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Mercadian Masques Prerelease-Minneapolis, MN

James Hamblin

This was my first experience head-judging a major event, and my second prerelease event. We had 216 players in the main event, a modest turnout, which were divided into two pods. Approximately 30 side tournaments, mainly booster drafts, were also run. I was mainly in charge of the 120-person pod, and Marc Aquino (Level 2) was in charge of the 96-person pod. As the head judge, I was occasionally called over to settle a dispute in his pod, but for the most part, it ran very smoothly.

At the beginning of the day, when the players were registering their cards, I should have been more insistent in getting them to stop reading their cards. Certainly, at an event like this, players want to (and should be allowed to) learn about these new cards, but some players didn't start recording their cards until very late, which caused a large delay. While a certain amount of miscommunication and inexperience is expected of the players at a prerelease event, 2 or 3 players held up the entire process.

Once we got the ball rolling, there were few problems. We were slightly overstaffed on judging, and many of the judges were inexperienced, but I made every effort to resolve problems quickly and fairly. For example, the judge taking decklists and distributing extra land did not know he was supposed to make sure that players had written their name on the list. Fortunately, this was caught after only a couple of decklists had been submitted, and we managed to find those people.

Surprisingly, the rules questions and judge calls were not as frequent as I expected them to be. Since the Destiny prerelease was under 5th edition rules, this was many players' first exposure to the new rules set. However, if anything, players I encountered were not uninformed about the new rules, only misinformed. For example, one player insisted that he could respond to a damage prevention effect by destroying the creature generating it, thus cancelling the effect. His justification was some nonsense about the stack, and he remained unconvinced by my explanations.

I was also unsure about how many times I would have to assert my role as head judge, either to overrule a subordinate or to settle a dispute. This actually happened rarely. The judges I was working with would often approach me with questions about what to do, I would tell them, and they would do it. In these situations, I did not have to intervene personally. However, the few instances in which I did have to intervene seemed to resolve easily, and I received no complaints during or after the tournament.

Overall, I believe the event was a success. Thanks to Darrell Wyatt for being there for me to bounce questions off of and for setting a great example for me to follow. Thanks also to my judge staff, especially Marc Aquino, Chris Anderson and Phil, whose last name I do not remember. Special thanks to Steve and Marci Port, the TO's, for backing me up and making my job easy.

James Hamblin
Level 2
Madison, WI

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