L4+ Summary, June 2013

June claims to have 30 conversations and 212 messages (and I’ve deleted a few “me too”s).

First, the tidbits (i.e., the stuff I can quickly gloss over while you wait for the juicy parts):

    • Jeff Morrow updated us on the status of L3 testing, and we discussed candidates’ progress; you’ll notice a few new L3s at our last few events – we been busy!
    • We agreed that Pardic Dragon is (a) really bad when you Suspend him, and (b) probably not a serious concern, even though a non-zero number of players think they can ignore their own triggers while he’s Suspended; Toby reported that it did come up in Las Vegas, more than once.
    • We discussed Head Judge reports for GPs Portland, Providence, Gothenburg and Las Vegas.  One common thread, worth mentioning: almost every GP sees at least one DQ … for rolling a die (Improperly Determining A Winner).  Please, help us educate players so they just don’t do this!
Campaign RIbbons are right out…
  • The subject of pins on judge shirts came up; we agreed that we don’t need policy to cover this, but also that one (guild) pin is more than enough.  The last thing we want is judges trying to outdo each others’ “flair”!  Here’s an example of one L4’s instruction to his staff at a recent GP: “This is a Grand Prix, so a professional appearance is required. Each judge will be expected to wear a standard black judge shirt, black pants with black belt, black shoes and black socks. Your uniform may include a WotC-issued judge name tag with YOUR name on it, and ONE guild pin. Please leave the other pins and decorations at home.”


We also discussed, at length, some feedback we received about the Judge Forums.  Different people want different things from the Forums, and we’ve been moderating them with the same mindset and guiding principles that applied to the e-mail lists.  Since we’ve got this nice, shiny new tool, it seemed reasonable to consider changes to the Forum Protocol  – which, after all, is almost identical to the old list protocol.

It was mentioned that discussion of some situations gets shut down (i.e., the topic is closed) rather quickly.  This is frustrating to some, but done – we believe – as a service to many.  These forums are a tool for over 4,000 judges, worldwide; we worry that encouraging corner-case discussions will result in a high signal-to-noise ratio that will drive away a lot of judges.  One good alternative might be the Rules Theory & Templating forum on Wizards’ Community site.

Conclusion: well, nope, not quite yet; but in general, we agree that the Forums are highly functional as is – and feedback we’ve received from other judges supports this.  Some judges want a more wide-open, free-reign (free range? heh) approach; many more like things just the way they are.  So, for the most part, we’ll leave well enough alone – even if it means that Uncle Scott continues his rather firm grasp on “wayward” discussions.

One specific point of feedback: sometimes, we (Forum Moderators, other Official sources) are too brief in our replies.  An example was the thread about what would be, essentially, Tournament Error – Other.  We do have a catch-all category for Game Play Errors (Game Rule Violation); why not something similar for Tournament Errors?  Part of the reason is that there are just way too many inconsequential errors that could fit under TE-Other, but really only need a quick instruction to the player (i.e., a Caution, or Direct Instruction from a Tournament Official); no one benefits when we track these minor transgressions with a recorded penalty.  There’s a lot of other reasons, too – if you purposely commit a GPE-GRV, to gain advantage, you’re Cheating; if you purposely fail to bring a pen in order to gain a free pen, you’re just Annoying (heh).  Adding TE-Other might lead some to way-too-rigid enforcement of arcane sections of the MTR, or even PEIP.

One other “hot topic” was that infamous Knowledge Pool scenario, Devil in the Details (indeed it was!).  The full story of that discussion probably still warrants a separate post – but the short version is, the L4+ judges didn’t agree on an “answer”; we just agreed that there wasn’t a single answer.  That left a lot of people dissatisfied (kind of the theme for the Forums, for June), but reality often presents us with difficult scenarios where there isn’t a single, infallible answer.  Hopefully, the thought processes shared by so many were helpful to a lot of you.

Finally, an amusing anecdote from Toby’s Head Judge Report after Las Vegas:

On Thursday night, I get a call from Tim.

“Hey Toby, have a few things to discuss. First of all, the product is in Little Rock”

“Sure, no problem. Wait… you’re serious”

Yep, someone in the shipping chain messed up big, and the freight company announced they’d have it there for Monday. Whoops.

I don’t want to imagine Tim’s blood pressure at that point. Anyway, after a whole bunch of running around, I understand that the palettes were flown charter to LA, met on the tarmac by a truck and driven to Vegas. Crisis averted in the nick of time!

P.S. – a big Thank You! to David Hibbs, for the cool new graphic!