November 6, 2016 (Sunday)
Ron Edward Joson (Head Judge)
Martin Laureta (Floor Judge)
I initially registered to play in this tournament, with the player count at roughly 60 when I signed up. This was a little under an hour from the start of the first round. Minutes later, the store staff and Ron were talking about having to waitlist players as apparently we had reached around 80 players for the event. The store has a large seating capacity but the front area of the store did not have proper air conditioning so it wasn’t totally advisable to add more tables there to accommodate players. At this point I relented and told Ron that I’d drop and help out with judging the event, which reached a total of 95 players. The TO was actually willing to add more tables to the play area (a testament to this store’s resourcefulness and masterful management of space) but Ron and I already felt that the venue was crowded enough as is. Both the TO and us judges made sure as players were registering for the event that the tables would not crowd with each other and that entering and exiting the venue would not cause a big of a hassle to other players still seated for their matches.
The Problem with Decklists
Having been assigned to the paper team during previous large Competitive REL events, it was my first time managing several decklists and I only managed to get them sorted and in order roughly 10 minutes into the start of Round 2. This turned the Round 2 deck check into a mid-round check, and would be the highlight of the tournament for me as four of the six deck checks made over the course of the whole event yielded Game Losses for players for Deck/Decklist Problems. To enumerate the errors encountered: having extra format-legal cards in the player’s deck box (with one player having a whole other deck inside!), writing down the wrong number of cards played main deck (having written down three of a certain card when he was playing only two copies), and writing down the wrong card name on the list (the player wrote Chandra, Flamecaller when in fact he was using Chandra, Torch of Defiance).
In hindsight, it would have made my job a whole lot easier had I sorted the lists as they were being submitted alphabetically, and this lesson is something I will keep in mind next time I get assigned to an event requiring the submission of decklists.
Who You Gonna Call? (Judge~!)
Judge calls were sparse in the first few rounds of the tournament, but as the rounds progressed, the players began encountering stranger situations with regard to their board states. Common questions involved the Crew mechanic and when crewing should be done. Two distinct examples of this incident (surprisingly involving the same player in different rounds):
• AP says “Combat?” and NAP goes “Okay, sure.” AP asks, “Can I still crew my vehicles and have them attack?”
• AP (who controls a Toolcraft Exemplar and a Cultivator’s Caravan) says “Combat?” and NAP goes “Okay, sure.” AP then points to his Exemplar then proceeds to crew the Cultivator’s Caravan. NAP asks, “Can my opponent still crew?”
I ruled that AP would not be able to crew his vehicles in the first scenario since, to quote Toby Elliot’s article on the issue, “The burden is on the active player to act first.” In the second scenario, AP would still be able to crew his Cultivator’s Caravan because the triggered ability would have to resolve first before he would be able to crew in the first place, and that it was not missed since it was explicitly acknowledged by the player. Moving forward, I believe that this (together with Smuggler’s Copter + Veteran Motorist and any 3 damage removal spell) will be a common question in future tournaments, for as long as these cards are being played, and it’s the responsibility of judges to ensure that these situations are handled clearly and explained to players properly.
One thing that really stood out to me as important about this whole tournament was the importance of a good judge to player ratio, in order to avoid situations wherein several tables call for a judge at the same time and you have to spend a lot of time to give out a longer ruling on one, thus slowing down your response time to the others. Oh, and being able to give out a ruling which is not tactical advice is something that requires careful wording and forethought.
And the Rest is History
The tournament, despite being 7 rounds with a cut to top 8 managed to end early despite starting a bit later than what was announced. Things I managed to pick up from this event:
1. Always coordinate with your fellow judges and try to cover as many holes in the event as possible to minimize delay.
– Even if you’re working with highly experienced judges and tournament organizers who you know have a handle on the situation, there will always be gaps that need to be filled and details that will slip through the cracks. Communicating with everyone involved in the tournament operations ensures that players get the best possible experience from the event and will come back for more.
2. Judge visibility at all times is necessary.
– If you’re not really doing anything during a round because your current task is finished, be it a deck check or you just finished answering a judge call, don’t just sit in a corner and wait for players to hand in their result slips or call for a judge. Walking around the venue and watching the matches gives you an opportunity to make yourself known to other players and give the impression that if they need to call a judge, there is always someone who will respond to their need. Besides, who knows what interesting card interactions you might pick up?
3. Being organized goes a long way in being timely.
– If something can be sorted, sort it. If something can be filed, file it. And immediately. Especially if your tournament is understaffed. The more you can do in less time, the better. Of course, never sacrifice quality for quantity. Make sure that you always do your best in a timely manner, just like when responding to judge calls as to not delay the whole event.
4. Personally, I think this goes without saying: Sometimes, you really need to go the extra mile.
Hopefully, this serves as a lesson not just for myself but for any other judges out there having to deal with large events such as this in the future.
Editors Note: (Join in on the discussion in the forums here!)