This past weekend I was able to make my way down to Worcester, MA to judge at the StarCityGames Open. For Saturday I was given the task of being the breaks/floor coverage team lead, which was my first time team leading at an event of this size. On Sunday I was a member of the deck checks team for the modern PIQ, with Megan Linscott as team lead (which was also her first time).
Saturday and the Team Leading Experience
As soon as I saw the list for my team I knew I was in good hands as a first time team lead. My team included Joe Hughto, Alex Mullins, and Ilan Seid-Green so there was a lot of experience backing me up. I also had 3 L1s on my team: Ben Coursey whom I have worked with many times before, Ryan Scullin who was new to me, and Bryan Li who I wanted to work with more as he’s from my area (who also got pulled to deck checks, and replaced with Samuel Bill).
The goal behind the breaks/floor coverage team is to come up with a system where everybody gets their breaks in a timely fashion and my team would cover for them while off the floor. Each team would be getting a full round break at some point, and then a half round later in the shift. All of the other leads were very flexible as far as what round they would prefer, and my only preference was that deck checks go in round 2 or 4. The final breakdown for what our break schedule looked like was this:
Round 2 – Breaks (half round: end of 6)
Round 3 – Slips/Logistics (half round: start of 7)
Round 4 – Deck Checks (half round: end of 7)
Round 5 – Pairings/End of Round (half round: start of 8)
The reason for wanting deck checks to go in round 2 or 4 is so that for their half round check they could just go after they finished checks for the round, and my team could just focus on floor coverage.
Overall the day went pretty smoothly, but there were a number of things that I learned/wished I had done better:
1) Communication is always good
Too much is (almost) never bad. Knowing that my team had a lot of experienced people on it I focused a lot of my attention on the less experienced members of the team. This was a disservice to the others who were primarily looking for ways they could help me out. What I wish I had done was communicate our tasks for this round AND next round by meeting as a group near the printer (but not at the printer). This way even if we missed one of our meetings due to the needs of the event I would have a full round to catch up with everybody individually for what’s happening next round and who is responsible for what.
2) Team discussion
I came up with a fun game to do with the team where we created a planeswalker card over the course of the day. This would have been better had I described the idea behind the card more fully in advance, as opposed to doing only one aspect at a time. The intent was to get the team to interact with each other more often, which I believe was successful. I also prepared some policy scenarios to talk about with my team that either came up or could have come up in some of my recent events. I wish I had done more with these (both in the prep beforehand for them and the actual discussion).
3) Don’t forget the small stuff, but also don’t sweat it
During round 5 we put up the pairings. During round 6 they were still there. I completely forgot to either take them down or delegate to somebody to have it done. Overall it wasn’t a big deal as the judges just put the new pairings on top of the old ones, but I still wish I’d gotten it right.
The scenarios I prepared in advance were as follows, just in case anybody was curious:
1). Active player has a Lightning Bolt in hand while their opponent is at 3 life, with a Scavenging Ooze and 2 forests in play. When AP passes the turn they tap both forests and say “I will eat two creatures in your graveyard”. AP then casts the bolt at the opponent. What does the stack look like?
2). A player approaches you at the end of round 1 and informs you that their deck list and deck do not match. They registered 2 copies of Temple of Silence and 1 copy of Temple of Malady. The deck contained 1 copy of Silence and 2 copies of Malady. He asks if he can fix his list. What do you tell him?
3). Player attacks with a Tarmogoyf, says “you take 3”, then passes the turn. After draw they realize it was a 4/5 due to Tidehollow Sculler being in the graveyard also being an artifact. What infraction and fix do we have?
We also had a couple of neat questions come up over the day that I saw:
1). A player actually asked about damage assignment order. AP was attacked with a 2/2, NAP blocked with 2 1/1 Thopter tokens, had AP choose damage assignment order, then wanted to verify if he cast Abzan Charm that he could make it so both of his guys lived. The interesting bit here was answering the question without steering him to making the play that does what he wants. He did not ask “if I put the 2 counters on THIS guy, will they both live?” Sadly, I don’t remember his exact words, but Samuel was able to navigate his response without any issues.
2). AP controls Kytheon, Hero of Akros and Brimaz, King of Oreskos. He attacks with both, gets his 1/1 token, and wonders if Kytheon will become a planeswalker at end of combat. Kytheon requires having the creatures declared as an attacker, but does not care if they are still around at end of combat (so long as Kytheon himself is). AP does not get a trigger this turn.
3). AP controls a Goblin Rabblemaster. NAP controls an Archangel of Tithes. AP wants to know if he must pay the 1 mana to attack with his 1/1 goblin. The token is being affected by a restriction (cannot attack unless you pay 1) and a requirement (must attack each turn). 508.1d tells us, at the end, that a player is not required to pay a cost to make it so his creature must attack, so the token gets to sit home on defense if the player so wishes.
Sunday and the Deck Checks
On Sunday I was on deck checks for a tournament that ended up being very hectic with a lot of weird things.
In round 1 I had a DDLP for a player forgetting to include 4 copies of Atarka’s Command on his list. Easy update the list to match the deck and inform the player of the game loss penalty.
In one of the later rounds I go to the table and find the players have already drawn their opening hand. I’ve never done this before, and I’m sure Megan had never done it before (she was doing the check with me that round). I figured it would be a good experience to do a check where we maintain the opening hands. No issues and overall not that much more difficult. I laid out the hand along the top of a playmat, then sorted out the rest of the deck as normal. When I came upon a set of cards that also had one in the hand, I would move that card to be slightly higher than the rest of the cards in the hand, until all of them had been pushed up.
In round 8 I was tasked with checking table “6”. There is only a single player at that table, who calls a judge as soon as the timer starts to make us aware of his opponent’s tardiness (who was hustling to his seat), and then asked to go to the bathroom. Rather than check a table that’s already getting a couple minute extension I found a player in the next row with a D6, asked to borrow it, rolled a 4, and proceeded to deck check that table. DDLP. At table 4. Of round 8. 🙁
Other than that there were a bunch of weird rules questions that I saw or was a part of. This was altogether a very strange day.
I flubbed a call and got snap appealed, and knew I was wrong that instant. Player had an Architects of Will enter the battlefield and wanted to see the top 3 of his opponent’s library. Opponent thought it was mill 3, and put them in the graveyard. I told him to just put the 3 back on top and then proceed with the ability as normal, not even thinking of the fact that the other guy should not know what cards are present. Easy overturn for Rob (especially as I told him to overturn me as I was wrong).
I also had some confusion as to how “choosing a source” works. It doesn’t require a target, but it turns out it’s not the same as naming a card. Chris Cahill[/card] was able to point me in the right direction very quickly to get the full rules in regards to how this works (CR 609.7). Basically you choose a permanent or a spell on the stack (in most cases, there are some corner cases as well). The original question was “can I sacrifice my Burrenton Forge-Tender to prevent the damage from a hypothetical Lightning Bolt. I got this one wrong too, but no appeal and it likely had no impact on the game. I answered that it was like naming a card, so that yes he could choose Bolt.
Yeah. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We all make mistakes. I actually beat myself up over the second one here more than the first, mostly because I never had the chance to correct the ruling or apologize.
Some other highlights:
I had two questions in separate rounds from completely different players about Deflecting Palm and Wurmcoil Engine, in that does the creature’s controller gain any life. Well, does it deal any damage? Didn’t think so….
I had a missed trigger that ended with a drawing extra cards infraction. AP casts a Spreading Seas, then casts a Relic of Progenitus. NAP points to the enchantment and asks “did you draw for this?” AP says “no, should I?” At this point they have differing stories in regards to what was said next. After hearing both sides of the story I did not believe that NAP could have been considered to have directed AP to draw the card, and no GRV proceeded the drawing of that card, so we had to me a clear cut case of DEC.
I observed a call where NAP had Leyline of Sanctity enter the battlefield due to being in his opening hand, then his opponent draw on turn 1. Improper Drawing at Start of Game still here, as AP still hasn’t done an in game action yet. Almost saw it happen in another match during the same round, but the player on the play caught himself just before drawing.
I got called over to a table where a player was in the middle of re-sleeving his deck. Game 2 had finished and it seems he busted one too many of his sleeves and decided to start the process. About halfway through he called a judge to ask for an extension. He got that extension based on when I was called, in addition to a warning for slow play….
An affinity player tapped 3 lands, stated “Plating”, put a card face up underneath a creature, and then turns both cards sideways. At this point he realizes the card is a Signal Pest (he does have a Cranial Plating in hand). After some discussion we give a GRV for “improperly casting a spell” and back up to him having priority with nothing on the stack, the pest in hand, and all 3 lands untapped. I’m not convinced this was the correct place to back up to with a GRV based on policy, but I wasn’t going to argue with the decision being made.
Over all this was a very fun and hectic event where I got new opportunities and learned a lot. That is to say, it was the best kind of event. 🙂