This would be my first time working with the structured teams many judges are familiar with. Not only that, but I had been assigned the role of Floor/Logisitics Team Lead. So I think many could understand that there was a little anxiety and a desire to prove myself.
Our Head Judge, CJ Stambaugh, gathered all of the leads, once we were all present, and had a quick leadership meeting. I appreciate that CJ was very clear in what he expected from each of the teams, as it gave me a framework in which I was able to learn how the teams operate and mask my lack of experience with the structure. We then had a quick all staff meeting before CJ let us loose on prepping the event. CJ made it very clear that as Floor Team Lead, that the layout of the event space was my first responsibility. I quickly analyzed what was available to me in both terms of manpower and the existing layout from the previous day’s event. I developed a plan that may have seemed unconventional to some, but I thought provided the judges with the most efficient way of moving through the space. I basically decided to put the event in the back corner of the room.
The room had been previously been set up with a series of longer rows on one side and a series of shorter rows on the other, separated by a wide aisle. I chose to use the shorter rows even though they were not the ones in front of the stage. I felt that using twice as many of the shorter rows would create a play area where judges would be able to move more quickly from any given point to another.
I chose to use the rows in the back due to the fact that these shorter rows were not in front of the stage. Being off to the side, I felt that the rows towards the back provided a better view of the time clock for the majority of the seats. A couple of judges were curious about my chosen layout, but once I explained the reasons, they commended me for being able to quickly evaluate and develop a well reasoned plan. There were a few drawbacks, and I quickly owned those failures as being a lack of foresight on my behalf. The two center rows were too close together. Players could sit comfortably, but no one was able to use the aisle between them during the match. Fortunately, the small layout structure meant that judges didn’t need to use the aisle to get around. However, I still wish I had thought to check row spacing before the event started.
I had also decided that I didn’t want to have a single judge responsible for attending the coverage matches. I figured that most judges enjoyed judging, and I didn’t want to have one person off to the side while the others got to be floor judges. I quickly decided that each team lead and each floor judge would cover a single round. This covered all but the final round, so I had one judge take a second turn for that last round. One judge expressed some concern over having to sit and watch a single match for a round rather than being on the floor, but I explained that I felt it was only fair if everyone did a turn. I gave everyone their round assignment, and made sure the team leads knew when their team members would be doing their rounds as well. I am proud to say that this plan also seemed to execute smoothly.
The last thing that was left to determine in the terms of setup and scheduling was the lunch breaks. We had 86 players, which meant 7 rounds. CJ had told us that breaks would be on rounds 2-4 and that whole teams would be going at the same time. During these rounds, deck checks would be suspended to provide coverage. CJ left it up to the team leads to determine which team would go during which round. We decided it in the only fair way we knew how, we rolled for it. I had the fortune of winning the prime choice and quickly decided my team would take round 4. Paper got the last choice and got stuck with round 2, while Deck Check took round 3. With all things now decided, we were ready to begin.
The Event Itself
I feel that event set up was were most of my decisions needed to be made. Once the event was off and running, things seemed to move fairly smoothly. As a modern event, most players were familiar not only with their decks, but with the other big decks of the format as well.
We also didn’t have too many new cards and interactions to deal with from Eldritch Moon. Most rules questions were fairly basic, and half of my calls were for Oracle text for cards that were in foreign languages.We did have situation come up during round 4, which of course was my lunch break although I was taking my lunch behind the stage and got to hear most of what was going on. It seems that during the friendly banter of two players in a match while sideboarding for game 2, a player from the match next to them offered up an interaction that was available to one of the players by mentioning that Angel’s Grace would keep the player alive if he didn’t pay for a Pact during his upkeep. It was decided that this was Outside Assistance and the offending player was given the match loss. We had expected an appeal and a little bit of resistance from the player receiving the penalty, but he took the penalty and dropped from the event.
All in all, I thought the event was pretty successful. I was very happy with how my plans played out and felt pretty accomplished. A couple judges provided feedback after the swiss rounds had passed, and I was told they were impressed how well things went on my first attempt at a lead position. I also had a few feedback sessions with some of the staff who I wanted to share my thoughts on how things went. It was a solid team, and I would gladly work with all 7 of the other staff members again. Most notably, I would like to mention how much I was impressed by CJ. He was an amazing head judge and an exemplary mentor. He was able to keep the event fun, running smoothly, and take some time to mentor me on my path of becoming an L2.
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