State of the Region 2016


Greetings all!

Are you ready for an exciting ride of statistics, recapping, and future planning?  I’ve done several different presentations of similar info at conferences, this is going to rehash a little of what those covered, plus lay out some plans and a road map for next year.

Judge Growth

On February 10th, 2016 (the date that USA-Midwest was broken up), we had the following judge stats:

196 certified judges, broken down into:

  • 158 Level 1 judges
  • 35 Level 2 judges
  • 1 Level 3 judge
  • 1 Level 4 judge
  • 1 Level 5 judge

As of January 3, 2017, we have changed to the following numbers:
230 certified judges, broken down into:

  • 179 Level 1 Judges
  • 48 Level 2 judges
  • 3 Level 3 judges

That’s an overall growth of 17%, an L1 growth of 13%, and an L2 growth of 37%.  That matches up well with one of the goals I’ve been talking about at conferences: skill building and consolidation.  We are doing a pretty impressive job of building the skill level of the judges we have and retaining skill among our core judges.

Successes and Failures of 2016

This segues really well into a discussion of how well 2016 went.

The big goals of 2016 were:

  • Create an identity for the USA-North region
  • Consolidate judge growth/build skills in the existing judges

As a region, we did a handful of things that worked really well for this, and some things that worked not so well.

USA-North Identity

Overall, our identity building has been going quite well, with some hiccups.

  • Jordan Baker did a great job making a snow compass logo, which I appropriated and used all over – notebooks, clothing, etc.  This helps us stand out from the prior USA-Midwest, and really helps us feel more cohesive.
  • New Area Captains also helped – we moved to an urban-based Area Captains system, with 11 captains covering areas based loosely on cities rather than full states.  Having smaller areas that map to local play more really helped here in a few locations, notably Duluth and Rochester.
  • The USA-North Slack has been super successful, connecting people of a wide variety of levels on a daily basis.  This might be the best judge thing we did in the whole year.
  • The USA-North Blog, on the other hand, has been a ghost town.  I have been less than stellar about writing and publishing articles, and likewise bad at pushing on other people/getting editing done.
  • Miniconferences did a great job of getting conference and training content to areas that would not have had them otherwise.  The Rochester miniconference, the Ashland meet-and-greet, the Madison miniconference, the Sioux Falls judge interest seminar, and several others were fantastic.

USA-North Judge Building

  • So, the stats above give a good picture – our L2 growth has been huge, way above par.  That’s awesome.  I’ve also heard few complaints of “too few Competitive events for the L2s we have” – this is a real potential issue at some point for both Madison and Minneapolis, so we are nowhere near L2 saturation levels.
  • The biggest problem I see here is that we are not building top top leaders, but raising the middle performers into better places.  Which is good!  But I want some L3s, dangit.  So this is a real goal for the next year – push our top people more to step up to the next level.

Goals for 2017

Skill building

We did a great job building the middle up.  I want us to raise the bottom and the top this year.  So new judges getting training, and our top performers getting the real polish they need.

To this end, I want to run 14 miniconferences in 2017, focused mainly on local judging.  Topics like running great weeknight events, diplomacy with local players, helping TOs run successful PPTQs, and many others focused on making local communities better are things I’m pushing to see at these miniconferences. Given the well received response to these, I am looking forward to ramping things up here!

North Investment

So, I mentioned that the blog kind of faded out, and I blame myself, because I don’t have the time or the right kind of enthusiasm to make it work. The blog has not succeeded in the way I have wanted in its original iteration. I am looking forward to rectifying this so I’m bringing in someone that has time and enthusiasm!  Welcome Lee Henderson, the new content manager for the USA-North blog. I will give him a few sentences to introduce himself.

Message From The Editor

Howdy Folks! As mentioned above, my name is Lee. I am an L2 out of the Bloomington area and a reasonably active judge in the area. I am sort of new at this editing role but I’d thought I’d give it a try. I have some very ambitious goals for the blog. Our current goal is 2 articles a month with a special Exemplar highlight article done by me personally. We currently have a few articles primed and ready to go thanks to our awesome North judges. My personal goal is to stick to deadlines and make sure we all keep to our goals. I also am holding myself to writing the two articles I have had knocking around and publising them on our blog. I am super excited to be working with you all. Go North!


I want to get some of our top performers to step up to the next level.  To that end, I’m trying to encourage project engagement.  We have a number of people involved in things like Judge of the Week or the Player Experience blog, but we have some space to improve here.

One thing that I’m starting up is a fortnightly judge stream – an hour and a half of content, every other Tuesday is the current goal.  On the other weeks I’ll be exploring some deep rules diving with some L3 candidates.  Expect the first week of general judge topics like this on January 17th, streamed on my Twitch, – we have a number of North judges interested in this, so expect a rotating guest cast as we settle into a plan.


We have average engagement in the Exemplar program, and I think we can be better.  Part of Lee’s goal as Content Manager is to publish Exemplar callout articles for each wave. He also plans to write an article on his exemplar process to flesh out and encourage exemplars in the region. I also have a cool idea in store for the next Exemplar mailing – I’ll publish a post on that once I have the cool idea nailed down more, I don’t want to ruin it by spoiling something I then can’t fulfill. But I promise it will be great!

L2 Growth

I’ve sent out a survey to the L2s for their end of year requirements, and it is asking some questions about your desired growth path in the program, what you think of the region, and some other stuff.  I’d love to hear feedback about where you feel like you are going, the program is going, and what I can do to help you engage more or just feel more comfortable in your role.

Closing Thoughts

As usual, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.  The USA-North Slack, or my email or Facebook inboxes are always open.

Rob McKenzie

Magic Judge Level III

Judge Regional Coordinator USA-North