Martha “Skipper” Lufkin

Hello and welcome to another edition of Judge of the Week! This week, we have a rock star of an Area Rep who leaves no judge behind, and also likes to play Clue: Hard Mode. Say hello to Martha Lufkin!

Name: Martha “Skipper” Lufkin
Level: 2
Location: Rockville, MD
Judge start date: March 11, 2002
Occupation: IT Systems Specialist (tech support for two schools in a large county.)
Favorite card: Ice Age Incinerate (for the art and flavor text)
Least favorite card: Jace, the Mind Sculptor because I never seem to have an answer for it.
Favorite format: Sealed deck – although I’m often observed between rounds thumbing through the cards and muttering “Who built this deck?”
Commander General: Dromar, the Banisher, but I haven’t played in years.
Favorite non-Magic Game: Clue (house rule: no note-taking)
Best tournament result: Second in a 15th Anniversary sealed deck event at Origins Game Fair, 2008. I won a backpack with the logo on it!
Random fact about yourself: Every year I take the online test for potential contestants for the TV trivia show “Jeopardy!” One year I was called in for a tryout but alas was not selected afterwards to appear on the show.

Why do you Judge?
I started judging because I had rules knowledge but wasn’t a skilled player and it kept me connected to the game in a way that played more to my strengths. I’ve kept it up because I enjoy seeing old friends (and making new ones), providing a positive tournament experience, and helping other judges grow and develop within the program.

Tell us your favorite Judge story.
Some of you have already heard this one, sorry about that. It’s a tale of a judge playing Magic. In November 2012 at FNM I was paired against my son (James, early twenties) in a sealed deck tournament. I said “Second Main I’ll scavenge the just-killed Dreg Mangler and target…” Son says “Wait, in response I’ll use the third ability of my Deathrite Shaman to remove the Dreg Mangler from your graveyard.” I fire back “You can’t, the exiling is part of the cost.” Son says “Then I’ll activate mine first, it’s instant speed and yours is a sorcery.” Of course I stick to my guns: “No you can’t, I’m the active player and you don’t have priority.” Son doesn’t miss a beat: “You’re playing too fast, I’ll do it in your End of Combat.” [that’s my boy!]

You were nominated for your ability to handle mistakes. Do you have any advice for a newer judge in that regard?
Yes. You are going to make mistakes. Sometimes you realize it right away and can apologize to the players. Sometimes not. For those situations I carry around a quote from a pre-Judge Apps forum: “Taking this situation as a learning experience and providing a better service to the players in your events in the future is the best way to apologize.” – Falko Goerres L3. I also carry a notebook and keep copious notes – what went well, ideas for improvement, exemplar and review ideas, interesting judge calls. If you’re constantly seeking ways to improve and don’t skimp on your pre-tournament preparation you’ll be the best judge you can be at an event.

Can you tell us about your work as Area Captain?
I’m not sure if all regions use a similar role, but in the Mid-Atlantic Region the Area Captains are assigned to metropolitan areas (mine is Washington DC and neighboring suburbs). We help stores find judges, help judges find stores, and keep an eye on the scheduling of PPTQs (offering alternative dates to stores if it looks as if too many are planned for the same day). I see myself as a resource for the judges in my area. Some of what I do is behind the scenes, for example listening as a judge plans what he’ll say to a T.O. whose players have asked him to intervene on their behalf. It’s better known that I plan and host joint “judge gatherings” with Matt Braddock, the Baltimore Area Captain. Our areas are adjacent and judges work events in both areas. We’ve developed a philosophy called “Overlap like hell”, also known as “No Judge Left Behind”, and use the gatherings to provide seminars, testing, and open gaming.

What are some tips you have for other Judges?
At a GP I once collected tips on taking care of yourself and fit them into a poem.

Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
I learn something every time I judge, so the list could be a long one. However I will mention how much I’ve learned from the judge who certified me, John Carter. Before I knew about “judge shadowing” I noticed him listening in as I answered a call, then moving on when it was clear I had the answer (and what a confidence booster at my first GP). Another time when I provided too much information (coaching) he was there afterwards to make sure I knew this was not our role at competitive events. I’ve tried to emulate his approach – making sure the judge knows what to do going forward, but making the correction educational not accusatory.

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
I’m going to answer this with a “shout-out” to the community of Magic Cruisers. Every year there’s a week of Magic at sea, usually on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, organized by Legion Events. If you’ve ever thought you’d enjoy a vacation of sightseeing by day, drafting by night, this is for you. Depending on the cruise, there may be a variety of formats, usually those that are popular with casual players.

What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
I’ve been taking horseback riding lessons for six years. I love the combination of learning to communicate with another species and building muscle memories slowly but surely. And I was surprised at how much of a workout it is for the rider.

How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
My children came home from school, excited about a new game, and pleaded for a trip to the card shop to get started playing it. They spent six months teaching me – I had no idea they could be so patient! Then I sponsored a club at the school where I worked, answered all the rules questions, and eventually became a judge.

Proudest moment of your Judge life?
I still remember opening an email that announced I’d been accepted to my first Grand Prix. I spent the whole day at work walking on air.

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!

  1. Aaron Forsythe of Magic R & D told me, “You’re not our target demographic!”
  2. At a riding show I came in second in the Walk-Trot class, beaten by a 10-year old.
  3. I once eavesdropped on Queen Elizabeth II.
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Julio Sosa never played a deck with Dubious Challenge (“Seriously, has anyone played that card?”)

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

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