You want to be a judge. You just don’t know it yet.
Alright, I’ll admit that I just lied to most of you. It is a fact that most Magic players won’t become judges, as players outnumber us by a staggering amount. However, there are people out there that either don’t understand judging, or don’t think they would enjoy it. Players that would actually get a lot of satisfaction out of the process.
I know this because I was one of those people.
As I’ve confessed in previous articles, I first got into judging to get some “free” packs, and I didn’t feel like playing in Champs. I didn’t think it would be all that fun, but now it is an incredibly important and entertaining aspect of my life. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be if I had never given it a try.
I could easily tell everyone to give judging a shot, but that method isn’t that effective. Instead of vague propaganda, I will explain why you may, in fact, already be a judge in the making.
Do you answer the rules questions at your store?
Assuming these questions don’t fill you with rage, then this is arguably the Number 1 sign of a possible judge. If you’re already doing this, you might as well get a sexy black shirt and a shiny badge with your name on it, right?
Worried that it might up your workload? Other than going about finding a Level 2 to get yourself certified, it doesn’t have to. If I certified someone for Level 1, then asked them six months later what they’ve been doing judging-wise, and their answer was “I’ve been helping my store make sure that all the players are playing properly,” I would say “Great! Keep it up!”
As a Level 1, there are certainly more opportunities than that, but they aren’t mandatory. “Store event only” judges are arguably some of the most valuable people in the program.
Do you own a store?
The same basic principle applies here as it did to the last question, only now you have your financial wellbeing to consider too. Did you know that certain events require a certified judge? Events such as Grand Prix Trial or other store events with competitive leanings do require a judge, and sometimes there may not be one in the area, so why not use yourself?
Not only will you have access to a wider range of events, but in my experience, stores that are able to brag about having a certified judge on staff for their events typically do better than ones without. Last time I checked, money is very useful. Get yourself some!
Do you love playing Magic, but don’t typically play in competitive events?
I can relate, as I have never been all that competitive with Magic. I’ve always loved FNM, prereleases, and launch parties, and if that’s all you need, that’s great.
These types of players will also be quite common at Grand Prix tournaments, StarCityGames.com Open Weekend events, and other competitive events with casual sides. I’ll get into a conversation with them, and they’ll explain that they just came to draft, or play in a “Win an X” public event because they simply don’t enjoy the level of competition that those big money events have.
Clearly you love the game, and you love being around it. Not interested in playing in the big events? Why not judge them? You still get to be involved in all the action, but you get to avoid the stress of playing against the guy that carjacked his own mother to get to the event.
If you exercise this option, there is a good chance you’ll enjoy it as much as playing, and it may even make you have a better time playing. I know that I enjoy the game at a casual level now more than ever, and I don’t think that would be the case if I didn’t have a chance to judge the top tier events.
Perhaps you love the competition, but don’t get as much joy out of prereleases as you used to.
I know these types of players are much less common than those mentioned above, but I know you’re out there. You’re on a quest to win PTQs, and have no plans of stopping there, but during your attempts to dominate the world, you’ve grown tired of the casual events.
I suggest it’s time to try and get something new out of them. With all that testing you have to do to succeed at competitive Magic, it’s evident that you have a huge passion for the game. It would be comparable to an athlete that goes on to coaching, only you get to keep playing. If you love the game so much in one aspect, it’s possible you’ll have as much passion in another.
In Vancouver, we’ve had more than a handful of successful players have their go at judging, and they’ve all loved it. We have one judge going for Level 2 that has played on the Pro Tour. He currently has no plans to stop either pursuit.
Are you just overly fascinated with the rules?
I’ve been talking frequently with a friend of mine that hasn’t been getting to play as much as he’d like. Almost daily, he’ll ask me a rules question. Not because he doesn’t know how they work – the questions he asks are often complex, and he’s simply interested in deciphering the more confusing aspects of the rules.
Not too long ago, he was finally able to stump me, and right away, I said “You should be a judge.” It makes perfect sense if you really think about it. If you constantly want to know more, and more about cars, maybe you should be a mechanic. So if you’ve ever been intrigued by how Humility, and Opalescence interact with one another, then maybe you should take your curiosity to the big leagues.
Do you want some packs?
Who knows? You could be the next Max Knowlan.
I have no problem with someone offering themselves to a prerelease staff just so they can get some new product, as long as they’re willing to work as hard as any other judge, so as long as you’ve got a solid work ethic, give it a shot.
If you don’t end up enjoying yourself, you never have to do it again, and even if you are interested in continuing your pursuit of earning product, you’ll quickly drop out of it if you’re not having fun. Judging can be tough work, and it’s really not worth it if you’re not having a blast.
If you find out that it’s the right fit for you, then you can continue to earn your fair share, all while having as good a time as I do.
Now I’ve finally convinced you, you need to know how to get started, right? There are a couple options available to you.
Go here, log in using your regular DCI number, and password, click the “people” tab, then the “judges near you” link. Pick a judge, then send them a message expressing your interest.
Talk to a TO:
You can talk to your premiere tournament organizer (this is the person that runs PTQ’, regional prereleases, etc.) or your local store, and tell them you’re interested in helping. If payment is an issue for you, make sure you know what your compensation will be upfront. It would be a shame if you left disappointed.
Talk to me:
If you’re unable to get into contact with anyone in your area, I’m available to help. Just give me a shout at Maxknowlan@gmail.com and I’ll point you in the right direction.
Until next time, stay out of the penalty box.