Judging Type 1 tournaments

Posted in NEWS on September 27, 2004

By Wizards of the Coast

As judges, we are called on to work many different types of events. Some of these events require special preparation because the format has unusual cards or circumstances. An extended tournament might require some preparation to familiarize yourself with out of print cards you may not have played. Other times the event requires extra preparation because the format isn’t played that often and you may not have a lot of experience judging that particular format. Rochester draft is an example of this.

Type I tournament incorporate all of these special considerations and more. At a recent Type I tournament I found that normally good judges had some problems because I, as head judge, didn’t prepare them adequately for the unique issues inherent in the format. When preparing for a Type I tournament, here are some things you should consider.

1. Card wording/interactions – RTC!: (Read The Card) – I silently tell players this in my head for a lot of rulings I’m called over for. It’s a good idea for a judge to read the card – it gives you time to think about the ruling, and it ensures you don’t miss something obvious. In Type 1, this is the first rule you don’t want to follow. In fact, the best thing is to ALWAYS look up the oracle wording. In a Standard tournament, there may be one or two cards that have errata that you need to be aware of. Very few cards you’ll see in Type 1 actually have the correct oracle wording printed on them. Most players will appreciate you making sure you have the correct wording as you look up the oracle instead of reading the card and making an incorrect ruling based on what the card has printed on it.

2. Card handling – Can’t Touch This!: Because of the high value of the cards involved, many players are rightly worried about others touching/handling/shuffling their cards, even judges. What if you accidentally bent a Black Lotus when shuffling a deck following a deck check? Would you be willing to replace the player’s Black Lotus? Or how about if a player said a card was missing after you deck checked him? Since the cards are worth so much, we should give the players some special considerations when handling their cards. When deck checking, have two separate areas to check decks, one for each opponent. Let the players come over to watch their deck being checked in an area separate from where their opponent’s deck is being checked. Also, if you normally shuffle their deck before you give it back, it’s a good idea to either not shuffle or be very careful when you shuffle the deck.

Many of the Type 1 cards are very valuable

3. Pace of play – The tortoise is a hare!: Usually allowing 30 seconds to a minute is reasonable for a player to make a decision. And for a turn, 2 to 3 minutes might seem like a long time. At 2 minutes a turn, with a turn 10 kill, a total of 20 turns is 40 minutes, almost the whole round! In Type 1, obviously turn 10 kills aren’t the norm. Many times a 5 minute or longer turn leads to a concession or game win, so a long turn isn’t as much of a problem. Also, players are savvier about what their opponents are playing and when they take what seems like excessive time, they may actually be considering all of their options instead of stalling. Slow play can still be a problem, but usually it’s a person who looks like they’re playing slow that actually has a reasonable pace of play for Type 1.

4. Odds and Ends: And now for a couple of friendly reminders of things you may already do but should emphasize in Type 1. First, all judges should make the players aware that they can appeal to the head judge after they make a ruling. It’s good practice to inform the players they can appeal, and in Type 1 it’s even more important to give the players an avenue to correct a ruling or decision if they don’t agree with it. Second, judges should meet at the end of each round to discuss rulings, especially if you have less experienced judges on the floor. As always, this helps all of the judges gain experience, but in Type 1 it is especially critical that you make the consistent and correct rulings, since often this tournament will be one of very few Type I tournaments the players will play. They rightly get very frustrated if a misruling costs them a match or game, and it’s easy to misrule due to the sheer volume of cards and interactions. Lastly, sportsmanship should always be emphasized. I tend to lean towards being harsher when a player is unsporting – calling a judge’s ruling ‘stupid’, disparaging other players or the staff, or just acting like a jerk. These actions warrant a warning at a minimum. In Type 1, the players tend to be a lot friendlier with each other and with judges, but poor sportsmanship should still not be tolerated.

Type I tournaments can be a challenge, but they can also be fun. Checking the oracle wording, being aware of the players’ concerns with higher value cards, and considering pace of play in Type I tournaments will lead to a more consistent, successful tournament. There’s nothing quite like making a ruling on a first turn kill on a deck that costs more than your entire collection!

John Shannon
DCI Level 3 judge