I want to be a Judge....

Posted in NEWS on December 7, 2015

By Wizards of the Coast

Mark Comey

I've heard that so many times. I am a level 2 judge so I am not able to certify new judges. I have a standard response that most people don't seem to make it past. "I can help you out, but only a level 3 judge can certify new judges. Jason Ness is the level 3 judge in this area." That's it, stops them cold; most of the time they just say thanks and walk away. They don't even ask me for an e-mail address or phone number. They don't ask me how hard the test is, what they need to know or what they have to do. Don't get me wrong, I think more judges are necessary in our area and I encourage people to become a judge if that's what they want to do. If you are not motivated enough to ask a question or two though, you are not going to be motivated enough to be a judge.

Motivation- The reasons you want to become a judge are your own. But they need to be good enough to motivate you, not only through the process, but also to keep you active in the judging role should you pass your test. If your doing it for financial rewards, to get the title "judge" so you can win rules arguments, or to learn the rules better; Stop right now. Don't waste your time. You're not going to make it.

So you've found out who the Level 3 judge is your area. What do you need to do? The first step is to contact them, most prefer by e-mail. The first contact that you have with them (assuming you don't know them personally) you should introduce yourself, let them know you want to become a judge and arrange a time when you can work with them during a tournament. Ask them what you can expect and if you need to bring anything with you. Once you have that set up, you will need to prepare.

Players don't show up for Pro Tour Qualifiers, get handed a deck they've never seen with cards that have abilities on they don't how to use, and do well. They may not utterly fail, but they won't do well. So why would you show up to become a judge without doing anything to prepare yourself? You are wasting your time and the time of the judge who's testing you. With what I've seen, less than 30% of the people that set up a time actually complete the process to become a level 1 judge. You might be thinking "Wow, becoming a judge is easy. What's wrong with these people?" What's wrong is that they are showing up without properly preparing themselves.

The first thing you need to do is read and understand the rules. Don't show up for your judge testing day without reading through the comprehensive rules at least twice. One of the most important skills of a level 1 judge is rules knowledge. You may need to break the comprehensive rules down into the sections. You not only have to read them; you need to understand them. I will advise you of a couple of sections of the rules that you need to have memorized. If you can memorize the areas listed below, you will be well on your way. This cannot be used by itself but highlights some of the information from the comprehensive rules.

  1. All the Parts of a card and what they do.
  2. All the steps to play a spell in the right order. (you might be surprised)
  3. State based effects.
  4. All the Phases and all the steps in each phase.
  5. How triggered abilities work.
  6. How static abilities work.
  7. The Stack
  8. Replacement Effects
  9. Penalty Guidelines

When you show up to for your testing day. Show up to work. Come early, help with the setup, and get to know the other people working the event before it starts. Wear clothes that look good but are functional. No suits, no ripped jeans. The whole day is part of your testing. Rules knowledge is very important, but so is work ethic and personality. I like taking tests and meeting challenges, but if you don't, make sure you have coping methods as you'll get both. The day shouldn't be about stress but about striving to do something you want. Enjoy it.

If all goes well at the end of the day you'll be a Level 1 Judge, looking forward to working more tournaments and getting your "tests" on the floor with real situations. If all doesn't go well, the judge testing will provide you with feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. Here's the time where you'll need that motivation. If you are motivated you can take all the experience of the day and all the lessons learned, and when you "test" again you can use it all to your advantage.

Mark Comey
Level II Judge