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Mercadian Masques Prerelease-Phoenix, AZ

Ray Powers

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 report on.

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 there.


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.

One.... Twenty....

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 purpose.

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 follows:

The player had the following cards in play..

1, Sacrifice a land: Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Saprazzan Skerry
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, sacrifice it.

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 for mana.

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..
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 left..
Player 4 at table 29 wondering where his opponent was the whole time.

So, at the end of that round....

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 loss.
Player 3 - was not at the right table at the right time. He got a match loss.
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 own. :P

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 there..

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 rayp@primenet.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.

Ray Powers
DCI # 5920
Level III Judge
Phoenix, AZ

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