Swap, Drop, and Roll? A GP Sydney Tournament Report

Paul Johnson, Level 2, Christchurch, New Zealand

Paul Johnson, Level 2, Christchurch, New Zealand

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of working at my second Grand Prix since reaching Level 2. This event was noteworthy for being the introduction to the new Sealed Pool Registration procedures (forevermore referred to as the “Sydney Swap”), and for being the first Australasian GP to make 1000 players. Almost.

This report will be mostly aimed at those interested in the actual process of how we performed the Sydney Swap (which I ran somewhere in the region of 8 times on the Friday) and finish with a couple of interesting rulings I got to give in our Vintage side event on Sunday.

The weekend started off amazingly well with a cheeky couple of beers the night before the Judge Conference. This allowed me to catch up with some of the Ozzies I hadn’t seen since Auckland (7 months or so previously), and get to meet a bunch of our foreign compatriots who had travelled far and wide. I love the interactions we get with other countries and here in Australasia being able to plumb their brains for judge-related info ensures we don’t get stuck in our ways.

Friday Morning I arrived at the venue mentally prepped to be Head Judging the Legacy side event. I was almost immediately asked whether I would mind not doing it; being prepared to swap roles is important at an Event, as the different skill sets (say, from Logistics, to Floor, to Deck Checks) are all quite varied. I was informed that I would be doing “Announcements” for the day; immediately I thought that perhaps the Sound System was down and I would be required to project my voice over an entire tournament hall of Players, which is a fairly daunting prospect. My fears were allayed when it was explained to me that Ryan Dare (responsible for Grinders on Friday, and my TL for Saturday (Logistics) & Sunday (Sides)) & I would be handling all Announcements for the new Sealed Deck Registration Process. Ryan took the first one, and from there I handled 6(?) Sealed Grinders and the GP Warm-Up Event; a Sealed Deck tournament with 140+(?) players. (I didn’t keep very good notes over the weekend, it seems!)

The process we settled on (and I believe was used by John Alderfer – GP Sydney HJ) after several refinements is as follows:

  • Seat the players randomly
  • Deliver Registration sheets and get the players to fill in the “Player Using Deck” portion.
  • Deliver Product.
  • Explain that shortly they will be opening cards and that these cards will belong to them. (This step will become unnecessary as players adjust to the new method)
  • Instruct players facing a specific direction to open their packs, fan their cards to the player sitting opposite in order to verify them and then place them face down in a single pile on their registration sheet.
  • Instruct the other players to repeat the process.
  • Swap the pools across the table along with the sheet.
  • Instruct the players to fill in the “Player Registering Pool” section, then to begin sorting first by colour and then alphabetically.

At this point I would usually hand over to the Judge who was actually running their event, initially I believe the intention was that we would also cover the Vancouver Mulligan and general HJ announcements, but I discovered that I was too busy to consistently do so, and from this point on all of the Judges I was working with should be capable of the normal process.

I instituted a 2 minute time-limit (with no actual enforcement/penalties) to the opening/verification process after a recommendation from Gareth Pye – we were having issues with players misinterpreting the instructions and slowly showing their opponent, or spreading them out so all 84 cards were visible at once.

Other “hiccups” occurred when we had an uneven number of players – a 3-way swap is a nice and simple solution to this, although it does take a bit of extra judge-power to handle. For the GP we chose to remove all the players without a partner across the table, move them to the bottom tables, seat them and perform the process from there. This was generally an easy solution, but did lead to difficulty with trying to determine which players weren’t actually present (so the Scorekeeper could drop them before pairing Round 1). After seating all the “moved” players, I then had to tick their name off a master list, which I provided to our SK. He then had to punch in their name (or use their table number) and cross reference that to the other player who was also seated at that table, before finally dropping them. It was less than ideal.

In future, for an event of this size, I would look at having the Judge that collects the player make a note of the table number, and the players name, and after delivering them to the new seat, provide that information to the SK. From there it should be a fairly quick look-up and they can drop people as they go, rather than being handed one big list and having to deal with them all at once.

A point of concern is that the Sydney Swap seems to encourage “chatter” significantly more than the old method, simply because until registration roughly half the players are doing nothing other than watch. Commenting “wow, cool expedition” as opposed to “wow, nice bomb” is a very fine line. I would recommend reminding players that Outside Assistance is a no-no and is going to lead to them having a very bad time.

Entertaining rulings:

“Judge, I’ve cast Oath of Druids and its still on the stack. My opponent has responded with Gush, and drawn his cards already. He missed his Young Pyromancer trigger, can he please still have it?”

“Uhhh…. Yes? Yes!”

“Judge! Can I please have the flavor text for Monastery Mentor?”

/blank stare

Unfortunately, this story leads to a learning experience – I confirmed whether the player wanted the flavor text and he said “well, no, just the creature types actually”. Here is where I made a mistake – I told the player that it was a Human Monk. After discussing my amusing situation with another judge (thanks Puccio!) he prompted me with: “why were you giving a player derived information?” In future, I will definitely remember to just ask if they would like to see the Oracle text.

Shout-outs to everyone who helped make the weekend awesome; especially Michael Puccio for every interaction with him being incredibly positive, and for Ryan Dare for chucking me in various different deep ends and trusting that I would swim.

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