Hello there Judges,
We are back again for our classic Judge of the Week interview, this time featuring a near-mint L2 Judge from the United Kingdom. This featured Judge pushed his local community by organizing events and building up a solid and welcoming group! It’s an honor to spotlight this week’s Judge of the Week, Joe Gillard from Taunton. As usual, before we swim into the man behind the black shirt lets have some quick facts about him:
Name: Joe Gillard
Location: Taunton, Somerset, United Kingdom
Judge start date:
L1-April 2013 by James Beck
L2-July 2014 by David Lyford Smith
Why did you become a Judge?
When I started playing Magic back in 2004, my friend and I, Scott, only ever used to play kitchen table Magic during break times at college. We didn’t have a big local scene at that time and it wasn’t until I moved to the next town a few years later that I found a larger group of players, yet there was no FNM or anything – it was all super casual stuff. I began to start organizing games and then approached the local gaming store to get sanctioned for FNMs which he was happy to do. From there, I started to take practice exams and eventually took my L1 in April 2013 so that we could start to run GPTs and move my local community forward even more!
Occupation: Retail Assistant at Asda (Wal-Mart)
Favourite card: Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Least favourite card: Celestial Dawn
Favourite format: Standard
Commander General: Jenara, Asura of War
Favourite non-Magic Game: Brave Frontier
Best tournament result: Top 8 at a GPT of 71 players.
Random fact about yourself:
I talk in my sleep – sometimes about Magic! There have been occasions in which my girlfriend has told me I was muttering something about Planeswalkers, but most of the time, it’s nonsensical talk.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I was watching Cartoon Network (Fairly Odd Parents ftw!) after college one day at my friend’s house and one of the Magic adverts come onto the TV. It was the one with the goblin and giant growth (which probably remains my favourite TV advert of all time). After seeing it, Scott and I decide to go for it and we grabbed the 2 player starter set from the LGS. Many games later, we decided to continue playing and that’s how I’ve ended up here! We started out by getting Mirrodin intro decks (Little beaters was mine) and worked from there.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
After getting certified, it boosted my confidence a great deal and I’ve never looked back to my less confident times. It helped get me through some times where stress has gotten to be quite unmanageable by giving me somewhere to relax. I feel that it has also taught me some great people skills which I get to use day to day at my job in the supermarket.
In the nomination form, Rhys Bainbridge told us how you managed to lead your community. What have you learned from this process?
Oh, what a question! I guess first of all, I’d like to thank Rhys for the nomination – very unexpected! I was very surprised to see the email when I woke up. But onto the real question here – never give up pushing the community forward. Players are the key thing in any Magic community, and some of today’s players are the Judges of tomorrow. It does take time to build up something from very little, getting that foundation correct is key. Form many friendships with Judges close to you, and invite them to Judge with you at events. Having people on the outside of your community helping can see things that you might necessarily not, for example, they may see someone you have overlooked when looking for Judge candidates. When you have local players that want to Judge, work with them closely to master all of the bits they need and encourage them to practice test as much as they can. It’s also important to develop the players’ community, which, in most cases, you will be part of also. Remember, without the players, there is nothing to Judge!
Why did you started organizing events and how was the community back in those days ?
I think it was my local community that really motivated me to start organizing. Some of the guys weren’t happy with the quality of events that we were getting at the time and I thought that I could raise the bar and do better. After talks with the LGS, he was happy to let me give it a shot.
Right back at the start, we used to get very few people to our events (there were quite a few times that I felt like giving up — I’m so glad that I didn’t!). We started doing pre-releases and we got some new players and it really led itself to where it is now on its own, albeit with a gentle nudge in the right direction. I think one of the best parts of a community is that it gives as much as you put in. So when you carry on taking on board what the community wants, they respond well and more people come to an event! I think we got to where we are now as a community, even though a few people have put in a lot of time, we wouldn’t be here without them.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
My personal goals of the Judge program are to continue to L3 (and maybe even beyond…), and make friends everywhere. I want to meet many new people and help people become more confident and help them grow their local communities. I’d love for my local area (the southwest of England) to have many more events, helping people grow communities, and finding Judges that will help push it forward!
On the other hand I enjoy meeting Judges and players and staff at events and making new friends from all corners of the world! Moments like this where you get unexpectedly recognized is definitely motivation to carry on, since it feels like I am really making a difference! Learning is a great adventure, and this is now one of my favourite places to do it!
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Keep at it, make goals and set out to achieve them. There will always be bumps along the way, that’s an inevitable thing. You may fail from time to time, but you will eventually get there. Learn to take away good experience from everything – good or bad, then apply that to new situations and improve yourself. We are a community of great people and everyone I have met so far is more than willing to help out!
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
The local community that we have here in the town is a great place to be. Our LGS supports our monthly events, and we’ve started bringing in 40+ people for tournaments, which is great considering that we only used to have the minimum for some events. We’ve been working hard to grow together and we show hard work and commitment. Everyone in the community here has done something to help out, be it bringing someone new to the group, helping out at a local event, or choosing to pursue judging and making the leap to L1 to help me out when running events or FNMs.
What is your favourite non-Magic hobby?
Board games are always good fun. I started out at the beginning of the year with perhaps 2 in my possession, and now have around 15. I’m pretty sure I will keep getting more! However, my favourite thing to do that is not Magic or gaming with friends is to create things. I’ve been using paper nets to create helmets of popular movie characters, my best one so far is the Iron Man Mk 3 helmet. I’ve also had a shot at making a classic Cyclops visor and Wolverine claws. Whilst I haven’t done a huge amount of prop making, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done so far, and will carry on making stuff!
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
That has to be GP Manchester where I passed my L2 and met some amazing people! It was my first GP and I was only on standby. I had the opportunity to present at the Friday conference and had amazing fun doing it – even if I was a little nervous. We then got told partway through the Friday that all of the standbys would be activated and that got me very excited!
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question for me. I have a lot of figures in real life that I look up to, and a lot in fiction. If it was an author that I was to have the opportunity to meet, it would definitely have to be J.R.R. Tolkien. I am a massive fan of his works, and enjoy the challenge of some of his books. I would, however, really like the chance to meet Nathan Fillion (from Castle, Firefly/Serenity). In my eyes, he’s one of the best actors I’ve seen in a long time, and his performance in Firefly turned me into a fan straight away!
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
“Instant spells you control have storm.” I think that this could be pretty fun!
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
It would have to be Wizard. Whenever I play RPGs, I tend to go with a mage class. I love spells and being able to do things that others can’t, with just my mind.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
Passing my L2 was certainly the proudest moment so far. I’m not sure that I can top that in the next few years, but I am certainly going to try!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to say thanks for giving me the opportunity to be featured, a pleasant surprise!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
1. I have completed all of the Final Fantasy games released.
2. I have completed all of the Legend of Zelda games released.
3. I have completed all of the Tales of games released.
Thanks Joe, your hard work boosting your local community surely didn’t pass unaknowledged, and as you said, the things you have made are the things that make the difference!
Judges! Don’t leave us without awesome Judge stories – if you believe one of your local colleagues is doing an exemplar’s work, this might be your chance to make him an upcoming Judge of the Week, so nominate a Judge TODAY!