MKM Trial Frankfurt (Le&Le Games – 19th March 2016)

Herman Janssen, Tirgu-Mures, Romania

Herman Janssen, Tirgu-Mures, Romania

Format: Standard

Site: Le&Le Games, Targu-Mures, Romania

Date: March 19, 2016

Attendance: 19

Judges: Herman Janssen (Level 1)


This event is the first Competitive event I judged individually. Currently my goal is to advance to Level 2 in the summer of 2016, so I welcomed the opportunity to judge this event with open arms. At this event my mentor Adrian Teodorescu was participating as player, which gave me the opportunity to ask a few questions in between rounds.


For the logistics of the event I prepared a checklist which was very helpful.

During registrations, a local player came to me to print his decklist. This was quite distracting as I was interrupted from enrolling participants into the WER. Someone noticed and helped by starting up the other computer at the venue. Lesson learned.


When I was almost finished talking, a table in the back of the room were talking loud amongst each other. I asked them for their attention. Reflecting back, I’m not sure if I could have kept the announcement possibly a little shorter.


Round 1

At the beginning of round 1 I collected all decklists, marked the first 3 letters of the last names on the top right corner, sorted them alphabetically and counted the number of cards listed on each. Only 1 stood out with 61 listed mainboard cards.

During the process a player with a Bye came to hang out with me. I instructed him to stay distant from me because I was handling confidential information.

After the count I wasn’t sure if I should perform the deck check immediately or wait until the beginning of the next round. I decided the latter would be more appropriate to not interrupt an ongoing match and possibly delay the tournament so early on. I later consulted with my mentor who confirmed this procedure. Additionally he advised me to shoot a quick question to the player with 61 cards about how many cards he’s playing, as soon as he finished the match. And if there would be enough time in the round I could even perform the deck check right away.

Call 1: When I was walking towards the table the player was already standing and walking towards me. He showed me a checklist card which was painted blue around the square with Jace’s name and mana cost. I approved the card as tournament legal.

Call 2: Andy cast Dazzling Reflection targeting a creature. Nate sacrifices the targeted creature (with Nantuko Husk) in response. Andy asks me if he is going to gain life. I explained Andy what happens with a spell which has no legal target when it tries to resolve.

Round 2

At the beginning of the round I performed a deck check of the table the player with the 61 card deck. He was indeed playing with 61 cards, but had a 16th unlisted card in his deck box next to his sideboard in the same type of sleeve. I told the player that this was not appropriate and issued him a game loss. Additionally, knowing the player has zero competitive experience, I explained to him that penalties are part of competitive events and meant to educate the player to not do this again in the future.

Call 3: A challenging one… Andrew just drew his card for the turn when Nancy called me over. Nancy explained that in his declare blockers step Andrew blocked an attacking Anafenza, the Foremost with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and activated his ability, discarding a card (another Jace) which would be the 5th card in his graveyard. Andrew flipped Jace to his planeswalker side. No damage was dealt and Nancy played a tapped land for the turn. During Andrew’s draw step both players realised that Anafenza’s replacement effect would have exiled the card discarded with Jace. After getting a clear idea where the game state was and what happened after the error occurred, I examined the hands of both players to verify if there would have been any other lines of play possible if the error would not have been made. Both players were either tapped out or sitting on too few lands to cast anything. Nancy had no other lands in hand that she could have played. I decide to apply a backup and explain the players that we are going to backup until the point of the error. I put a random card from Andrew’s hand on top of his library (which he would draw again anyway), and flip Jace back. We exile the discarded card as appropriate, the blocking Jace dies, Nancy plays the (same) tapped land for the turn and Andrew draws for his turn.

The above situation was my first backup. I was a little overwhelmed from the situation though satisfied with my decision and the result. I quickly went to my desk to write notes of the situation. Then I realised that I forgot to apply the appropriate penalties for the players and give them a time extension. I decided that I would wait until the players finish the game to inform them of the penalties, to not interrupt them unnecessarily. Lesson learned! A bit later I found my mentor and asked him what I should do. He affirms my decisions.

Round 3

I performed a deck check on table 1. During the check I had two judge calls to answer. As a result I did not have enough time to check all cards of the second deck. I verified the sideboard and counted the cards in the mainboard before quickly bringing the decks back to the players.

Call 4: The target of Reality Shift was sacrificed in response, “does the controller still manifest?” – I explained that the spell is countered on resolution.

Call 5: A request for Oracle text.

Call 6: Anna is attacking with Eldrazi Mimic along with a Reality Smasher which was cast this turn. After blockers are declared Anna points out that Eldrazi Mimic is a 5/5 and Naomi (on 5 life) loses the match. Naomi calls me over pointing out that Anna didn’t announce the trigger of Eldrazi Mimic when Reality Smasher entered the battlefield. Anna explains that awareness of this triggered ability has to be demonstrated when it has effect on the visible game state, in this case the life total of Naomi. I tell Anna that Mimic says “may”. After which Anna tells Naomi something like “just like I said”, and Naomi immediately swoops up her cards. I explain to Anna that Mimic has a ‘may’ clause requiring a decision when the ability resolves. Anna, who has more Judge experience than me, protests my ruling pointing out that the awareness has to be demonstrated when it affects the visible game state and the card Mimic does not change physically so it isn’t visible. Here I felt inexperienced and thought Anna probably knew better than me. I immediately made notes of what happened and set a goal for myself to do some research back home.

In the comprehensive rules I found two sections. After reading them multiple times over I concluded that I had it right initially. I discussed this with Anna and my mentor separately in the following days. Lesson learned: Be confident!

117.12a Some spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities read, “[Do something] unless [a player does something else].” This means the same thing as “[A player may do something else]. If [that player doesn’t], [do something].”

603.5 Some triggered abilities’ effects are optional (they contain “may,” as in “At the beginning of your upkeep, you may draw a card”). These abilities go on the stack when they trigger, regardless of whether their controller intends to exercise the ability’s option or not. The choice is made when the ability resolves. Likewise, triggered abilities that have an effect “unless” something is true or a player chooses to do something will go on the stack normally; the “unless” part of the ability is dealt with when the ability resolves.

Call 7: A bystander made the call. Antony played a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and passed the turn after combat where two blocking creatures died when they blocked the attacking Kalitas. The blockers died and were exiled as part of Kalitas’ effect, but no 2/2 Zombie tokens were put in play from the same effect. I heard out the bystander, who was a little irritated because the players continued playing after he told them to stop and called me over, they had proceeded to the first main phase. After examining the situation with both players, I started to explain to the players that they had made an error which was going to be penalized. I told Antony that he was going to receive a Warning for GPE-GRV. Since I was already thinking about the fix, I misnamed Kalitas’ ability as a triggered ability, which was corrected by my mentor who was observing as a bystander. Then, I explained to Natasha that she is going to get a warning for GPE-FtMGS. I then took some time thinking whether or not to apply a backup here to have the ability resolve correctly. I checked the game zones. Antony had some cast-able spells in hand, which he could have chosen to cast instead if he had the tokens in play. Because of the different lines of play possible and Antony already revealed information by casting new spells, I decided to not apply a backup and left the game state as it was. A few minutes later the bystander came find me and said Antony should have gotten the tokens. Evaluating this ruling I stand by my decision.

At the end of round 3 I found some trash lying around on a table. I looked up the names of the players that played there and called them out. I reminded them to my announcement request to keep the play area clean. They understood and thanked me for the reminder.

Round 4

At the beginning of round 4 the players at table 1 ID-ed so I deck checked table 2. While looking up their decklists I had to look over at the table to see who was playing there. Here I noticed one of the players looking straight at me. I assumed they realised I wanted to check them as a few seconds later I heard one of the players out-loud counting the cards in his deck. So I deviated to the next table where players were presenting their decks, table 4. When picking up the decks one of the players explained that his sideboard was on the left side of his deck box, and at the right side was ‘other stuff’. When examining the contents of his deck box i found many cards that are legal in the format along with his double faced cards matching to the checklist cards and some sleeves in his deck. While giving the ruling and penalty, the player protested by telling me that he said that his sideboard is on the left side, and the rest doesn’t belong to it. I educated the player that this is not acceptable, even if they are divided by a wall or divider in the deckbox. I told the players they could continue where they left when I interrupted them. Here my mentor (one of the checked players) reminded me to always tell the players that they start playing game without sideboard-ing after a game loss is given before the match started.

Call 8: A tired player started reshuffling his deck after his opponent cut it. I explained him that there is no harm done and instructed him to do his shuffle and present it for a cut again.

40 minutes into the round many matches ended and players were getting excited for the last round. They were getting loud and I had to ask them twice to keep their voices down.

Round 5

I decided to check a table at which both players had to win to have a chance to get in the top 8. Here everything was fine.

Before the Top 8

2I announced the top 8 participants verbally. Which was probably a bad idea because I’m not good with the pronunciation of Romanian names. I even forgot to mention one of the 8 names.

I handed out the prizes. Here one of the locals volunteered in making notes of which person took which boosters for inventory tracking. This help was much welcomed and it made handing out the prizes a smooth process.

Quarter finals

One of the quarter-finalists dropped from the event. One of the matches played out quite slowly. After a bystander notified me I took a chair and sat next to these players. I timed their turns, but couldn’t catch slow play. As soon as one of them took a 30 second thinking pause I asked them to keep playing at a reasonable speed after which it sped up. When the game finished I found out it was only game 2 and we were 60 minutes in. I asked both of them again to keep playing at a normal pace before they started game 3. Somehow game 3 was over in 5 minutes.

Semi finals

I noticed one of the players was looking at the direction of the deck while he was shuffling his opponent’s deck, though I could not see if he was actually looking at cards or just staring into nothingness. To be sure I asked him to reshuffle without looking. The player apologized and mentioned it was a long day.


I observed the final match closely sitting right in the middle at the table. Both players pile shuffled which allowed me to count their deck as they did. As soon as they presented the decks I stopped them and did a quick check on their sideboards. Everything was okay.

One of the players flipped over a card when shuffling his opponent’s deck, while shuffling hasty. I told the player that he has all the time he needs so he can shuffle a bit slower to prevent it from happening. I gave the player a warning for GPE-LEC.

Later the same player looked at 3 cards when scrying 2. This was an odd moment because it was right at the end of game 3. I explained the players that the fix for this error has been changed recently and had the player reveal the 3 cards and the opponent pick one to shuffle back. The player received a warning for GPE-HCE. Both players felt like this remedy was the cause of the match ending a turn later. I tried to explain the reason of this change in the IPG (less harsh penalty), but that didn’t make them feel better. Later when all the players went home I looked it up in the recently changed clause in the IPG to confirm I made the right decision.


What I learned – general:

Overall this event has been a great experience for me. Though MKM considered a Level 1 Judge sufficient for their trial events, I found this a quite intense day and a large contribution to my learning path to Level 2. I learned a lot and can conclude that the actual practice gives a more memorable learning experience.

I was happy I prepared myself for the event. My familiarity with the venue was definitely beneficial, though for this event I had to step up my game and my preparation contributed to that.

Also, I was happy that my mentor was attending the event. That way I was able to ask him a few questions between the rounds on topics I wasn’t 100% sure of how to handle.

What I learned – organizational:

1. Have the online event announcement nearby, including registrations from participants who posted their DCI in advance.

2. Don’t let participants use the computer with WER software to print decklists (or other purposes). Instead instruct them to handwrite the deck list, print it at home beforehand or have another computer available at the venue for these activities (at discretion of the venue owner).

3. Keep the announcements short and to the point.

What I learned – rulings:

1. Always keep calm and take all the time you need during complex rulings like the ones in round 2 and 3. Make sure to inform the players of the procedure to fix or not and explain why, and also make sure to apply the appropriate penalty and give time extension.

2. Always keep cool and say what I’m supposed to say.

3. Be confident! Do not let other persons influence your decision on a ruling, even if they are more experienced judges. It’s important to keep the authority and being firm and decisive helps with that.

What I learned – other:

1. For two local players this was the first Competitive event they attended. They were calling me by name when making a Judge call. Maybe this is not appropriate, but I’m not sure. I intend to educate them at the next event they attend, to raise their hand and yell “Judge” instead of my name.

2. During this event I decided to try a deck check technique similar to the Australian DC technique, using a pen to check off cards on the decklist and weaving out 4-6 cards in my left hand at a time. I have chosen for this method because I was worried that I would not have enough time to check 2 decks in 7 minutes. I found this method practical and not more time consuming than the traditional method, though I’m not sure which is quicker. After a first try in round 2 I was satisfied with the result and proceeded to use the same way with all other deck checks.

3. Stay close to all the games being played out during a top 8 and be aware of slow play. Some players may be tired and the round not being timed might cause them to slow down their pace unintentionally.

4. Additionally I created a checklist template for future events with regular logistics and aspects I learned during this event and want to remind myself of.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first Tournament Report. You may provide me your constructive feedback if you like by contacting me via Facebook or on my email:

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