Head Judging a Standard PPTQ with Vehicles and Energy

Adam Blaylock, Level 2,
Statesborough, Georgia, United States

Adam Blaylock, Level 2,
Statesborough, Georgia, United States

Judges: Adam Blaylock (Head Judge), Matt Wells(Floor Judge)

I decided to write this down because I foresaw a lot of interactions which I felt would be commonplace for many judges running Competitive REL tournaments with the current standard environment. Vehicles, tournament shortcuts, and energy all played a major role in the calls I took. I hope judges find this helpful.

Preparation and Goals

Kaladesh was a new set that presented a number of complex situations. I had benefited from working and playing in a number of events with the set already. However, I also knew players would still make those mistakes. I  worked at GP Atlanta a few weeks before, and I had quite a few calls relating to when players could crew vehicles, and problems with spells that create energy.

So I approached this event knowing that there would be problems with vehicles, moving to combat, and that whole thing covered by Toby Elliott’s recent article. I was actually really glad that article had come out when it did, as I was able to direct my floor judge to read it. Matt had actually already familiarized himself with the article (good guy, this Matt dude), so that was less of an issue.

Energy was another problem that I wanted to find some written articles on. Sadly, I didn’t find any in time. My concern was that players would miss when they should gain energy often enough for it to be a problem. I just made sure I familiarized myself with the cards that produce energy, and how they produce energy. I kept Harnessed Lightning and Glimmer of Genius in focus, as they had been established as format staples on the Pro Tour.

I spent some time before the event talking to Matt about his goals for the event. I knew beforehand that he was looking to get some more experience for L2, and I suspected he was looking to write a review. I wanted to help him out with this goal, so I decided to focus on ways to make him a stronger candidate for L2. (Spoiler, he was already a strong candidate, so I doubt he needed my help) The week leading up to the event saw me shipping him the occasional hypothetical to test his familiarity with rules and policy. He answered everything correctly, and often with such an articulated answer there wasn’t much for me to discuss with him after.

Game Day

I told Matt to show up around 10 AM, and I was there way earlier than that. I hit up Dunken Donuts across the street to kill some time, before heading to the shop to meet the TO. I had a short conversation with the TO about scorekeeping and lunch. Fortunately, the TO said that the shop would take care of scorekeeping and food. Shortly after Matt showed up, I had him sit down with me, and we went over deck checks. I asked him to go through an exercise I use to speed myself up when deck checking (it involves registering a deck with speed and accuracy). Turns out, Matt is quicker at deck checks than I am.

We then talked through head judge announcements, and had him go through his thoughts and how he would do them. I made some pointers and completely forgot to mention the tardiness policy. Transitively, I forgot it in my announcements as well. We also discussed the issues I expected that day, set up a judge station on a table a bit out of the way. I also made sure Matt was aware I wanted a round 1 deck check. He would be responsible for the swoop and the check went smoothly overall due to his deftness.


After finishing my announcement and missing the tardiness policy portion, I put up pairings. We started everything about 5 minutes behind schedule, but it was fine. Round 1 deck checks went smoothly, and we settled in for a fairly easy round.

I had told Matt I wanted him to handle most of the calls, so players could appeal if need be. I did this so Matt can practice taking calls. In Round 1, Matt called me over for an appeal. Antoan had activated Shaheeli Rai’s second ability, making a token copy of an animated Wandering Fumarole, and tried to attack with both. Antoan believed his new token was a land, artifact, and creature. Matt had correctly ruled it was in fact just a land artifact, and not able to attack. I confirmed his ruling, and explained that the effect animating his real Wandering Fumarole was not a trait that could be copied. Matt gave Antoan a GRV for attacking with a non-creature.

I also encountered the question about going to combat before crewing. Antoan said, “combat.” After his opponent confirmed this, he said “Crew my Smuggler’s Copter.” I was watching the match, so I explained that he was too late to crew his vehicle.

Round 2 involved another deck check. I was 3 cards in when I realized there was something wrong with the deck. It was still sideboarded from the previous round. The sideboard plan was not consistent with what I would expect to see chosen for the match up, so I did not really suspect cheating here. I had Matt issue a DDLP Game Loss, and moved on with the round.

At one point, I did have a question about Dynavolt Tower. A player had cast an instant and passed turn. The player said he had forgotten to gain the energy from his tower, so I ruled it missed trigger, but his opponent was a nice guy let it go onto the stack. I had 3 incidents of missed Dynavolt Tower triggers for the day with one in a round 5 win-and-in match. Players seemed to regularly forget the card was on the board. I feel like I should have recommended they find a way to remember their trigger in the future, but decided that would be Outside Assistance.

Round 3 saw my first GRV for failing to gain energy. Matt was on break, so I was flooring all the calls. Nathanael had cast Glimmer of Genius on his opponent’s end step, resolved the scry, and drew two cards. He already had a physical marker for his energy pool, so it even had a representation on the board state. This time, however, he did not increase his energy counter, announce a change in energy, or mark it down anywhere. After he untapped and drew for turn I stopped play and ruled it a GRV and FTMGS. Nathanael was extra vigilant about energy for the rest of the day, and I caught him adjusting his opponents’ energy for them several times in later rounds. The rest of the round was fairly uneventful, and I did not issue any other penalties. This round had seen the first of our no-shows. I suspect the score keeper might have been missing people’s drops which could have accounted for the no-show. However, this was not a major concern.
Round 4 was, from my perspective, was pretty calm. I was on break and eating lunch. I did have an appeal while I was eating though, and had to explain the “go to combat” short cut to a rather upset player who did not believe Matt when he told him. I confirmed Matt‘s ruling, and tried to explain some of the policy briefly to the player, and mention that he could find more info on tournament shortcuts in the MTR. I returned to the floor after eating, and didn’t take any more calls.

Round 5 had a rather interesting situation with tables 4 and 5. 9 pointers were in places 5-9 going into the round. That left a situation where a player at table 5 had to play and win to make it into the top 8. This also left table 4 playing for top, because either could be knocked out. The other top tables drew out immediately. I asked Matt to sit in on Table 4 to make sure they played at a reasonable pace. I had explained that they might try to move slowly to wait for a result from table 5. It was in their best interest to do so, and maybe be able to draw in when they got a result. I sat in on table 5, and made sure there things stayed legal and civil, but mostly to prevent bribery.

I had already explained to this table 5 hopeful that he could ask for a concession from his opponent, but once his opponent refused the games needed to happen. I didn’t want him bullying his foe. Turns out it was a mirror match between Dynavolt Tower decks. The match went quickly with the hopeful losing 0-2. Minutes late, table 4 drew. Matt confirmed there was never any slow play, so I left it alone.
At this point, the tournament was chugging along at great speed. It was only 3:30, and we were ready to cut to top 8. I made the top 8 announcement, gave my players a few minutes to review results and do what they needed before we started. Top 8 went fairly smoothly, and we were done before 6. There were no major issues during the top 8, and only a couple of minor rules calls (mostly requests for oracle texts if I recall). I had Matt sit in on half the matches, while I covered the other half.

After the final match had started, I pulled Matt aside for a debrief. We went over his rulings for the day, which were solid, and some of the hypotheticals I had tossed him over the day. We also discussed my performance. I expressed my satisfaction with Matt ’s abilities and thought he would certainly be able to run his own PPTQ. It was generally agreed that the tournament had gone well, the speed of the event was excellent (I blame a fast format), and how vehicles and energy were the major issues we both encountered. The final match ended (Some G/R splash blue and black agro deck Vs U/W Flash, with the agro deck winning), and I briefed the winner. After that, we packed up and I went home.

Wrap Up

So what I can say coming out of this event, and what I hope you take away, is that players need to know about the move to combat short cut. In the future, I might incorporate a warning into my announcements. Also, we need to be vigilant about spells that generate energy. Players tend to miss these effects, and it is not good to have them “suddenly remember” they have 2 energy during combat, while casting a “Harnessed Lightning a turn later.

I hope this report has been useful to you!

[Editor’s Note: Join in on the discussion in the forum here!)

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One thought on “Head Judging a Standard PPTQ with Vehicles and Energy

  1. “In Round 1, Matt called me over for an appeal. Antoan had activated Shaheeli Rai’s second ability, making a token copy of an animated Wandering Fumarole, and tried to attack with both. Antoan believed his new token was a land, artifact, and creature. Matt had correctly ruled it was in fact just a land artifact, and not able to attack. I confirmed his ruling, and explained that the effect animating his real Wandering Fumarole was not a trait that could be copied. Matt gave Antoan a GRV for attacking with a non-creature.”

    Am I the only one noticing that Wandering Fumarole enters the battlefield tapped, so no way to attack with it even if it is/become a creature?

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