EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris Lansdell was decertified in 2017 through an action of the Judge Conduct Committee. Publicly available details can be found in this blog post. This article remains on Judge of the Week for posterity, and is not intended in any way to support or excuse the actions that led to Chris’s decertification.
Welcome, Judges, to another edition of Judge of the Week! Making his way to the ring, from Mount Pearl, Canada, we have…
CLSmooth Chris Lansdell! Let’s meet him!
Name: Chris Lansdell
Location: Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador
Judge start date: August 19 2011. I leveled up in February 2012.
Occupation: Civil servant with the Canadian Government.
Favourite card: ZAP! (It’s actually Recurring Nightmare.)
Least favourite card: Probably Cryptic Command. No, wait! Iona, Shield of Emeria.
Favourite format: 2HG Sealed
Commander General: My favourite is Glissa, the Traitor.
Favourite non-Magic Game: Civilization III
Best tournament result: A few 2HG Sealed wins.
Random fact about yourself: I’m a huge wrestling fan!
Why did you become a judge?
To give back to the game that gave me so much.
Tell us your favourite judge story.
At my very first GP (Montreal, 2011), I was called to a table where player A said her opponent had drawn too many cards after a mulligan. Relieved to have a simple call to answer, I explained to player B that he would be receiving a warning for Improper Drawing at the Start of the Game. He argued it wasn’t the start of the game any more and instantly appealed. Head Judge Jeff Morrow came over and said “So you’re saying it’s not the start of the game any more? OK, would you like a game loss instead of a warning? No? Then the ruling is upheld. Please continue your match.”
How did you get involved in magic in the first place?
I was working at EB Games right after I turned 18. I believe Fifth Edition had just come out, and I had heard about the game from a lot of people. I bought the Microprose Shandalar game, got hooked, spent way too much on some cards and then went to the local store (Whippendo Institute in Woking, England) to learn to play.
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
Well it’s certainly given me a means to meet some wonderful people and see parts of North America I normally wouldn’t have. Knowing I have friends (with couches!) in so many cities is a reassuring thought.
You were nominated by Steven Victor Squires (a local player from St. Johns, Newfoundland) for being a positive force in your community at all levels, even saying “It is people like this that keep my faith in the game.”. I assume your community must mean a lot to you, can you share the type of actions you take to try to foster a good environment?
Wow, that’s quite the commendation. Yes, my community means a great deal to me and never fails to surprise and impress me. I’ve tried to encourage people to support all the local stores, especially for big events, by pointing out the importance of big turnouts. I try to stay available to judge local events and to answer any rules questions, and I’ve certified a cart load of judges. Plus little things like donating cards to new players, helping them when they make mistakes and so on.
What motivates you to continue being a judge?
It’s so rewarding, and on so many levels! Aside from the obvious material rewards, you get the friendships I mentioned before, you learn valuable life skills, you get to travel…but the best part is getting to be around Magic tournaments, helping players have fun.
What is one tip you have for other judges?
Don’t try to be Super Judge. There’s no shame in sitting down for five minutes, taking an extra water break, letting someone else answer a judge call…there’s a reason more than one judge is on the event, right?
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
How supportive and encouraging it is, for the most part. We’re pretty isolated but when a few of our players travel to a GP, the whole community gets behind them and cheers them on from afar. Even when it’s just me at an event, if I happen to be on camera my phone blows up with messages of support.
What is your favorite non-magic hobby?
Cooking. I love creating meals out of simple ingredients.
What has been your favorite magic event that you’ve judged?
That’s close. Until recently I think I would have been my first PTQ as Head Judge, but we recently had a hugely successful Modern PTQ with 50% more players than expected that was smooth as silk and great fun to run.
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
My abilities to manage conflict and provide feedback have both improved greatly by my involvement in the judge program. I’ve also expanded my cultural exposure significantly.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I think it would have to be Maya Angelou. Every time I watch a video clip of her, or read something she wrote, I learn something or pick up a quote to use.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Wondering what to do with this huge hole in my life.
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
I don’t think anything will ever top the Inkmoth Nexus – Melira, Sylvok Outcast story from GP Toronto, especially the one where the Inkmoth had lifelink. In that tournament, the popular decks were RG Tron, Melira Pod and Affinity. We had a lot of Pod-Affinity matchups, and a lot of people got the interaction between them wrong.
Basically the Inkmoth Nexus is activated with Melira on the board. Because the Nexus infect-gaining ability has a later timestamp than Melira’s “loses infect” text, the Nexus has infect. However it can’t actually give poison counters to a player or -1/-1 counters to a creature due to Melira’s other abilities. The damage is still dealt (so life will still be gained with lifelink, for example), but it has no visible effect. WEIRD.
How do you have fun during events?
Watching Magic is normally enough for me, but if the format is not that exciting I will make sure to chat with other judges and pose silly scenarios or trivia.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
You get an emblem with “Whenever you gain life, draw a card.”
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
Goat Wizard, because Goat Wizard.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I am a fan of wines, fine dining and food in general. I like to play and watch League of Legends, most board games, Cards Against Humanity and the odd video game. Also I am a Netflix binge-watcher.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
So far, leading the floor team at GP Toronto 2013.
You are a very active voice in the community, posting articles and podcasts on ManaDeprived.com and interacting with people on Twitter. Do you see that as an extension of yourself as a Judge, or is that just Chris Lansdell, the player?
It’s both. As a judge with a somewhat higher profile I think it is incumbent on me to represent the program well, showing that you can be a judge and still play often. Writing and podcasting are just ways I can indulge my creative side while still playing Magic, plus it has made my local community more excited to play Magic against me. Even when I play I am still The Judge, and when I judge I see things from the perspective of a player too.
In your opinion, how can judges use social media and/or their content on Magic websites to have a positive contribution for their local and worldwide communities?
One of the lessons I learned (somewhat belatedly) was that the best way to be a positive contributor to judging online is to avoid trying to defend the judge program at every turn. Answer questions, talk about what you’ve done and seen, but don’t take part in flame wars. There’s no good way for that to end. Judging is a great and fun thing that we all love, else we wouldn’t be doing it. Focus on that and not on the negative.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There is nothing more rewarding than players thanking you for your hard work as a judge. You can’t expect it, but when it does happen it makes it all worthwhile.
Two Truths and A Lie
Two of the following answers are true, figure out which!
1. I was once a national under-15 chess champion.
2. I own over 75 foil Zaps
3. I learned to play Magic at the same store Jon Finkel played at.
Thank you Chris for your time and availability, you were very helpful! Join us again next week, where we get to meet another RC – see you then!