Casey Brefka

Greetings Judges! This week’s Judge of the Week is Casey Brefka, L2 from Brighton, Massachusetts!

Casey was nominated by Elliot Raff, L2 from Massachusetts, who had this to say about Casey:
“Casey is a paragon of the New England Magic community. He works constantly, both in his appearances at events and dedication to the program. He educates players and judges alike, is personable and friendly, and is an unparalleled resource. He ensures that local judges have to tools to do well, and constantly expects more from each person he works with. He inspires each judge on his staffs to go above and beyond. He is active on Facebook, IRC and other judging resources, asking thought provoking questions that challenge both the mind and philosophy. It has been an absolute honor to have been taught (and countinually being so) by Casey.”

casey-BrefkaOccupation: Professional Musician, College Professor
Favourite card: Genesis Wave. In one of my old Commander decks, the deck just ramped up until I cast one of these for about X=30, and would generally win the game off of that alone.
Least favourite card: It’s probably Plow Under. That card is so amazingly unfun to play against. Granted, it’s awesome when you cast it against someone, but I always feel terribad afterwards.
Favourite format: I love drafting more than just about anything, even though I’m not very good at it (although it’s pretty hilarious when I get drunk and turn on my stream). I hit a cold point for Commander, but I’m starting to get back into that, and as far as actual constructed formats go, my favorite has always been and will always be Legacy.
Commander general: My two old decks were Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and Arcades Sabboth. Now, I have Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice.
Favourite non-Magic Game: This is really hard, because I play a lot of games. At the moment, it’s probably Cards Against Humanity, just as a general party game. On the vidya, I played Bioshock Infinite in one day because it was that awesome, and I’ve recently started to get into Legend of the Five Rings TCG, which is pretty awesome.
Best tournament result: I played in a small 5-round Legacy tournament with a top 8 in Ohio when I was visiting my parents last December, and managed to not lose a game until the finals, which I lost in 3 games. That was about the best I’ve done in anything.

Random fact about yourself: The only thing in my life I’ve been doing longer than playing Magic is playing trumpet, which I’ve been doing for 20 years. I have a master’s degree in Jazz Composition and I teach music, play professionally, and am writing for a few bands at once.

What is one tip that you have for judges?
If you like judging, and you want to do more of it, you need to take the chances you have to make an impression. It may not look like other people are paying attention at events like SCG Opens, but they are, and if you go out of your way to make a good impression, the benefits and connections you’ll get from that are well worth the effort.

Tell us your favourite judge story.
This one is actually from last weekend at SCG Somerset, NJ! It’s, I believe, the last round of swiss in the Standard Open, and a player calls me over looking panicked. Long story short, he had kept his opening hand for game 1, and his opponent was shuffling up for a mulligan, when his phone buzzed. He asked his opponent if he could check his text message, and the opponent obliged. When he read his text, though, it was a text from a friend that said, “Your opponent is playing such-and-such deck.” He said that he felt really bad about it, and asked what we could do.

Now, this was clearly not Outside Assistance on the player’s part, since he hadn’t asked for this information (the text message record was empty from the day except for that one text with that paricular friend), but it was clearly OA on the part of his friend. So I asked for the friend’s name, and where he was in the venue so that I could speak to him. The player responded that his friend was in California.

It turns out that his opponent had been on a video feature match a couple times during the day, and since SCG tweets their pairings, his friend had seen that he had gotten paired up against that particular opponent, and wanting to be a good friend, offered a little bit of information. The fact that it didn’t arrive until the player had already sat down for his match was a problem, though. If it weren’t for the logistics involved in finding out who this other guy was, we would have given an OA Match Loss penalty to a player who was physically over 3,000 miles away from the event!

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
My local Magic community, like many others, is centered around a single LGS in Cambridge, MA, about halfway between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. What’s really awesome about it, though, is that it is HUGE, and contains players of all ages and calibers – we have newer players eager to learn the game and get better, regular FNM heroes who brew interesting decks from week to week, a few people who have appeared on a couple Pro Tours, and from time to time, even a Pro Tour Hall of Famer or two. It’s a really diverse crowd, and for the most part, everyone is willing to work with everyone else to help each other improve. It’s a really great local crowd.

How did you get involved in Magic to begin with?
I first started playing Magic in the early 1990’s when I was a kid, with a bunch of other kids from this summer camp I went to. I played pretty regularly until around 1999, and then stopped for a while, since no one at my high school really played, so I missed a lot of expansions. I started playing again once I was done with undergrad, back around Alara Reborn, and after trying to play competitively for a while, got interested in judging, and the rest is history, as they say. 🙂

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Louis Armstrong. He revolutionized jazz, and he revolutionized how people play the trumpet. I would love to spend hours picking his brain on EVERYTHING.

What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
There was a 7-player EDH game where everything turned into birds. It was actually featured in an article on ChannelFireball by Eric Levine (which can be found here).

Favourite hobby (other than Magic):
Outside of Magic, my favorite hobby is playing random board games and computer games with friends of mine. I know a ton of people who play a ton of different games, and I really like trying all of them, even if I don’t necessarily like the games themselves.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I’d probably be focusing more on my music career, haha. But I’d really miss Magic; I’ve met a lot of friends and had a lot of great experiences due to being involved in the community, and I’m looking forward to a lot more.

Two Truths and a Lie
1. I have performed at the esteemed Montreal Jazz Festival twice, once with the Artie Shaw Orchestra, and once with the legendary McCoy Tyner.
2. Until I head to GP Portland this coming weekend, I had never been any further west than the east bank of the Mississippi River.
3. I’ve spent two summers as a performing musician on various cruise ships in the Caribbean.

The answer to last week's Two Truths and a Lie...
Charlotte Sable actually quit Magic during Tempest due to changing schools: “While I wasn’t a fan of the new frame when I first saw it, it wouldn’t have made me quit the game. The part about Time Spiral bringing me back is true, though. My first TSP tournament pack had Jaya Ballard, Task Mage and Lotus Bloom in it. I was hooked again.”
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