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Urza's Destiny Prerelease - MI

Andrew Iwamasa

The first thing that I would like to say about this tournament is a great thank you to Mike Donais for being an amazing head judge and for running what I have experienced as one of the most organized tournaments that I have ever attended. He has the great ability to make his judges feel comfortable and even if someone made a wrong ruling he would make sure that he took his time to explain not only the correct answer but also the whys and hows. Granted many of you may think that this is not a big deal or that this seems like these are just things that the head judge should normally do, but it's just not what he does, it's also how he does them. Asking his judges their thoughts or how they would rule, and then offering his thoughts or reasonings in a very respectful manner. I've attended quite a few tournaments as a spectator, player and judge, and I must say that Mike's events are very well put together and more importantly a lot of fun for both the judges and the players. Not only that, but I'd like to give a big round of applause for my fellow judges that worked with me at this event as well.

Now, as for the tournament itself: being Memorial Day Weekend, the turn out was less than that of Legacy, reaching only about 220 on Saturday and less than 100 on Sunday. As always for a pre-release there was a higher level of excitement as players read through cards that they had never seen before (not including spoiler lists of course <grin>). Having 8 judges we were able to keep everything moving very smoothly and kept the event moving along very nicely. Rulings were pretty much your basic, "well, what do I do first when this Elf goes to the graveyard?" or "can a Plated Spider block Treetop Rangers?" or the like. It wasn't until Sunday that I had run into my first interesting judge call. I was called over to a table where one player was saying that it was impossible for his opponent to have cast the spells that he had on his last turn due to available mana. He had realized this during his turn when checking to see what Echo costs his opponent would have to pay next turn, so it was AFTER everything was put into play and that turn ended. What ended up happening was the following. After listening to what each player had to say (with a little bit of arguing and interrupting happening) I called over the head judge and explained the situation to him. Since the game was only 7 turns into the game we were able to logically look at the steps taken in each turn, and at this point, Mike and I stepped aside and he asked what I thought the ruling should be. I cannot stress the point enough, that I thought that was very cool for him to do. although I originally gave him the wrong answer he didn't talk down to me, or even seem to hold me in any less of regard, but rather helped me come to the correct conclusion, which was giving a written warning to the player that had played his card without enough mana to do so, but leaving it in play since it was not caught at the time of casting. (Once again this might seem to be something that always SHOULD be done between a HJ and a judge, but it struck me as Mike going an extra step to make sure his judges are armed with the right info and help them when they aren't.) And so happened my first (and only) warning of the tournament.

The second "problem" that came to my attention was when two players called me over after finishing a game to let me know of "curious" behavior of a third player, who for the sake of this report, we will call Billy Bob. The behavior that they were talking about consisted nothing of evidence, but just merely a series of events that seemed unlikely. Billy Bob, while playing both players at separate times, had played a Processor (pay X life when it comes into play, generates X/X tokens) in 5 of the 6 games by turn four. These two players didn't think much of it while playing, just really good top decking skills, but when they were talking to each other and found out that it had happened to someone else as well, they thought that it should be brought to the judges attention in case of foul play. I should note that both players understood that their games were past and that there was no way possible at all that anything could be done about them at this point. They were more interested in making sure that if some foul play was happening that we, as judges knew about it. So, as the day went on, when wandering the floor, I would take an extra look at watching Billy Bob's games from time to time. During one time of standing around watching matches, I noticed that Billy Bob was doing something that I assumed was mana weaving but with his deck below the table. After doing this, he did table shuffle, as well as one regular shuffle. He would then offer his opponent a chance to cut, and over the course of watching we saw that he would draw 7 cards directly off the top of the deck if his opponent cut, or pick up HALF his deck and draw 7 cards if his opponent DIDN'T cut. (This meaning that he could be drawing from the middle of his deck by drawing from the bottom of that half) still however we didn't have proof that he was cheating. Then later, throughout the course of watching his games, I noticed that he had 4 rare cards from Saga. At this point the head judge pulled him aside and talked to him. Mike gave him the benefit of the doubt after talking with him and getting information from him, and let him stay in the tournament with a written warning and specific restrictions which he will always have to follow at any sanctioned tournament. There was no way we could ever say for sure that he was cheating as opposed to being an amazingly lucky player, so the end result was the only choice.

Other than those two events the tournament went very well. Players thanking Mike and the rest of the judges on a regular basis, with many complements on how well the event was ran. It was great to see so many people out to have fun, and very few players that were there just to win. That, for me, was very refreshing. It's easy to get jaded but rule mongers or the like, so seeing someone who's in it for the love of the game was great. Well, this report seems to have rambled on and on, so I will take my leave once more and give a final thanks to Mike and my fellow judges for letting me share that experience with them!

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