This week we feature a Modern enthusiast and an avid Affinity player! She’s a Bioshock and Lord of the Rings fanatic and she’s been an L2 for exactly one month now! Meet Kaitlin McLahlan!
Name: Kaitlin McLachlan
Location: Whitby, Ontario
Judge start date: Certified as L1 June 10th 2017, L2 on January 14th 2018
Why did you become a Judge? In my community there are very few female magic players, let alone female judges. When I was a player I always felt isolated or like I didn’t belong simply because I was almost always the only woman. Becoming a judge was a way to be more active and visible in the community and gave me the ability to encourage more women into the game!
Occupation: Product Specialist for GM Vehicles
Favourite card: Guttersnipe
Least favourite card: Sorin Markov
Favourite format: Modern
Commander General: Arahbo, Roar of the World
Favourite non-Magic Game: Bioshock Series, I also have a mild Euchre obsession.
Best tournament result: Bad…just bad.
Random fact about yourself: I have the opening monologue of Lord of the Rings memorized and have been known to casually recite it.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
In high school, my best friend Ryan had learned from his girlfriend and wanted someone else to play with so he taught myself and another friend of ours. I ended up building a casual Izzet counter/burn deck (featuring Guttersnipe). I quickly became obsessed and have been stuck ever since!
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
On one hand, it’s really helped my career in the car business. Being able to digest and communicate complicated information is something judges do every day and it’s translated really well into my career. I’ve also been able to travel a lot more because of judging. I hadn’t been out of Ontario in over a decade until my trip to Las Vegas in June 2017 for the Grand Prix, now I’ve travelled over the border many times and visited places I never thought I would with many more on the roster for 2018!
You were nominated for your tireless work and boundless energy at events. Is there some secret you would like to share with us on how to get that energy?
Being an extrovert certainly helps! I feed off of the energy of others and when my team and the players are having a good time, I absorb some of that. Then when others who may be feeling a bit more tired notice my energy, they can pull from that and it ends up this wonderful circle of positivity! The other thing is I’m very careful about my self care. I make sure to bring water everywhere, when I’m offered the time to sit I take it, and I like to knit/listen to music to calm my anxiety so I bring those things to events. Find the thing that helps you recharge and try to find a way to work that into your day!
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
In the months I’ve been judging I’ve dealt with a lot of negative things and that has made this a hard road, the thing that keeps pushing me is the promise of better. Initiatives like Collected Company connect women together to discuss the problems we face and how to make change in our communities and the community as a whole. In Canada there are very few female judges and my goal is to bring more into the region. I’m lucky enough to have resources like the women I’ve met in other areas and through online interactions like CoCo so I can pull from their experiences and do what I can to improve my region. We keep growing and improving and with that I, as a person, keep growing and improving. There’s no limit to what we can accomplish together.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
NETWORK. I can’t express this enough. The people I have met have taught me so much and I definitely wouldn’t have passed my tests or be as successful without them. Each person will have something new to teach you and if you don’t take opportunities to learn, it makes it very difficult to grow as a judge. If you’re more shy or nervous to talk to people in person or go out with 10 people after an event, that’s totally okay too! There are tons of online places to meet other judges, reach out to your RC if you’re having trouble and I’m sure they’d be more than happy to connect you with projects or individuals you may be more comfortable with! The community is a huge part of being a judge, even if you read this and want to reach out to me, please do! I’m always looking for more humans to talk to!
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
When he was Judge of the Week, Mike Gyssels mentioned a trip to Syracuse and mine is exactly the same. August of 2017 was my first ever road trip to an event, my first SCG event, my first event working on a designated team, so it was a big deal for me. Having Jason Wong, Graham Schofield, Seth Black and Mike all singing Linkin Park while driving through unknown American roads in the early hours of the morning made a very scary and exhausting trip the most fun I’ve ever had.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
Not necessarily the biggest but the funniest was about 5 months after I had certified as a judge. I hadn’t played constructed Magic since I certified and a bunch of friends were playing in a local charity tournament. I was playing the second turn of my first game and tried to tap my Mox Opal to cast a Master of Etherium… turns out when Mox Opal is the only artifact on the field, you can’t tap it for mana! Shocking, I know! A good friend of mine was the judge that took the call, he came over with a “What did you do?” look on his face and fixed the situation easily enough. When all your friends are judges, your GRVs are infinitely funnier.
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
Probably the first event I ever judged, a Face to Face Games Open in Toronto, Ontario. The judges on staff were all friends of mine and supported my interest in being a judge, they knew I was nervous and continued to make me laugh and smile and help me relax. I had the opportunity to use a lot of my comp rules knowledge with live calls instead of hypotheticals. I asked for a lot of help but knew the great majority of the answers resulting in high fives and support all around. It was clear to me that this was the part of Magic I had been looking for and by the end of the event I was a certified judge!
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
I have gained a support system in a way I never imagined. Of course, they’re always there to help with a rules or policy question but I’ve made connections that’ll last a lifetime. Whether my friends are sending me pictures of dogs when I’m sad, offering career advice or arguing about which Marvel movie is the best, it’s a fantastic feeling to have so many people with similar passions.
What is your favorite “after event” story?
After the Saturday of SCG: Syracuse, myself and the friends I was staying with ended up with giant baguettes that the restaurant had given us as they were closing down for the night. We went back to the hotel room to find Jason Wong sleeping and of course, we decided to cover him in baguettes. He was certainly very confused waking up to us putting bread all around him. Much needed laughs after what had been a really long day.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I really love to read and play video games but lately I’ve been obsessed with knitting. I’m still very new at it but I’m learning quickly and I really want to accomplish more!
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
Easily, passing my L2 exam. I was absolutely terrified, I drove two and a half hours to sit with the closest L3 I could find (Jason Wong, you are the best!) and wrote the test 6 months, 4 days after passing my L1. I had been studying non-stop and felt really confident but wasn’t sure I would pass. When Jason told me I’d gotten 49/50, I was blown away. I’ve never been one to test well and I have dealt with a lot of negative feelings towards my knowledge and skill set, proving to myself that I know my stuff is an amazing feeling.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Judging has been really special for me. I have played magic for five years and about a year and a half ago I was really fed up with it. The competitive atmosphere, the variance and the environment of very few other women was just really draining. Instead of a hobby it was a burden. I sold my Modern deck and didn’t want to do much more than draft every so often, then I was asked if I’d like to be a judge. I got to use my knowledge and passion for the actual game mechanics and tournament energy and translate it into something new. Instead of whining about the environment, I could actually change it. My passion for the game has reignited (I even rebuilt my Modern deck!) I consider myself very lucky to be part of such a wonderful community and I am really excited for my future in it!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I was a competitive swimmer.
- I have travelled more of the United States than I have Canada.
- I was in three minor car accidents in a year.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!