Date = 4/8/2k
Location = at RavenCrest in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Players = 22
Rounds = 5 swiss, followed by top 8 single elimination
Judges Present = 2: myself and our head Level II judge, Victor Alderidge
REL 1, 16K
Quote of the Day = "You cannot do that, as Blastoderm cannot be the target
of spells or abilities, including your own."
According to the guidelines set up, this is supposed to be from a judge's
perspective. You'll get that, but you'll also get tips on how to actually
play better too. I am far more used to writing from a player's
perspective, having been one for six years.
I forced myself out of bed in time to be on location at 11am, when the
store opened. We were expecting a fairly large turnout, since RavenCrest
had been hyping the JSS for the past several weeks. This included
teaching the Pokemon kids how to play Magic, and a lot of general
advertising. Some people did make the drive down from Indianapolis.
My first job was the deck clinic, whereby I would help anyone who was
interested with their deck before the actually event, offering advice and
making sure the cards were legal. Only two decks contained Tempest/Portal
In two hours I reviewed seven decks, and gave away around 100 commons and
uncommons to help improve general deck quality... keep in mind the Pokemon
kids had just started playing recently. Fully 1/3 of the players in
attendance were participating in their first magic tournament.
My recommendations included:
--more Plains, one maindeck Disenchant, and 2 SB Sanctimonies for the
--far more rebels for the white weenie player
--four Smoldering Craters and Arc Mages for the mono-red player
--the green players got all my extra Land Grants, Vine Trellises, and
--more flyers for the one person with the 'unblockability' deck theme
This concluded around 1pm, when we about to make general announcements and
such. Right before, Tyler couldn't find two Splinters, so I lent him my
My very first ruling came before the tournament had officially even
started. One of the new kids to magic "took a redeal" in his own words,
and drew back up to seven. I explained that this was Magic, and not
Pokemon, and that they should wait until we officially said "Start' to
begin. He had to put one of the cards back on top of his library.
So round one was off... with a murmur as people began to play. Mono-green
decks were the most common denominator, and almost all of them contained
Generally when the littler kids attempted to enchant, or otherwise target
their Blastoderms, I would explain exactly why they couldn't do that.
However, my second ruling involved someone who should really have known
Player A was an under 15 teenager playing a W/U/G Deranged
Hermit-Opposition-Masticore deck with Snaps, Counterspells, Worldly
Tutors, Morphlings, and Devout Witnesses. I corrected him in game one
about the Blastoderm, and moved on to prevent the little kids from playing
a land before they drew a card, trying to Counterspell activated
abilities, etc. I was not giving warnings or penalties because most of
these kids had been playing magic for about two weeks, so I just tried to
reinforce the basic rules.
Anyway, I came back to our Player A's match in game three. He attempted
to use a Seal of Removal on a Blastoderm, and I told him he could not do
that. I continued to watch, and the next turn he attempted to Snap that
very same Blastoderm. Figuring he should probably know better, I told him
to select another legal target with the Snap. He selected his opponent's
Heart Warden. This was REL 1, so I figured I'd use some of that "judge's
Of course, also watching the match, is a friend of the Player A's. He
inquired why I ruled in such a manner, and did not rule in Player A's
favor the previous turn. (His opponent had used two Seals of Strength on
his Heart Warden, determined he only needed one, and asked to take one
back. Player A let his opponent take it back.) I responded that his
example was a matter between players, while the Blastoderm case involved a
genuine violation of the rules. While it was nice of him to defend his
friend, I Cautioned him about influencing a match and questioning a judge.
I discussed this situation with head judge Vic later, and he said I should
have given a Warning for Misrepresenting a Card, since I had earlier
passed out a Notice and Caution to Player A for similar events. Since the
Snap had an illegal target, it was never actually cast, rather than
needing the retargeting... however Player A had foolishly tapped the mana
before announcing Snap. So essentially he would have had to retarget it
anyway or take the burn. Live and learn.
Also of note was the very end of Round 1. At this point I tried taking
aside the kids new to Magic tournaments and explaining how they could have
played their decks better. Vic noticed this, and told me it could be
construed as coaching, so I should not actively give advice unless it was
sought. I explained this to the children, but the attention span of
eight-ten year olds involving mental notes like these leaves something to
be desired. They never asked me in the later rounds, so I was forced to
endure uncountable bad plays. Very frustrating to the player inside of
Probably the worst was watching the child I helped with the unblockability
deck play multiple Coastal Piracies, yet never draw cards off them!! Yes,
he did a lot of combat damage with flyers and Phantom Warriors. This same
child also asked me, after having played out his hand with a Coastal
Piracy and two Cloudskates on the table "What happens when you have no
cards in your hand, do you lose?' To which I had to grimace and respond,
"No, nothing happens, you have a hand of zero cards.'
If I had known this was going to happen, I would have explained how the
card functioned before the tournament... but he already had one in his
deck so I thought he knew! I merely supplied the rest to tighten up the
Ironically, this same child did like to draw cards at different times. We
had to give him a warning because in the same game (Round 2) he initially
drew eight cards, then in the fourth turn drew two cards during his draw
phase. He didn't do it again though, so no game loss.
Nothing else really spectacular or of note in the other pre-elimination
rounds. I explained fading, and made sure fading counters were in place.
I explained it was legal to play as many enchantments on the same creature
as you wanted to. Also a bunch more basic rules stuff for the new kids,
like tapping creatures when you attack, etc. The official time was kept
with the timer function of my watch, but due to the saturation of
mono-green decks in the field, all the rounds ended up being shorter than
In both the 4th and 5th rounds we did deck checks, and everyone I checked
passed. One person Vic checked had an extra Island in his SB, but we know
the Islands in the SB didn't really mean anything and were there as place
holders. (He was trying to flush out his SB before the tourney.) Based on
this, we give the game loss, but don't take away the SB for the rest of
the tournament, as advised.
We announced the final 8, and some players complained about the amount of
drawing done at the top tables. We explained ID's between players were
legal; players can ID at any time. We also attempted to discourage
players from talking to their neighbors when figuring out whether or not
to ID. We almost gave a game loss, or was it a DQ? The behavior was very
blatant, but very gray. Anyway, finally the two we were watching stopped
pestering everyone around them and decided to play.
So we cut to the top eight after awarding sportsmanship and highest player
under 12, with a 20 minute break for food.
Our top eight was composed of
--3 mono green: two Stompy type, and one with more control and Children
--1 Replenish with 4 Parallax Tides and 4 Parallax Waves
--1 non-rebel White Weenie with Mother of Runes, Longbow Archers,
Crusades, and maindeck Ankh of Mishra and Cursed Totems
--1 Sabre Bargain (the Renounce version)
--1 Wildfire with Hearts of Ramos and Flowstone Slides
--1 mono-blue; an Accelerated Blue variant
Vic watched one table, whilst I watched the other. No spectacular rulings
here... everyone is older and knows how to play.
Wildfire beats Bargain because of several play mistakes on the part of
Bargain. Yes, another painful to watch match.
Replenish beats the Child of Gaea mono-green deck because mono-green did
not cast two Desert Twisters on the same turn to kill two lands, even
though mono-green had the available resources. I could say nothing.
At the other table, mono-green stompy decks beat the Accelerated blue and
White Weenie decks. Accelerated blue was mana hosed, and I didn't see any
of the White Weenie match, so I can't comment.
T4 is Replenish vs. Stompy & Wildfire vs. Stompy
I run next door and get my food, then we proceed to deck check the Top 4.
The Stompy deck playing against Wildfire is missing one Might of Oaks,
which is easily located. He meant to have 2 copies and 60 cards, rather
than 3 copies and 61 cards. Even at REL 1 the penalty is a game, so
penalized by the guideline recommendations.
It is my task to watch the Replenish match, as I have greater familiarity
with the archetype. First game Stompy get a third turn kill thanks to a
Rancored Vine Dryad and Might of Oaks. Ouch. I am also quietly eating
dinner, and letting someone look through my trade binder while watching
this match. Perhaps not the most professional thing to do in the world,
but there is no one to spell me while I take a break.
Second game, the Stompy player concedes after two Parallax Waves, an
Opalescence, and three Parallax Tides are successfully Replenished. This
eliminates all rules questions quite handily.
Third game, Stompy goes first and wins on the sixth turn. The Replenish
player could not find an Opalescence after two Frantic Searches and two
T2 is Wildfire vs Stompy
One word sums up the finals: anti-climactic. Wildfire gets mana hosed
and loses. Wildfire decides to cast Wildfire rather than a Crater
Hellion, mana hoses itself, and looses.
We pass out invites to Chad (Wildfire) and Tyler (Stompy). The call their
parents and attempt to convince them to travel to Orlando. I get my foil
Splinters back from Tyler. Vic finishes up the paperwork. We joke about
not sending the extra foil Thran Quarries back to Wizards. (Yes, they are
all still there.)
In summation it was a successful event, with a larger expected turnout
next year. It has shown me I need more tournament experience before
trying for Level II... I'd say about 5-15 events more should do the trick
easily. In making rulings, situational interpretation is key, and I need
to be exposed to more situations in order to judge them better.
Address questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need a judge within 90 minutes drive of Terre Haute, let me know.
--Judah Alt, signing off