Welcome back, everyone! You may be familiar with Judgelife, a series of cartoons that take a look at the lighter side of officiating Magic. Or you may have seen the personalized drawings of judges. Today, we get to know the minds behind those efforts, Martina Malvisi and Danilo Raineri!
Name: Martina Malvisi
Location: Montevarchi, Italy
Judge start date: March 20, 2016
Why did you become a judge? Because I want to help players have a great experience.
Occupation: None 🙁
Favourite card: Dark Confidant
Favourite format: Legacy
Commander General: Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Favourite non-Magic Game: Skyrim
Random fact about yourself: I do altered cards.
Name: Danilo Raineri
Location: Savona, Italy
Judge start date: September 14, 2003
Why did you become a judge? I was a “rules guru” back when the last, shiny new set was Fallen Empires. My girlfriend talked me into becoming a judge… and we judge together since then.
Occupation: Programmer, teacher, whatever
Favourite card: Eight-and-a-Half-Tails (I’d say Hand of Justice, but…)
Least favourite card: Fact or Fiction
Favourite format: Limited
Commander General: Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
Favourite non-Magic Game: Tekken 3
Best tournament result: Well… probably a prerelease or two?
Random fact about yourself: Jack of a few trades, master of none
How did you get started with Judgelife?
Martina: The general idea was sushi-born: while having sushi with friends, I thought it would have been fun to do a judge-related strip. It had to be simple and essential, and depict abstract judges in abstract tournaments with not-so-abstract problems. After a quick mock-up, I grabbed Danilo and enrolled him forcibly in the project.
Danilo: The general idea was sushi-born: while having sushi with us, Martina thought… oh, well, nothing to add here.
When did you get started?
May the 27th, 2016. A year ago, more or less.
What do each of you do for the cartoon?
Martina draws the strips, Danilo cares for the technical aspects, we both try to gather ideas for the next strip. More or less. We could say that Martina draws the strips while preventing Danilo from over-engineering everything else.
Where do you get your ideas for Judgelife?
Friends, tournaments, online articles, stories told in locker rooms while whispering three times in front of a mirror, tasseomancy… everything is collected, polished, tagged, grouped and prioritized in a database (we told you about over-engineering, have we?).
How long does it take to do a strip?
It varies. When we started, it was more time-consuming, because Martina had to draw every single scene; nowadays she already has a library of drawings and characters she can use. From start to finish, a strip generally requires one or two hours, including the time needed to come up with the idea and to write the dialogs.
What has the reaction been so far?
Wonderful! We really liked that so many people around the globe got in touch through our strips. It’s lovely reading the comments: judges talk about real (judge) life situations and explain players—and judges of other games, sometimes—what the strip is about.
How does a judge go about being drawn by you?
It’s actually quite simple: you have to send us a private message through our page, giving us a bit of personal info. Name, country, role (anything, from L3 judge to kitchen table player… we welcome anyone who has a story about Magic to tell!) and a random judgelife fact. Then we need one or more photos, to have a general idea of what your avatar will look like… and that’s it!
After a few days (or weeks, or months… (at the moment, we have more than forty judgefaces to do) we’ll send you your avatar and sooner or later we’ll also publish it on the page.
Is there a gallery where one can look at all the judges you’ve drawn?
Tell us your favourite judge story.
Danilo: for many years, I was mainly a scorekeeper: my fights with printers were immortalized in several strips by Martina. One morning, in this old-style PTQ (a bit more than a hundred players) the printer refused to print anything useful and we had to show the pairings on a laptop screen for the first and second round. Later on, the printer came back to life all by itself… and it printed two pears. We never found out if it had been possessed by those devious fruits or if it was some sort of code.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
Martina: my boyfriend, who also is a judge, made me try the introductory decks about three years ago. I didn’t know anything about Magic, but I was already familiar with the art because I was a fan of many of the artists. It was a very short step from there to my first Legacy game.
Danilo: a friend of mine gave me a few cards of this strange, new game he was playing. Just to have a look. It was a nice game. I could buy some boosters. If I didn’t like the game, I could give back the cards to him. And stop. Whenever I wanted.
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
Martina: in many ways. Mainly, I got to know a lot of new people, whom I get in touch with daily. Danilo is among these new friends. It also changed my perception of the distance: before, I thought Florence was far away (it’s about 50 km from where I live), while now it’s perfectly normal to take a plane to Sicily or to drive three hours for a barbecue with friends.
Danilo: I am a bit shy, and I wouldn’t have thought I’d be able, years later, to shout instructions at a crowded room and talk to complete strangers as if it was completely natural.
What motivates you to continue being a judge?
Martina: Each event, each interaction with other judges pushes me forward. I like being a judge, I like being helpful towards players and I like being able to learn more. What motivates me the most, however, is getting to know new people.
Danilo: Other judges, obviously. The community is vibrant and full of interesting people.
What is one tip you have for other judges?
Danilo: Have fun. When you read articles, reports, forum posts, you may get the impression that judging is very serious stuff, that you can’t afford to get it wrong because terrible things may happen… try to always remember that Magic is a game and that our hobby hinges on making people have fun. Don’t smile because it’s customer service, don’t be kind because you read it in a blog post… do it because you feel it. Simply do your best and don’t dwell too much on your mistakes.
Martina: Never be afraid of asking! We’re a fantastic community, and I’ve never got back anything else than precious help from a fellow judge.
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
Danilo: I enjoy a lot spending time in online communities, so… I guess that’s posting memes, joking on the latest documents update, reading funny comments. It’s great to be always connected with a bunch of witty people that share your interests.
Martina: A barbecue we had on April 25th, which is Liberation Day in Italy. We ate a lot and laughed even more.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
Danilo: when the damage assignment rules changed (no more “damage on the stack”, yay!) I tried to persuade my opponent that I got to decide the damage assignment order for my blockers. For a few moments, I ruled that all my blockers had banding…
Luckily, I came to my senses before it was too late.
I still miss banding, though.
Martina: I’m not so much of a player, but I enjoy Commander. I have a deck full of ETB triggers… which I constantly miss!
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
Danilo: I don’t think I really have a favourite event. Each one can be nice in its own way.
Martina: My first GP, which took place a few days ago. It was an incredible experience! I had been in a few of them as a visitor, but being a part of it all it’s a completely different story. I learnt a lot and enjoyed it even more.
What was the toughest Magic event that you’ve judged, and how did you deal with it?
Danilo: My first tournaments were very stressful. I was a level one with little tournament experience, even as a player, and I had to judge these 40+ Vintage events (which at the time were very common, in Italy), with big prizes and competitive players who trusted only their favorite judge—hint: I didn’t become their favorite judge until a few years later…
Martina: Probably my first tournament ever. I was very anxious, because the players still didn’t know me and, here in Italy, they are often a bit wary of “the new guy.” In the end, I tried to trust my skills and everything went well.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Danilo: that’s a tough question. I’m not so much of a gamer: I like quick games with strong casual elements and simple rules (…)
I stick with Magic mainly because of the social aspect; without Magic, I’d probably play the most minimal tabletop RPGs I could find. Or I’d try to become ruler of the world, or something.
Martina: I would probably dive into WoW. I always found that game very fascinating, but I refrained from fully engaging in it due to lack of time. I would have plenty of free time if I wasn’t involved in Magic anymore.
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
Danilo: that pesky Worldgorger Dragon and his habit of blinking the table really was the stuff of nightmares…
How do you have fun during events?
Danilo: talking with players, other judges and TOs. I am not so much drawn to the actual games, even if I know guys who deliver endless streams of jokes while playing…
Martina: talking with players, with other judges and with the staff. It’s nice to get in touch with people whom you share a passion with, but who at the same time can be very different from you. You learn a lot of new and exciting things.
If you were a Planeswalker, what would be your ultimate?
Danilo: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control have flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, haste, and protection from black and from red.”
I know, I know, it has that strange “already seen somewhere” taste…
If you were a creature, what would be your creature type?
Danilo: I’d go for Orgg. Or cat. Very large, very fat, very slow cat with a big smile.
Martina: Elf, without a doubt.
What was the proudest moment of your judge life?
Martina: Probably when I casually heard players talking about the fun they had at a competitive event in which I was the head judge. They said they did not “feel” the competition at all.
What do you see as your greatest strengths as a judge?
Danilo: I can do decently quite a lot of computer-related thingies.
Martina: The willingness to continually improve.
What are the areas you feel like you would most like to work on?
Danilo: Investigations. I trust people a bit too much…
Martina: Stress management. At times I feel a bit insecure; when I am under pressure, this trait of my personality gets more evident.
Since when I started judging I improved a lot, so I’ll keep working on it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A big thank you to all the nice people out there that read our strips!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I collect tokens drawn by Magic artists and inspired by The Lord of The Rings.
- My favourite color is blue.
- I prefer judging limited events.
- Some years ago, I could identify most common printer brands by only looking at a printed sheet.
- I spent hours drawing fractals by hand, with mixed results.
- I can commit to memory a deck of french playing cards in a few minutes.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!