Welcome back to Judge of the Week! This week’s judge is Phillip Painter, who might be a familiar face to those who’ve attended GPs in North America!
Name: Phillip Painter
Location: Northern California, USA
Judge start date: I started in the Summer of 2013, and certified as an L2 a few months later. During the interview portion of the L1 exam, I stated that I intended to work competitive events as a judge, and Jess Dunks helped facilitate my growth towards that goal. My aim was to help events run smoother both locally, and at the premier level. I continue to judge for the community (friends I’ve made over the years) and the opportunity to pass on skills I’ve honed through the program to others.
Why did you become a Judge? I became a judge because I wanted events to run smoother. As a player, I noticed a series of events that had long turnaround times and other issues and wanted to put myself in a position to change things positively. I started at my LGS with simple suggestions like table numbers, round timer, and a printer; and have continued to work to improve events at all levels of premier play. I continue to judge for the community and the opportunity to see the friends I’ve made through the judge program.
Occupation: Computational Chemist
Favorite card: Prodigal Sorcerer (or Deathrite Shaman)
Least favorite card: Pyrite Spellbomb (Anything in Eggs really..)
Favorite format: Modern
Commander: Glissa the Traitor
Favourite non-Magic game: RoboRally
Best Tournament Result: Hahahaha… I won a GPT for the first GP Vegas. We can’t all be Rob Castellon…
Random fact about myself: I accumulated 8 varsity letters while in high school.
Tell us your favourite Judge story:
My favorite judge story comes from my second PTQ as judge manager. This isn’t my favorite story because I enjoyed it, but because of the learning opportunities that arose from it. My LGS had been given the opportunity to run a second PTQ, after our first event had run well. One of the lessons we learned from the first event was to increase our social media presence, and to that end, I made fliers and advertised the event heavily. Combining this with the fact that it was one of the first Modern format PTQs after Modern had become a FNM format, we vastly overshot attendance expectations (we had to turn people away from FNM weekly, so the indicators that Modern was popular were there). Wizards had told the TO that 120 players would attend the event, and nearly 250 showed up. Unfortunately, the TO had only rented enough chairs and tables for ~170 players and had to be convinced to run to Target to get more. (At one point, some players approached us and offered to purchase tables and chairs themselves so they could play in the event). I still hear about the “standing room only” PTQ. The large attendance number also created a number of other unforeseen issues, the most drastic of which was prize support – namely we did not have enough product on hand to prize out the event. Once certain members of the staff heard this bit of information, they correctly inferred that we did not have enough product to comp them out either – and threatened to walk out. Were it not for the stern guidance of the HJ, they very might well have. While the event was one of the most challenging I have ever run, I consider it to be one of my favorite stories because no matter how challenging things get at an event, I’ve already handled worse.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I started collecting Magic cards when I was 7 or 8 years old. My family went to visit my grandpa in Seattle, and we went to Pike’s Place. At some point, we passed a magician shop, and I pointed at the display and said I wanted something from it – I think it was one of those toys where you pretend to cut your finger off. My grandpa misunderstood what I wanted and we walked into the shop and promptly purchased a Revised starter deck. I opened it up and didn’t know what to make of the cards, but apparently my uncle had started playing this card game called Magic and really wanted the Demonic Horde I had just opened. My parents soon joined me in playing, and my allowance during my childhood was 1 booster pack a night if I completed my chores. I lost interest in Magic around 2000 and stopped playing for 11 years. A college friend picked up Magic to improve his English, and I decided that I’d buy a pre-con deck from the local game store to play with him. I show up to his house and he sets down an Animar, Soul of Elements commander deck. Needless to say, I was more than a bit confused. After a bit of explanation, and another trip to the game store, I had Ghave, Guru of Spores in hand, and the desire to find my old cards. Later that year, I traveled to Taiwan for a month of teaching, and brought my EDH decks. I sought out a local game store within my first week and jumped into a DKA/ISD/ISD draft with Tzu Ching Kuo and promptly got my butt kicked. While I was playing, Warren Liang came up to me and remarked that my English was very good, I must be from California, and promptly took me under his wing. I learned how to play competitive Magic while in Taiwan, and that Magic can be played with almost no verbal communication – as I don’t speak Mandarin and some of my opponents didn’t speak English (which made life total disputes quite interesting).
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
The biggest Magic rule that I’ve broken as a player was when I managed to cast a sorcery as a combat trick for 6 of 7 rounds of a Competitive REL event during Theros block, only to have my round 7 opponent point it out, and subsequently made my attack a complete blowout. I also had one of those “achievement unlocked” moments where I 3-for-1’d myself, and managed to still win the game. The worst, in my opinion, is the time I was playing against Alan Marling (Tron vs Jund) in the last round of an FNM that I was running. He attacked with a Wurmcoil Engine, and both of us forgot about the lifelink and I subsequently killed him for exactsies the very next turn. I didn’t realize the error until I returned home and looked at my life totals. Unfortunately, he never returned to my LGS to play in FNM again. My favorite story about breaking a rule is this time where I was playing RoboRally with Judges – and managed to push other people’s robots through a wall and into a pit. When we debated on how to fix it, the statement “well, we both share some responsibility in this error occurring” came out, and we left the game state as is..
What is your favourite non-Magic hobby?
Currently rock climbing or other outdoor activities.
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
“Wreck it (Ralph)” – GP Phoenix was the first GP I traveled to for judging, and I carpooled with Vicente Davis and Ralph Colby from Northern California (~10-12hrs driving). The plan was for Ralph to take the first train and meet me in Davis, where I’d drive us down to Merced and we’d carpool from there. On the day I thought we were going to leave, I pulled into the train station and called Ralph. He answered, and said that he was still in bed – because none of us were on staff for setup, him and Vicente had agreed to leave a day later(Thursday). Fast forward to the next day, I call Ralph again, and he immediately answers and apologizes. “Sorry, I just woke up and I’m still in bed (Berkeley 1 – 2 hr away depending on Bay Area traffic). Can you come pick me up?” We managed to finally meet up with Vicente in Merced and make our way to Phoenix for the event, but it’s funny looking back how close it all came to falling through at the beginning. While Ralph would probably prefer I forget the story, I was incredibly lucky to have these friends and opportunities, and that was the beginning of an incredible journey for me.
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
Vegas 2015. The sheer scale and scope of that event was enjoyable – kind of like how you only go backpacking through the Grand Canyon during the summer once in your lifetime.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’d chat with myself when I was 15 years old, and impart the lessons I learned over the last 15 years so he didn’t have to make the same mistakes (including buying all the moxen etc etc..).
How do you have fun during events?
I look for dumpsters and try to wheel, push or drag them out of the burn area. Sometimes I’m not so successful, and we end up with a *drumroll* Garbage Fire.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
My ultimate would be “table flip”, which is probably best suited for the next “Un-” set. (Wow, this was almost prescient.) When I was a kid, there was a chess game that allowed you to switch control mid-game by reversing a move. So by ‘flipping the table’, an unwinnable situation could be turned into an unlosable one. Given that when you ultimate a planeswalker, it should win the game, sometimes switching sides might be the only way to do so.
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
Zombie. My first competitive experiences came with U/B and R/B zombies during SOM/ISD/RTR, so I have a fondness for them. I still keep my cards from that deck in the hopes that the tribe becomes viable in Modern.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
Staffing my first PTQ as an L1 judge manager, and having everything run as well as the best big name stores in the area. (Partially because I borrowed half my staff from them.)
Two truths and a lie:
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I’ve run a mile in under 4:30.
- I’ve put 3 times the value of a car in parts into a project car.
- I’ve taught Chemistry internationally.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!