Two days, 111 players, and never enough judges

Ireland Champions of Kamigawa Prerelease Weekend- Part Two

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Day Two – Dublin, Ireland

The second prerelease would be in Dublin, over 300km away. I was getting up at 07:10 and would get a cab at 07:30 to the train station. I had packed everything I would need the night before and planned to get breakfast on the train.

The first “d’oh!” came at 07:40 when I got to the station and found that there was a special direct train to Dublin, which hadn’t sold out and I didn’t know about. As I was due to travel with Brad, I was not in a position to take this train without him and he unfortunately didn’t arrive until after that train left. We chose to pay a supplement in order for our tickets to be valid for the shuttle-bus into Dublin city centre, which would replace 40 minutes’ walk with ten in the bus.

Having boarded the train, it was only then that I found out that the full meal service was not operating for non-first class passengers, which was disappointing. I had to satisfy myself with some meat rolls. Judging on anything less than a full stomach is suboptimal, but in this case there was no other option.

On the way up Brad took the Delphi 1 test, which took him two hours. He was due to test for level 1 with Oli Bird, the Irish level 3 judge, that day. When he was finished I went through it with him and explained the answers where necessary. For the last 20 minutes of the journey we discussed different DCI rule issues.

We arrived at the station to find a queue of several hundred people for the bus. Fortunately, under the quaint system of queuing used in Dublin, passengers with prepaid tickets are entitled to skip the queue. So we did, and probably saved half an hour as a result. We still had a 20 minute walk from the bus stop to the venue, but this wasn’t much of a problem.

Oli was joined by Dave Kearney (level 2 from Kerry) earlier in the morning, and Brad and I rounded off the judge team of 4. Brad went to revise some rules before later getting some floor experience ahead of testing.

We arrived just as deck construction was starting. Oli had chosen not to use decklists, which was pleasant, and had DCI Reporter, which was more pleasant. 78 players had made their way to the venue and were tearing into their tournament packs and boosters.

12:01 Deck Construction

As usual, several questions arose during deck construction.

Q: What is Soulshift?
A: As it says on the card, Soulshift allows you to return to your hand a Spirit card in your graveyard with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number after the word Soulshift, when the creature goes to a graveyard from play.

Q: How does this work? (Nezumi Graverobber, again)
A: You can pay 1 ManaBlack Mana to remove a card in an opponent’s graveyard from the game. There must be a card there to use this effect. If you remove the last card this way you will then flip the Graverobber, turning him into Nighteyes the Desecrator.

Q: When you use Moonring Mirror, do you see the card you drew before you remove it from the game?
A: No. Please read the card. When you draw a card, that card goes into your hand, then you set aside the next card face down. (The player still looked confused, so I took a random stack of cards and demonstrated it physically to him.)

Q: When should I declare if I am splicing a card onto an Arcane spell?
A: Right after you put the Arcane spell onto the stack and before you declare any targets or costs.

13:02 Round 1

Before the round Oli made a few announcements and answered player questions. Some of the questions went on too long, so we started the round and answered those questions privately afterwards.

Q: Can I play Kadama’s Reach if I’ve already played a land this turn?
A: Yes, putting a land into play does not count as playing a land.

Q: We’re finished. What do we do?
A: Who won the games?

Q: Games? We only played one game, isn’t that right?
A: No, you play best of three then complete the results slip you have there with how many games each player has won, and sign it.

Q: When do I pay the cost for Ghostly Prison?
A: As you declare attackers, just like it says on the card.

Q: My opponent sacrificed his Kami of Ancient Law that had my Cage of Hands on it. Surely I get to respond by bringing my Cage of Hands back to my hand?
A: No, the sacrifice happens as a cost and the Cage of Hands is put into the graveyard as a state-based effect immediately.

The results slips had come out a bit screwy, as DCI Reporter kept insisting on printing at 12-point Courier, which was too large and left the bottom three lines on the next page. It also wasn’t printing the judge signature line. We diagnosed problems with the Collected Printouts option, and printing everything separately seemed to fix the issue.

During that round I also checked tables for a visible method of keeping score. Whenever players didn’t have a method visible, I asked “Where are you keeping score?” They invariably pointed to their opponent’s pen and paper. I said “no, where are you keeping score?” and after the following exchange issued them with a piece of paper and asked them to use a visible method in future. The reason for this is that when players are not both tracking life totals, there in an increased risk of the situation getting messed up.

With a total of seventeen new DCI members, I had to explain how the results slips worked lots of times, despite Oli announcing it earlier. Another example of the “why listen to announcements, we can always ask a judge later” player philosophy that I so hate.

I had to give a game loss late in the round to a player who presented a 35-card deck to his opponent in the second game and realized, at the end of the second game, that he hadn’t shuffled in five cards that were removed from the game in the first game. I went to ask Oli first if there was any way we could avoid giving him a game loss, but there was none. The completed game stood; the players had split the first and second games so unfortunately the deck error cost him the match. That was the only warning we gave in the entire event.

14:08 Round 2

Q: (14:10) Has the round started yet?
A: Yes, that’s why everyone else around you is playing.

Q: If I target my opponent’s Yosei, the Morning Star with Frostwielder and then destroy it with Rend Spirit, will my opponent get to tap five of my permanents and make me skip my next untap step?
A: No, Frostwielder has a replacement effect and so it removes Yosei from the game without it ever hitting the graveyard.

Q: Can I activate Wicked Akuba as many times as I like?
A: Yes, provided Wicked Akuba has dealt damage to your opponent this turn.

Q: Is it that good?
A: Yes.

Q: Two creatures take lethal damage in combat. One has Soulshift and the other is a Spirit that the Soulshift ability could target. Can I use the Soulshift ability to return the Spirit to my hand?
A: Yes, since all the creatures go to the graveyard at once and targets for the trigger aren’t chosen until after they go to the graveyard.

At this stage Oli asked me to leave rules questions to Brad so that he could get some floor experience at a reasonably big event. We watched how he dealt with the issues so that we could give him feedback later.

15:15 Round 3

I didn’t answer any rules questions this round. Oli took his laptop to download the judge exam for Brad and answer key, which led to minor delays with a pile-up of results at the end of the round.

16:25 Round 4

Q: Can I use Nezumi Graverobber when my opponent’s graveyard is empty, just to flip him?
A: No, you cannot play an ability without choosing a legal target for it.

Q: Can I use my Myojin of Night’s Reach to stop my opponent from playing his Yamabushi’s Flame? If he doesn’t have the card he won’t be able to play it.
A: No, the first part of playing a spell is to put the spell card on the stack, and by the time you have priority to play spells or abilities the card isn’t in his hand.

Q: If my opponent destroys my creature with Glacial Ray when it attacks, will it still deal combat damage?
A: Assuming you did not have damage on the stack already, it will not. (Damage wasn’t on the stack.)

Q: I control a Soul of Magma and I’m going to play Earthshaker. Will the Soul of Magma trigger kill the Earthshaker?
A: No, Soul of Magma triggers on playing the Earthshaker, and the triggered ability goes on top of Earthshaker on the stack. Therefore it resolves first.

Q: What’s this? (pointing to the 2-D barcode on the back of a booster wrapper)
A: It’s a tracking code for the booster. (I explained the distribution chain logic briefly to the player.)

Q: If Sosuke, son of Seshiro is in play when damage goes on the stack but not when it resolves, will it trigger?
A: No, combat damage is only considered dealt when it resolves, and Sosuke must be in play at that stage to trigger.

The only other thing that I intercepted during that round was a player who decided that Honden of Cleansing Fire was so cool that he’d gain 8 life a turn if he played a second one. I gently moved them both to his graveyard.

17:40 Round 5

Q: Does this card (showing me Pull Under) do what I want it to do? (opponent controls Konda, Lord of Elgonjo)
A: I don’t know. What do you want it to do?

Q: Okay, can I ask you a question away from the table?
A: Sure.

Q: (away from table) Will it get rid of Konda?
A: Yes, having zero or negative power will cause even an indestructible creature to be put into the graveyard as a state-based effect.

Q: Can I use Reciprocate to target something that hasn’t done anything this turn just so that it’ll die to Horobi, Death’s Wail?
A: No, you can only select a legal target.

Q: Can I use Wicked Akuba lots of times?
A: Yes, certainly.

Q: I control two Nezumi Graverobbers and don’t want them to legend-rule themselves to death. Will they both flip if I remove the last card from my opponent’s graveyard with one?
A: No, the flip condition is built into the activated ability.

Dave brought my attention to a draft that had screwed itself up by passing to the left in the second booster. It was caught after four or five picks. We determined that there was no good way to fix it, and continued the draft with all packs passed to the left. (What would you have done? magicjudge@thomasralph.com)

18:48 Round 6

With Dave gone to get a train and Brad and Oli gone to review Brad’s judge test, I was left to myself with the side events and 52 active players. This left things a bit tight at times but I managed to keep the event running. I just had to prioritize. Luckily most people left in the event were competent and there weren’t many questions.

Q: Does the Dragon Spirit token I create with Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang have summoning sickness?
A: Yes. (The player asked this at the end of his opponent’s turn and could have won had he activated Tatsumasa right then, but didn’t, and proceeded to lose slowly.)

Q: Can I tap a creature with summoning sickness for Hair-Strung Koto?
A: Yes, since the Tap symbol isn’t on the creature.

Q: If I play Hanabi Blast, who discards a card?
A: You do. (The player went to have his opponent choose a card from his hand with Hanabi Blast still on the table and I asked him to return it to his hand first.)

19:53 Round 7

Q: If I kill an equipped creature in response to the equipment being moved somewhere else, will the equipment still move?
A: Yes.

Q: What about if I kill the target?
A: Then the equipment stays where it is.

Q: If I play Strange Inversion on a creature and pump its power later, will that increase its toughness instead?
A: No. Why would it? (Unfortunately the wording of cards like About Face and Metamorphosis are so ingrained into players’ heads that they are assuming all new cards to have that template.)

Q: If I play my Kitsune Diviner now can I use his ability next turn?
A: No, you can only play a creature’s abilities including the tap symbol in their cost if you have controlled the creature continuously since your last upkeep or if the creature has Haste.

Brad returned to the floor in this round, as a level 1 judge. Congratulations to him on passing.

21:10 Round 8

In my tired state I somehow managed to print out the round 1 pairings and this delayed things by about ten minutes. I regretted leaving Oli with the mess to clean up, but had to get a cab with Brad to the train station to catch the 21:50 train to Cork. My prerelease weekend finally ended at 00:55 on Monday morning after getting back to Cork in the early minutes of Monday and getting another cab home.

My thanks to Johanna Knuutinen for helpful comments and suggestions.

As always if you want to comment on any of the issues brought up in my report, please email me at magicjudge@thomasralph.com. Thanks!

Thomas Ralph, DCI Level 2 Judge

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