Jessica Livingston

Welcome back to Judge of the Week! Whether it’s a weekly study group for judge candidates or leading ODEs, this week’s rock star knows how to get things done. Congratulations, Jessica Livingston!

Name: Jessica Livingston
Level: L2
Location: Oklahoma City, Ok
Judge start date: Feb 7 (Passed my L1)
Why did you become a Judge? I wanted something to do while my husband was traveling to GPs and trying to get on the pro-tour. I didn’t want to spend money on the main event to go 0-3 and a whole day of side events didn’t interest me much.
Occupation: IT Account Manager
Favorite card: Goldenglow Moth OR Lucent Liminid, they are definitely tied for me.
Least favorite card: Armageddon – It’s an awful card and no one is ever having any fun whenever I see that card get played.
Commander General: Elesh Norn
Favorite non-Magic Game: Pandemic
Best tournament result: Top 8 at an FNM
Random fact about yourself: I have two feet that are drastically different sizes because I was born a clubfoot and have had surgeries that stunted its growth. One is an 8 Med. and one is a 4 1/2 Dbl Wide.

Tell us your favorite Judge story:
I was working GP Portland last August and floor judging for an event. The judge that was in charge of ODEs had to be pulled for another task delaying the start of ODEs. The reg lead, Erin Leonard decided ODE’s needed to start sooner because players were restless. Carter told her she could start them if she had a judge to run them. She informed him she did and gave him my name. I didn’t find out about this until he came to pull me off my event telling me he needed me on ODEs. I assumed he meant to help start some of them. I started asking questions like, okay, where do I get product, where am I seeing my players? I didn’t realize he meant I was temporarily ODE Lead until he informed me that was probably the first thing I should figure out since I was leading them (for my first time ever). It’s the thing I love most about events, you need to be ready for anything because you never know what you’ll find yourself doing.

What are some tips you have for other Judges?
Don’t be afraid to take initiative, to ask for help, or to tell others you goals of where you want to be in the program. Everyone is here for each other and wants to help you grow. 

What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
Being opinionated is a challenge. Its hard to strike a balance between helping and running others over. I like to see things go smoothly, but sometimes its easy to stick your nose in where it is not wanted or needed. Curbing that urge is incredibly difficult. I just have to remind myself where my nose ends and where theirs begins and that I can’t do everything. Nor should I.

How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
It definitely contributed to getting me my current job. A part-owner in our local game store knew his former boss and friend needed someone to fill a role at their company. The owner had seen me work everything from pre-releases and PPTQs and knew my work ethic so passed the recommendation along. Now I have to go on card searches at GPs for my current boss.

Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?

Matt Hoskins – He taught me the rules and everything I needed to know to get started judging.
John Brian McCarthy – He’s taught me a lot about feedback and critiques. I think I was afraid to try to change things or speak up when I saw something that I didn’t agree with/was being done wrong. He’s not. More than that though, he gave me one of my first friends in the program.
Joe Sapp – He taught me to have a positive attitude, no matter what the task. I wasn’t always thrilled to be doing info booth or the admin side of things. But he has steadfastly reminded me about the importance of the customer service experience we give players and how it is every bit as important as what we do as judges running the tournament on the floor.

What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
It’s given me a source of positivity. Sometimes our everyday lives are discouraging. I’ve never walked away from an event feeling like a failure. Sometimes I’ve walked away with an idea of ways to improve, but I’ve never had negativity as a result.

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?

They gave me a place to be myself. We lived in OKC for two and a half years before we made many real friends here. My husband and I went to work and went home and gamed. It was fine, but I didn’t realize how lonely until we got back into magic. The game store is our “Cheers” where everybody knows your name. I love my nerd family.

What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?

My most frequent hobby is playing video games, but given unlimited access its probably riding dirt bikes.

How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I was 17 and my boyfriend (Now Husband) wanted to teach me. I was not super into it. Then I had friends in college who were. The person who would later be my Man (not maid) of Honor at my wedding made it fun for me and was good at teaching. I decided to really throw myself into it more when I started becoming the third wheel in my own relationship every time the guys talked magic.

If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
-7 Get an emblem with: Return all lands from the graveyard to the battlefield. If a land would be placed into the graveyard from anywhere, instead put it on the battlefield.

What is the proudest moment of your Judge life?

Up to now, probably cultivating my judge group. I have 4 members that reliably show up on Thursday Nights at 9pm. We talk magic and I’ve had people across the state ask about it, but also had members so committed that multiple of them have skyped in so they didn’t miss it. Some weeks are busy and it doesn’t happen, but it’s been going strong for 8 months. Every member of my group that I tested passed on their first try.

What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I frequently (while cubing) attempt to use a Verdant Catacombs to fetch for a Woodland Cemetery. For some reason I’m convinced that Overgrown Tomb is not the name of the shock land. I did once attempt to use Overgrown Tomb to fetch a Woodland Cemetery as well. In my defense, I can’t be expected to read at the times of night we typically find ourselves cubing.

What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
I was having a very hard time thinking of one, my husband had this quip which is not entirely inaccurate.
Husband: Fblthp (Pictured on: Totally Lost) You’re small, you’re liked by everyone for unknown reasons, and you are no stranger to getting lost.
I also identify strongly with Liliana’s Sassy personality. Sometimes you just have a day where you have to say what you think.

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!

  1. I can recite the oracle text of almost any card just by being given the name and potentially mana cost.
  2. I’ve won a national award for breaking news journalism
  3. My certified judge birthday is the same day as my real birthday
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Bruna Chiochetta does not speak French fluently. She studied it for some time and loves it, but says it’s very hard to learn.

If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!

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2 thoughts on “Jessica Livingston

  1. I’m a female and thinking of becoming a judge, but my one hesitation is my gender. My MTG community is very male dominated and competitive to no end, which is fine, because so am I! But I’m nervous that they won’t take me seriously as a judge, due to my gender. A lot of the males in my community think I’m only there because my best friend and also my boyfriend play the game, which may have been the reason I started, but I genuinely love the game and think being a judge will help me learn to be a better player.

    1. Hey Christina, I love that you are thinking about becoming a judge! Helping to grow your community is a very rewarding experience and judging can definitely help you to be a better player. I would love to connect with you on Facebook or through e-mail to talk about how we can help you get certified and address some of your concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me! I am currently an L1 and know plenty of female judges who would love to talk to you. My e-mail is

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