Greetings, judges! For this week’s rock star, we have a judge with some fantastic tips on playing with new players. Say ‘Hello’ to Chris Cahill!
Name: Chris Cahill
Location: Pittsfield, MA, USA
Judge start date: March 21, 2012
Occupation: Owner, Automotive Part Sales
Favorite card: Mind’s Desire – Part of one of my first, self-built degenerate combo decks.
Least favorite card: Rishadan Port – There is nothing fun about repeatable mana denial.
Favorite format: Legacy – This would probably be Vintage, but I don’t get to play Vintage often.
Commander General: Zedruu the Greathearted– I like giving presents.
Favorite non-Magic Game: Settlers of Catan
Best tournament result: 6-3, GP Providence 2012
Random fact about yourself: I have a B.S. in Artificial Intelligence.
Why do you Judge?
I judge for many reasons. When I started, it was to help bring some measure of legitimacy to my local Magic community. I also found that it was a useful way to subsidize my hobby. I have an addiction to cracking packs and to collecting 4x sets, so I turned my weekends into cardboard. Since becoming more involved with other judges, one of the main reasons I continue to judge is to see all of the wonderful people involved. Having friends from around the globe is really special and being able to spend a couple weekends a year with them is an incredibly rewarding experience.
Do you have any special methods, or tactics when dealing with new players?
When dealing with new players, one of the biggest things I try to do is make sure that they are included in conversations (Magic-related or not) and that they understand how things work. This inclusion in conversation is a really big deal. Game groups in general have a tendency to become very insular with lots of inside jokes and internal cohesion. Often, this makes new people feel unwanted and unwelcome, even if the group doesn’t intend that. Going out of your way to include the new players in the group outside of the Magic matches is vital to getting them to come back.
When playing against newer players, I make sure to be more deliberate in how I play, announcing exactly what phase I am in, what I am doing, and why. I will also be sure to offer (sound) strategic advice to them. As an example, during the Kaladesh Pre-release, a player was attacking me with a 1/4 creature when I had a 2/3 and a 3/4 available to block. I mentioned that unless they had a combat trick or some other effect that the attack would not end well, and they may wish to not do so.
Remember when offering strategic advice, it is vital to make it correct and complete. If they ask if they block your 3/3 with their 4/4 if your creature will die, and you are planning to use a pump, let them know that as the game state currently is, yes, your creature would die, but it’s possible that you have a spell or ability that would make that not true. No need to reveal your hand, but don’t mind-trick them into blocking and the blow them out if they are asking questions or you are likely to not have that player come back.
What are some tips you have for other Judges?
Always clean trash off tables and push in chairs! It’s something that was ingrained in me even before I was judging and I continue to this day. Pick up those used life total sheets and broken sleeves. Push in the chairs. It may not be glamorous, but it is a huge asset to the event. Also, keep calm. Even if something goes very wrong, panicking is unlikely to be helpful. Move with purpose, but don’t run.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
I went through a very long period of not knowing where I fit in with the program. I would get staffed for events, but even when I solicited feedback, I would receive little or none. I was left feeling like I didn’t belong. I have overcome this by asking for more direct feedback, instead of general feedback. For example, asking specifically for feedback on my deck-checking speed, or my communication abilities. I also learned to look at unspoken feedback such as how often I was repeat-staffed by TOs. If you are asked to work for someone multiple times, chances are you’re doing something right! When I would get rejected from an event, I would e-mail the judge manager and ask if there was anything I could do to increase my chances next time.
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
The biggest positive change I have gotten from being a judge is the ability to interact with people in stressful situations. I had some background in retail, so dealing with the general public was a skill I had, but most of the time in retail you aren’t trying to be the mediator between two arguing strangers. Being able to effectively take control of a situation that does not initially involve you and defuse it is a huge asset when dealing with people in general.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
My local community runs the gamut from very new, very young players to players in their mid-forties, and from super casual to semi-competitive. The best part is that all of these groups get along quite well. The competitive players don’t shut out the casual players, and the casual players don’t turn away the competitive. I’ve been in many other environments where one or the other culture has dominated and caused friction when new players try to assimilate.
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
I haven’t done it in a while, but beer brewing and mead making is the hobby that comes after Magic. The only problem I have with doing it regularly is being able to drink the amount of beer and mead that gets made. Mead is easier since it stores and ages well (I have some from a batch that is about 8 years old now), but the turnaround on beer is so much faster that it’s possible to experiment more. It’s also super easy to do. It just takes some patience, a little bit of space, and a stable temperature. I highly recommend giving it a try if you enjoy consuming adult beverages, particularly craft styles!
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I was 13 and visiting my local Toy Works. I was already into D&D at this point, and I saw this new game on the shelf called Magic. The box had some cool fantasy art, and it was advertised as a Trading Card Game. I took home that first Starter Deck of Revised, and haven’t looked back. Despite a couple extended breaks when life got in the way, I always followed the general story and what sets were coming out.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I have a self-built kegerator with three taps in my kitchen.
- I had a Selesnya-themed wedding.
- I used to breed crested geckos and leopard geckos.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!