As an active judge and player, I feel I have a right and responsibility to promote Magic: the Gathering. Of course, not all my motives are altruistic, but you can read about those at the end of this article. The main part of this article will be a review of ways of promoting M:tG at different levels. It is based mostly on my experience.
The local club
I am a member of the SF&F Club of Gdansk (http://www.gkf.3miasto.pl) and the head of gaming there. Many of our club members are Magic players. In fact, many have joined to learn how to play or to improve their Magic skills.
Players fall into two categories: casual and tournament-level. Of course there are those, that fall into both categories. For the casual player, there are tables set-up, usually for a large multiplayer fame. For these players I hunt the Web, to find new and interesting game variants. (I must admit I'm also an avid multiplayer participant.) Before a large or important tournament, the "pros" show up to test their decks. For them we have created Team Angmar and we will be scheduling playtesting sessions.
Both types of players always ask questions on rulings, card interaction, etc. that would probably be posed at a tournament, so this is a good place to give rulings, so the players don't find out something in the middle of a tournament (and if you make a mistake, there's time to correct it). I also inform players of new rulings and errata posted on Web, so they can be more prepared without the need to scour the Web too often.
New players are always welcome and can count on receiving a pile of "unplayable" commons and uncommons, to help them start their collection and be able to play. They also receive a lot of advice and a friendly environment to learn to play.
I live in a large city and we support a decent number of Magic players. As the highest-level judge here, I usually end up answering most of the rules (and policy, tournament, etc.) questions. I'm more then happy to help players with them (especially, if they send them by email :). I usually try to stop at the local card shops, every week, to help out with any questions that may arise.
I'm an active tournament organizer and co-organizer. Since I'm not the only organizer in the city, I started a campaign a couple of years ago, to create a citywide schedule of tournaments. This would prevent tournaments from colliding and players being better informed. (This campaign is finally coming to a happy end). As a judge, I try to show a professional image, so that players can be sure that a fair and fun tournament takes place. This also helps, when young player's parents visit. As a player at a tournament, I make sure not to cause the judges any problems and help them, when asked.
I also talked a local storeowner, to host a bi-monthly tournament "The Master Invitational" (Master is the name of the store). The top 16 players from the area are invited to take part in it. This allows them to test their skills and decks against the best, and to have some fun (all the players know each other and the prizes are not very large).
National level tournaments
In Poland, we have a series of tournaments names the PolTour. It is series of tournaments taking place over 4 months in different cities. Players receive PolTour points for participating and high finishes. Some of the best players from Poland show up for these tournaments, so judges and organizers need to put in extra effort into these tournaments. On one hand you have the pros, players who have participated in PTQs, Nationals, PTs, etc.; on the other new players show up and don't know what a DCI number is. The key is to act friendly and be helpful, but still make sure rules are properly enforced. If a novice player made a mistake, you have to punish him, but must explain his fault and make sure there are no bad feelings (you don't want him to quit). This will be appreciated both by new players and most pros (the rest are bad sports and nothing will help them).
A Prerelease is another tournament, where new and old players mix. Here, it is even more important to carefully explain rulings and card interaction, so that players will enjoy their game, instead of being puzzled by your ruling and figuring out, that the game is too hard for them.
PTQs, Regionals and Nationals require a different approach. Here, the players are competing for significant prizes and invitations. The players expect judges to be strict (if not harsh), just and well prepared. If a player does not meet their expectations, they may choose not to participate in future events. A question that I am often asked before an important event is: "Who's the head judge?". Some players base their decision on participating on this one question!
Here are the rewards I get for promoting Magic:
- Material compensation for judging – this can be money, food & beer or booster packs. Since I usually get paid based on the number of participants, I went the number of players to climb.
- A larger diversity – as more people play, you meet new, interesting people, and face new decks and strategies, and that's what Magic is about.
- Fame and ego boost – I'm proud to be recognized as a judge and Magic promoter. It's always very satisfying to be recognized by people you don't know (especially, if they have a good opinion of you).
Here is a list of things you can do to promote Magic:
- always be ready to answer questions and give rulings
- teach new players, help older players
- organize tournaments (if there is a lack of them in your area) - promote premiere events, right now they are one of the most important driving forces of the game
- as a judge, be honest, fair and polite; meet the players expectations
It really is worth it.