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Taking the Plunge

A Guide to Becoming a Judge

Nick Hable

So you decided to do it. You decided to take the plunge; you decided to become a DCI certified judge. More than likely if you are reading this you have found your way to the best resource on the web for certified judges, and you have read all of the topics on how to become a certified judge. So what am I doing writing this article on how to become a judge? As I am planning on working to becoming a level 3 judge, I offer my insights on things to study, people to contact, social skills needed that aren't readily apparent.

First what to study, obviously study the rules. I find the best way of study the rules is to play the game. While you play think of what rules govern the plays you make. For example a typical turn involves a Beginning, Main, Attack, 2nd Main, and End phases with many steps in between. During either Main Phases you can play one land from your hand. When can you play that land? Can anything stop you from playing that land? These two questions are not ones that would come up much but they are an example of some of the common things that are overlooked when studying.

In addition to the rules a judge has to have some knowledge of the Penalty Guidelines, Floor Rules for Magic, the Universal Floor Rules, and the different formats of tournaments. A good way to study most of these things is to help at a large event such as a PTQ or a Prerelease tournament. This leads me to who you should contact.

In addition to having to talk to the level 3 judge or higher that you will be testing with, it is also a good idea to talk to some of the major Tournament Organizers in the area where you live or play. The TO will offer a place for testing as well as provide the tournaments for you to work at for the testing and tournaments in the future. Get to know as many tournament organizers as possible because they will always need help and the more you get to know them the more they will help you out if you need something.

In the blitz to study, don't forget to stay in contact with the most important people, the players. The players are whom you are really working for at the tournament. The better in tune with the players you are, the more you will be receptive to their needs. Another good thing about knowing the players is, knowing who are the troublemakers are and who are the players who will be at tournaments to have fun.

The more experience you have as a judge the more you will realize the immense value of well-developed communication skills. When making rulings you must be able to communicate the actual ruling and the reasons behind it. If you are unable to explain the rule that governs the situation, the less likely the players will believe you.

One final suggestion, be confident. The more confident you are in being a judge, the more the players will like you as a judge, and the fewer mistakes you will make. I hope that this article has been of value to you, the judge trainee, and also to anyone interested in advancing their level. Questions or comments may be sent to me at nicholas.a.hable@uwrf.edu. Good Luck.

Nick Hable
DCI Certified Level 2 Judge



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