A whole lot of articles written by judges will talk about the sandy beaches of Honolulu, the late night drafting, the interesting rulings at a PTQ, or a story of their first Grand Prix. These juicy tales are just a portion of what judging is all about, and there is a lot more glamour that we could all tell you about.
However, that is not what I’m here to talk about. I’m going to tell you the stuff we don’t go around bragging about. Some of it can be fun, and some of it often isn’t a total blast, but it’s all part of what we do, and we love what we do, so we must love this stuff… Right? In fact, I do enjoy at least certain aspects of all of these activities. Considering how important they are, if we didn’t enjoy them, I don’t think we would want to judge.
This is arguably what we do more than anything else at any given event, as there is tons of potential garbage created at Magic events. People leave draft packs, their junky commons, scrap paper, empty pop bottles, or food wrappers at their match once they’re finished.
The big question is: exactly how much garbage do we clean up at an event? At Grand Prix: Vancouver, when the day was winding down, I started doing garbage sweeps. In a grand total of half an hour, I filled three 40L (10.5 gallon) garbage bags.
Stop for a moment and think about how much garbage that is. Then think about what a small Grand Prix that was (400 people).
Every event won’t be like that, and in fact, my fellow Canadians seem to leave more garbage around than I’ve seen at American events, but there is still a whole lot of garbage to be found wherever you go.
Your empty packs getting swooped away while you draft is perfectly normal, and acceptable, but it starts to go downhill from there. Picking up stuff people have dropped on the floor, all the scrap paper, and the mountains upon mountains of crummy commons and basic lands are a bit of a nuisance. Not to mention the Islands upon Islands, and Swamps upon Swamps.
(I’m sorry for that.)
Where I start to get frustrated is when I see the half-eaten sandwiches, the torn-up lands (half of which end up on the floor), or the pizza boxes. The thing I hate most about this is that judges can’t always catch all the garbage before the next round starts, and then you have players finding their next match littered with destroyed cards and hot sauce. No one wants that, and it may not ruin someone’s day, but it certainly won’t help.
What can you do to help?
If you’re one of the pizza box people, please deal with your garbage. There is a reason why excessive garbage can get you penalized, and events would be a whole lot better if that penalty never got handed out.
Everyone else? It’s always appreciated when a player cleans as they go.
One of the staples of any event is the land station. Even at Constructed events, side drafts will often be run. Sorting these lands is the main concern at the beginning of the event, but there is a much scarier concern that you can face later in the day, and this is running out of any given type of basic lands.
This is a secondary reason why cleaning up all the cards is something I don’t mind doing. Despite our best efforts to remind players to return their lands, they will often disappear on us. Sure, the occasional person will intentionally take lands to use for drafting later, or just for building decks, but I understand that most of these individuals just mindlessly walked off with their Limited deck, lands and all.
Ever wonder why there are never any Zendikar full-art lands available at land stations?
Sometimes it’s not so bad, but sometimes we have to force players to use proxies for a basic land type. Wizards only sends out so many lands, and if everyone walks off with them, what can we do?
What can you do?
Sure, I could ask you to return your lands to the box fully sorted, but I’m not going to. I’d be happy if all everyone did return them to the land station. They can be hidden amongst the rest of the cards you’re leaving behind, they can be totally unsorted, but as long as they’re there, I call that a win.
Another thing that players do that result in a depletion of basic lands is taking more than they need. Players will grab 20 of each basic land at a prerelease so that they can make any combination of decks throughout the day, and they usually don’t change their deck at all. Feel free to come back up and grab more lands if you need them, and if you’re in the middle of a match, any judge will be happy to grab you some more.
There is arguably no time in the day more intense then counting all the decklists. It requires speed, but also a great deal of concentration so that we don’t miss anything in that speed.
Some judges are ecstatic about this, and some maybe not as much. I’m personally a huge fan, mostly due to the fact that I can do simple arithmetic at an unusually fast pace, so I’m a list-counting machine… yet somehow, I was a terrible math student all throughout high school.
I think the only reason some judges don’t get excited as I do about counting lists is the writing ability of certain players. To all the messy writers out there, consider me one of you. My motor skills have always been iffy at best, so I can sympathize with the scribbles.
What can you do?
Like I said, pretty writing can be a pain for some, but if you’re going to be careful writing down one part of your list, make it the numbers of each card. All too often, judges will find a list that four different judges will count a different final total.
I’ve said this in previous articles, and I’ll say it again and again. Check your lists over before you hand it in. Double check, triple check, check as many times as time permits. This isn’t for our sake. Who do you think a decklist game loss is worse for, us or you? Do yourself a huge favor. Much like drugs, winners don’t use incorrect decklists.
Talking to Parents/Kids
Here is one that a lot of people don’t consider as one of our jobs, usually because they don’t have kids of their own, and it may not happen a lot, but when it does it is amazingly important. When a parent leaves their young child at a Magic event, they are putting an amazing amount of trust in those that are running the event, especially if it’s a huge event like a regional prerelease.
Out of all the things I’ve talked about in this article, this one is probably my favorite, and it has a lot to do with that trust. I feel very honored, and respected when someone puts that much trust in me, and I take it very seriously.
When dealing with these young kids (I’m talking younger than 12), you’re dealing with a situation like no other. Kids can be very emotional and unpredictable, so we treat situations with them carefully, as there is a decent chance they are very scared of us, mostly because a lot of them think that a looking at extra cards penalty will get them banned from the DCI forever.
What can you do?
If you are one of these parents, make it a priority to have a discussion with one of the judges. That way we can explain to you what’s going to happen at the event, what a penalty is, and why we give them out.
If you’re another player and you run into one of these kids in a match, try and deal with the situation appropriately. Be friendly, but not condescending. These kids deserve your respect, but do keep in mind that some of them are just terrified of you, as they are of us…
Until next time…