Brian Coval

This week’s Judge of the Week is Brian Coval from Pittsburgh in the United States.  Brian began playing Magic during Ice Age.  Brian had a short break during Urza’s Saga, but began playing again during Masques block.  It was with Mirrodin that Brian began playing competitively due to the power of affinity.  Brian became a level 1 judge during Shards of Alara block, and passed his level 2 exam 6 months later.

BrianCovalWhat interested you in judging?
I moved to a new state during Time Spiral block, and the local Tournament Organiser there had a lot of bad practices (e.g. rounding out his event numbers with players who don’t exist) and a few blatantly illegal practices (e.g.. bribing opponents to concede rating points to him in exchange for packs, and “drafting” his limited decks off piles of power commons/uncommons he keeps behind the counter).  The community all knew what he was doing, but nobody knew what to do about it.  It was a rigged game, but it was the only game in town.  That is when I started pursuing tournament organization, and judging naturally flowed from that about a year later.

What is your most memorable judging experience?
I was called to a match to settle a dispute between the two players.  The dispute was over whether Dave Coulier or Bob Saget hosted “America’s Funniest People.”  I ruled that it was Dave Coulier.  Player A was about to appeal, but I cut him off by explaining that he was thinking of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” which was in fact hosted by Bob Saget.

Favourite Magic format?
Legacy.  Not even close.

Favourite Magic storyline character?
Karn, Silver Golem.  He was at his best during Invasion block, after he stopped being a pacifist and before he became a planeswalker.

Favourite Magic card?
That’s a tough one, I don’t think I could pick one card I like more than the rest.  But for most of this year I’ve been caught in a steamy love triangle with Vengevine and Wirewood Symbiote.

What do you do outside of judging?
My other major hobby is going to punk and hardcore shows all over the American north-east.  I love travelling, and it’s no coincidence that both my activities of choice force me to do it regularly.

If you could play any one game with any one real person – living or dead – what and who would it be?
Chess boxing against Henry Rollins.

Name one planeswalker that you would want to have while stranded on a desert island.
If Elspeth, Knight-Errant goes ultimate that would give us a LOT of time to be rescued.  If we ever saw a boat or a plane she could fly me out to it.  And in the meantime she provides an unlimited supply of food.

Favorite Magic background story novel?
The Artifact Cycle.  The scope of that series is crazy.  It covers from before anyone even knew how to use magic or cast spells all the way up to the present Phyrexian problem.

What’s your favorite rule or section of a policy document?
The player communication policy.  I love that Magic is a game that rewards players for knowing the policy as well as knowing the rules.  The communication policy is a prime example of a policy that gives a player who knows it tremendous strategic advantage over one who doesn’t.

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