With 705 players, this was the biggest single event I have HJ’d to date (the madness of Friday grinders at GP Vegas does not count as “single event”)
We had 28 judges on staff, distributed in 4 teams. Samuel Hanna was Papers TL, Bret Siakel was End Of Round TL, Jernej Lipovec was Deck Checks TL, and Rob McKenzie was Breaks TL. The later team was basically a support team that would assist any team on demand, and would replace others as lunch breaks would happen.
General meeting and room preparation.
The most remarkable issues we had to deal with were room layout and distribution of tokens and wristbands. I consulted with Kali Anderson, the SCG show lead for this event, to see what the preferred/optimal room use was. We decided on using the left hand side of the room since it would provide better traffic flow and would save time for the main event. Here we prioritized having pairing boards next to the play area, over having side events happening next to the stage, which is also a perfectly acceptable solution. Due to the high participation numbers I opted for having the main event near the stage.
The use of wristbands caught everyone off guard, I think. This was something unexpected but the EOR team took care of it very efficiently. The Open was held at the Origins convention, and each participant in the Open got access to the convention. To this end, SCG was providing wristbands to everyone registered for the event, and these had to be distributed during the player meeting. Token distribution is something SCG does at their events; we assembled packets inserting the wristbands in the token packets, which worked very well.
Staggered pairing boards: Here I tried something I’ve done in the past at European GPs, which in my opinion saves quite some time in the player meeting. The concept is very simple; it’s about having the pairing boards follow the shape of the table numbers, i.e. a snaked layout, instead of having them go around the play area clockwise in a rectangle shape. This way, once a player finds his pairing board for the player meeting, the distance to their seat is reduced dramatically. This is also true for when each player has to stand up and go look the R1 pairings. The pairing board they need to go to will be close to the seat all players seat that they had. Obviously, past this point this system has no impact on the distance players have to walk from the pairing boards to their seats (nor does any other), since during the day they will be seated by record, unlike during the player meeting, where they are seated alphabetically.
The goal is to save time right before the player meeting; and right after it when players go to look up their R1 pairings. Looking at the times I wrote down at the event I estimate we saved 10 minutes adding the walk from the pairing board to the seat at the player meeting, and the walk from the player meeting seat to the R1 pairing board. It is true players might not be used to this and might be confused at first, but once they find their pairing board, they will go to the same pairing board through the day, so it’s not a big deal. I value the experience of players highly, and I see the concern for some players (around 3-5 came to ask) being confused about the pairing board positioning. I consider more important to speed up the event, and overall I’m very happy with the results.
To help players understand what was going on I mentioned the location of the pairing boards in my first announcement. To help judges better understand the procedure, and to add clarity to the method I gave a full explanation to judges on the final debrief.
Post Seat all 10.18 -> All seated 10.22 -> End of Player Meeting 10.34
I did the regular announcements, introducing myself, talking about event structure, rules enforcement level, etc.
Jernej coordinated decklist collection, there were some late entries at the bottom tables, but there were no major problems with this.
R1: 10.38 -> Round Turnaround 70’
GRV for not discarding to Pack Rat. First we evaluate a backup, only if we can’t then would we look at the partial fixes. In this situation it was possible to backup, so we didn’t jump directly on the partial fix.
Outside Assistance to an spectator for pointing out an Eidolon of the Great Revel missed trigger in between games. This is unfortunate, but OA applies here.
Last result in: 11.40 Posting 11.41
R2: 11.49 -> Round Turnaround 67’
Here we had to repair two tables due to result entering mistake. This was dealt with efficiently by SK and judges.
Later on (15 minutes into the round) we found out about another result entering mistake. Player brought it to our attention too late to repair the tables, but points were fixed by entering the correct result on DCIR.
First wave of breaks starts. We agreed to divide breaks over three rounds. This is important to point out, since on Sunday, the plan was to split the breaks over only two rounds, which clearly leaves the event severely understaffed. Rob coordinated the whole thing like a champ, and we maintained a very well balanced presence on the floor vs. other needs.
Appeal: You have to choose a nonland card from your opponent’s hand when resolving Thoughtseize. Upheld.
Appeal: AP casts a spell with CMC = 3 under an Eidolon of the Great Revel. AP moves to combat, both players write down combat damage, and then NAP acknowledges the Eidolon trigger. Ruling was AP missed the trigger. Upheld.
At the same table as the Appeal above I gave Outside Assistance to a spectator (a young kid, around 12-13 y/o son of one of the players) for pointing out an Eidolon trigger during a game. “Dad, he takes two from your Eidolon”. The judge at the table did not give any penalty to the spectator, and directly involved me. I took a note of the spectator’s name, issued the OA and applied the ML the following round.
The father of the OA’d kid came to the stage after his match is done to argue the HJ overturning a ruling, since he was under the impression the first FJ to get to the table said it was all OK. He demanded to see in the rules where does it say that a HJ can have a final say over a FJ’s ruling, I explained to him how policy applies to this situation, and that there was no provision for an exception due to his kid’s age. I involved the TO on this situation, since it was clearly going to be a difficult one. The father got heated up and ended up insulting me. He stormed out, and we let him go so he could wind down. Later on he came up to the stage to apologize for his language. Apologies get accepted, he gets a USC Minor Warning, we shook hands and we friendly discussed whether the rules allow HJs to rule differently depending on player’s age. Here Kali Anderson supported me dealing with the player (thanks! <3) and I have to say we both totally rocked this one. It’s remarkable how two people as passionate as Kali and I managed to keep this situation together, and prevented a bigger problem from happening. Yay us!
Last result in: 12.48 Posting 12.49
R3: 12.56 -> Round Turnaround 69’
Appeal: Cloudfin raptor in play, AP casts Nightveil Specter. In response to Evolve NAP casts Bile Blight on the Specter. Ruling was Evolve does nothing, it’s an intervening if trigger that checks on resolution. At that point the Specter was a -1/0 (we use LKI). Upheld.
Appeal: Battalion trigger (+2/+2). AP attacks with 3 creatures, players move to blocks, before resolving damage AP points out Battalion, and NAP argues the trigger was missed. Ruling was this is an invisible change to the game state, and it has to be acknowledged before it would matter (combat damage resolution), which it was. Upheld.
Last result in: 13.59 Posting 14.00
R4: 14.05 -> Round Turnaround 69’
I take a break away from the stage. Rob McKenzie takes over the event.
Rob deals with two appeals, both upheld. One is a verification on a straightforward rules question, the other is declaring an illegal set of attackers, and game is backed up to the declare attackers step, but very important, not to main phase 1. AP is allowed to change any attackers to form any legal set of them.
Last result in: 15.06 Posting: 15.07
R5: 15.14 -> Round Turnaround 63’
Appeal: AP controls Thassa, God of the Sea, and says “draw for the turn”. He starts moving the top card of his deck face down towards him, and then says he wants to Scry. Ruling was he was explicit about being in the draw step, so trigger is missed. Upheld.
Last result in: 16.06
All hands meeting! Words of encouragement, some laughs, etc. We managed to keep a good spirit through the day, and hey, with over 700 players, and a lot of hours on the floor ahead of us, it’s important for the HJ to help everyone keeps the spirits high!
R6: 16.17 -> Round Turnaround 62’
I asked Rob to coordinate with TLs to identify outstanding performances, for public praise and recognition after the event.
Last result in: 17.11 Posting 17.13
R7: 17.19 -> Round Turnaround 61’
Duh. Nothing happened.
Last result in: 18.14 Posting 18.15
R8: 18.21 -> Round Turnaround 76’
Why did I have to jinx it saying nothing was happening…
In the last few minutes of the round we had all sorts of stuff happening: two stacked DQ investigations (thanks to Abe Corson for being simply amazing helping with one of them), printer problems of every kind, but… very conveniently we had to hold the round for coverage for almost 15 minutes!
Last result in: 19.18 Posting 19.31
R9: 19.37 -> Round Turnaround 67’
Coverage starts here for us!
Appeal: coverage table, NAP misses his trigger from Eidolon off AP’s spell, realizes later on when he casts a spell and AP tells him he takes two damage. Ruling was the trigger would go on the stack. Overturn. We give AP the choice, and he does not want the trigger to go on the stack, obviously.
Last result in: 20.38 Posting 20.39
R10: 20.44 -> Round Turnaround 60’
Post Standings, and nothing happens. This time for real.
We had a final meeting, where we covered some of the situations discussed in this report, and we acknowledged the efforts of some outstanding judges:
– Stefan Mankiewicz: for providing feedback and support to his TL, finding problems and offering solutions.
– Liz Richardson: for her energy and for being a source of happiness on the floor, being an example to others proactively making the event a better place.
– Mark Wanich: for taking initiatives to speed up the event, such as modifying the pairing boards location after R5.
– CJ Stambaugh: for exceptional mentoring efforts through the day.
– Bret Siakel: for being an example of work ethics, teamwork, diplomacy, and leadership.
We send people to debrief by teams, and go for a well deserved dinner!