|Foreign Booster Draft-PT-LA
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
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
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
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
(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
(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!!
Level 1 Judge
Goffstown, NH, USA