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Foreign Booster Draft-PT-LA

Rock Roberge

Hi All-

A quick intro: this judging report gives some insight on preparedness for judging side tourneys at a Premier Event.

My name is Rock Roberge, and I'm a Level 1 Judge from Goffstown, NH. I've been playing for nearly 4 years and judging for about 1 year. I made the trek to PTLA with some friends again this year, my judging report is from one of the side tournaments I judged. This is the 3rd Pro Tour event that I attend with the intent of judging and playing in side tourneys.

The tournament that I chose to write about was an 8-person single-elimination Mercadian Masques foreign booster draft. It took place on 02/04, 2000 at 9:45 PM in the side tournament area of The Boat (Long Beach, CA, USA).

I gathered the 8 players to an area with 2 empty tables. We used 1 table to draft, and I kept the 2nd table available for deck building (Note #1: whenever possible have 2 tables available for your draft; use 1 table for drafting, then spread the players out on the 2 tables for deck building). I seated the 8 players by randomly assigning a card (numbered 1 through 8) to each player, each number representing the appropriate seat at the draft table (Note #2: have 8 land cards, numbered 1 through 8, ready to go). The players were instructed that they would be playing the person "dynamically opposite" them (e.g. 1 plays 5, 2 plays 6, etc).

The players at this draft were all experienced drafters and needed little supervision. Nonetheless, I find it helpful to maintain a presence as the players draft (slowly walking around the table for the most part). At the end of each pack, I had the players stop and count the cards to ensure that they had the correct amount before continuing. Since this was a foreign booster draft, I had a printed list of each card (including the text and card number) available in case questions arose (Note #3: Judges that can reliably judge foreign booster drafts are in greater demand than those who can't; therefore, prepare by having a printed list of cards, including the card number, to clarify any card questions during the draft / deck building session / duels).

Once the drafting portion of this tourney was complete, I had the players at seats 1, 2, 7, and 8 spread out to the adjoining empty table for deck construction. The players were also instructed that deck building would be done at these 2 tables only. By separating the players in this manner, no one has to build their deck at the same table as their first round opponent. The players were allowed to get their land when ready.

During deck building I noticed a player getting advice from a few friends (who had been monitoring the draft). This was a low level event, appeared innocent, but that was clearly unacceptable. I politely told the friends that they shouldn't be assisting with deck building. They understood and offered no more help. I answered a few text questions that players had about the foreign cards. I don't have every card memorized, so the list I had printed really helped out.

I did not time the deck building session, and as players were ready to begin playing I encouraged them to do so. It did not become necessary to rush anyone, the deck building was done in a timely manner. Once the last players began playing I began the 50-minute timer.

The first round went well, with the only noteworthy event being that one player (we'll call him "Jason") won rather quickly, then took off (Note #4: Instruct players to stay in the immediate area when not playing unless they tell you otherwise). The 2nd round was ready to begin, and still no Jason.

I'm always concerned when I lose track of a player in a Limited event that does not use deck registration. There isn't much to stop a dishonest person from substituting cards in their deck / sideboard, particularly in a "loose" draft (where most players don't remember every card they pass). I had Jason paged twice, and had no luck finding him. His opponent began getting restless. He showed up just after I began the 5 minute timer (that would have awarded a game loss to Jason). He apologized for being away, claimed he had to make an emergency phone call, then grabbed his deck from the table and began playing. Yes, he had left his deck on the table the entire time he was gone, which was both good and bad (good in that the integrity of his deck remained intact; bad in that no one was watching his deck, it could have easily been stolen). All's well that ends well, I suppose.

Rounds 2 and 3 were uneventful, and there were no significant rules questions in any round. I awarded the prizes and congratulated (and thanked) the 1st and 2nd place finishers. I finished the paperwork, turned it in, and prepared for more judging.

The keys that I want to stress here are the following:
(1) Come prepared to judge. It takes very little effort to show up with a clipboard, pen, card listing, time tracking device, and cards for seat assignment.
(2) Be friendly, but don't be afraid to take control of the environment if needed. For example, on the day of the Junior Super Series (with 100+ young kids playing) I clearly overheard a table of grown men loudly using profanity while I was judging a nearby draft. I politely asked them to stop, pointing out all the children that were present. They complied (you can't underestimate the intimidation factor of the purple Judge shirt). If they had continued to loudly use offensive language I would have reported them to the tournament organizer to have them removed. There's no need to be overly confrontational, but you can't be afraid to do what's best for the game.
(3) Be professional. Treat rules questions very carefully: let the players explain the situation and ask their question(s) before jumping in. When making a ruling, always end with something like "does this make sense to you?", "do you understand why?", etc. This allows the players to request more information or ask more questions. It also makes you a better Judge by ensuring that your rulings are clear, correct, and understood.

That's all I have to offer for my first judging report submission. Being the busy Dad that I am, I don't get a ton of time to play and judge. I plan to test for Level 2 within the next year and would like to get to the point of judging higher level tournaments. Judging is a great way to be involved in this great game while assisting others. My goal for every tournament that I judge is to be the kind of Judge that I would want judging my tournaments.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!!

Rock \\//

Rock Roberge
Level 1 Judge
Goffstown, NH, USA



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