Zie Aun Tan

Hello again Judges! This week’s Judge is a community builder and member of the Awakening a Planeswalker’s Spark project. Give it up for Zie Aun Tan of Malaysia!

Name: Zie Aun TanZie Aun Tan - Judge apps photo
Level: 2
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Judge Start Date: February 2012
Why did you become a Judge: I don’t recall the exact moment when I thought to myself “I want to become a Judge”, though I’m the kind of person who likes to try things just for fun (and the foils were cool). Prior to becoming a Judge the only time I’ve actually interacted with judges was during prereleases because I’m a casual player. I think I’ve only become more involved in the judge program after getting L2.
Favourite card: Pyxis of Pandemonium.
Least favourite card: Anything that locks people out in multiplayer. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger is the first card that comes to mind.
Favourite format: Cube Draft
Commander General: Adamaro, First to Desire. Mono-red group hug!
Favourite non-Magic Game: Dance Dance Revolution. The local arcades don’t carry it now. 🙁
Best tournament result: Won an in-store Champions of Kamigawa sealed event.
Random fact about yourself: The maximum number of slices of pizza I’ve eaten in one sitting is 14.

Grand Melee Chaos Tournament Pack Anaconda Draft at GP Shizuoka 2018 - Judges in Santa beards and hats rocking out their December event
Grand Melee Chaos Tournament Pack Anaconda Draft at GP Shizuoka 2018 – The Santa Judges

You were nominated for your work with “The Awakening a Planeswalker’s Spark Project.” Why do you feel such a strong drive for this project? And what was the inspiration for your new player cube?
The “Awakening a Planeswalker’s Spark” Project brings together judges looking for ways to build their local Magic community, specifically younger players. My previous job was a math tutor for eight years, and I’m a firm believer of learning through games, specifically tabletop games.

Tabletop games (as in those that are not chess, Monopoly or Scrabble) are still a relatively niche hobby in my country. I’m always happy when an LGS here runs an initiative to get new tabletop Magic players, and would often help out whenever I can. The common perception here is that drafting is expensive. For example, a booster pack is about 2 hours of part time wages here, and new (younger) players don’t have the confidence to draft and build a deck.

This particular LGS (which has since closed down) had a large crowd of elementary and middle school students, and they have been practicing drafting by using a pool of repacks minus the rares. Being a big fan of drafting and Cube Draft in particular, I took on the task of creating a Cube that would introduce these new players to drafting and at the same time build on their deck-building and Standard knowledge. That was back in Khans of Tarkir, and I have been keeping the cube up to date with every set since.

I’ve designed my cube so that each color pair corresponds to a Standard draft archetype. Card choices aren’t limited to only the Standard format: Fairgrounds Trumpeter from Kaladesh for example plays well with the +1/+1 counter themes in Gruul and Simic. I enjoyed putting together every iteration of the Cube every time a set releases, and I hope that players enjoy discovering new synergies whenever they draft it.

You can check out the cube here. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have!

Tell us your favourite Judge story.
I carry around a stash of custom tokens whenever I judge at GPs (for more details on this see “What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?”). In GP Manila 2017 I was ODE lead on Sunday. Due to a logistical mishap we were very short on basic lands, and this was after we tore through cases of Welcome Decks just to get the lands. I needed to find some way to get the players to return their basic lands after they finish their games, so I started every draft pod by announcing that there’ll be a surprise for anyone who returned their basic lands. I gave out a lot of custom (foil!) tokens that day. There were even several players who went around empty tables collecting spare basic lands in exchange for them.

How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I am a very disorganized person (the state of my room is a testament to this), and if not for judging (and organizing) tournaments, I don’t think I’ll ever learn how to put things down on a list and follow through it.

What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
Despite the decrease in shop-level competitive events nowadays, I still keep myself active by being the go-to rules person for several LGS-es and playgroups, and I’ve recently begun doing streaming commentary and pre-show content for the weekly Standard Showdown tournament in an LGS every Thursday at 8pm (UTC+8). I think what keeps me going is being able to use my “authority” (in air quotes) to build the community.

Singaporean Judges and Zie Aun Tan at their LGS drafting around 2am - plus stand-in scorekeeper
Singaporean Judges and Zie Aun Tan at their LGS drafting around 2am

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
Malaysians in general are a very welcoming bunch of people. If you happen to drop by this corner of the world, not only we’ll promise you a great time playing Magic in whatever format you please, we’ll also bring you out to supper afterwards.

What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
GPs have been my favorite event because of the sheer scale of them, but my favorite one has to be GP Chiba 2015. It was my first time in Japan, and I was judging in the biggest event thus far in the region. I wanted to do something special for the event, and at my judge friend QJ Wong’s suggestion, I made custom tokens and gave them out as an ice-breaker. Until this day I still draw a token for every GP I judge in. My goal at every GP is to personally hand one of these tokens to every judge.

Anyway, that was my first time judging in a country where I barely spoke the language. I can read decent Japanese thanks to my native language being Chinese and my exposure to Japanese anime and games. IRL I’m very easily embarrassed, so the tokens were a very big confidence booster. I said hi to a lot of people, delivered many rulings in broken Japanese, and felt like a champion at the end of it.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Hmm….. Designing my own card game probably?

If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
You gain an emblem with “Each turn, you may cast up to one spell from your binder. You may cast it dramatically rather than pay for its mana cost.”

What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Chandra Nalaar. Looking back at my younger self, I’ve been a hot-tempered and impulsive person. Judging has contributed a lot to my character growth.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m also the artist behind the Judge Tokens project! If you’d like to have a nifty little extra for your players and at the same time encouraging feedback, keep an eye on our thread in the Unofficial Announcements forum! We release new designs every set. (If you’re not a judge reading this, get your local judge to do so!)

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

  1. When I was hospitalized for a week, I taught three of my ward-mates how to play Magic.
  2. I once took off my pants on stage in a singing competition and won it.
  3. I’m left-handed.
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
At no point was Dylan Harkness a carnival barker for his local heritage festival.

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


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