Hour of Devastation Pre-release Judge Bingo

Written by Steve Ford
Level 2, United Kingdom

A quick note from Jack:
Hey folks! It’s been a while since we’ve had content on the Regular REL blog. We’re always looking for more and taking submissions, and starting with this great idea by Steve for the Hour of Devastation prereleases, we’re going to be trying to re-ignite some more regular (pun accidental, honest) content around these parts. If you want to submit anything, or have any ideas for an article, please get in touch with me via JudgeApps. Take it away, Steve!


“I love games that make the prerelease experience better for players and you have come up with a neat one!”
Sara Mox


But Steve, I hear you cry, prereleases are already fun. After all the hype, you’re excited to open our new cards and sling some cardboard! You may think that judges are only there to play Magic and answer the occasional question, but the judge community sees itself as more than just a group of rules experts who help fix problems when they occur.

So what is Judge Bingo?

I had just started my journey as a judge before the Khans of Tarkir prereleases and my mentor, David Murray, shared a copy of Judge Bingo. I’m not sure where he got it, but it gave me a list of things (handily transferred onto a bingo sheet) that I could try to complete at prerelease events to practice my skills and put my knowledge to good use.

I never found out where it came from, or who to credit for the concept, but it stuck with me as something that could help improve the player experience and makes us better judges. The project has evolved from there to include new rulings from each prerelease as well as to focus on the kinds of behaviors the Judge community wants to encourage, namely helping people have a great time and bringing new players to the game to help our hobby continue to grow and flourish. See the Player Experience Sphere Blog for more detail.

Who’s it for?

It’s something fun everyone can try at prereleases, especially if you’re not playing in it yourself and your focus is judging. The Hour of Devastation Bingo square is equal parts rules and rulings, community interaction and customer service, and helping new players.

If you explain one of the listed rules, cards or give a ruling on a particular square then tick it off. Make time to stop and think about how that interaction with the players went and what could have gone better next time. Are you working with another judge? What did they think about what just happened? Could this be the start of a review?

Have you helped explain how prereleases work, or done something to make the event, or Magic as a whole more accessible to someone, especially a new player? Tick that square off. Speak to that player at the end of the event and find out how their event went. Will they be coming back to play again? Did you help a player overcome and access issue so that they could have a better experience? You get the idea…

This is a mechanism to enhance your learning and teaching from the event — naturally the event and its players come first. Make sure you’re watching the floor and, most importantly, watching Magic before making sure your bingo card is full up!

Level 2+ judges

As Level 2s, it’s part and parcel of our role, and our responsibilities, to review, train, mentor and certify new judges. In part, that means ensuring they keep up-to-date with Release Notes so that we can be as effective as possible. My personal passions include coaching and mentoring, and my personal mission statement is to help people be the best they can be. Watching another judge with a Bingo sheet in my hand gives me some fun criteria against which to review my peers.

The Hour of Devastation Bingo sheet is compiled with the aid of the judge program and reflects our ongoing commitment to customer service, but also includes a healthy dose of my own personal preferences and things I consider good behaviors and standards for Judges. For me, a completed sheet is a sign of good performance at prereleases and something I may wish to recognize.

As one of a small number of level 2 Judges covering a large geographic area this also lets me keep up with things at local stores and with the local judges and communities I don’t often get to visit.

Where’s my bingo sheet?!

If you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking “Steve, just get to the point!”


You can find the Hour of Devastation Bingo Sheet here!
A little expansion on each square can be found here.


Go wild and take it to your local prereleases. I’d love to see your completed sheets and hear about your experiences in the comments or via JudgeApps.

What works well for you? What would you like to change? How can we make this an awesome project for future prereleases?

Thanks for reading!
Steve Ford

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