Setting Up Table Numbers
One of the first things I was tasked with during the day was to number the tables. Elliot Raff, our head judge, directed me where to start the snake and told me to grab anybody I needed that was not already busy. To visualize the room: we had two rows of tables, the first row started with a table with 9 seats and continued with 9 more tables with 15 seats each, the second row had only 9 rows with 15 seats each. This gave us a total of 279 seats total at first. For table numbers we had ring stands and laminated numbers to be inserted, which was very fortunate as we had an odd numbers of seats at every table.
The standard practice I’ve seen is to have one person go first and drop down the ring stands in the correct spot, a second person to go through and drop down the appropriate numbers, and then your additional helpers follow and insert the numbers into the stands. Many hands make light work and speed the process up tremendously.
So we finished numbering the first half of the room and found out we had our FIRST problem. When you snake tables you will end on the same side as you start with an even number of rows. This meant we started our snake in a corner, and we ended our snake in another corner. This is not something you want to do as the numbers should flow as seamlessly and intuitively as possible. We ended up reversing the snake so it flowed the way we wanted it to.
At this point we began moving through the other half of the room (where we already had the ring stands set up, but no numbers were put down). Sam Barrows approached me to see if there was anything he could do to help, and I asked him to double check that there were no issues with the first half of the room. Sure enough we shortly ran into our SECOND problem: The tenth row should have ended at 144 (15*9+9). It actually ended at 146. We now had to go through and figure out why it was wrong. My solution was to look at the end number of each row, as you can just add 15 to the end number of the previous row. Once we found the row that didn’t match, it was easy to figure out that somehow there had ended up being an extra spot in the middle. we then had to fix this readjusting every single number a slight bit.
This became much more problematic when we got to the second row. After moving 144 over to it’s correct spot, we were left with a ring stand with 146 in it, and the number 145 that had been hanging out with 144 until we separated them. When we moved over to the other side of the room this meant we were having to remove a number from every stand, replace it with the correct number, and then bring the removed number forward to repeat the process. For 135 seats….
Peter Creutzbergerp and I actually got into a very good rhythm through this process and made it through most of the row when Abby Kraycar came looking to assist. The solution that I had realized would have been faster was tearing out all the numbers and basically starting fresh. I had Abby start at the next row and start doing that and we managed to finish the process very quickly from there.
Here are things that I wished I had done better with this process.
1) I should have started by making a quick map. It didn’t need to be pretty, but it would have identified our first problem in the span of a minute as opposed to after we had numbered everything and then needed multiple judges to spend time fixing the issue. The other thing is that it could have saved time with identifying where the second problem occurred, as I would have included the start/end table numbers on said map and no math would have needed to have been done.
2) Realized that no math needed to be done at all. Rather than add 15 to the previous row we only needed to see if the last seat on a row ended in a 4 or a 9. If it did not we had found our problem row. This just dawned on me while writing this report and I feel very silly for not thinking of it sooner.
3) As soon as we got to the second half of the room we should have just torn it all down and started over. The stands were already in place, and with how fast Abby, Peter, and myself were able to finish up the last 3 rows we would have saved even more time.
Paper Team and Maximizing Space
I was assigned to the paper team for this event and due to the addition of extra playing space our super fancy judge station was taken away from us and replaced with a single table. We had 4 playmats here for deck checks and two cutting machines for paper. Right before round 1 we came over to find that one machine had been moved due to a lack of space. We devised a system where 3 people assisted in one cutting machine: Megan Linscott (our TL) would hand a stack of ~10 sheets to Zachary Apony, who was cutting. I was on my knees where the paper would “come out” after being cut, and was easily able to remove the scrap first, and then take the cut slips to lay on the floor and sort very quickly.
This system was not ideal and we needed to find a solution to fix it. The first issue we identified with our space was that the far end of the table was being used as a resting spot for a few things that weren’t relevant to the event. We quickly moved those and asked checks to move their playmats down as much as possible. This gave us enough space to put two cutting machines next to each other. If one of them was at the edge of the table, the other would be 6“ away or so (with it’s edge as close to checks’ playmats as possible). This wasn’t workable either, as there was nowhere for the paper to be moved as it was finished being cut.
The solution was in that we had a bit of space ”above“ the cutting machines. By rotating one of them 180 degrees and pushing it ”up”, we were able to create space to the right of each cutting machine.
Answering Questions and Outside Assistance
I had two calls during the event where I am curious about the implications of different answers. First, the easy one, then the tougher one.
1) A player activates his Windbrisk Heights to “play” an Intangible Virtue. The opponent wishes to Spell Snare it. The confusion is because of the wording on Windbrisk Heights not referring to the card as being “cast”. Is it potential outside assistance to explain that the reason it says “play” is because you “play” lands while you “cast” non-lands (in this case implying that you can hideaway lands, which the player may not have known). Is it answering more than the question really needs, despite the fact that it clears up the WHY of the confusion about exactly how this work?
2) AP has Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in play and casts a Terminate on his opponent’s creature. In response NAP casts Fiend Hunter and targets the Kalitas with it’s ability. AP asks if he responds by casting Snapcaster Mage into Lightning Bolt, what would happen to Kalitas?
This question is really challenging to answer without giving away too much information to the player, and I felt the only “safe” answer was to instruct the player that as worded I could not answer his question. I’d be very curious to hear how others would respond in this case.
Word Usage and Your Head Judge
In one of the later rounds I responded to a call where a player cast Serum Visions, put it into the graveyard, and drew his card very quickly. The issue was that his opponent had a Chalice of the Void with one counter. I consulted with Alex Mullins, who was right behind me for the call, and neither of us felt that the player in question was intentionally rushing in an attempt for his opponent to miss his trigger. We agreed this is a very straightforward HCE and I would need to run my fix through Elliot Raff or Joe Hughto (per their request at the start of the event).
When I approached Elliot and began to explain the situation I chose my words poorly. The words “the player was very open about how he was rushing”. Elliot looks me in the eye and explains to me how the words coming out of my mouth are very troubling. I end up clarifying what my intent was: the player was trying to play quickly and was not being as careful/aware as they should be. Choosing the wrong words can completely change the context of the message you are trying to get across, and in this case that potentially would have moved this call into a cheating investigation, rather than the HCE fix.
The Many Double GRVs
It seemed like there were a lot of double GRVs issued at this event. The two that I issued are two very common examples:
1) Path to Exile and the creature goes to the graveyard. I withheld intervening for close to 30 seconds on this one in hopes of the players catching it. Easy default fix of put the creature into the correct zone.
2) Vendilion Clique removing a card from a player’s hand and them not drawing. Easy default fix of have the affected player draw a card.
The next situation was issued as a double GRV, and the judge who issued the ruling was curious if others would agree with them.
3) AP controls Eidolon of Rhetoric, which NAP casts Lightning Bolt on. NAP then proceeds to activate Pia and Kiran Nalaar‘s ability to sacrifice a thopter and deal 2 damage to it. AP responds by casting Path to Exile on the Pia and Kiran. After everything has stopped happening and the turn is passed, the Eidolon is still on the battlefield.
After discussion I feel like this is very much a case of GRV/FtMGS, the question is: for whom? In order to answer that question, we need to establish what we believe to be what actually went wrong. Did AP forget to put the Eidolon into the graveyard despite it having 5 damage marked on it? Did NAP think that Pia and Kiran’s ability was countered as the creature was not still around? I think that determining the truth here very much would require being present for the call.
This last scenario is one that I heard about secondhand from a player, and was ruled as a GRV/FtMGS. I am curious if anybody else believes that this could be considered as a double GRV?
So both of these abilities do not have a legal target, because NAP is hexproof. The text regarding double GRVs is as follows:
“If the judge believes that both players were responsible for a Game Rule Violation, such as due to the existence of replacement effects or a player taking action based on another players instruction, both players receive a Game Play Error – Game Rule Violation.”
I personally feel that in this scenario both players are responsible for knowing that NAP has hexproof, thus I believe the double GRV is a reasonable call here. Furthermore, while nothing “illegal” happened, it’s possible that AP only took a card because NAP laid out their hand without being prompted.
The other thing I am curious about here is: do you investigate NAP for cheating here? There are quite a few possibilities for why it would be advantageous to allow these things to happen intentionally.
A Fun Scenario
Gil Medeiros came over to me with a scenario that actually happened and wanted to bounce it off of me to get my opinion. It turns out that I think this is a great scenario to pose to other judges for teaching, because it seems very complex (due to the inclusion of many cards) but boils down to a very small thing.
AP has a Monastery Swiftspear and has cast a Skullcrack. In response NAP (who has a Blood Artist in play) sacrifices two copies of Fume Spitter. The Swiftspear player then gives it another +1/+1 from Prowess afterwards. When the turn ends and the Swiftspear finally goes to the graveyard and the Blood Artist triggers, will NAP gain life?
The wording on Skullcrack is a bit weird in that many effects say “until end of turn” rather than “this turn”. However, both wordings end at the same time. So Skullcrack’s “players can’t gain life” stops being a thing at the same time as the Prowess triggers end. The end result is that NAP does gain life for this trigger.
This was an amazing event that was more than I think any of us expected it to be. Even with all of the hurdles I think we knocked this one out of the park as far as our responsibilities. I would just like to thank everybody that was on the event for doing a great job. I would also like to thank all of you reading this and I hope you’ve learned some things from this event, just as I did.