The three events were scheduled to run throughout the day so that players who lost in the early rounds of one could drop and enter another. IF you have multiple small stores within a few hours of each other, I highly recommend this approach as it is beneficial for players (they only need to go to one place, one day), stores (the larger number of events pulls in more players), and judges (we get more experience). This was the second consecutive day of triple PPTQs and there had been snow the night before so we had significantly less attendance than the previous day.
Before the event started, CJ let the floor judges know that he was going to put each of us in charge of one of the events. We would be in charge of handling the logistics and paper for that events, and had the authority to call in for back up as needed. This was an invaluable experience for myself, as it put me in a position where I was able to discover that I was comfortable running a PPTQ as the primary judge of the event.
At the beginning of round one of the first event (Sealed) the lead floor judge asked one of us to take charge on deck checks, and I quickly volunteered, as I had only done constructed deck checks and wanted more practice. I got the table number from Joe and sent the third floor judge to pick up the decks, then went to pull the decklists. I realized I didn’t know the players names, so I asked the Joe for them, and then returned to the deck check station. At this point the floor judge arrived, and we started going through the decks, which looked nothing like what the decklists said. I then checked the pairings board, and discovered that what WER was telling Joe was different than what was being printed out.
Lesson Learned: Ask for a printout of pairings by table, and just use that, rather than asking the scorekeeper for names.
The event ran smoothly until round one of the second event (Standard) which I was taking point on. To save time, CJ had the players seated across from their round one opponents, so there was no player meeting. Consequently, several players had not completed their decklists when the round started. I gave those players a verbal caution that they would get a game loss if they had not completed the decklist by the time I finished collecting the others and came back around. I also handed out a game loss for tardiness for a player who was not at their seat or had not finished their decklist when the round started.
Lesson Learned: Having no player meeting significantly increases the number of tardiness penalties that need to be awarded. In the future, I would either have an announcement preceding the event reminding players that decklists need to be prepared or have a player meeting before starting round one.
Later in round one, I overheard two players discussing a one dollar bet over a grudge match that they were about to go play. I immediately stepped in, told them to halt their discussion and stay where they were. I conferred with CJ who supported my opinion that this did not warrant a DQ because neither was currently involved in an event match and the game they were discussing was going to be played outside the event. He also recommended that I pull the players aside and talk to them about gambling at Magic events. The players were slightly concerned when I asked them to step away from the table for a brief chat, but when I mentioned that their actions were ‘associated with disqualification’ they immediately started apologizing and telling me that they were just kidding and they no intention of following through with it. I explained to them why the penalty existed, and then why they were not receiving the penalty in this situation.
Lesson Learned: I gained practical experience in forming the language to talk with players about disqualification without having the negative emotions associated with that for either party. This is incredibly helpful, as I now have a better understanding of how players will react to this sort of dialogue, and what sort of language I can use to make the situation better for them.
In round two I had not yet performed any deck checks, but I did not want to take the time to perform one, as I was the only judge who was covering standard. When I quickly consulted with one of the other floor judges, he recommended that I don’t do a full deck check, but just confirm that deck size and sideboard are the correct sizes, check for any marked cards, and then quickly sort the decks in a simple fashion (lands, creatures, other).
Lesson Learned: Sometimes the purpose of a deck check isn’t to catch a player’s mistake or a cheater, but instead it is intended to let players know that we are performing deck checks, deterring them from cheating.
Later in the round, I get called over for what appears to be a straight forward Improper Drawing at Start of Game. Neptune had drawn eight cards in his opening hand but had not yet looked at them. His opponent, Ares, laughed and said “This situation looks familiar.” as he had committed the same infraction in the previous round, and I had given him the penalty. I quickly performed the fix for ID@SG, shuffling two cards away, and asked if there was anything else. At this point, Ares asks “What about my Thoughtseize?”
Editor’s note: As clarified in the forum comments, Neptune had laid out 8 cards face down and Ares had kept his hand and then immediately played Swamp -> Thoughtseize without even waiting to see if his opponent made mulligan decision.
I request that they hold a minute, go consult with CJ. I return to the players, and tell them that they will continue playing from here, once Neptune completes his mulligan decisions.
Lesson Learned: Don’t just listen to the players, even if the problem appears to be simple. Look at what has happened on the board, even if you expect nothing. Its an easy way to make mistakes.
The event continued smoothly, until the beginning of round five, the final round. Pairings and standings were posted, so players were trying to determine if they could draw into top 8. Table one was playing for standing, table two drew into top 8, and tables three and four were clustered around the standings sheet, Well past the start of round. When this was noticed, I removed the the pairings and standings, and the players returned to their seats. I quickly chatted with CJ and he helped me understand why this was a significant problem, and that it should be recorded. Because of that, I returned to their tables and explained to the four players that they would all receive a game Loss for tardiness, why tardiness is an issue at events, the effect that it would have on their matches, and that if they had any questions, they could find me after the match, but that I needed them to start playing now.
Lesson Learned: Players don’t understand how their actions can impact the whole event. Dropping your bag at the table and then checking the standings for five minutes can add a significant amount of time to the whole tournament.
The rest of the evening ran smoothly and we eventually crowned a winner. Throughout the day, and particularly after my event had wrapped up, I had several very productive conversations with the other judges present, either gaining new rules knowledge or discovering perspectives on policy from judges outside my local community.