This week’s judge is an LGS shop manager and L2 judge from Australia! He is a real gaming adept and enjoys to take his Tier 3 decks to the podium. Meet Daniel Blackbourne in this edition of Judge of the Week!
Name: Daniel Blackbourne
Location: Ballarat, Victoria (Australia)
Judge start date: 2015 sometime, levelled up to L2 in early 2016
Why did you become a Judge? A combination of an extension of my duties as a FLGS employee and wanting to judge GPs
Occupation: Shop manager, Guf Ballarat (a FLGS)
Favourite card: Into the Core
Least favourite card: Reliquary Tower
Favourite format: Prerelease sealed
Commander General: None at the moment
Favourite non-Magic Game: Fallout: New Vegas
Best tournament result: Grand Prix top 64
Random fact about yourself: I managed to top 8 the only PPTQ that I’ve played to date.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
Through friends from high school. I’m not sure who first picked it up, but as a group of nerds in the mid-90s it was a natural fit for us and it didn’t take long for it to take over many of our lunch breaks, when we played on the benches intended as bag rests outside the school library.
You were nominated for your ability to balance judge commitments and requirements while working at a shop more than one hour away from larger judge communities. Can you tell us more about this and how do you manage to develop your local judge community?
I think the biggest part of the success I’ve had in developing my local judge community is a combination of making opportunities for Level 1 judges and valuing them appropriately. Open House and Prerelease events are both greatly enhanced by having judges present, so I make sure to invite and involve my L1s in them. I also encourage the judges I mentor to seek experience elsewhere; either at the larger PPTQs in Melbourne or major events like Grand Prix and Nationals, as experience beyond the ‘smaller regional store’ paradigm is invaluable to them.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
First and foremost – other judges. Australia has an amazing community of judges and being a part of it is a great experience. Beyond that I am fortunate enough to regularly engage with both TOs and players that are appreciative and welcoming of my work and presence as a judge.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
It’s all about communication. All of it. Communicate with other judges to learn from them, with TOs to ensure that their (and your) needs are met, with players to ensure that you get the information you need to deliver your rulings and to ensure that they in turn understand your rulings. Communicate more, and encourage others to communicate more. Too much Magic is played with minimal communication which leads to misunderstandings and play errors.
What is your favourite non-Magic hobby?
Too tough to call, I love all of my non-Magic hobbies for different things.
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
It’s judging-adjacent, but my recent favourite was playing Judge Tower in the accommodation after Australian Nationals this year. It was a lot of fun and I learnt a useful bit of information, like the fact that Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur has Flash (I somehow missed that among all the other things Jin-Gitaxias does).
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
Australian Nationals 2018. Amazing team, great venue, the TO made sure that we were looked after and there was so much to learn there. The only disappointment is that I can’t apply for 2019 yet!
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
It’s given me access to a network of thoroughly brilliant people, a chance to travel and be a contributing part of the game of Magic, and has led to some friendships along the way.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Figuring out how to fill a bunch of shelf space, and seats, at my shop! Also planning some sort of alternate Friday night activity.
How do you have fun during events?
As a judge – watching people play unusual and/or intricate decks well. There’s a definite enjoyment in seeing someone work smoothly through a complex combo. As a player – bringing weird Tier 2-3 piles to the table and seeing what I can do with them.
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
Advisor, for sure.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
All of the gaming; board games, card games, video games, role-playing games, all in various proportions depending on availability. I also enjoy photography, chasing bargains at local (and not so local) auctions, and a light dash of medieval recreation.
Proudest moment of your Judge-life?
Not sure if recurring moments should count, but I feel immense pride from watching the judges that I have certified performing well at events. From walking new players through Magic at Open House right up to running side events at Nationals and much more, it is always a source of great pleasure and joy to know that I’ve been a part of their successes.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I used to regularly have my face waxed as a preferable alternative to shaving.
- I have set foot in every state and territory in Autsralia.
- I failed to jump a pile of hot ashes as a child and had to endure having blisters between my toes.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!