The Justice League – Five Ways

Read The Justice League every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Monday, September 21st – DCI Certified Judges have a long list of responsibilities. If you had to sum it up in two words, I’d like to say it’s “kick butt.” In actuality, I think it can be summed up in a very obvious way. “Help Magic.” More or less, that’s our job.

DCI Certified Judges have a long list of responsibilities. If you had to sum it up in two words, I’d like to say it’s “kick butt.” In actuality, I think it can be summed up in a very obvious way.

“Help Magic.”

More or less, that’s our job, and Magic always starts at the local level. It’s because of this, that so many of our responsibilities involve helping our local communities.

Here are the 5 biggest things we’re doing to try and help make Magic more fun and accessible for the majority of players.

1) We find a store to which we dedicate ourselves, and still manage to help the other stores.

If judges still have time to make it to stores on a regular basis, I’ve found that they generally like to spend most of their time at a particular store. This may be a proximity issue, or it may be the store they’ve played FNM (or other events) for longer than they’ve been judging.

That being said, we believe that no store should go unassisted. In my area, we work really hard assuring that every store has a certified judge that frequents it, or at least someone that has worked a premiere event. This gives every store a great opportunity to run fair, professional events. If a store doesn’t yet have a judge available to it, we make sure to keep an open line of communication with the owner to help however we can. If multiple judges frequent one store, then we’ll try to share the wealth for things like prereleases and launch parties.

Store owners or employees are often certified judges, which is always great to have, as long as they maintain the integrity of the DCI, even if it might be bad for business.

2) We bring players together.

Store events are great, but just as good, and important, are the large regional events.

Most of the judges in an area will work with the Regional TO to help make large prereleases and PTQs a success. The great thing about these events is that hundreds of players from every store in the area get to come together to play in huge events, win great prizes, and have access to a large pool of cards to trade or buy. Without an impressive selection of hard-working local judges, I don’t think these large events would be worth the effort of driving long distances to attend. I can support this by the overall quality of the prereleases in BC. In the last 3 years, our number of certified judges has tripled, and I think the prereleases get more fun every time.

I’ll be head judging my first regional prerelease soon, so hopefully that trend will continue.

3) We train new judges.

Before I met a certified judge, I didn’t even really know what a judge was. Sure, I had been to a couple prereleases, and seen those guys walking around with staff shirts. I saw them answering questions, but I certainly had no idea of the depth that was the judge program.

That’s when I met a pair of very dedicated judges, and worked my first event. A whole new world of Magic: the Gathering opened up for me, and I really can’t stress enough how much I love it. And the more judges BC seems to get, the more I find myself enjoying it.

A few years ago, I’m willing to bet that no one at my regular store even knew what the term “judge” meant in relation to Magic. In addition to me, there will be four regulars from that same store judging the prerelease, and one former regular.

It’s quite astounding what having a certified judge around can do for peoples’ love of the game.

4) We help make the game fun for everyone.

Sad fact of life #18: Some people are just jerks.

These jerks can really ruin the atmosphere of a store or event. Suppose some cruel Spike blows some new kid out of the water at a prerelease, and then proceeds to do a victory lap, and the kid gets upset. Experienced judges are trained in both teaching that Spike why toning it down would be a good idea, and helping make the bummed-out player feel a little better.

If there is no one available to help improve that kind of situation, you can bet that the victim won’t be coming back to any sanctioned events. It’s even possible that the kid won’t be buying packs of Magic anymore.

(For the record, I know that not all Spikes are jerks, and not all jerks are Spikes.)

We’re also very well trained in keeping things fair. If players start feeling cheated, and don’t think that justice has been served, then they will join the ranks of the “screw this game” crowd.

Furthermore, if one of those pro players pull one of their tricky moves that might seem like cheating, but is perfectly legal, the player on the short end of that is going to be extremely frustrated if there is no one there to explain why what just happened to them is okay, in a very clear manner, then things will not end well.

5) We’ll bring you the best events the DCI has to offer.

Wizards doesn’t just throw darts at a map to decide where the Pro Tours and Grands Prix are going to be.

That’s only how the DCI picks their banned/restricted list. (Hehe!)

When giving the community the honor of hosting one of these events, Wizards has to trust that it will be worth their effort. So when the men and women they trust to run these events let them know that a specific city deserves to be a destination for a huge event, it says a lot.

Vancouver isn’t exactly the biggest city in North America, so it wouldn’t be the first place that comes to mind when you think of the Grand Prix. Thankfully, with the help of some very dedicated judges, we were able to bring the Grand Prix here.

Granted, the event was a bit of a bust attendance wise, but I blame the Extended format for that.

Sad fact of life #27: The professionals can’t do it all. If you want your Magic community to thrive, and be as enjoyable as possible, you’re going to have to chip in.

So how do you go about doing that?

1) Become a judge.

Seems simple enough. Get yourself certified and you can do the one through five mentioned above. Don’t think that getting yourself involved in the judge program binds you into anything you don’t want to do. If all you want to do with your certification is provide your favorite store with a certified judge for their prereleases and launch parties, that’s fine. Now that every store has access to these types of events, the DCI is attempting to have a presence in as many places as possible.

And if you want to get even more involved than that, all power to you.

2) Be an ambassador to new players.

No one wants to show up to their first FNM and spend the whole night alone in a corner. Sitting alone in the corner and going 0-4? Even worse.

When a new guy shows up, there are plenty of signs. Poorly constructed deck, confused about tournament structure, doesn’t have a DCI number. You should be able to spot them, and I would hope that you turn the presence of these people into a positive. Say hello, introduce yourself, and give them some advice on deck construction. Even if you can’t improve their play, giving them a friend at that store will make playing Magic a whole lot more fun.

And yes, I know how cheesy that sounds. I just hope you realize how true it is.

3) Stimulate the economy.

Don’t spend money on cards because you can’t afford it? I don’t blame you. Thanks to school, judging, and writing, these articles are the closest things I have to a job. Don’t spend money on cards because you’ve found a way to freeload? Well, I’m not as understanding.

Support your local store every so often. Even if it’s just playing in drafts and selling the singles afterwards. Operating a card store can’t be easy, and if players keep finding ways to spend no money on the game, eventually they will find their community shutting down. I’d hate to see my local stores close down, and I’m sure most of you agree with that sentiment.

I’m not trying to guilt trip with this message, nor am I trying to get you to spend every spare dollar on cards. Just do what you can, and we’ll all be better off.

4) Don’t start store wars.

Does the idea of what that suggestion is trying to prevent seem ludicrous to you? Well, I don’t blame you, but it’s important advice.

Multiple times, I’ve seen or heard of players of one store getting into arguments with players of another store, entirely based on the stores at which they play.

Insane? Yes.

Admittedly, I’ve gotten involved in these kind of arguments myself. It was a very stupid move on my part, and I continue to regret it.

Come up with any justification you want for why you do it, in the end it just doesn’t make sense. No matter what, these kind of arguments simply don’t solve anything. Even if you have a legitimate beef with a store owner or their players, making these complaints public isn’t going to make anything right.

If it’s a matter of corruption that you’re trying to prevent, just let time sort everything out. Plagues on the Magic community eventually get exposed for what they are, and everything can go back to normal.

5) Get involved online.

Most large Magic communities will have a website dedicated to that community. Usually it will be a state/province based site, but sometimes you can find something completely dedicated to your area.

These sites do wonders in building Magic communities. They can advertise events at every store in the region, you can talk strategy, and event results, and you can get to know your fellow players. I’ve seen a fair few new players come onto BC’s Magic based website, and it really helps them get involved. This could be you, or if you’re already involved, you can help out new members to the website.

Your area doesn’t have a website? Even better! Find a friend that knows web design, and get something going. Within no time, you could see your event numbers start to double.

Be careful when dealing with website forums though. We all know that the Internet can make people act pretty stupid. Don’t fall into the allure of being allowed to act like a jerk. Keep things civil and friendly, otherwise you’ll just end up hurting the community.

A lot of things may not be doing so well in the world right now, but I see no reason why Magic can’t continue to be great. If you’re reading articles on this site, it probably means you have a love of the game. If we all work at passing that passion on to others, you’d be surprised how much more love you find you have for the game.

Until next time, stay out of the penalty box.