JUDGE POINTS: Writing Judge Reports

Posted in NEWS on December 8, 2015

By Wizards of the Coast

Sheldon Menery and Dorian Anders

If you want to advance as a Judge, you must eventually write judge tournament reports or articles. You need not be a Pulitzer Prize-winner to write well. You will find it easy to write tournament reports if you develop a plan on how to write them beforehand, and follow it during and after the event. In a similar fashion, good articles also need to be planned. The overriding principle here is that "Content is King."


When reviewing articles and reports for their possible posting to the judge's web site we first look at content.

The judge's web site seeks something different than the traditional "tournament report" with its emphasis on player personalities, the metagame, and the decks being played. While this information may be included, the content of the articles and reports need to focus on matters of judging and tournament management.

Frequently the most difficult part of writing an interesting article, is deciding upon the topic. Good topics often arise from questions asked by your players or other judges. "How to " articles are always good. Learn to make a mental note of questions that arise. Remember, if you are not sure how to do something, then you can be sure that other judges also share your uncertainty. If you are interested in writing an article, but would like feedback before you start investing time in developing an idea, please do not hesitate to email Dorian Anders at doriananders@comcast.net. We are happy to review topics in advance or to make suggestions.

Send your articles to Dorian Anders, Judge site submissions editor

Formatting a Tournament Report

Like a good newspaper article, your judge tournament report should contain who, what, when, where, why, and how. It doesn't matter if you write it in the format of a feature article or in a strict matter-of-fact style; what's important is that you include all the relevant information. As a minimum, include the following:

  • Tournament Name/Type and Format
  • When and Where it was held (city and site), and How many people attended
  • The names of the Head Judge and Floor Judges (you can also include number of staff, level of the judges, how many judge apprentices there were)
  • Tournament setup - this could include any advance preparations you had to make. It can also include any instructions or orientation you gave the staff (or received if you were not running the event).
  • Interesting/relevant rulings and trends. You may consider adding the relevant Comp Rules/Penalty Guidelines section.
  • What went right and what went wrong. Frequently other judges can learn from your successes and your mistakes.


Qualifier Tournament for Pro Tour Cleveland
Format: Solomon Draft
Site: Alvin Tostig Hall, Levon, New Mexico
Date: February 29, 2002
Attendance: 37
Judges: Neil Peart (Level 3, Canada) - Head Judge, Floor Judges: Alex Lifeson (Level 1, Canada); Geddy Lee (Level 2, Canada), Head Scorekeeper: Al Pacino
Winner: Leon Phelps (Atog Beatdown)
Significant penalties: Two Disqualifications for Unsportsmanlike Conduct , (describe what happened and how it was handled)

Interesting rulings:
Four different players asked if they could concede in response to their opponent playing Lobotomy. The answer is yes, a player may concede at any time (Universal Rules, Section 25).
There were several occasions where we reiterated that there is priority during the Combat Phase before attackers are declared. This is called the Beginning of Combat Step (Comp Rules, Section 307).
A player asked if he had Threshold, would his Wayward Angel come into play as White and then change to Black. The answer is no. Continuous effects apply to permanents as they come into play. The Angel is Black when it comes into play (Comp Rules, Section 418.2)

Other Tips

Take notes during the event; that way you'll always get the facts straight.

Write as soon as possible afterward, while it's still fresh in your mind.

Remember you're writing from the perspective of a tournament official; be factual, not judgmental. Avoid editorializing. Most of all, be objective.

Keep your verbiage clear of slang and profanity.

Talk to the other Judges about things that happened during the event that might be included in your report.

Think about what you as a judge learned by working at this event.

Include any electronic pictures that are available of the event and the staff (including pictures of yourself). It makes an article much more enjoyable to read if it has pictures.


For every Judge who is in the upgrade path, writing judge tournament reports or judge articles becomes a necessity. Writing strong, well-structured reports will help you along that path to the next level.