Hello Judges! In this week’s Judge of the Week article we will speak with an exemplary Danish judge who brings a lot to his community – Jonas Breindahl. Also note that Jonas was already featured as a Judge of the Week in April 2014. After you finish reading today’s article, you can get a glimpse of the long road he has walked since then.
Name: Jonas Breindahl
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Judge start date: October 9 2012, certified for L2 on November 6 2013
Occupation: Software Robot Developer
Favorite card: Snapcaster Mage
Favorite format: Draft
Favorite non-Magic Game: PC: Factorio, tabletop: Hanabi
Best tournament result: 6-3 at my first and only GP (before it was enough to make Day 2)
Why do you Judge?
It started as a way to engage with the game, but now it is all about relations to the people in Magic. Working with friends, teaching new players/judges and working with great tournament organizers are all reasons why I love judging.
Also I absolutely love efficiency! Be it efficiency in working with other people, in running events or just in executing a single task like posting pairings. Efficiency is the best!
What is the story of your judge career? You have went through events of various sizes, culminating with you being the Head Judge of this year’s Danish Nationals. What are the other highlights of your path in the Program?
At my very early Magic career I met a friendly L1 judge from Copenhagen. We chatted and he told me about judging. I started helping out at FNM, a couple of prereleases and then he tested me for L1 in 2012. Since then I’ve helped out with lots of meetups and workshops helping the community grow. I’ve judged lots of GPs, HJed several PPTQs, WMCQs, and one of the last old PTQs. And yes, then I had the honor of HJing the return of Nationals in Denmark which was the pinnacle of challenges.
You were nominated for acting flawlessly as the cornerstone of the Danish judge community. Can you describe how your community works inside? What are the unique aspects of it?
Even though Denmark isn’t very large, the different stores/communities can feel very separate. Trying to help each smaller community has been a mission of mine for years. A mission that I have certainly not executed flawlessly, and one that I have not finished yet. For years the only active L2 judges were in the larger Copenhagen area, which made the primary goal getting L2s to communities not in Copenhagen. Now we have a couple of L2s outside of Copenhagen, and a primary focus of mine is to help these L2s to grow a judge community around them.
You are also known for organizing community meet-ups before prereleases. As such gatherings are taking on popularity globally, is there anything you would like point out to another judge who would like to start such activity themselves?
After a GP in the BeNeLux region I was told about their tradition of pre-prerelease meet-ups and I instantly stole it for Denmark. It started out as us going to a burger restaurant with a handful of judges, then next time the same restaurant with a couple more, and now it has become tradition that we always go for “Pre-prerelease Burger” the week up to the prerelease, and we are between 10 and 15 judges. I’ve found it to be an amazing place to introduce new L1s to the community especially. Any judge trying to start an activity like this only needs to remember one thing: consistency is key. Do these meet-ups on a regular basis so that your judges can plan around them. You don’t need to plan a ton, you don’t have to have a presentation, just make sure to be consistent.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
My favorite part are L1s that love their local player/judge community. They are nice and helpful and put pride in creating a fun environment for everyone.
Nothing is better for a community than honest people being amazing. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s true.
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
That has to be GP Vegas 2015. While in university I did a semester in the US and managed to squeeze in GP Vegas before heading home. It was pretty wild to work an event with so many players and so many judges. Soooo many mini-master events you wouldn’t believe. I believe that at the time, the Friday mini masters event was the 3rd or 4th largest event in history. Getting to work with so many new judges, learning new things, that was a really great experience.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges (or after event story)?
A couple of years ago a group of Danish judges took a night-ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo for a conference. We played games on the boat, had a great day at the conference, then just hanged out the following day playing Magic and relaxing.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
For years I have been struggling with energy management. For periods of time I would take on way too much stuff, be it in my studies, work or for Magic. I didn’t notice my energy level suddenly rapidly declining and then it would take months to recharge. The same is true for events. Often I would work my ass off without sitting down, drinking and eating enough. This is still something I’m working on and try to constantly be aware of when working at events.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge? What are you looking up to in your Judge future?
This is a really tough question. Sometimes I also ask myself why I actually judge. It can be tough to motivate yourself to continue judging with some of the weird things WotC do. That being said, I do find some: when I’m in Denmark or Malmö, it’s for the community. I love our players and I love providing great service, both for our players and for my fellow judges. At GPs it’s all about efficiency. I have the most fun when I need to walk quickly through a crowd to do a task or to find good ways to efficiently work with my fellow judges.
I’m looking forward to a new type of event one of my TOs will hold soon, and hopefully I will get to work more GPs this year than the last.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Make sure to get to know your fellow judges. Don’t just solo judge in a corner of your region. There are so many awesome people to get to know, and so much awesomeness to learn from them. If there is a conference within your region (or even outside of it), go and consider giving a presentation. Or maybe arrange a local judge class and invite some players/judges. Or hang out on the Judge Chat or Judge Apps and learn from others and engage with others. You won’t regret it!
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
It was already mentioned: in 2017, I was given the honor of HJing the return of Danish Nationals. It was an incredible fun and taxing challenge in constant communication with the TO in the weeks up to the event, planning for the unique challenges connected with running a multi-format, multi-day tournament alongside 3-4 side events, and managing judges. The Danish Nationals, and my role in it, is my very proudest moment in judging.
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
I looooove board games. Like you would not believe. I try and play as much as I can and my group has monthly meetups where we all bring a subsection of our game collections and play all day. My favorite board game is Hanabi, and if you ever hang out with me, I will probably have a copy of it on me or nearby!
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I would be playing more board games and volunteering at my local board game café to help teach games. Basically, still something that interacts with people through the hobby that I love.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
One of my board game friends pulled out a shoe box full of intro decks from the Kamigawa/Mirrodin era and we played random decks against each other. For some reason the deck with 2 Skullclamp won every time. I got hooked and then I started buying cards to build my own decks. The friend lost interest in playing with me, but I had found an awesome Magic community to also be a part of.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I have designed my own card game where you combine heroes and villains from old Disney movies, to try and tell new stories.
- I drove 4400 miles, across 15 states, in two weeks to reach GP Vegas.
- I have been at Essen Spiel, the world’s largest board game convention, for 7 years straight.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!