player’s enjoyment. For another store to trust me to run their event, when I could easily be seen as a competitor to their store, is a huge compliment.
What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Gideon Jura. I often find myself in leadership positions and creating order where there was chaos.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Support your local game store.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements is true, and one is false. Figure out which!
1. I got a call from Fantasy Flight Games because of a website I built for their board game, Arkham Horror. They told me that normally they just make people take these websites down, but because I had done such a great job with it, they were going to allow me to keep it. I just had to remove text from the images because the scan quality was so good, people could just print out the game pieces.
2. I was voted King of Hearts in Elementary school.
3. I own three cats.
Thank you Ben for this wonderful interview!
Written by Aaron Rasmussen and Stephan Classen