|Mercadian Masques Prerelease-Phoenix, AZ
September 25, 1999
This one was a doozy folks!
Although, to the players I think the event seemed to run pretty well, we
had several interesting issues at this event, from both a judging and
Organizing Point of view, so I thought this would be a good event to do a
The event was held in sunny Phoenix, Arizona at ASU West, a venue we have
used for at least two pre-releases before this. Its a pretty far drive for
us, so we all got up early, loaded up the trucks, using our new improved
Checklist tech. If you do not have a checklist for each event, I highly
suggest it. We put EVERYTHING we can think of on it, and then go down the
list "DCI book? Check. Badges? Check." It's amazingly helpful and stops us
from forgetting thing, which, er, I tend to do. I talk to Mike Clark and
ask him if he knows how to get there, he says yep, Peoria, I agree, and
off we go.
Halfway to the event site, we find out that the highway is closed. And
backed up for two miles to the closure point. Construction is not so
special when you are in a rush, but Mike is the one that went for Bagels
for the crew, so I'm think we can still make it with plenty of time. We
get off the freeway and head down to Peoria Ave and.... the site is not
A quick Circle K stop later informs us that ASU West is on Thunderbird,
not Peoria (two more miles down), and evidently we need more caffeine. We
make it to the site at 8:45, and a quick inventory shows that our car has
everything we need to begin registration, so if Mike gets lost, at least
we can get started. We hop to the site, park in the normal unloading zone,
and unload into the La Sala room.... where there is seating for about 120.
Okay, that's not good considering we normally get over double that.
Greg Smith has already searched the campus for someone to get us more
tables. No one is around. Greg and Mitch attempted to thief tables from
the room next door, but there is a class there, and they were not too keen
on the idea. We did find a bunch of extra chairs though, and I instruct
the judges to start turning the 3 per 8 foot table seating to 4 per 8 foot
table seating, which they discreetly do. I also tell the poor dealer that
reserved two tables for the event that I could only give him one, but he
was very kind and understanding about it. The two store owners began
setting up shop. I set up a Judge to star the table of 3X5 registration
cards, and we started up about 9 am on the dot registering users using the
new Stenger Traffic Flow System (tm), which worked pretty well, but we
were unable to implement all of it. Should be better next event.
Okay at 9:15.... and Mike and his truckload show up of Judges and product.
He of course got lost too. However, he brought Bagels, so all is forgiven.
Except he got no butter knives for the cream cheese. Okay. Obviously this
is not supposed to be a good day. Steve Ward, one of the players, washes
off his Swiss army Knife, and while not incredibly good, it serves its
Register... register...register... rechairing is done, we now have space
for 189 (ran out of chairs I guess). Looks to be enough (we ended up with
165 the whole day, very low for our area). Register.. register...register.
Coriann, who shows up at all the prereleases informs me that the reason
she thinks no one is showing up today is that, on the Wizards website, the
phone number to call to find out the location of my event was a
disconnected phone number. That is not very encouraging. Turns out this
was incorrect, as I and Dan checked the website and sure enough, the
correct phone number and web page address were there. No blaming WoTC for
this one. They had the correct info there.
Well, 7 rounds of swiss sounds pretty good to me...
I send some judges out to number the tables, and turn around to hear Kelly
(my fiance and amazing helper) yell that they just ran out of shirts for
sale.. Before registration is done. Mental note, buy more shirts next
time. Table numbering gets done quickly, and we seat everyone and set up
the land table. Deck Registration goes slow, as should be expected with a
new set, but no real problems, and lots of ooohing and aahhhing over the
foils. The sheets go up for side events, and we wait to see if the first
draft will fill before round one. It does.
The first couple of rounds go smoothly. Very few judge questions, and very
very few worth discussing here. One of the more interesting one's was as
The player had the following cards in play..
1, Sacrifice a land: Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Saprazzan Skerry comes into play tapped with two depletion counters on it.
T, Remove a depletion counter from Saprazzan Skerry: Add two blue mana to
your mana pool. If there are no depletion counters on Saprazzan Skerry,
The Skerry had one counter on it. The Player wanted to know if he could
announce the ability of the Sustenance, Pay for it with the Skerry *and*
sack the Skerry as the land (leaving one mana in his pool). An EXCELLENT
question since paying all costs just sort of happens. I ruled against it
though, stating that you're doing them one at a time, although it does
occur rather at the same time. If you tapped the Skerry for mana, it
sacced it self right there and then (note the sacrifice is part of the
resolution of the mana ability, not a triggered effect). If he sacced the
land as the second part of the cost, he would not be able to then tap it
Dern tricky players. :)
Around round 2 it became well known that the air was not working. It was
not obscene, but it was getting warm quickly. Fortunately, a campus police
officer came in to get a message to one of our players, we sent him out on
a mission to find us air control, and the day was saved before Stinky
Magic Player Syndrome (SMPS for short) set in.
Our "scariest" incident occurred as the pairings for round 6 went up. Two
players had been dropped from the tournament, both who said they had not
dropped, and were in the event last round.
After massive conversations with those two players and their Previous
opponents, here was the conclusion:
Player 1 Reported to Table 39 for his match, there he met..
So, at the end of that round....
Player 2, who was actually supposed to play at table 29, but misread the
sheet. But where was the other player for table 39, why..
Player 3 was at table 68, which was not his table number, but his standing
in the tournament at that time. Considering we were down to 100 or so
players at the time, table 68 must have looked rather lonely. But alas it
Player 4 at table 29 wondering where his opponent was the whole time.
Player 1 Won, and reported it as such, with player 2
Player 3 Claimed he had no opponent, got the win and his opponent (player
1) dropped for no show.
Player 4 Claimed he had no opponent, got the win and his opponent (player
3) dropped for no show.
Final ruling was as follows:
Player 1 - was at the right table at the right time. His opponent, was
not. He got a match win.
Player 2 - was not at the right table at the right time. He got a match
Player 3 - was not at the right table at the right time. He got a match
Player 4 - was at the right table at the right time. His opponent, was
not. He got a match win.
And we repaired the next round.
Thank goodness we backup after every round. :)
Then the campus police came back and said they were towing everyone in the
loading zone. Oops, we never did move our vehicles did we? A brief flurry
of car moving occurred, and the event finished without problems. From the
player perspective, it ended up running perfectly clean. It was a little
frantic for my judges at points, but the entire judging crowd is very very
competent and calm, so things were handled well.
Weird events that occurred in addition follow:
1. A girl by the name of Leslie managed to not completely finish ANY
matches his day. She timed out every round. She got one match win because
she won game one and they never finished game two. Its my understanding
that this was not unusual, just not to that extent. I would soap box about
not liking the 50 minute rule, but I'll save that for an article all its
2. Eric, one of our top 16 players, upon receiving his prize handed it
back saying "This is the worst set I have ever seen. I don't want this
stuff." Wow. Personally, I think this is a great draft set, but hey, to
each their own. There was a log of negative comments about the set and its
effect on type two. Francis Keys from L.A. brought a very good point
though in saying that this set will slow down the environment of Standard
quite a bit. If the next two sets are like this as well, we can look
forward to magic games that take more than five turns. Hear! Hear!
3. There were more complaints of theft than ever before at this event. I
think I'm going to adopt a strategy of announcing at the beginning of each
event that each player should keep a very close watch on their
possessions, as things tend to walk off. Fortunately, I have a very good
relationship with the dealers and big traders here, so they are more than
willing to mention to me when someone suddenly wants to sell/trade 4 Mox
Diamonds or something like that. But there's only so much you can do
4. More people asked to take the judge test than every before. I'd like
to open this one up for comments in general, but this isn't really the
place. If you'd like to discuss this with me, my e-mail is
email@example.com. The issue was this. The players wanting to become
judges wanted to become judges for my events, since, on the behalf of Dan
Gray, I basically run all of the Premiere events for Phoenix. I actually
am very happy with my current judging staff. I have one more person I am
working on becoming a judge because I think he will be an excellent
addition, but overall, I have more than I need already, and the pattern of
thinking seems to be that if they get to be a level one, they will start
by default getting to run these events with us and get the compensation
that goes with it. How are the other level 3's handling this? I am
defaulting to saying something to the effect of "I will gladly work with
you on becoming a DCI certified judge, however this does not guarantee you
the right to work any particular event at any particular time. I handpick
my judges based on skill level, competency, personality, and even to some
extent familiarity for these events, and am more than willing to consider
you for any future events, but there are no guarantees."
Yeah, that normally sends 'em running. :/
So, do I start alienating my current judges by not using them in favor
of new judges which may or may not work out? Do I keep on saying the above
comment, with the knowledge that this will drastically lower the number of
testers I actually get, which, in turn, means I may not meet the minimum
requirement for judge certifications? I'm eager to here if anyone else has
run into this, and how they are handling it. I'm a huge fan of quality
over quantity, but I understand the need for us to continue to "adopt"
potential new judges and work with them.
The event closed down in a reasonable time, and when I went to look
around.... the place was already clean. Wow my judges rule. I didn't even
ask them. So, I trucked it on home, happy for another nice tournament.
I avoided the freeway this time.
DCI # 5920
Level III Judge