Format: Legacy Open
Site: DCU Center, Worcester, MA
Head Judge: Nicholas Sabin (Level 3, North Carolina) and Joe Hughto (Level 3, Massachusetts) serving as the secondary appeals judge.
Significant Penalties: I did not interact with any players who received anything more than a Warning during the course of the day.
I was on the “Breaks” team, led by Dan Collins (Level 2, New Jersey), which served primarily on the floor, but covered for other teams that go break. As such, I got to do a little of everything – paper, deck checks, etc. It was a great experience getting a chance to take on multiple roles.
During Round 1 I took on a call where a player cast Ponder, picked up 4 cards, but his opponent realized that the player had done so and stopped and called for a judge. The player returned the cards to the top of his deck in the same order when his opponent informed him at some point. A quick conference with a few judges concluded that because the player had not even actually seen the cards, and they never changed order, no infraction, no penalty was assessed. Both players agreed which card was the 4th, so the player was instructed to resolve the Ponder correctly.
Another Round 1 call involved a player activating a Sensei’s Divining Top that was on top of their library due to the tap ability of the Top which the player used on their main phase. He attempted to “spin” the Top at the opponent’s end step, who had done relatively nothing. He realized he had made a mistake when the first card he saw was the Sensei’s Divining Top. Upon discussion, I chose to reveal the Top, and apply GRV with a Warning, because he attempted to activate an ability that he didn’t have access to. Upon discussion with other judges, we concluded revealing the Top to both players was slightly outside the scope of the remedy, especially in this particular case, but it was information both players knew, so, in the end, no harm, no foul.
Round 4 was my break, where I had some great discussion with Chris Cahill, Level 2 from Massachusetts and my area rep, about my next steps and discussing tournament software.
In Round 5, several judges were in the area, including myself, Jordan Trundy (Level 1, Massachusetts) and Abe Corson (Level 3, Virginia) when a player called us over. His opponent was slightly incredulous, and the player informed us he felt uncomfortable with the language and demeanor his opponent was presenting. The opponent was mostly angry with the string of plays the player who called us had put together, and did admit to using some obscenities while the string of plays was occurring. I decided it was prudent to pull the opponent away from the table to defuse the situation and get more judges involved, namely Jordan. We got him to calm down a bit before myself and Jordan discussed how we should approach this. The player we pulled aside wandered slightly back to the table while we were discussing and talked to his opponent more, which was a huge misstep on my part, but we learn from situations like these. Once we reigned the standing player in again, Jordan took control of the call – completely and masterfully defusing the situation. We ended up having to give this player a USC-Minor because of the language, but the player, who near the beginning, said he was just going to concede the match because of how he was feeling, continued the match to the end. Jordan told me he would circle back and talk to the player again after his match, which we all agreed was a good touch. I look forward to Jordan’s report of this situation, and he was recognized by Abe Corson in our end of day meeting for doing extremely well handing a very uncommon infraction with compassion and grace.
In Round 8, a player cast Scapeshift, sacrificing 7 lands. He searched for a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and 6 lands with the Mountain subtype. His opponent, who controlled a Wasteland, asked how using Wasteland on any of the lands would work. The judges attending quickly agreed that the triggers definitely do go on the stack for Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and the player can only attempt to use the Wasteland after all the triggers are on the stack. A quick huddle and checking the rulings of Valakut led us to a key ruling. Each of Valakut’s triggers are tied to the Mountain card that entered the battlefield, and with the intervening if on Valakut, and check that there are 5 *other* Mountains on the battlefield. Upon returning to the table with this information, the judges attending had the player with the Valakut distinctly target each trigger showing which trigger was tied to each of his lands. With this information, the opponent then was allowed to make his play regarding Wasteland. The trigger tied to the land that was destroyed (assuming it wasn’t Valakut) will still deal 3 damage, while the remaining triggers will not. This ruling was appealed by the player with the Valakut, but was upheld.
While nothing unique, in Round 9, a re-pair occurred due to a match slip error, and took several minutes to fix. During this time, one of the players involved in the re-pair, but not one of the causes, arrived at his table tardy with no player sitting across from him. As I was going through the Tardiness spiel, Ellen McMannis (Level 2, Massachusetts) arrived with the re-paired slip and the “missing” opponent. They got a time extension due to the re-pair, and the player I was speaking to was actually on time for his re-paired match, dodging the Game Loss for Tardiness. While nothing earth-shattering, it was a new and funny-after-the-fact incident.
Final Thoughts and Takeaways: A long day and a fast day for sure. I admit I, somewhat unintentionally, gravitated towards the lower tables where coverage was certainly weak. While I certainly missed the mark on some calls, I learned from them, and that is almost as important as getting the call right and doing it in a timely fashion. Again, nothing earth shattering or precedent setting I was involved with, but I learned a lot, both from doing calls and from just osmosis and asking questions of other judges how they would handle/d a situation. I would like to thank the organizer, Star City Games, and Nicholas Sabin for giving me this opportunity to progress as a judge. I would also like to thank the Breaks team, Dan Collins, my team lead, Ellen McMannis, a great unofficial mentor for the day, and the rest of the team, Jeff Higgins (Level 2, Oregon), Rob Castellon (Level 3, Maine) and Zach Apony (Level 2, Massachusetts) for their help and putting up with me for the day.
This event (and this report) was the last hurdle for me to attempt the jump for Level 2. It has made me want to get there even more and progress as a judge in all things beyond the number that is my judge level. I look forward to seeing you all on the floor again!
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