We’re here live from GP Louisville. The day is October 19th, 2013 and Michael Arrowsmith from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania is going to be a future Judge of the Week!
(Editor’s Note – At the time Michael Arrowsmith was a L1. He became a L2 at this same GP so congratulations!)
Why did you become a judge?
Funny story. There was a certain store owner and at the time I was just coming in to I guess you say nerd-dom? I came from not being a nerd to really liking Magic, then liking games and finally taking on being a nerd. During that transition there was a judge meeting where they were getting people ready to take judge tests to become judges. I came in and was like “Hey whats going on, this looks interesting.” and was told that I did not have the right temperament to be a judge and that I have no reason to be at this class. Basically I went “challenge accepted.” So probably not the proper way to get into the judge program, but it was motivation enough for me to do it. Once I did it, it was like well now I want to be on every single event I can possibly be on, in hopes that this guy shows up and I can just wave at him and go “Hey look I’m being a judge, thats weird.”
What do you currently do? What is your actual job?
I judge Magic: the Gathering. My main interest is judging. I feel at home judging. It’s hard in my local area because there are not a lot of stores and the stores that are there they already have good solid judges that are taking care of everything that they need for those stores. Honestly, I just feel more at home on a large tournament floor such as Starcity Games.com Open Series, Grand Prix’s, GenCon, etc. that is where I feel at home and I love every minute of it so I want to do it as much as I possibly can.
So what is your favorite card?
My favorite card just rotated and it made me very, very sad. Rally the Peasants. It’s a random common. It’s just because when I was a player I was playing tokens at one point and I brought in like three of them randomly to see how I would do for a Grand Prix Trial. I had the card in hand and I ended up getting mana flooded on game 3 of my win and in for Top 8. I had four flying tokens out and I was at 16, he was at 19.I didn’t swing because he had a whole lot of blockers then I top decked and looked at my hand. I had one land and one rally the peasants so I played my land, attacked, no blocks, rally, flashback rally, and how much was it? 20. Shake hands. You’re in the top 8. So since then I’ve been stuck on that card even tried to force it in legacy. I love that card!
What is your least favorite card?
I remember when I very first became a player, it was Spreading Seas, because I played Boros and it was just so annoying getting pulled off one of my colors and then it being able to replace itself with another card. However, Spreading Seas was pretty bad but I don’t think it trumps Blightning. Bloodbraid Elf into Blightning was just insane.
Limited. I like limited, I’m a big fan of limited. I can play constructed, but I play limited all the time.
Do you play commander?
Michael: I do not, I only play real formats.
John: Aw it’s such a sad thing.
Michael: I know.
Favorite non-Magic game?
I’m really big on a game for the Wii, Fortune Street, because I’m a big Monopoly guy and fortune street adds a whole new element with stocks and stuff like that. I love that game. Definitely ends friendships very quickly.
Best tournament result?
I won a Starcity Games.com draft open in Dallas, Texas. I won that on the back of Wolfhunter’s Quiver and two Typhoid Rats. I destroyed people in the top 8 with that! Just equip, tap, kill that, re-equip, tap, kill that, kind of sexy.
What continues to motivate you to be a part of the program?
I’m not built to quit. I came very close, don’t get me wrong, came very close but it’s one of those things that … I feel if I put myself to doing something, I have to accomplish that. I cannot let a goal not be accomplished. One of my goals was to be sitting here. One of my goals for this year was my L2, be sitting her talking to you, and get into an international GP, those are my 3 goals this year and I got on Toronto, which technically an international GP, so if I hit the L2 this weekend, my mentor thinks I have a pretty good chance of doing it, then I’ll be able to say I’ve achieved all my goals this year. And then this next year, the new goals will be probably get on a European GP, and head judge a Starcity legacy event. I was my goals to be barely obtainable, where it’s still you know you could get it, like my goal last year was to get on 6 GPS as a level 1, which is barely obtainable, but I ended up getting on 7. So putting the goal where it is really hard to reach, I really have to push myself to get to it, but it can still happen. I don’t want to set unreasonable goals, but always having my goals as soon as I make a goal, setting a new goal that is harder to reach and really pushing to make that one happen, I really want to continue to do that.
Give me one random fact about you, something that you feel people should know about you but maybe they don’t.
This is something I deal with a lot. I feel like I’m one of the nicest people you’re ever going to meet, but from appearances, I’m a big bald tattooed guy. So get to talking to me, get to know me! I’m not just a big intimidating guy. I feel like I’m a very nice guy, very approachable.
Who are your role models in the judge program?
When it comes to being that judge that gets on events simply because their reputation precedes them, John Alderfer. It’s one of those things where realistically he can play and go “My name is John Alderfer, submit. Oh look I’m on the event.” You know what I mean? He has such a reputation of being “you know exactly what you are getting by putting this person on staff” they are just that good. Getting on events-wise, John Alderfer. Personality wise, my current mentor Dan Stephens. He’s always friendly and always nice. You know that it is going to be a pleasant interaction the second you see him show up at an event, and I like that.
What advice would you give to L1’s who are growing up through the program to help them achieve their goals?
Work hard. Really work hard, you know, doing the little stuff like volunteering for top 8 or to do side events, picking up trash, pushing in chairs. Always putting in a lot of effort because there are judges there that will get established and then they are just kind of there. They don’t feel the need to keep working. I simply don’t agree.
Communicating with the regional coordinator is really really big because I don’t think a lot of judges realize how important regional coordinators are about getting you on events and getting yourself mingled with other judges. I try to stay in contact with my regional coordinator as much as possible but the biggest thing is don’t slack off. Work, volunteer, be personable, and be nice with everyone you can.
What’s been your favorite non-judging moment that has happened between some of you and your judge pals; maybe heading towards an events, or after event.
Michael: One of the fondest moments for me was with the Florida Judge Crew. I want to say it was GP Atlanta, but I might be incorrect on that, where the Boom Tube made its appearance.
John: Are you talking about legacy GP?
Michael: I do believe it was a legacy GP. It was where Ben McDole ended up with the boom tube at the end of the weekend pretty epically.
John: That’s the one where Matt Tabak signed it in to the comp rules, right?
Michael: Thats the one! We were at a restaurant for the judge dinner when I received the Boom Tube because it was in my menu when I opened it up. Someone took it from me to get Ben McDole they had the waitress put it on a plate under a shot glass with an adult beverage covered in whipped cream and all that. Ben took the shot and everyone was like “yay” as we were video recording him taking this shot and at the end of this shot he looks down and theres the Boom Tube! I don’t know why that one sticks in my head, but it does!
What’s been your best experience while you’ve been in the judge program?
I have two. One was from a player, one was from a judge.
I was at GenCon and I had just been moved to a beginners tournament. I had 6 7-year-olds in this pod and I’m teaching them how to play. I was doing what I do, trying to be very very nice. Later another judge takes over then he comes up to me and is like “I just heard the most awesome thing ever!” “What’s that?”and he goes “So this kids comes over and says you’re not as nice as the big scary judge.” And it just made me so happy, it was amazing.
Another one was from my presentation on effective communications between judges and players. I had a judge give me a phone call about a week after this judge had attended the conference. The part she keyed in on was communication during a potential volatile situation; how to de-escalate a situation. They were excited “Oh my God I just used something from your conference, it was amazing!” and they told me the entire story about de-escalating a situation. All I could think was “Someone actually used what I presented on and helped themselves out of a situation while judging.” This made me really really happy because I’ve helped to change a judge’s thought on how they would act for the positive.
If you were a planeswalker, what would be your ultimate?
I would be a red planeswalker because I’m absolutely team boros. It would probably be something really busted powerful but delicate, kinda like the ball lightning, spark trooper type mentality of huge power and double-strike and very little toughness. So it would be something like “Destroy all creatures an opponent controls. For each creature destroyed this way, put a 1/1 Soldier with first strike in to play under that player’s control. All your creatures get +5/+0 and trample.” Something just really over the top; busted but can be dealt with very easily.
If you were a creature, what would your creature type be?
Michael:Probably a warrior. Gotta be a warrior. I can’t see how I wouldn’t be. Berserker might actually fit pretty well too.
John: So we’re gonna list that as Warrior-Berserker, or Beserker-Warrior, I don’t know I’ll figure that out!
Is there anything you feel that you need to add, that you just really need to express to the judging community as a whole?
First, thank you to as many people who have put so much effort in to see me succeed and given me opportunities to succeed. There is a gigantic list of people that have helped me along the way.
Second, use the judges in the program to help yourself out, especially for the younger judges. Look to your senior judges, look to other judges that are in the program, don’t think you can take this on yourself. Judges want to see other judges succeed, they want to see each other advance and want to help each other so everything goes as smooth as possible on events or just in your local judge area. Teamwork is really really big and rely on them because as someone is helping you out in a situation, whether it be studying, or getting you on an event or something like that, down the road you are more than likely going to be paying that forward.
Finally, ask for help when you need it, don’t just sit back and say “I’m never going to get this.” You can get it, sometimes you just have to ask and the judge program is set up to help you in any way that you would need to be helped.
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Written by John Temple.