L4+ Summary, Sep-Oct 2013

Yes, it has been a very busy two months – not just for me, but for the L4+ in general.  During these last two months, we’ve had about 550 messages and almost six dozen different topics.  But enough with the sympathy-seeking, we know we won’t get it (and probably don’t really deserve it – heh!) … instead, here’s the highlights of our e-chats!

Of course, I’ll be condensing – a lot! – so you don’t risk brain cramp while reading.  And in that vein, I’ll just mention that we had discussion ranging from short to extensive about each of these events:

GP Oakland
GP Kitakyushu
GP Detroit
PT Theros (Dublin)
GP Hong Kong
GP Louisville

Without giving away too much, I’ll mention that we discussed judge exam content (because of a couple questions that were causing some concerns).  That discussion also touched on “do we consider game state when determining if a trigger is detrimental”, to which the answer is an emphatic “NO!”  And, we got this little gem of a quote from our resident Policy Grand Poobah, Toby Elliott:

A card that fails the vanilla test (i.e., would you play that card without the ability?) is almost always a card with a trigger that’s not usually detrimental. After all, if it’s not worth playing as a vanilla, why are you playing it as a worse-than-vanilla?  Not to mention the final heuristic – if you genuinely can’t decide, it’s not generally detrimental.

Chris Richter made a great observation, after GP Oakland, about a miscommunication – not a CPV, just a misunderstanding – and we couldn’t agree more:

…then I found out that the defending player had both of his ear buds in listening to music when this happened.  I pointed out that if a player is going to actively hinder communication he can’t complain when it is not clear.

Also, just like most of the judging public, we debated what to do with players who fail to Scry.  It’s not an option, but it can be skipped or forgotten.  Our discussion focused on these four questions:

  1. Do we, as observing judges, intervene if a player fails to scry from a spell and force them to?
  2. Do we, as observing judges, issue GRVs in these situations?
  3. Do we use the same criteria to back up to a failed scry like any other GRV?
  4. Does failing to remind your opponent to scry from a spell constitute cheating?

Keep reading, to see what we agreed were the answers!  (Yeah, yeah, it’s a cheap trick to keep your interest … and I’m not afraid to use it, again and again!)

We continue – after pretty much every GP – discussions about how to improve handling of VIPs and sleep-in specials.  Just like the Organizers, we want to ensure the VIP experience is a positive one – but it adds logistical challenges, and no one is an expert at solving them (yet).  We also continue to discuss refinements for the new Deck Check procedures (i.e., not counting 100% of the lists ASAP); overlapping both of those is another continuing discussion about implementing shifts for GP staffs, and yet another continuing discussion about maximizing L1 Judges at GPs.  This turns out to be a not-very-interesting paragraph, but it does occupy a lot of our attention, and represents a significant chunk of those hundreds of messages.  Mostly, we want you to know: yes, we share your concerns, and yes, we are doing something about them!

Speaking of not-very-interesting paragraphs: we looked at the changes in the latest IPG:yawn Kind of ho-hum, right?  Well, no, not really – there’s a couple interesting changes.  (OK, “interesting” is a matter of perspective…)  For one, the MT wording was updated to make it clear that, if you just resolve them when remembered, they’re resolved when a player would get priority (and not some imaginary point prior to untap, enabling a forgotten AEtherling to reappear in time to avoid Summoning Sickness).  And, of course, that subtle distinction between “extra” turns and “additional” turns.

Andy shared a disturbing set of statistics, re: the (lack of) correlation between DQs entered in Reporter and Investigations in the Judge Center.  As it happens, there’s entries on either side missing their corresponding entry – i.e., DQ offenses recorded in Reporter w/o an Investigation, and Investigations entered w/o an offense in Reporter.  Let me stress this point: make sure that you complete the work on all DQs.  Make sure the SK enters the infraction & penalty correctly in Reporter, and make sure you enter the Investigation in Judge Center.

In Oklahoma City, an interesting ruling was captured in coverage.  On turn two, A played his 2nd Plains, tapped them both, played a Vaporkin, passed the turn.  His opponent said “uhhh… you played another Plains.”  A tried to swap the Plains for the Island that he meant to play, the judge allowed it, the opponent appealed – and the Head Judge ruled that the Plains stayed in play and backed up the Vaporkin.  The interesting part of our discussion is that none of us disagreed with this ruling, even those that favor a bit more forgiveness for “takebacks”; because A made no attempt to indicate he wanted to play an Island, he didn’t play an Island (and, obviously, can’t tap either of his Plains for U).

Andy shared – and we discussed – some interesting facts about program growth.  As you all know, we made some significant changes about 30 months back, pushing the Judge Program to a more inclusive approach towards acquisition.  We realized, back then, that our traditional approach was to exclude until proven worthy; the huge paradigm shift was to include and teach worthiness.  Has it worked?  Absolutely, and with great success (and the corresponding challenges).  Just one measure, and I personally find this staggering: we’ve gone from just over 2,000 certified judges to nearly 4,500 in those 30 months.  That’s a lot of hungry minds to feed!

Speaking of education … no, make that Education: we also discussed the current state of Education in the Judge Program, and what sort of things need or even can be done.  This led to some significant enhancements, and you’ll be hearing about those soon – possibly even before this blog post finishes the final edits and goes public.

Oh, and – we also planned out Head Judge opportunities for the next season of GPs, and the PTs in 2014.  (No, that’s not public… yet.)

Finally, after quite the long-distance runaround, the promised answer to all four of those Scry questions:


4 thoughts on “L4+ Summary, Sep-Oct 2013

  1. Jonas, I think you’re right that this deserves more than what I put into the blog, maybe almost an article’s worth of content. My L4 summary is really meant to be highlights, and so I will summarize quite extensively in hopes of keeping it informative yet short.

    For now, a short-but-not-as-short-as-before explanation. Policy says that failing to Scry is a GRV, and the many debates in various forums gave us no reason to change anything, esp. Not for a mechanic that’s several years old. Will I say more, later? Uhhh… Maybe?

  2. To be honest I am a bit disappointed by the short answer of “yes” to the scry questions. Having discussed the questions among fellow judges I know that no answers are that simple. In my opinion the thought process of why the answers are yes would be very educational in showing policy philosophy. If not an entire (very interesting) article on this subject I at least hope we could get some insight into the discussion.

  3. Hey, good catch, Eric – and you’re right, Regular REL Unsporting Conduct DQs, and all Competitive REL DQs, are the things we’re concerned about. I’ll confess that I’m too insulated when it comes to Regular REL, so I tend to forget that perspective at times in my posts.

    Good thing we have folks like you to keep me honest! 🙂

  4. Scott, you say to complete all the work on all DQs, which I take to mean that any player who is disqualified should show up DQed in WER and in the Investigations tab in the Judge center. However, I remembered a message Andy Heckt sent a while ago. I dug it up, and it turns out that on Aug 3, 2010, he said the following on the now-defunct Judge-L:
    “The only Regular REL penalties that require reporting are Unsporting Conduct DQ offenses,” which I take to mean that no investigation needs to be entered when Little Timmy commits bribery or First Tournament Annie offers to roll a die.

    Does the Investigations Committee really want to see a report for each of these, or can we simply enter the DQ in WER and go about our day? If there is a line where we should not bother to write up an investigation, is that line still at UC-related DQs, or somewhere else?

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