Captain’s log – August 2018

Hello and welcome to a new report from the Planar Bridge project. We’re sorry for the delay from the last Captain’s log, we hope to reward your patience with a packed report that covers all the meetings from June to August. This time, there were not that many recurrent topics in the different meetings, which means we have a list of different topics and some of the discussions and conclusions that judges all around the world came to. As always, don’t forget to leave feedback and topics for the coming GPs in our contact page.

All staff meeting


  • Continued: L3 approachability

We already talked about this in our last report, but we have some more information about it. We kept on asking L1s and L2s if they saw L3s as scary or hard to approach, and the consensus seems to be that there is an intimidation factor. GPs tend to show a trend where all of the L3s and some of the L2s know each other, so when a group of judges are talking, “newer” judges find it hard to jump in and contribute as well. A possible way to make L3s feel more approachable is if they approach lower level judges, even just an L3 walking up and starting a conversation about something non-Magic related will help lower level judges overcome that possible intimidate and realize that L3s are people too. There was some discussion about the possibility of not including one’s level when introducing yourself, either to players or judges, and even in pre-event communication, as a way to not create a barrier. This conflicted with the need to know who the L3s are on the floor of the main event, since you need to clear HCEs and backups through them. It looks then to be a possible idea to implement at side events.

  • Negative feedback

Feedback was on the forefront of some of the meetings, with many judges complaining that the number of reviews they receive are way down. Exemplar program has taken some of it’s light, and many rely just on oral feedback with no follow up in a written review. Even more, it seems like people tend to hold negative/constructive feedback back, and this has started to show a degradation in the ability of many judges when it comes to self-evaluation.

So, there was a new call to keep on giving feedback, and not be afraid of giving negative feedback. Negative, constructive feedback is one of the most useful ones, and can have positive outcomes. Giving feedback in person could be a lot more meaningful, but sometimes we also need the written form as a way to reflect on what we did and how to improve.

Some judges had been relying on anonymous feedback, like the feedback form; and the PCs have said that, if possible, using that channel but identifying yourself really helps any possible follow up or discussion about what happened.

We should promote feedbacks by giving them first of all, and that would hopefully get the wheel rolling into getting more.

Channel Fireball Events


  • Core staffing

There were many discussions about Core, how’s it working nowadays, and the chance non-Core judges have to be staffed as leaders. CFBE said that they group all the events in a specific window in 3 categories based on their expected size: <900, 900-1200, >1200. For example, the latest window had many events in the small and medium categories, hence there were less leadership positions to fill. Questioned about this, they informed us that although the average main event attendance in 2018 is smaller than in 2017, the sides event attendance is way up, and CFBE is very satisfied with the number of unique players that attend any given Grand Prix.

Right now, CFBE typically staff all of the leadership roles through Core, something that leaves little room for non-Core judges to be staffed as leaders. One of the only ways to “break into” Core is when someone that is part of Core can’t make it to an event that they originally committed to. In those cases, they would fill the open spot with someone who was staffed as floor judge who also applied for a leadership role. This is a really small window, and something that might be needed to be further discussed in future meetings.

  • Paypal

As seen in this announcement, CFBE is changing some of the ways they do their contracting and compensation. One of the keys changes, is that Channel Fireball needs to use Paypal in the future, since having a lot of money in the venue is a security issue and moving cash money from country to country is also a problem. The change will be gradual, starting with all non-US judges, but giving the option to non European judges to still get cash. As a part of this change, they also plan to have more different currencies on Paypal, as a way to avoid exchange rate issues.

  • Catering and Hotel

Another topic was the chance to include catering for judges in the GP, something that sometimes happen but is not a common feature, and usually not with “real food”. The first problem is that is just not possible to do it in any USA GPs, since it is forbidden by law. The current plan is for CFBE to consider to add catering as an exception in the case of some venues with really bad food options. They will also consider inviting food trucks in those cases, or even making a list of available places beforehand.

We also talked about the chance of including hotel sponsorship as part of the compensation, and the short answer was “not possible” because of the logistic nightmare it would mean. They will try to improve the timing for the publication of the staff block. Many judges asked CFBE to try and get some deals from cheaper alternatives than what the usually do (mainly Hilton and similar hotels), and they said they’ll try to find some affordable options like youth hostels in the future.

Program Coordinators and Regional Coordinators


  • L1 redefinition

L1 evaluation and possible redefinition is close to being done. WotC has already stated that there are some changes coming to Organized Play, so maybe we will have to wait until such changes are confirmed before committing to a level redefinition. In any case, L1s are having a hard time right now, with little events to judge. It’s hard for them to keep motivated, so L2s should be helping them, for example making them experience the judge community more often, for instance with a local whatsapp judge chat or by trying to work with them at local events. Some have suggested they should be motivated to apply to GPs, but the problem is the low number of positions there are for L1s.

  • L2 Certifications

There were some discussions regarding the L2 special roles, but this was before the most recent change to those, that mainly meant that L2 Tester doesn’t exist anymore, and L2 TL is being left behind in favor of the L2 Team-Lead-in-Training Position.

So, we’ll use this opportunity to remind everyone about this changes and invite you to read the linked announcements if you’re interested in knowing why and how are those changes being applied, and what do they mean to you.

And that’s it for now. We help you for traveling with us again through this meetings, and hope to see you again soon.