Behind the Stripes

Posted in Event Coverage on July 1, 2007

By Wizards of the Coast

Get all the latest regarding DCI and judging straight from the source at Pro Tour San Diego.

Looking for the stories from Day 2 or Day 1 ?


  • 4:23 pm - Judging and Playing
    by Duncan McGregor
  • 11:30 am - Community in Action
    by Gavin Duggan
  • 10:03 am - Late-Night Judge Meatings
    by Gavin Duggan


Oh my, what a meal. My stomach is still happy with me.

Last night, master logician Nick Fang organized an impromptu outing for some of the judges to a local Churrasco. This is something of a judge tradition, and occurs at many American PT events. The crowd ended up being quite large, and after a brief trip back to the hotel to get our civvies, a small army of thirty judges paraded through San Diego's beautiful Gaslamp Quarter on our way to dinner.

For those who have never had the pleasure, a churrasco is a type of Brazillian all-you-can-eat steakhouse, where a string of delectable meats such as filet mignon, flank steak, sausages, tenderloin, and glazed chicken are carved onto your plate… with swords! Nothing says extravagance in dining like the use of weapons as serving utensils. The carne dishes are usually accompanied by an excellent salad bar, which in this case included one of the world's greatest culinary creations: prosciutto e melone.

Soooo good.

Needless to say, we were there pretty late into the night before we split up into groups in search of sleeping, clubbing, or more EDHing. If you're wondering why a lot of the blog updates are coming from late at night, it's because that's when most of the social fun happens. Dinners, games, nerf-bat dueling, trivia contests… the daytimes are just too busy for most of us.

Sunday, July 1: 11:30 a.m. - Community in Action

Judging is fun, but it's not easy. There's a lot to learn, and not all of it can be found in books or pdfs. One of the best tools we have for giving judges that information are PT seminars, which usually take place on Sunday. In San Diego, Toby has gone one step further and created an all-day symposium, with a schedule of seven seminars on a range of topics. They're usually short, 30-45 minutes, and very interactive… just another part of the teambuilding experience.

Sunday, July 1: 4:23 p.m. - Judging and Playing

The running joke is that judges can't play. The corollary, then, is that the good players don't judge. To paraphrase an old saying, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, judge."

Ever wonder why that is? Ever thought about changing it?

Some judges, myself included, buck this trend by actively playing and judging at the same time. I'd like to think I've had a reasonable amount of success over the years-since becoming a level three judge at the previous PT-San Diego in 2004, I've judged at six Pro Tours and played in five.

I see this parallel participation as entirely reasonable, wise even: I enjoy playing, otherwise I wouldn't have started playing Magic at all, and I enjoy judging. If I didn't, this wouldn't be worth it. Shiny Yawgmoth's Wins notwithstanding, you can work out the going rate for judging at an event, and it's significantly lower than what I earn at my day job. The reasons I judge and the reasons I play are the same: it's enjoyable and it's challenging.

Playing stretches my mind and gives me opportunities to test myself, to find out where my limits are and then try to move past them. Judging creates an environment where I and my teammates are responsible for everything in the room. That environment challenges me to run it correctly the first time, every time. Both offer chances that one just doesn't get anywhere else.

If you're an active judge today but don't play regularly, think about starting. Show up to your local store's tournaments every now and then to stretch your mental muscles. You'll become more familiar with the cards, connect with the players, and maybe rediscover why you started playing this game. If you play, think about giving judging a try. The knowledge that you get from judging can help you in your play, not just in the rules, but in communicating your problems with judges. As a part of the judging community, you have the chance to get honest feedback about your performance, beyond the world of Magic.

In the end, regardless of what tournaments we participate in, I've found that the game of Magic is just a vehicle to allow you to interact with others; those interactions are what make all the effort worthwhile. By playing and judging, I've been able to make friends on both sides of the stripes and you should think about giving it a shot. You may be surprised at how much you like the results.

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