Open Series: Houston – Floor Judge Report

Rich Marin, Level 1, Texas, United States

Rich Marin, Level 1, Texas, United States

I was a floor judge at the recent SCG Open in Houston at the NRG Center. It was my first time judging at such a large event and I was glad to get the experience. I had previously judged at a few smaller Competitive level events which helped to prepare me somewhat. Even so, the whole weekend was a fantastic learning experience.

Turnout for day one was a bit lower than anticipated, so we ended up with plenty of judges out on the floor. While we scrambled a bit to take judge calls on day 1, day 2 was much busier with two SCG Premier IQs running concurrently to the remainder of the Open. Because of the wide range of events going on during the weekend, rather than a round-by-round breakdown, the below is mostly highlights.

For day 1, I was on breaks/floor which had me primarily on the floor but working with other teams where they needed coverage for one of their members going out on break. For day 2, I was on flex team which was pretty much the same. However, going back and forth between the Legacy IQ, the Modern IQ and the side-events table left me not quite sure of which round it was. Both days my role in the tournament amounted to judge-for-hire. I tried to check in with my team lead once every 1-2 rounds to ensure I was staying on task, but most of the time that task was being out on the floor.

Day one was mostly uneventful. In the early rounds I walked between the rows, pausing to watch games every couple minutes, and keeping an eye out for common GPEs (failing to flip a card for Courser of Kuphrix, flipping a card with no Courser, forgetting to lose life due to painlands, etc). I didn’t want to fall into the trap of just calling players on the “easy” ones, so as the day went on I tried to watch more games for longer. The play area was crowded enough that by the time seats were open next to matches, it was time for end of round procedure anyway, so there ended up being plenty of opportunities for that.

I did make a bad call later in the day that I wanted to mention. I was covering for a judge out on break who was running the Legacy and 2-Headed Giant side events. The matches were close to the feature booths, which I was a bit apprehensive of being too close to. It was a bit silly, really – these were the same level of matches that I’d been judging all day, I shouldn’t have been as rattled as I was when I got a call.

One of the players at a feature table (not on camera) had accidentally drawn the top card of his library when going to reveal it for Courser. He (and his opponent) claimed that the card had never left his right hand and entered his left hand. I don’t remember if they said it actually touched the cards or just came close enough that they almost touched.

I should have gone straight to the head judge to confirm the game loss and award it. However, I doubted myself and gave the player the benefit of the doubt where I shouldn’t have. I did bring it to the head judge, but my explanation wasn’t clear and I believe he thought that the card was already visible and would have been verifiable information and thus downgraded. After the round, he and another judge came to me and explained that it should have been a game loss and why. I regretted not giving the loss when I should have, but I was grateful for the explanation and feedback on my error.

After day one, that was my biggest note for me. As a judge, my strongest point is rules knowledge, while my weakest point is knowing when to give game losses or even suspect cheating (which thankfully didn’t come up for me during the weekend). As an L1 looking towards L2, I’ve been doing a lot of studying. However, I’ve found that the experience from being out on the floor is much more valuable.

Below are a few of other rules interactions or policy questions that came up:

Early on day 1, a player asked me how Commune with the Gods worked with Courser of Kruphix out on the board. He wasn’t sure if a 6th card should be revealed. I told him that the 6th card would not be revealed as Commune with the Gods was resolving and that they would only see the top 5, but I don’t feel I did a sufficient job of explaining why.

I was close to their table when they called another judge, asking if Tasigur, the Golden Fang‘s ability revealed the top card with a Courser out. The judge ruled that, yes, because the cards go in the graveyard the top card becomes revealed, and they mentioned my previous ruling regarding Commune With the Gods – thinking it also applied here. I overheard this and stepped in with a fuller explanation of the difference.

Commune with the Gods reveals the top 5 cards of the caster’s library but does not remove them. Therefore – the top card of the library is already revealed – it just so happens that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th cards are too. It took this comparison between the two abilities for me to fully understand the rule interaction and explain it in a way that made sense to me and the players.

On day 1, I was walking between matches near the door when I heard a spectator loudly talking with a judge about not being sure something works the way the judge explained it. I was curious and the spectator seemed unsatisfied with the judge’s explanation (he was pulling out his phone) so I walked over and asked if something was wrong.

I don’t know the etiquette in situations like this but the judge seemed fine with me asking. They explained again to the spectator that when something is bestowed (or dashed?) it does not change the converted mana cost of the spell. I nodded and confirmed that was correct, then tried to give the spectator a couple examples, trying to stay away from Standard cards. I don’t know if a warning may have been appropriate earlier, but the spectator seemed to understand the explanation.

I had to award a game loss to a player who failed to mark the checklist proxy cards representing their Delver of Secrets in their deck. I confirmed with the head judge of that event (Modern Premiere IQ, I believe?) and explained it to the player. They seemed fairly new to the deck but understood why it was a problem.

Towards the end of day two, I was assisting with deck checks for the Legacy IQ top 8. After sorting through a deck that was likely worth more than my car, I was given a fairly straightforward mono-blue 12-Post deck to sort. The deck checked out fine and was even pre-sorted, but when I got to the sideboard I was not happy. The player had written out that he was playing X (I forget the exact number, but it was correct) Red Elemental Blasts in a mono-blue deck. Sure enough, he had mistakenly written Red Elemental Blast where he likely meant to write Blue Elemental Blast.

When I brought it to the judge running deck checks, they had more or less the same reaction. It was such a simple error and if it wasn’t for top 8 deck checks it may not have been caught, but it ended up costing the player a game.

Other observations:

  • On day 2 I noticed an unusually high number of game and match losses due to tardiness at the Legacy IQ. I’m not sure if the players were less punctual, more prone to dropping mid-tournament, or just realized that they would have to pay $10 for parking again if they had left the lot. It was an odd discrepancy, but one I thought was worth noting.
  • There were a lot of questions about the converted mana cost of spells on the stack, revealed by Counterbalance, etc. “What is this spell’s converted mana cost?” seemed to be the most common question of day 2.
  • There were a couple calls spurred on by a player being attacked with a Prowess creature on which Prowess had been triggered but not acknowledged until damage was being dealt. Very few players (who were being attacked) were happy to hear that their opponents were not required to acknowledge it until it had a visible effect on the game state.
  • The side event sheet for drafts/win-a-box events took me a couple tries to parse. I mistakenly seated a draft in sequence but was luckily able to have the order changed in the system and pair correctly on paper. In the future I will definitely not make the same mistake.
  • The closest food to the venue was about a mile walk away past the booth for the parking lot. I made the walk on day 2 but day 1 I settled for a couple pastries at the in-house Starbucks. A bit more advance warning of the food situation would have been helpful.

 Please share your comments and feedback to JudgeApps too!

Sharing is Caring - Click Below to Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


You will not be added to any email lists and we will not distribute your personal information.