JudgeCast of the Week

We’re doing something a little different this week. Last month we interviewed the hosts of JudgeCast on their show, and now we have taken the question and answer portion and transcribed it especially for you, our readers. Check it out and learn more about JudgeCast past, present, and future, as well as some fun details about the hosts Bryan Prillaman, CJ Shrader, and Jess Dunks!

Alternately, you can listen to the entire episode in the original, audio format by going to http://judgecast.com/?p=1067

Special thanks to Judge of the Week members Matt Hoskins, Matt Karr, Megan Linscott, and Raoul Mowatt, all of whom assisted with the monumental task of transcribing this interview.

Jacob: CJ, for those who might not be familiar, what is JudgeCast?
CJ: So, y’know, it’s kinda funny, ‘cause I think on the website you’ll see JudgeCast has a little slogan of ‘a Magic rules podcast by judges for judges’ and it’s never really been just that, right? It’s been a podcast with three judges on who have a deep interest in the rules, have a deep interest in the policy, and we talk about kinda judge-related topics, but a lot of it has player overlap and we’ve seen that time and time again. Simply enough, we would not have the listener base we have if it was solely judges. We also try to keep in mind that people just interested in the rules, just interested in… sometimes even becoming a better Magic player… listen as well. It’s basically the ‘rules-focused’ podcast.


Jacob: Jess, you talked about this earlier, how long has your team been doing JudgeCast?
Jess: That’s a great question. CJ and I started with episode #34 on March 14th 2012, and very quickly thereafter BPrill came on as a guest and then soon became just a host that was on the show all the time only a couple of episodes later. I point out that it was episode 34 because, even though we’ve been doing this for almost five years now, there were 33 episodes of JudgeCast before CJ and I took the reins of it and kind of pointed the project in a new direction. Prior to that, it had been run by Sean Catanese, Riki Hayashi, and Jose Boveda, and they did great stuff, they had some really good episodes – they’re a little out of date now, but they have good episodes – but they were wrapped up in a lot of different projects and other things and weren’t able to necessarily do it every week. It kinda fell by the wayside for them. We picked it up and kind of ran with it in a new direction, and we’ve been doing it for about five years now, which is insane. I never would have guessed that, five years later, I would still be doing this podcast, or that we would ever even still be able to have content to talk about five years later.
CJ: Aw come on. We still have lists in that topic spreadsheet that we’ve never touched.
Jess: Yeah, I can’t remember the last time I looked at it.
CJ: But there are things in there!


Jacob: It sounds like it’s not a fair question to ask of BPrill, so we’ll stick with you Jess. What inspired you to get started? Or was it CJ that had the inspiration?
Jess: It was actually kind of both! CJ and I had never met each other before episode 34 of JudgeCast. What happened here was CJ and I had independently expressed interest in taking over JudgeCast to Sean and he went “I think you guys could do this together” and he put us both on an episode. And both of us were basically like “oh, who the heck does this guy think he is?”
CJ: …was I?
Jess: No, I’m being a little facetious there. I think both of us really wanted to do this thing, we didn’t know who this other host was, and we didn’t know if it was going to work out well. We just went into it and did it, and it turned out great. But the reason that – I’m sorry, what was your initial question?
Jacob: What inspired you to get started?
Jess: It was a combination of things. Partly, I wanted to find a new way to give back to the community. Partly, I wanted JudgeCast as a concept to be one that – I liked the concept of a podcast for judges, but I also knew that it wasn’t happening regularly and I thought that it could. I also just, at the time, I was trying to find more ways to become involved in the Magic judge community and I felt like this was one. It turns out it was, although in completely different ways than I expected, which I’m sure we’ll get into later. My inspiration was, I was looking for something to get involved with, and this was something that seemed like I could really get my teeth into.
CJ: Yeah, my answers around the same as Jess’. I was just a big fan of JudgeCast, JudgeCast didn’t exist anymore, and I wanted JudgeCast to exist again. And so if that meant I had to be one of the ones doing it, no problem.
Jess: CJ is the original JudgeCast Superfan.
CJ: I am!
Jacob: Right.
Jess: And no one can ever take that away.
Jacob: Sure.
CJ: But I do want to ask Bryan, why did Bryan stick around?
Jacob: Yeah! Yeah, Bryan…?
CJ: He didn’t have to!
Bryan: So around this particular point in time, I had a podcast focused on casual Magic, kitchen table Magic, that had come to an end. And I enjoyed it and judging was something I thought that I was okay at. We’d actually also thought about reviving JudgeCast and recorded an episode with Ben McDole and Deborah Freeland. We talked about, I think it was lapsing triggers? And we just – straight off-topic and it never came to fruition. When CJ started it up, he was like “Hey, you’ve done this before! Do you want to come on and be a guest? You’ve done some relevant stuff.” And I did it, and CJ was a good guy, this Dunks guy was… pretty okay. So I just, y’know, stuck around and – I followed them home and they kept me. For a while it was just them leaving a little bowl outside their door and they’d come out in the morning and the food would be gone, and they were like “oh, he’s still here!”
Jacob: Yup, must still be Bryan.
Bryan: Must still be Bryan. And then I started leaving little dead birds on their porch, and they were like “oh, maybe we should have him on a podcast some more.”


Jacob: Well fantastic. I can say I really appreciate the product that you guys put out. So Bryan, we all hear the finished product, but we never actually hear about what goes on behind the scenes. What all is involved in making a typical episode of JudgeCast behind just you guys talking into a microphone over a Skype call or what-have-you?
Bryan: It’s an exercise in controlled chaos. Off the air…
Jess: It’s more like gently-guided chaos.
Bryan: Sure. Typically what’ll happen is, we run the gamut from having a series of episodes planned out six weeks in advance to the day before it’ll be “hey we don’t have a topic yet, what do you guys want to talk about?” A lot of times there’s a lot of things that are very set on schedules, like the FAQ episodes, the policy updates, sometimes there’s a big happening the Magic community that we want to talk about or there’s a guest that we want to schedule. So we’ll do those kind of things far in advance and we’ll talk about them. Other things are… we will address in a very short term, “hey, let’s talk about combat” and CJ spends about an hour or two writing up the show notes. We’ll go in and add our own flair/comments to it and then just run the show from there. What we typically do is, it’s 9 o’clock every Tuesday… every other Tuesday, we’ll begin with technical difficulties, like tonight. The software that records isn’t necessarily working, or somebody has to reboot, or someone’s microphone doesn’t work, or something along those lines.
CJ: Just to jump in on that, I have two programs recording right now, and Bryan do you have one going?
Bryan: I do have one.
Jacob: Is that so you don’t potentially drop an episode?
CJ: Yes, because it’s happened.
Jess: Yeah, that actually happened once, and since then multiple backups have been put in place. We recorded an entire episode once to find out that —
CJ: It was release notes.
Jess: — yeah, it was a release notes episode where we’d gone through a whole lot of information, and it was relatively time-sensitive. Found out at the end of the episode that we just didn’t record.
Jacob: I remember listening to that episode and hearing about that.
Jess: And then we had to re-record it again the next night, and it was sad because it wasn’t as good the second time. Honestly, it wasn’t as good, ‘cause a lot of the stuff we do, a lot of the jokes we do or just conversation we have is just very spontaneous, so to have it again kind of felt awkward.


Jacob: So this is all reasonably off the cuff, right, guys? You don’t do any kind of rehearsals, there’s no script associated with this?
Jess: There’s no script.
Bryan: Well, the show notes —
Jess: We do have a set of notes that we go off of for a topic. The notes can be very in detail for topics that we really need a lot of detail about, or they can be very, very brief, kind of just footnotes for things. It depends on…I’m trying to think of a good example. If we have what Bryan likes to call a “rules-y” episode, we’re going to have a lot of notes because obviously we’re going to hit all these rules. If we talk about state-based actions, we have to make sure we hit all the state-based actions, or what’s the point? But if you go to what Bryan would call a “hugs-y” episode…
Bryan: I like to call them hugs-y episodes.
Jess: We have rules-y episodes and hugs-y episodes. And this would be a hugs-y episode we’re having right now, right? The hugs-y episodes are ones where we’ll have somebody on but we’re not talking about a Magic rules thing or a policy change. We’re just talking about a particular topic. And those tend to be a lot more free-form.
Bryan: We do policy, rules-y episodes, hugs-y episodes. Also, community falls in the hugs-y stuff. Hugs-y.
Jacob: Sure. Sure. So the last question —
Bryan: I’m going to say hugs-y one more time for the person transcribing this
Jacob: Sure.
Bryan: Hugs-y.
Jacob: So they have to figure out how to spell it?
Bryan: Well, h-u-g-s-y.
Jacob: There you go. Thank you for helping. So last question that’s —
Jess: I hope they’ve spelled it, like, five times before they get to that point.
Bryan: Or when they type out the fact that I spelled it, if they do h dash u dash g dash… and now they’ve got to type that out.
Jacob: And now they have to type out d-a-s-h —
CJ: Okay. Alright. We’ve got a lot we have to wipe out, so —


Jacob: We’ve got to move on. Last question for people who aren’t listening, I guess: Where do you publish and advertise your completed episodes, presumably because people who are listening find these, and who takes care of that publishing and advertising?
CJ: I think I’ll tackle this. We started on MTGCast.com and after that, we got our own domain, which is kind of its own story. Because for a while, we were, was it MTGJudgeCast.com?
Jess: Yes we were, because JudgeCast was a taken domain. We didn’t know who owned it.
CJ: Yeah, and we were mad, like who has this domain, and why can’t we have it? And one day Jose Boveda comes out of nowhere and he said, “Oh, I have that domain. You guys want it?” And we’re like yeah, we want that domain. So we got the JudgeCast.com domain. JudgeCast.com is our primary place to find it. But we also post on mtgcast.com. From JudgeCast, it automatically posts to Facebook on our Facebook group. Twitter. It posts to iTunes from our RSS feed. It posts to the Zune store, I believe, still. Stitcher radio —
Jess: Do people still use Zune?
CJ: I don’t know, man. I set that up a long time ago. I don’t know if it ever went away.
Jess: Fair enough.
CJ: And Stitcher Radio. So those are all automatic, not MTGCast. And then we —
Jess: That reminds me. I saw you can get podcasts on Spotify now. We need to figure that one out.
Bryan: Oooh.
CJ: Okay, yes, we do. And Google Play.
Bryan: Let me ask this: Did we get JudgeCast in response to, do you remember MTGCast started putting ads at the beginning of every podcast?
Jess: Yes, yes, that actually did happen. We used to be only hosted on the mtgcast.com website. And when they had a change in management…
Bryan: Actually, it was before the change in management.
Jess: Oh yeah yeah, I’m sorry, you’re right. It was before that. But they were trying to advertise more, and so they said they were going to start putting an advertisement at the beginning of every podcast that was published on their site. And we went, “Well, we don’t feel comfortable with that because we don’t know what you’re going to be advertising” and went and got our own site. Fortunately, that didn’t last very long because we weren’t the only podcast that felt that way. So now we publish in both locations.
Jacob: Cool.
Bryan: Yeah, it’s always been… for advertising it’s always been – or sponsorship or something – it’s always been this weird relationship or thought process we’ve had where we don’t want to necessarily feel beholden to any specific sponsor, yet at the same time, boy, we could use the money.
Jess: This is something we’ve done for five years for free, by the way.
Jacob: Yup, yup.
Bryan: So it’s like —
CJ: Not for free. At a loss to Jess.
Jess: That’s true, actually.
CJ: Jess pays the server cost. We don’t bring that up enough.
Jacob: Oh, okay. Well thank you, Jess.
CJ: Yes, thank you Jess.
Jess: You’re welcome.
CJ: To finish answering that question, we also post on the judge forums, we update a blog on the judge website that I don’t even know how to find, but we update it. We post on reddit, mtgjudge reddit. … I think that’s everywhere.
Bryan: We’ll occasionally cross-post if the episode is one that is specifically of interest to players, we’ll put in the main magictcg reddit.


Jacob: So the second part of this question was who takes care of those things. So when you’re saying “we,” which of you takes care of publishing on these platforms, or do you split it up?
Jess: It’s historically almost always been CJ, although a number of those things are automatically handled. As soon as we post it on the JudgeCast website, they are automatically sent to several places and the rest of it is done manually. Although all of us have done it at some point.
Bryan: CJ wrote us instructions.
Jess: Which included the words, “If you are reading this, I am probably dead.”


Jacob: That does not surprise me. So moving on, Bryan, this is possibly a bit of a loaded question, given the content of this episode: How long does a typical recording session for JudgeCast take? And do you have multiple sessions or do you try to power through whatever the content, just hammer through in a single session?
Bryan: A typical recording session, we get online at 9. We typically start recording around 9:20 to 9:30. It might stretch to 9:40 if we’re being excessively chatty. And then the episodes themselves will run anywhere from like an hour to an hour and 45 minutes, in which case we end it, and then we spend somewhere from 5 to 30 minutes chatting again. Basically, we power through. We don’t do multiple sessions unless at the end of it we find out we had a problem with the recording, or in the layers episode, we actually planned out a two-parter. It’s pretty rare for us to do that. So we try and get through everything that we want to get through in an episode.
CJ: We do shoot for an hour. I know we don’t always hit it. Sometimes it’s impossible. But we shoot for it.


Jacob: So, Jess? Do you keep all the old, raw recordings of the episodes? And how likely are we to see a blooper reel?
Jess: To the first point, I believe CJ has copies of all of them. I have copies of a few. But I believe CJ has copies of all of them. Is that accurate still?
CJ: No, I don’t keep the raw audio. I keep it for a couple weeks just to make sure nothing crazy happens. But I don’t have any of the raw audio except for last week’s episode.
Bryan: So you mean the pre-show banter is completely gone? Whoo, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
CJ: Yeah, a lot of time I want that to be gone. So that’s why I keep it only for two weeks.
Jess: So to answer your second question, very unlikely that you would see a JudgeCast blooper reel in the near future. Though to be fair, there really aren’t that many things that get cut out of an episode. You commented on the editing and nothing really – there aren’t a lot of bloopers that get cut out. Sometimes, mistakes will happen on the show and we often leave those in. Our listeners understand that we’re human just like they are and part of the appeal of a podcast is that they feel like we’re kind of having a conversation with them.
Jacob: Right, and they get that live experience as well, right?
Jess: Yes. The only times we’ll go back and edit something are if there was something we said that we weren’t supposed to, like if we accidentally revealed something we know that isn’t coming out yet or something, or if there’s profanity, with the exception of one episode where we made a disclaimer at the beginning instead of edit. And if there is a mistake – if upon reflection we made a mistake that is likely to mislead people into making mistakes themselves. For example if I got a rules question wrong in answering an e-mail, and we spend enough time talking about it when our answer was wrong, then we’re like, okay, if we don’t cut that out then somebody’s going to think that answer was right, then we’ll cut it out. But usually we don’t cut anything.
CJ: Yeah, and just – I’ve said it before but – if you hear us say “oh we’ll cut that out later” that’s a joke. If you’ve ever actually heard us say it, it was a joke. Except one time, but I got that out after —
Bryan: {laughter}
CJ: Only one time have I ever made that mistake. But if you ever actually hear it, it was a joke.


Jacob: This could be a short question, and it can be directed generally at first. Are there unique roles and responsibilities each of you have?
Jess: I think that that’s true, that we do have unique roles and responsibilities, but I don’t think that’s because it’s been assigned. It just kinda formed that way.
Jacob: So, Jess, what are CJ’s unique roles and responsibilities?
Jess: Okay, so CJ has taken on himself all of the stuff that, for lack of a better way of putting it, I like to call “grunt work.” And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way at all. He takes on the – when we do have editing, he takes on the editing. He gets every episode ready for being published. He makes sure everything is posted where it needs to go. And when something breaks, he takes care of it. So that’s the stuff he’s been doing for basically all of the last five years. And that’s been – we’ve mentioned a few times that, if it weren’t for CJ, JudgeCast wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has. And I 100% believe that’s true. Moving forward we’re obviously going to have to change that up and Bryan and I are going to take on a lot more of that responsibility. But CJ has been kinda the “behind the scenes” guy, the “behind the scenesy stuff” as Doctor Who would say, and that’s his main role. On the show, he also has an important role, and that role is to keep us on track. The vast majority of the time we might be talking about something, we might be going into detail or having a story that is going on too long that’s just excessive, or we might be going way off topic, and he will be the one to say “okay, so, as a reminder, we were talking about this. Let’s get to the next one.” And then he tries to have segues that go into the next topic. I say “tries” because they’re not always the greatest. He’s got about five years worth of practice at that. So —
Bryan: He’s pretty good at it.
Jess: — you’d think it would be better, but it’s alright! I like it! It’s one of his… what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s part of his charm.
Jacob: Sure. So CJ, what does Bryan bring that is unique and what responsibilities does Bryan take on that are unique to him?
CJ: I’ve always made Bryan handle the guests.
Jacob: I feel very well-handled. So that’s good.
CJ: Yeah, like Bryan talked to you, right? Not Jess? I don’t do it. I don’t talk to any guests.
Bryan: Actually, Jacob talked to us.
CJ: Oh that’s right, Jacob approached us.
Bryan: He’s like “Hey guys, are we doin’ this?” “Uhh, yeah” “So did you want to talk about these questions?” “Yeah” “Here are the questions, you think they’re good?” “Yeah”


CJ: And I don’t want to say this to imply that Jess isn’t also the same, but Bryan has a very deep policy knowledge. And I think – I know you’re not asking me about Jess – but I feel like Jess really brought that “Regular REL” experience to us, that I don’t think Bryan and I had at all. But Bryan has a deep policy knowledge, you know probably partially because of his work on the AIPG and all that.
Jacob: Is that where the “I keep it fun” out for Jess came from?
CJ: No, that’s just us stealing the ending of the original show.
Jess: You know, actually I think that the first… probably ten or so episodes I don’t think we were consistent on who did which part of that.
CJ: Oh really?
Jess: Yeah, I mean Bryan has always had the random weird thing at the end, but me and CJ I think switched back and forth and it just kinda fell into a pattern.
Jacob: So bringing it back around, Bryan what does Jess do that is unique, what does he bring to the table and what are his responsibilities?
Jess: This oughta be good.
Bryan: In a lot of ways I see Jess as kind of the yin to my yang, as it were. Whereas I’m a little more goofy and Jess is more business-like. He also has a lot more practical event experience. He travels a lot. He goes to a lot of the large events. So whereas – when we talk about policy and we talk about rules and we talk about events, we’re both talking about it from very different perspectives. So Jess brings a lot of that to the table. Also, he’s constantly focusing on how much time we’re spending on something and is it really relevant, going through the show note, whittling things down to the core importance of it. Whereas I tend to like to pontificate on things, Jess is a lot more matter-of-fact “come on we gotta get this done.” So Jess definitely brings that. He brings a ton of policy knowledge and experience, event experience, rules depth, all of that.
Jess: That was a very nice way of saying “I talk a lot.”
Jacob: But you’re very concise about it, apparently. So you talk a lot in few words, that’s a talent I wish I had.


Jacob: This could be a short answer, but is there anybody involved with the project beyond the three of you? Like do you have anybody you use as a test audience? Does anybody contribute to the success of JudgeCast beyond the three of you?
Jess: That test audience thing is a really good idea.
Jacob: Yeah!
CJ: Why? We would re-record it?
Jess: Uh… well…
CJ: Exactly! We’re not gonna fix it, so…


Jess: The short answer to your question is… no? Every once in a while, somebody will be involved in individual episodes, but it’s not in any way consistent. I can’t think of anybody that has, in a capacity other than being a guest, been involved with the show more than once that is not the three of us. I could be mistaken about that? So please, guys, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s pretty much just been the three of us.
CJ: I don’t want to undersell the importance of the guests. We’ve had some great guests, and had some great episodes because of it, but it’s mostly us. And I mean, y’know, I could put out a call tomorrow and be like “hey can we get someone to volunteer to edit the show?” and I bet we would get volunteers, right? But it just slows things down to have someone else do it. It’s nice to have someone else do it, but —
Bryan: It’s not just that. We’ve all become really good friends. When this podcast started out, we probably could’ve pulled some people in and made it into a program project. But it’s not! This is our intellectual property, as it were. So if we have somebody come in, we’re kind of inviting them into our business in that regard. We’re going to be reluctant to parse this stuff out. And like I said, it’s not a judge project so it’s not like you can apply to it and “hey can I join your project, can I join the JudgeCast project?” The answer’s gonna be no because it’s not a judge project. It’s the three of us working together, having a good respect for each other, coming together and talking about the stuff that we want to talk about.


Jacob: On that topic, moving along, Bryan how do you go about selecting special guests? Or selecting topics, for that matter?
Bryan: So I do tend to be the guy that picks the topics. What I normally do is I look at it and say “hey, it’s been a while since we’ve had a husgy topic, what would be an appropriate – ” and I take the pulse of what’s going on, y’know, what are people talking about on reddit? What’s the latest kerfluffle at the Pro Tour? There’s another word for the transcriber: kerfluffle. What are those things that people are having trouble with? Or maybe it’s Halloween coming up, maybe we’ll do a combat episode or we’ll do a graveyard episode or something like that. Or, y’know, “hey, this person did something cool, let’s see if we can get them as a guest to be on.” So I kinda look ahead and see what would be interesting to the community and then we try and fill in the gaps with things we haven’t talked about in a while. Selecting special guests is, a lot of times, a week or two before the podcast, sometimes as much as a month, just call up and say “hey do you wanna be on JudgeCast for X?” There have been times where we have had a guest where it has been, at 9:05 it’s been “hey, we’re down a person, do you want to be on? We’re talking about tournament shortcuts.” In that particular case, we’ll pick somebody who I can call and get in and very very shortly, there’s no time to ramp up, I know that they know the material, let’s get’em in and go.


Jacob: CJ, how close are the three of you outside of JudgeCast? Is your relationship mostly professional? Are you friends? Are you best friends?
CJ: Oh, it’s purely professional. After this call, we hang up, and we don’t talk again for two weeks.
Jacob: You worked on your interplay very well then.
CJ: Bryan actually touched on this a little bit in that he said that, each episode, even if we shoot for an hour long episode, we record for two hours. That’s not discussing the topic or anything. That’s just talking. That’s just what we do before and after the epsiode, ‘cause, yeah, I didn’t know Jess at the start but yeah we’re definitely friends now. Actually, Jess lives, like, twenty minutes from me now. And I know he’s going to call out that I never try to hang out, but that’s just me. That’s not because of Jess. I don’t hang out with anyone. If I did, I’d hang out with Jess.
Jacob: So you guys don’t all live in close physical proximity to each other, correct?
CJ: No, Bryan lives farther away.
Jacob: So that’s harder to do.
Bryan: I live eight hours south.
CJ: Yeah, Jess lives close. He didn’t use to be! He lived in California.
Jess: I use to live in California, and then I moved out here to Georgia. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. And CJ lives not that far from me. So he and I are actually close, and a couple of times I’ve actually recorded from his office, when something had gone wrong or I didn’t have power or internet or whatever, just go over there. So in case it’s not clear, friends is the answer to your question.
Bryan: Yeah, these guys are great, clearly.
CJ: I knew Bryan before the show.


Jacob: I don’t really want to put you on the spot, but I’d be remiss to not ask this question. CJ, you recently announced you would be leaving the Judge Program and JudgeCast. Can you talk about why?
CJ: Sure.
Jacob: WILL you talk about why?
CJ: Yeah, I’ll talk about why. It’s no big deal. It’s not like something happened and it’s like “oh no, drama, Scott Marshall said something mean to me.” That didn’t happen. I don’t know why I’m bringing up Scott Marshall, he actually said very nice thing in my post when I said I was leaving. The short answer is judging is just not really fun for me anymore. The longer answer is I don’t really love policy right now. It feels too… “flow-charty” might be how I describe it. I just feel like it’s just getting more and more confusing.
Jacob: Are you referring to Hidden Card Error specifically or do you actually think just in general–?
CJ: More than that. Deck/Decklist problem is getting more and more like that. I guess Missed Trigger is okay. See, when we only had Missed Trigger it was like, okay, well you only had the one flow chart. Now it’s, I don’t know, they all feel like that to me. I think the new sets are very exciting anymore. Are people really excited about… I don’t even remember the names of the new mechanics.
Jacob: Revolt?
CJ: Revolt and… convoke one.
Jacob: Improvise.
Jess: Oh man, I was really excited about Morbid when it was Morbid.
CJ: When it was Morbid, yeah.
Jacob: Revolt’s not quite Morbid, but fair.
CJ: But even to me, Energy counters, Crew, these are all very boring. It’s just not clicking. It’s just not clicking. I brought up the story last time when I talked about this. The story of Magic has gotten very “same five people”-centric and it’s getting pretty boring for me, and the story was what kept me in the game.
Jess: Yeah I’m pretty sure they’re going to kill Gideon. They got – they’re going to kill Gideon. It’s gonna happen.
Jacob: Really?
CJ: You think so?
Jacob: You think so?
Jess: Yeah I think so. We’ll see.
Jacob: Not Ajani?
CJ: Because Ajani showed up?
Jacob: Or does Ajani only show up to watch other planeswalkers die?
CJ: Yeah, exactly.
Jacob: He’s only done it once, it’s not a trend yet!
Bryan: Hold on, how funny would it be in a few other sets, it’s like Ajani shows up and all the planeswalkers are like “oh crap, who’s gonna bite it this time?”
Jacob: I would love it if they went that meta with the story. Just for a little bit. Introduce some goofiness back into it. At any rate, thank you CJ.


Jacob: So Jess and BPrill, you alluded to this earlier. So obviously you plan to continue with just the two of you – or are you looking for a third? Do you have anybody in mind to fill the void that CJ is leaving behind?
Jess: The answers to your questions are, yes we plan to continue, we have considered looking for a third, but might continue with just the two of us because we don’t have somebody that we go “oh yeah, that person is exactly the person we want.” That doesn’t mean that there aren’t great judges who might or might not be available to be on the show or that there might not be great candidates for it, but to be completely honest, because of the fact that CJ is a very good friend of ours it’s also emotionally difficult to say “okay, somebody else go fill these shoes.” And I don’t think that’s going to be easy to do, even if you find the perfect candidate.
Bryan: Yeah, those shoes are a lot of grunt work.
Jacob: It’s never gonna be the same, right?
Jess: It’s never gonna be the same, and I think moving forward you’re going to see Bryan and I take up a lot more of what we’ve frankly taken for granted that CJ has done.
Bryan: Yeah.
Jacob: Well that was a depressing answer. But it was honest, and I appreciate that.
CJ: It would be my recommendation, this is my general podcast recommendation, is to have three people. That way if one person can’t make it for one day you can still have an episode. I think that was probably my pitch to bring Bryan on in the first place.
Jess: It was, yeah.
CJ: I think that’s very important to a podcast, ‘cause otherwise you get into a lot of “my co-host was on vacation so we just couldn’t record this week.” I think, as a lot of credit goes there – our consistency is because of that.
Bryan: And it allows one person to be looking something up and researching it while the other two continue to talk, and you don’t notice.
Jess: Yes, which happens more often than I would like to admit.
CJ: So there’s some free podcast advice.


Jacob: So Bryan, how do you find time to do the podcast, with not just all your Judge Program responsibilities, but with your responsibilities in general, with life in general? And Jess and CJ I’d actually like to hear your answers to this, as well.
Bryan: Oh would they? So the time to do the podcast is, I’ll be honest, I– we rely on CJ a lot to…he does a lot of the show notes work and that kind of thing. Jess and I, our prep time is actually very little, so this basically, what this, the podcast evening is, we just set aside a time, it’s scheduled, we treat it- I don’t want to say like a job, because it’s not a job, but we treat it seriously. It’s in our calendar as “the thing that you have to do” and you just make time for it. And it’s just like if you have a pottery class on Thursday nights that you always go to, or FNM or something like that. You make the time for it, and if other things, if you have to shift things around your schedule, you just look ahead and you stay up till 3am, doing the stuff that you didn’t do earlier… like last night.
CJ: Alright.
Bryan: So—
Jess: There’s no bitterness in that answer at all.
Bryan: –no, no bitterness at all.
Jacob: Jess, did you have anything to add to that?
Jess: That’s very true. In my house now, everybody who lives here. Now I live with some of my extended family lives with me, and so, well I guess actually immediate family. Anyway, so everybody knows that every other Tuesday, it’s the time that I’m recording my podcast, and you’ve got to leave Jess alone during that time. And everybody, if they’re in this area of the house, they’re quiet about it, and that’s all very appreciated, because it’s a serious thing, y’know? It’s not- maybe it didn’t start out that way. To be honest, it was just kind of a hobby or whatever, but now it’s just a thing we do. And I think it’s important, both to set that precedent for yourself, and also, I think it’s important to have that be- like for me, one of the reasons I love doing JudgeCast, is because I get to hang out with these cool friends of mine every couple of weeks, and talk about stuff. Like, that’s really great. But, as far as the other responsibilities, I’m actually really bad at juggling responsibility in general, so I have no idea.
Jacob: {laughter} Well, it’s a very honest answer, thank you. CJ, since you’re saddled with, as was previously mentioned, the “grunt work”, what’s your answer to this? I get the feeling it will differ slightly from Bryan and Jess’.
CJ: So, I mean, for me, all I did, this is the opposite of what Bryan does, is I-if I got opportunities to be part of any other Judge Program work, I just said “no”. Whereas, it looks like Bryan said “yes” to every opportunity that came by. I mean, that’s basically it. I was like, “oh no, sorry, I’m already doing JudgeCast.” I mean, JudgeCast doesn’t take up that much time. But I’ve always been, or was, a once-a-month judge, and stuff like that, so JudgeCast could fit in pretty easily every 2 weeks. I would just- the recording’s easy, we schedule that. So it’s really finding time to write show notes, which I can usually get done with an hour or two before the show, and then, or you know, at work. Then I can usually edit, once again, at work when I’m supposed to be doing other stuff. I can usually get it all done in there. The editing used to take forever, because I used to edit out the “umm”s and “uhh”s, and once I stopped doing that, I can edit an episode in, I dunno, 30 or 40 minutes now.
Jess: The absolute shock that he had when he realized that nobody noticed if he didn’t do that was amazing.
CJ: Yeah
Jacob: Was it shock or was it actually soul-crushing? You spent all this time–
CJ: ‘Cause legitimately, yeah, editing an episode used to take like about 3 times the length of the episode. So you know, an hour was 3 hours, and our episodes back then were long-
Jacob: Right.
CJ: –they were at least 2 hours long, cuz we hadn’t really reined it in yet. It would take me a long time, but once I stopped doing that, it helped a lot.
Jess: As a side note, the reason we hadn’t reined it in yet, is because- is partly because CJ always thought we didn’t have enough content an episode–
CJ: Yeah…
Jess: –so he’d always be like “oh that’s not enough topics. We gotta tack more onto this!” before we even started.
CJ: Yeah, I always wanted to have two topics per episode, that’s a true story.
Jacob: Wow.
CJ: I always thought that one topic would never be enough, so I always forced in a second topic. Then one day, it was like “hey our episodes’re 2 hours, perhaps–“
Jacob: Alright.
CJ: –and we would have to read a few emails.
Jacob: Not that these questions haven’t been fun – your answers certainly have been fun – but Judge of the Week actually likes to ask a few fun questions, so I’m gonna go around with each of you. We’ll start with Bryan and say, “if you had to pick a Magic the Gathering card that you identify most with your other two co-hosts, which card would you pick for each of them, and why?” And everyone will get a turn at this.
Bryan: Uh…Well, can I just- can we do round robin like we did on the responsibility ones, so I don’t have to come up–
Jacob: Sure…sure.
Bryan: –with 2 cards. Okay–
Jacob: So just pick one for now, Bryan.
Bryan: I’m actually gonna say, the card- and this is not necessarily a flavor thing, but it’s more the mechanics- I’m gonna say that Jess is Elesh Norn. And I’m gonna–
Jacob: Wow.
Bryan: –and I’m gonna explain why.
CJ: Oh, interesting.
Bryan: Yeah! I’m gonna explain why. Okay. If you look at Elesh Norn, it’s good stats. Jess has good stats–
CJ: Great face!
Bryan: –yeah, great face. A face for–
Jacob: The eyes, especially.
Bryan: –a great face for radio, for podcasts. The creature has vigilance, which Jess is at events and stuff like that, he is constantly aware of what’s going on. Also, he really supports the people on his team, going around and making sure that they’re doing the best that they can and supporting them that way. Then the– that’s the “other creatures you control get +2/+2”. Then, the “creatures your opponents control get -2/-2” because when you’re on the other Jess, when he’s arguing, look out! There you go, Elesh Norn.
Jess: Look out? I hope–
Bryan: Look out!
Jess: –I hope that was a good thing. Yeah, that was surprisingly deep. I don’t know if I can compete with that.
Jacob: That was very good.
CJ: I wasn’t even… I don’t even have one for Jess yet.
Jacob: Alright. Well Jess–
Jess: Yeah.
Jacob: –it’s your turn. Try to top that.
Jess: Okay. Who am I going to start with here? Am I starting with–
Bryan: {inaudible}
Jess: –what was that?
Bryan: If you’ll be silent, it’ll edit it out.
Jacob: Your choice.
Jess: My choice?
Jacob: Your choice. You can reciprocate or you can go with CJ.
Jess: Well, I was…let’s talk about both. So Bryan, this is a little bit cheesy, but Bryan is, in my mind, and has been since the set came out, Toolcraft Exemplar.
Jacob: Suuure.
Jess: Because, no, because it’s funny, cuz he’s in charge of the Exemplar Program, and now the Exemplar…Sphere?.. i guess. Is that a sphere?
Bryan: Yeah…technically.
Jess: You know, Toolcraft Exemplar, as a card, is relatively unimposing but if you have a thing to mess with, it just dominates the board. That’s how Bryan is with projects. Like, Bryan, at first glance, he doesn’t go to that many events, he doesn’t have time to go to that many events. You might go “well, that guy’s not really serious about being a judge”. But if you give him something to mess around with in his spare time, as a project, as a “here’s a thing you can work on every night”, that thing will get fixed. Whatever was wrong with it will get fixed and the project will happen. He will, to use a metaphor from the game, kinda dominate the board and really help that get to where it needs to be. As far as CJ goes, I was just gonna go with Portcullis.
CJ: I knew you one of y’all would.
Jacob: Okay so why Portcullis?
CJ: Good ol’ Pork-you-lis.
Jess: Portcullis because CJ has a problem sometimes with pronouncing things correctly. It’s actually a problem we all have, but he does it relatively frequently in episodes and it became kind of a running joke for awhile several years ago, that he pronounced Portcullis “pork-you-liss”. I’ve got this image in my mind of- oh wait, what’s that card’s name? Offalsnout or something? It’s this elemental pig thing. That’s what I was thinking of when he said “pork-you-lis”. And–
Bryan: Durkwood Boars was me, was mine.
Jess: –it just reminds me. That card, in any context, reminds me of CJ, just because it reminds me of all the, well it reminds me of that specific pronunciation but it just reminds me of all of the fun stuff that goes along with doing something like this that you didn’t expect. And that reminds me of CJ.
Jacob: That’s a good story. Alright, CJ–
CJ: Alright!
Jacob: –your turn.
CJ: For Bryan, it’s pretty easy. It’s Bear Cub. I mean, I didn’t even know that card existed before Bryan was on the show and it became kind of an unofficial mascot of JudgeCast. Also, a long-standing running joke that Jess has never said Bear Cub on air.
Jess: Although–
CJ: He has!
Jess: –I’ve signed numerous Bear Cubs that people have brought to me and I have actually said it–
Jacob: You just said it.
Jess: –and just said it now, and have in the last couple episodes.
CJ: You have said it in the past. It’s also worth noting that Jess did accidentally say it in that episode that failed to record.
Jess: Yes–
CJ: So the episode was lost.
Jess: –so i guess I said it there.
CJ: We made a big deal about it there. When Jess has said it in the past, he’s actually not made a big deal about it. Cuz it wasn’t until like 10 minutes later, I was like, “wait…Jess said–“
Jess: Yeah, and it was an episode I was actually really ill when we recorded that episode, and I wasn’t thinking. I don’t whine so much anymore, but the story behind me not saying Bear Cub came from the fact that, even though Bryan would use it anytime he needed some vanilla creature for an example, he’d throw it in. It bugged the crap outta me, because it’s not a Standard legal card and there’s no reason NOT to use a Standard legal card when it’s just a vanilla creature. I’d always used Runeclaw Bear or whatever was Standard legal at the time. And so I refused to use Bear Cub. I always replaced it with something else, as kinda like my little defiance against him always using Bear Cub.
Bryan: Here’s the–
CJ: That’s another role Jess has had, actually, is to try to push us into Standard legal cards–
Jacob: Sure, sure.
CJ: –and it’s a tough fight, cause we don’t want to.
Bryan: But I’d like to point out, that Bear Cub- we don’t use Runeclaw Bear anymore. Bear Cub has persisted and proven the test of time.
Jess: We don’t use Runeclaw Bear because it’s not Standard legal anymore!
Bryan: Hey, well…yeah so?
Jacob: So then Jess, should your card actually be Standard Bearer?
Jess: I like it. I’m a fan.
Jacob: Anyway.
CJ: I don’t really have one for Jess, so I’m just gonna click random here and try to make it fit.
Jacob: Love it!
CJ: Uh…Okk?
Jess: What?
CJ: Okk can’t attack unless a creature with greater power also attacks. Okk can’t block unless a creature with greater power also blocks.
Jess: Good luck…
CJ: That actually doesn’t fit very well at all, because Jess is a leader. He’s not a “I need to see someone else doing it at the same time”.
Jess: Well met.
CJ: Yeah. Well, I got like Despise earlier. I was just clicking random ones. I was like “that’s not…I don’t want to say Despise.”
Bryan: When I click random cards for CJ, I get Gone Missing. What?
Jacob: Ooooh.
CJ: Lost in the Woods.
Jess: Totally Lost.
Bryan: Lost in the Woods. Totally Lost.
CJ: Alright.
Jacob: Are we going to let CJ get away with that one? Is that okay? 
Jess: If he doesn’t want to pick one for me, I won’t be hurt.
Jacob: Sure. And Bryan, did you want to pick one for CJ as well or do we want to move on?
Bryan: I would have to {random noises} stutter
Jacob: Well, it sounds like Gone Missing fits real well, actually.
Bryan: It does, it does. Totally Lost, anything with a fifhilpppt
Jess/Jacob: Fblthp
Bryan: Milisickick
Jacob: Milicic (Mil-ee-cheech). It’s still Milicic.
Bryan: Oh, Milicic!
CJ: Temple of Abandon.
Bryan: Temple of Abandon!
Jacob: Yeah! Oh, oooph.
Jess: I know somebody else who’s already got that card.
Bryan: Oh yeah, fair.


Jacob: This is another one for the group, but we’ll go through it individually. Jess, we’ll start with you, actually. What would you say was your toughest episode to record to date, and what made it challenging for you?
Jess: Toughest episode to record… we don’t talk about it much on the show, but I really dislike having to go through the motions of doing the release notes episodes every time. Not that I dislike the episodes themselves, but I dislike having to go through and looking through the card by card every single card, it always takes a while. We always go through a lot of the same mechanics over and over again, where we’ll talk about “oh, this doesn’t work because things with multiple targets do this or things with only one target do this.” Stuff that we hit every single time. That kind of redundancy is very important for learning and it’s good, but it’s very hard for me because I become… well, frankly I get bored with it very quickly. The hard episodes for me are episodes where it’s a little bit… I guess it’s actually easiest to talk about my favorite episodes. My favorite episodes are ones where I feel like I’m learning something.
Jacob: Well, what was your favorite episode? We can include that.
Jess: I think my favorite episode – I don’t know if it’s my favorite episode necessarily – some of my favorite episodes… a while back we had one with Jared Sylva doing investigations. That was an information-packed episode. I really like it. I don’t remember the number, but I’ll look it up and make sure that information is passed on. That’s probably one of my favorite episodes. We’ve done a lot of them, so I don’t know, I’d have to go back and look to be sure. That’s one that comes to mind.
Jacob: All we really want is a favorite.
Jess: Yeah, that’s one of my favorites.
CJ: That episode was named “Sylva Linings Investigations Book.” That’s 111. That’s rough.
Jacob: CJ, same question, toughest episode to record to date, what made it challenging, and what’s one of your favorite episodes of JudgeCast you recorded?
CJ: I hate to steal from Jess here, but the toughest episode to record for me personally was the one where we had to do it again. Having done it, I did not want to do that, and I don’t think you guys did either, ‘cause we just did it and having to give up our next evening to do it again, which also meant I had to rush the editing, oh that was awful. I think we brought up just briefly “hey, maybe we just don’t do a release notes episode this time.”
Jess: “How much do we really need this?” And the truth is, and we haven’t mentioned this yet, those are our most popular episodes by far. It’s not like we can just go “oh this is kind of redundant,” no people love it. And that’s great. I want to give people what they like, but doing it again that one time was rough.
Jacob: And speaking as one of your listeners, I can say that your release notes episodes are ones I look forward to because I like hearing you guys talk about the new cards. There’s invariably something that comes out that’s entertaining at bare minimum if not actually informative, and usually it’s also actively informative.
Jess: …nice save. Nice save, I like that.
CJ: The favorites one is tough. We’ve had a lot of really good episodes. One I’ll mention is – and it’s probably why we haven’t done it again – is I really liked our layers episodes, actually. People have complained about them because we make a lot of StarCraft references in one of them, but I think it was a great episode. I think Jess did a great job of explaining dependencies in that episode. And actually it kinda touches on what Jess said. I feel like I learned something about dependencies from that episode, the second layers episode. I thought we did a good job on those, I liked those.
Jess: That episode actually was a lot of fun to record. That one and the one that we did on the Modern format, when Modern was relatively new.
Jacob: Well, Bryan, wouldn’t be fair to not ask you the same question.
Bryan: So my least favorite episodes were the ones that I wasn’t on. No, there was the – to be 100%, the episode that we did right after we got suspended was actually – my motivation level was pretty low at the time. I think I put on an okay public-facing face, but my heart just wasn’t in it.
CJ: So you’re not talking about the oft-forgotten IPG episode we did, are you? This is before we event talked about the suspension, is that –
Bryan: Right. This is the very first episode that we did after the suspension, that was pretty rough.
CJ: Where we said we were suspended, but we couldn’t really talk about it.
Bryan: And ironically my favorite episode that we’ve done – the one with Matt Tabak and Sara Mox was a blast – but continuing on the theme of our favorite episodes being ones where we learned something, was episode 95, which ironically was called “What to Suspend when you’re Suspended.” It was where we had Eric Shukan and Guillaume Beuzelin talk about the player investigation committee and what goes on when a player gets suspended. I, for the most part, was pretty ignorant to that whole process. Having people come on and talk about what goes on and what thought they put into it and that kind of thing… it was one of these episodes where I just kinda put my elbows on the table, put my head in my hands and just fanboyed out.
CJ: Oh yeah, I remember that episode, and Eric just kept talking and talking, and there was no reason to stop him. He’s not saying anything boring, he’s just explaining all of it. Yeah, that was good.


Jacob: You guys generally have a good feel for letting each other talk, so I’m going gonna throw this one out there and see who picks it up. How frequently do you get people coming up to you at events to talk with you about JudgeCast? Is it mostly positive? Do you have a lot of fans? Would you like to put them all in one place and maybe go crowdsurfing?
CJ: Yes.
Jess: Well now that you mention it.
Jess: I don’t know what you would call frequently. I don’t know what you mean by frequently necessarily.
Jacob: So does it happen every time you go to an event? At least once? Or multiple times? Or once every other event that you’re at?
Jess: I would say it does not happen every event, but on average it happens at least once an event. Does that make sense?
Jacob: Yes.
Jess: So people will sometimes come up and they will just mention it and say “I wanna say I appreciate the show for” their reasons. And their reasons have sometimes surprised me, and in fact the reasons that people have had have sometimes helped me, and I think helped CJ and Bryan, figure out where we’re going with the show. But it’s everything from “thanks” to people that want me to sign cards or, in one case, a judge, and I didn’t ask this judge if I could mention this on the show so I’m not going to use their name, but a judge heard me talking on the show about how much I missed the squeeze-its juice bottles and brought them to the next event we were going to be at together, so that I could have some. They were like “they still make these” and gave them to me, gave me a pack of these. And I was like, that’s – actually, I think they gave me two packs of it – and I was like “that’s amazing!” That somebody listened. We also had somebody that had special mugs made for us. We used to explain phasing – first of all, it was a mistake to ever explain phasing – but we used to explain phasing with a coffee cup of phasing or a bowl of phasing. Somebody made a mug that has – it’s a “mug of phasing” – written on it so it says untap, turn this over and it’s phased out, turn it back over it’s phased in. And it says in the flavor text “can’t guarantee the dryness of phased permanents.” And that’s a really cool thing that somebody had made for us!
CJ: Yeah, I just wanna add to that. I still have that mug, it’s sitting on my desk still. Like, it’s always been there.
Jess: I use it on a regular basis.
CJ: I don’t drink coffee or anything, so I don’t use it, so the best thing I can do next to that is have it on my desk. I put pens and stuff in it, which is – that’s using it.
Jess: So not throngs of fans, but we have some very dedicated fans and we really appreciate them. People come and say everything from saying “hi” to kind of participating in the show. People will tell me “hey, thank you for doing the show, you keep me company on my drive to wherever.” That’s a very personal thing that they’re saying. It’s not just like “oh, I listen to the show.” It’s like they’re talking to somebody that’s been a friend to them. That’s kind of humbling… I don’t know if humbling is the right word… it makes me feel weird feelings to know I’ve made that kind of impact on people.
CJ: And if I could just jump off of that, ‘cause Jacob you asked is it mostly positive and for me it’s been 100% positive. I would like to believe that if someone didn’t like JudgeCast, they’d just stop listening.
Jess: Occasionally we get critical feedback, though. Somebody will say “hey, I think you guys could do X better.” But it’s still positive.
CJ: Yeah, I’ve never felt like someone insulted me.
Bryan: It’s also kinda neat when you are at a table at an event and I’ve been in a situation where I’ve given someone like a slow play warning and they’re like “… hey… are you Bryan from JudgeCast?” And I’ll be all like “yes, here’s your Warning.”
CJ: I’ve gotten that too.
Jess: So have people who have similar names. That’s my favorite.
CJ: Oh! So, CJ Crooks has gotten a lot of messages asking him why he’s leaving judging.
Bryan: Oh is he?! Has he?!
Jacob: Yeah, why is CJ Crooks leaving JudgeCast and also judging?
CJ: He’s not!
Jacob: People wanna know!
CJ: I’m CJ Shrader. For the record, I’m CJ Shrader, I am not CJ Crooks.
Bryan: Right, but if you’re gonna get confused with a —
CJ: If Crooks left the program would collapse in on itself.
Bryan: If you get confused with a CJ, that’s the one you wanna get confused with.
CJ: Oh yes, definitely. He is undisputed number one CJ.


Jacob: So, we’ll start this off with Bryan. What topic – or rather is there a topic – that you’ve always wanted to use for an episode, but you haven’t really found a way to make it work?
Bryan: So there’s a topic, and this is gonna get the other guys, I haven’t really discussed this with them —
Jacob: Ooh!
Bryan: Yeah! So, there is kind of two halves to the Judge Program. There’s the we want to help everyone out and raise them up and encourage them and then there’s another side effect of that is a lot of people have a false self image of themselves, I guess might not be the right way to say it, but they… it kind of creates this resistance to negative feedback where there’s this expectation that everything is – if it’s not sunshine and roses, then it can be immediately dismissed. There’s also the if I approach someone on a personal level and talk to them about things, then they can process that and ingest that but if you try and give feedback to certain other people, you meet with resistance. And dealing with that and figuring out where the balance actually is has always been a topic that I kinda wanted to talk about, but I’ve never really been able to figure out how to craft an episode around that because I don’t think it lends itself very well to it.
Jacob: Well, that’s a tough topic to talk about, too.
Bryan: Right. Especially in podcast form, it’s better in a conversation setting. In a podcast, you’ve gotta be, you’ve gotta fully cover it from all the different angles. So yeah, so basically it’s – and the person transcribing this is going to get me speaking a lot of half sentences – because it is very hard to construct a constructive way to talk about it. So it’s been one of these things where I’d really like to talk about it. I don’t know how. I don’t even know if I’m an expert or if I’m qualified to talk about it.
Jacob: Wow, that’s a great answer. An interesting topic and if you ever find out a good way to present that, I’m definitely interested in hearing it, because I think it is something that’s worth talking about.
CJ: I feel like we never quite cracked the GP judge tournament report episode. We’ve given it a couple of shots and I just feel like we’ve never quite gotten something that is as interesting as it could be. The first time was very bad, but that was one of the me and Jess, “Hey Jess, I think we should have two topics” episodes.That one didn’t work out too well. The second time we tried it, I think it worked out better. But I feel like there’s something that could be of interest there, kind of a day in the life of a judge. But I feel like we haven’t quite cracked it, how to do it well.
Jacob: Sure.
Jess: And to be clear, you mean that when one of us has gone to an event and we are describing what happened at that event?
CJ: Yeah. Just giving, cause like I said, a lot of our listeners are just players and they don’t really, you know, they see us walking around, but they don’t see what are we doing, right? What’s behind that curtain.
Bryan: Right. I have a – It would be cool, and we’re not gonna have this opportunity more, but I kinda always had this idea of, if all three of us were at the same event, then we could give our perspectives of the different parts of those events, and I think we got close one episode?
CJ: We did. I remember that, yeah.
Bryan: But I think that kind of… if each of us was doing something very very different, and we were talking about the same event from those different lenses. And now we’ll never get the chance. Because CJ’s —
CJ: Get another host.
Bryan: What?
CJ: Just do it with that host.
Jacob: Maybe someone who’s really good at talking about their GP tournament experience. Live. I dunno. Something like that.
CJ: I mean, you’d have to go to a GP, Bryan. I mean, Jess goes to like three times the GPs we go to, so —
Bryan: I know Jess —
CJ: –It’s kinda hard!
Bryan: — Jess is —
Jess: But my schedule has I think… so far on my schedule for the upcoming year, I plan to be gone at events 22 weekends.
Jacob: That’s insane.
Jess: And that’s almost certainly going to increase as things come up and the year goes on.
Bryan: Yeah.


Jacob: Moving on from that question to the next, because I think we pretty well spent that one. For all of you, but not all of you have to answer, what do you think of some of the other Magic-related podcasts out there? Are there ones you tune into? Are there ones that you are interested in and like? And for what reasons?
Bryan: I’ll take this, because I think I probably listen to more of the podcasts. I listen to Limited Resources —
CJ: That’s probably not true.
Bryan: What?
CJ: That’s probably not true. I probably listened to more Magic-related podcasts than you do.
Bryan: So —
CJ: Let’s fight!
Bryan: –Ok. So Limited Resources —
CJ: Yeah, I stopped listening to that a while ago.
Bryan: — Ok, Constructed Resources when they do episodes —
CJ: Really?
Bryan: Yeah.
CJ: That’s interesting.
Bryan: Hey, man. I like, you know, I listen to the set reviews, the shows that they do. The level up topics, I think that’s fascinating. I don’t draft a whole lot, but I think it is a fun way to learn about thinking about cards that I might not necessarily be exposed to because I don’t draft. There’s Mark Rosewater’s podcast, Drive to Work, is pretty cool. I listen to Monday Night Magic and The Mana Pool. Both of those I really like. Chewie, he’s a good guy, he’s a good friend, so I like listening to those shows. They’re, especially The Mana Pool, The Mana Pool is specifically… they celebrate Magic in a way that is different from other podcasts. They don’t necessarily talk about what decks are doing awesome at what events and that kind of thing. They just… “Hey, ‘member when zombies were cool? Let’s talk about all the cool zombies from Magic’s history.”
Jess: Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Bryan: Yeah, Pepperidge Farm remembers. You wanna talk about, “Let’s come up with a card. Let’s go round robin and make a deck about those cards.” They really remember what makes Magic fun outside of events and tournaments. And so, I like that. That’s really appealing to me.
Jacob: Ok, cool.
CJ: I’ll add a couple, really quickly.
Jacob: Yeah, absolutely.
CJ: So one I’ve been listening to lately is Unspoken Realms and it’s an audio version of the story. I actually appreciate that a lot because I just found that I didn’t have enough interest to read the story anymore, but I do have enough interest to listen to the story. So that helps me still keep up with it, hoping that one day, it will grab my interest again. Like the next set has Nicol Bolas, I mean, maybe they’ll resolve something with him. If they do that, that would be very interesting to me. So I like that podcast a lot, and I still listen to Random Discard, but they actually don’t really talk about Magic anymore, but I’m a big fan of Aaron LaCluyze and it’s kind of a crime that we never had him on the show. Yet. But he’s kind of falling out of Magic as well, so… We may have missed our chance there. So at this point, Random Discard just kind of talks about random topics, but —
Jacob: And then discards them?
CJ: Yes. But they were originally called Card Advantage, but then there’s this store here in Georgia that also has that name and there was confusion and all that stuff.
Jacob: Sure.
Jess: I actually until this moment did not realize they were in no way related.
Jacob: So Jess, do you have anything to add? Do you have any podcasts you listen to?
Jess: I do have podcasts I listen to. I don’t actually listen to many Magic podcasts, though, so I don’t really have much to add in this… for that answer.


Jacob: So sticking with you, Jess, because I know the answer to this one, do you play competitive Magic? What are your favorite formats to play, and do they differ from your favorite formats to judge?
Jess: I do play competitive Magic. That’s how I got into judging, I really enjoyed the competitive Magic scene and I wanted to help make it better. And I still play when I have the opportunity. When I’m able to, I go to team events. I love playing with the team that I’ve grown accustomed to playing with and my favorite formats are Limited and Modern. I enjoy Drafting, Sealed is a bit of a… I don’t like Sealed as much. I do like Sealed, but not as much as Drafting. Team Sealed is great because you have so much fun. It’s also much more skill testing than regular Sealed. And do they differ from my favorite formats to judge? Well, I don’t really have favorite formats to judge. I hear that question a lot. Like, “what are you favorite formats to judge?” And I don’t really understand it because judging is judging, right? Like I guess there are formats where certain interactions are more likely to come up. Maybe you want to do Legacy because weird stuff happens. Or maybe you wanna you know, judge —
Jacob: Commander because weirder stuff happens.
Jess: Nah, that’s just… no, no. I want —
Jacob: Two-Headed Giant?
Jess: — as little to do with Commander as I can get away with. In any capacity. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I have played Commander. Anyway, I do enjoy judging non-Standard events more. I don’t dislike Standard, but Standard tends, in recent years, to be considered “solved” relatively quickly, and the format tends to become stale. And this leads to a lot of repeat questions. People ask you the same thing over and over and over again. And the first few times, it’s great because you know the answer, and after that you’re just like, I feel like you guys should know this by now. But obviously, they shouldn’t have because it’s not the same person asking you again.
CJ: Yeah. That’s a skill you have to work on. Not getting annoyed. Cause it’s not that person’s fault they don’t know.
Jacob: Yeah, players don’t really like it when you roll your eyes at them after they ask a question. That’s bad customer service, generally speaking.
Jess: It’s also often not questions that actually come up very often. It’s like, “But if I cast Emrakul and then I make him cast Emrakul on his turn, what happens?” And you’re like, “This has never happened to you. I know this has never happened to you.”
Jacob: But they wanna know. Isn’t it what you’re here for?
Jess: And it’s fine! And I answer them, and we all have a good time. But I’m pretty sure I’ve been asked that question way more times than it’s actually happened at events that I’ve been at.
Jacob: Right. Right. Bryan, CJ, do you guys play competitive Magic or, I mean, CJ, the answer to this question obviously is diminished from possibly what it was like in the past.
CJ: I never play competitive Magic. I’ve played in I dunno, two PPTQs. That’s it.
Jacob: Well, that’s not never.
CJ: I don’t play competitive Magic.
Jacob: Sure.
CJ: And I only play Sealed.
Jacob: Ok.
CJ: I like Limited. I used to Draft with my friends a lot.
Bryan: So I played competitive back in the mid-90s and I uh —
Jess: And then they invented fire.
Bryan: — and then they invented fire. No, I played competitively when, you know, Type 2 was new. That kind of thing. And I didn’t like it. I was decent at it. I did well. I put up good numbers. But I don’t like playing the same deck over and over and over again. I kind of look at it as, I see Magic as, you know, thousands and thousands of different cards, why would I want to constrain myself to the same 60 for six rounds, eight rounds, nine rounds? Why would I want to do that? So I am a much bigger fan of Commander as a format and my favorite way to play though is actually 60-card Constructed free-for-all multi-player casual, you know, anything goes, you know, build your deck and you know, have fun. So that’s my preferred way to play if I wanna build a ninja deck or if I wanna build a rocs deck or something like that. That’s the way I want to play. Unfortunately, Commander, at least in this area, kinda killed that off. Everybody wanted to play Commander. So I’ve adapted, you know. I’ll play Commander, and it’s fun and you get a buncha group of people and you see a bunch of weird, crazy, wacky things, and that’s what I enjoy about the game. So that’s what I do. I don’t… uh, I’ll Draft if I Draft, I Draft and then I might play a game and then I’ll leave. You know, I’ll play in Prereleases, but, you know. And then I’ll stick around until I get my packs, but definitely not anything where I gotta sit and play the same deck over and over again.


Jacob: Bryan, if Magic died tomorrow, nobody plays the game anymore, would you still record some kind of podcast? Do you enjoy the experience as it sits? And if you would, what would it be about?
Bryan: Huh.. probably not, just because at this particular point in time, working full time, single dad…Magic, if Magic disappeared I’d probably find something else to occupy that time. I probably wouldn’t podcast.
CJ: I mean, I get that it’s It’s a hypothetical question.The truth is if wizards shut down tomorrow Magic would continue to be played for 20 or 30 more years. That’s the interesting thing about it. But, can I jump into this topic?
Jacob: Absolutely.
CJ: Because I’m facing this. One thing that I never expected is that podcasting would become my hobby as well. In fact, before we started JudgeCast, I thought podcasting was pretty stupid. I thought podcasts were pretty stupid. I just didn’t understand it. I just didn’t get it. Except for JudgeCast. I liked JudgeCast. It’s the only one I listened to at the start. It was my gateway drug. Since then, I listen to a ton of podcasts now. It’s actually all I listen to. I’ve completely turned around on that. I really enjoy podcasting. And I’m going to miss podcasting…
Jacob: So you might, in fact, pick up a podcast if you found a new passion?
CJ: Yeah. I just don’t know what it could be. I’m not going to lie I’ve been trying to glom onto other podcasts. I’ve been trying to get onto Random Discard. Even some Eternal, the card game not the format, podcasts. I’ve been like ‘ hey, uh, you guys need anything there? Unfortunately the Eternal rules niche, it doesn’t really need to be filled. Not with an ongoing series. I don’t know. I’ve been loving that game. I’m listening to two podcasts about it, now.
Jacob: Jess, do you have anything to add?
Jess: No, I don’t think so. It’s a weird contrived situation that Magic might go away tomorrow. Because it’s not. Right now it’s making money. Maybe not making as much money as it might have in the last couple years. But if you look at it over the last decade it’s just exploded. And I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. I think it would be more likely that something happened in the podcast world that made it harder. If something happened, that I just couldn’t, for whatever reason, that I couldn’t be doing JudgeCast anymore, I would love to be involved in a podcast, but it would also have to be with people that I actually want to do it with. A lot of the appeal of doing JudgeCast, for me, is not just that I get to do it with two awesome friends of mine, but also that I get to do it for a community of people that I really care about. For magic judges and people interested in magic rules, which is important to me. I think that it would hard for me to find a topic that could match that.


Jacob: Alright, I’ve been really, really excited to get the answer to this question, ‘cause I got to know and it’s been bothering me for a while. Where did your intro song come from? What is it?
CJ: I can answer that. It’s called Seed, by Carbon Leaf. I can add a link to the youtube of it in the show notes. I don’t know anything about this band. I know Sean Catanese got permission to use this song when he started up JudgeCast. We’ve always had this as our theme. But when Sean and Riki and Jose were doing the show, they actually changed their theme quite a bit it’s just that, this theme is the theme that it was in the episode right before we took over. So this is what became the theme. But they actually changed it very often.
Jacob: So, is it a fair use thing, now? Or did the permission just sorta carry over with the name of the cast?
CJ: Yeah I mean permission went to JudgeCast.
Jacob: Sure.
CJ: I don’t know man. Don’t start to ask legal questions. I think it was always… I don’t think you had to have permission for this particular…
Bryan: We’re gonna say Yes and… yeah….
Jacob: Alright. Well if you guys get anything from Carbon Leaf let me know.


Jacob: Alright, only a couple questions left guys. We’ve powered through this pretty well. This next one, I’m not sure if it’s going to go anywhere, but do you have any plans to expand what your group does, I guess this is mostly for Jess and Bryan, beyond the podcast, like any kind of JudgeCast-hosted events? A stream of one of you going on MTGO and doing something? Anything like that?
Bryan: We’ve talked about having like a JudgeCast L1 class or a JudgeCast L2 class or policy stuff, and it’s always been – or even just doing a Patreon and putting out the before-show chatter – and it’s never panned out. We have plans to have plans, and that’s about as far as it goes because we’re all busy in other projects, in other aspects, and I think at this particular point in time in order to do more with JudgeCast we would have to give something up. And at this particular point it is easier to not start something new than to give up something that you’re already doing.
Jacob: Sure. Jess, do you have anything to add to that?
Jess: We’ve talked a LOT about the possible things that we could do, and we’ve come up with a lot of really good ideas. The problem is that they all require a lot more work and the vast majority of them don’t offer anything to us in return. And I’m not trying to make that sound greedy. What I’m saying is that we’re already doing something at a little bit of an expense, and we don’t really want to do more than that at the same expense. So if we could turn this into something – and JudgeCast, let me be clear, the JudgeCast podcast is always going to remain a free resource for people, we have no intention of charging people for it – but if we could turn this into something where we actually did make enough to cover our expenses, we would be WAY more inclined to actually go “hey, how can we expand this?” Does that make sense?
Jacob: Sure, but could you do, for example, like host a tournament and proceeds go to supporting JudgeCast? Something to that effect?
Jess: I think that’s a really good idea.
Bryan: Yeah, I don’t think that we’ve talked about that.
Jess: I don’t think we’ve ever considered that. We’d definitely have to figure out the fine details of that. But I think it’s a really good idea, maybe that’s something we can consider doing in the future.
Jacob: You could possibly get some judges who are enthusiastic about it to help you out with that endeavor. Just something to think about.


Jacob: Last question, that I have down on my prepared sheet, at least. Where do you guys see the future of JudgeCast? What would you like to see happen over the next year, with respect to JudgeCast?
Jess: I would like to hear CJ’s answer to this question.
Bryan: Haha, yes!
Jacob: Yes! I would as well!
CJ: It would be great if we could get some of those other things off the ground. The problem is it’s work to do things that will make it less work. Y’know, you have to do the work up front. I remember we all met once, and we all sat over lunch, and the plan was we were gonna talk about Patreon or whatever. And then we just talked about other stuff, ‘cause that’s what we want to do! We just want to talk about other stuff. We want to do the podcast, and then we want to talk about other stuff. Fun things. But it would be great to see those get off the ground. Actually, I think Jess talked about it in our year-end episode. I think it’s prime opportunity to see a lot more guests come on. I think we got a little too stuck in a rut, ‘cause it’s easy for us three to just show up and cover a topic. But bringing on guests really helps for bringing on even more experience and different – I don’t know the word – I guess experience.
Bryan: Perspectives.
CJ: Perspectives, yeah, that’s a good word.
Jacob: Yeah, you talked about bringing on lesser-known people, people whose name isn’t out there as much. I think that’s a really good idea.
CJ: Yeah, beyond that I just wanna – it better keep going.


Bryan: Is that threat?
Jess: Or WHAT, CJ?
CJ: Or we restart up JudgeCast North! And I run that!
Jess: You live, like, fifteen miles north of me.
CJ: Yes, and I’m north of Bryan too.
Bryan: Jess, do we need to see if we can actually make him make good on that threat?


Jess: No, that’s alright.
Jacob: And then you guys jump onto JudgeCast North, and it’s just the three of you again.
CJ: No, I look forward to adding it to my subscriptions and becoming a listener.
Jess: It’s not on your subscriptions now?
CJ: No, I don’t… why would it be?
Bryan: We actually did, several years ago, we talked about some other – like hosting other podcasts under the JudgeCast umbrella. That was an idea. There were some other podcasts that were starting up and we were like “hey, this might be kind of a cool thing” do like a podcast network. I’m actually gonna say I’m glad we didn’t, because those podcasts didn’t last. It is actually very very difficult to produce content every other week in a consistent manner, on a consistent basis. A lot of people say “oh, we can do this, we can do this” and then you get four episodes in, five episodes in and there’s a point where it stops being all fun and games and there starts being a heavy “work” component, and you start realizing that “oh, well, I can’t just say ehh, we don’t do it on this Tuesday night, we’ll do it on Wednesday, and if we can’t do it on Wednesday we’ll do it on Thursday, and if we can’t do it on Thursday oh I guess we just miss a week.” But there are some ideas. We might bring contests back. There’s always been some little neat things, I’ve always had this concept of “JudgeTales” in the back of my head where we get where we get listeners to send {musical interlude of a portion of the DuckTales theme song} where we get judges to send in, like, a thirty-second story, and then we splice them all together and have that be an episode. That’s kinda one of the things that —
Jacob: That’s a really cool idea.
Bryan: Yeah, it’s also a lot of… work.
CJ: Yeah, that’s a lot of work.
Jacob: That seems to be a recurring theme with all of this.
Bryan: I mean, it might happen one quarter after an Exemplar wave ends
Jess: To be honest, I think the theme is that we have grown very content with what JudgeCast is and what it does. And it’s okay for us to get a little bit outside of that comfort zone, but we don’t want to push ourselves outside of that comfort zone to the point where now it is so much work we don’t want to do it. Because we really love JudgeCast. We don’t want it to stop because it became a labor instead of something we love.
Bryan: Right. There was a phrase I used in college a lot, which is “I have so much work to do, I’m not gonna do any of it.” And we don’t want that to happen with JudgeCast.
Jacob: Well, Jess do you have anything else to add about what you’d like to see for the future of JudgeCast?
Jess: I think that’s actually been discussed really well. I think I would love to see it expand. If I get both the time and the motivation to really dig into that maybe I will and maybe we’ll have something extra in the future, but in the immediate future I wanna see Bryan and I be able to make JudgeCast work sans CJ.
Bryan: You almost said “Make JudgeCast great again,” didn’t you?
Jess: I did almost say “Make JudgeCast great again,” but then I went with something alternative.

{some measure of groaning, then laughter}

Jacob: Yeah, that does sound like that’s going to be a bit of a challenge, and it’s probably good to have that focus right now.

The Judge of the Week Project would like to thank the hosts of JudgeCast for their time participating in this interview. If you are interested in listening to more episodes of JudgeCast, you can tune in every other Thursday at judgecast.com to catch the latest episodes.

Check back with us next week for another exciting edition of Judge of the Week, as well as the answer to Nemesio Alejandro Bolaños’ Two Truths and a Lie!

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

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