Welcome back to another edition of Judge of the Week! This week, we take a trip far to the north to talk with Benjemin Harris!
Name: Benjemin Harris
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Judge start date: June 14, 2013
Why did you become a Judge? I love being able to explain things and “see the light come on” for people, and it just naturally extended into judging.
Occupation: Online sales manager for a gun shop.
Favourite card: Final Fortune
Least favourite card: Ankle Shanker. Pulled way too many of that guy.
Favourite format: Legacy, though if I hit the lottery one day, it might be Vintage.
Commander General: Uh…I’m at 15 of them at the moment, so…Doran, the Siege Tower is probably my love-child, though.
Favourite non-Magic Game: EarthBound (Mother 2, for those in the know).
Best tournament result: Does 0-2 drop at an SCG Open count? Maybe the time I went 2-3 at Grand Prix Orlando, because it took them 2 rounds to get me added to the tournament.
Random fact about yourself: I hate cucumbers. I believe they are evil until they have been baptized in vinegar.
Tell us your favourite Judge story.
This one takes me back to when I was barely an L1, wanting to make his way onto the judging scene. I had applied for a few events (I believe a PTQ for Pro Tour Theros, GP Lousiville, Dragon*Con, and SCG: Atlanta). I got turned down for the PTQ and Louisville, which was kind of a bummer. I didn’t really understand the system well at the time, so my cover letters were awful. I got accepted to Dragon*Con, though, then got turned down for SCG: Atlanta. Steven Zwanger sent out an e-mail to all those who didn’t get accepted saying something along the lines of picking the best people and not being able to take everyone they wanted. I was slightly disheartened, but I e-mailed him back, thanking him for the email. I remember saying something like “I appreciate you taking the time to do this instead of just letting JudgeApps send out the auto-rejection letter.” A few weeks later, while on the floor at Dragon*Con, Steven e-mailed me back, saying that a spot had opened up, and he remembered me because I had e-mailed him back. I wound up judging that Saturday, and without that event, I probably would have never gotten the experience judging that I now do. Shout-out to Aaron LaCluyze, aka Dr. Science, for being my team lead and Bryan Prillaman, aka BPrill, for being Head Judge that day. You guys were awesome!
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
A friend of mine tried to get me into Magic back in ’97 by showing me the card Takklemaggot. I stayed as far from the game as possible for years because “ain’t nobody got time for all that reading.” Finally, I had a friend convince me to try one game in July of 2010, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I got a good piece of advice once from Bryan Prillaman. I’m paraphrasing and leaving out a little bit of context, but he said, “Focus on being the best L2 you can be.” That was a little over 2 years ago, and since then, I’ve extrapolated that to “being the best Ben Harris I can be.” I’ve gained a lot of confidence in other areas of my life, just striving to be better for the sake of betterness.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
Honestly, a lot of it is seeing the steadfastness that other people have had in this program, despite some of the chaos that has happened with the program (looking at you, Turner). But at the end of the day, I want to see the community grow, and the best way I know to do that is to continue to don the black.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
This partly goes back to the story from earlier and is particularly aimed at L1’s reaching for L2. Reach out to people who can help you get where you want to be. Whether that’s judge managers at events, local L3’s, or your Regional Coordinator, find someone who can help you achieve your goals and stick to them like holding double blue open to bluff the Counterspell.
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
Probably Grand Prix: Richmond in 2014. It was a long event, and it was very rough on my feet, but it was a heck of a lot of fun. Remember to bring a spare pair of socks to refresh your feet halfway through the day, and you can tackle any event.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Oh man. There’s so many good options here. I think it would be really cool to sit and pick the brain of someone like John Nash or Albert Einstein, but I’d have to go with JRR Tolkien. I’d love be in a D&D group with that guy.
If you were a Planeswalker, what would be your ultimate?
Each opponent gains an emblem with “Whenever you cast a spell, that spell deals damage to you equal to its converted mana cost. Damage dealt this way cannot be prevented.”
If you were a creature, what would be your creature type?
Squirrel. Nah, just kidding. In all seriousness, I’m going to go with Dwarf, because the beards on those guys are for real.
What are the areas you feel like you would most like to work on?
Being able to help a community grow. That’s something that I feel really bad about not being able to do better in an area this remote. I want to eventually get this area big enough that we can see Grand Prix: Anchorage (or even Pro Tour Anchorage, now that we have the summer PT back). I know that’s a long way off, but it would be awesome.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I drove a pink hatchback over 4,600 miles from Florida to Alaska.
- I love thin-crust pizza.
- I have been to 41 out of 50 American states.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!