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Prophecy Prerelease-Edmonton, AB, Canada

Jason Ness

Hello my fellow compatriots in judge-land!

Before I became a judge, let me just say that my absolute favorite event- the type of tournament that I would get most fired about attending and would always find the most fun-was the Prerelease tournament. Besides the fact that you get to play with a brand new set of Magical cards, these tournaments always provided me with the most all around enjoyment due to their size, varying levels of competitiveness, number and quality of side events, and the all around friendly and electric atmosphere that comes with these types of tourneys. I've always loved them. While I have certainly enjoyed my time thusfar as a judge, one of the down sides that comes with being one is a) the fact that I don't get to play in Prereleases any more and b) my attitude towards them from the judge's side of the coin has changed to some degree.

The very first tourney I head judged was a Prerelease and what vague memories I have of it involve running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to answer questions, sort out DCI# problems, fix my myriad of blunders in DCI reporter, hand out match result forms, make rulings, and try to do it all with a casual cheerfulness befitting all judges (wink wink nudge nudge). I remember it all as an exhausting ordeal. Now THAT was only a few months ago at the Nemesis Prerelease! (I know. I know. "Rookies." Sheesh.) But I'd like to think I've learned a think or two in the last couple months and I was sincerely hoping that this event would be sailed much more smoothly than the last-especially since I didn't have Phil Dennis (my predecessor) around to act as my safety net.

The Edmonton, Alberta prerelease was split into 2 days. The first day had 127 competitors (just 2 shy of an extra round-likely to make some interesting tie break situations at the end), thus 7 rounds. Day 2 brought in 59 players, thus 6 rounds. Both days had a top 8 eight cut to the single elim playoffs. I head judged both days and had Mike Handfield (Level 1) working with me on Day 1. As well, both days we had a young guy by the name of Forrest Evans helping us with side events, deck registration, land swap & deck checks. Forrest made our lives so much simpler so I have to give him my sincere thanks for all his effort. Hugely appreciated.

I've been participating in Prereleases since Stronghold, and to my recollection, I don't think that we've ever gotten actual playing started before 1:00. No knock whatsoever to those who came before me. Kathryne (Dennis-TO extraordinaire!), Phil, & the crew have always run first rate events. However, I was bound and determined when Mike and I showed up to the site that morning that we'd have round 1 paired and rolling in record time.

The first thing I decided was that I wasn't going to get fussy about DCI numbers BEFORE the tournament started. In past, my habit has always been to make sure that everyone has a number entered in the computer before we get going. I know this was pretty much Phil's habit as well, and without question it's a wise one. However, I decided that rather than looking up the 40 people that forgot their number and the 40 people that aren't sure if they have one, I would just JOE anyone that didn't have a number and sort it out later.

Sidenote: for those of you that are unfamiliar with DCI reporter, anyone that you assign a DCI number of 1, will get a "JOE" number. It allows you to have them in the sanctioned tournament without a number. The downside is you can't assign them penalties until they get a proper number.

Given the fact that there's a lot of downtime in later rounds AND that Kate has everyone fill out player info sheets (name, address, etc.), there's no reason we can't sort some of the DCI # issues out later for the sake of keeping things running speedily. This wound up working out very well and we completely avoided the extra 45 minutes or so that normally accompanies the morning due to the lengthy data entry process we typically encounter.

We seated em pronto, passed out packs, swapped em, and got ready for the land swap stampede that is customary at these things. THIS time, I came prepared. The day before I bought an alphabetically sectioned folder for deck lists. This made our lives so much better, especially when it came time to look up lists for deck check. This will definitely be a common practice for us in the future. Land swap actually went much more quickly than I expected. It may have been because of the folder or because there were three of us blasting thru it, but when I called time for deck lists there were only about a half dozen people that needed land. Last time there was a line up of at least 35 or so. Things were shaping up well. By noon, the players were seated and round one was under way.

Incidents of note/rulings:


2 players approached me and requested that they swap foil versions out of their decks in favor of proxies. Normally, I would not allow this (that's what sleeves are for), but Kate couldn't get her hands on any & thus none were available. Given that fact (and my own ulterior motives for wanting to trade for a couple of them) I agreed. However, I insisted that they use a non-foil version of that card, and that they must supply it and it must be completely indistinguishable from the rest of their deck (obviously). I also confirmed with the players that registered the decks in the first place that these foils had indeed been added. Another player had a Prophecy foil that he wanted to proxy, but obviously could not provide a replacement. He had to play with what he was passed.


A player accidentally put mountains in his deck when he was playing with black and not red. I ruled that unfortunately, he'd have to suffer through it for Game 1, but could de-sideboard them afterwards. Because it was a prerelease and they are new cards, our standard policy is to not force players to stick with a "main deck." They can change it throughout the day. Thus, he would only have to suffer for one game (he incidentally won the game on the merit of his 2nd color alone -- lol).

Q: Can I target the same critter more than once with Thrive to give it more counters? A: Nope.

Q: If I sac Spore Frog after combat damage goes on the stack, but before it resolves what happens? A: Damage is prevented.


Q: Can I make a partial War Tax payment for the sake of tapping out? A: Nope.

Q: If Blood Hound has a bunch of counters on it and takes damage, will it die at end of turn? A: Yes. Counters are removed at end of turn, before Cleanup (when damage is removed). It will die.

Q: If Soul Charmer blocks & splits his damage between 2 creatures, does his "Rhystic" ability trigger for each? A: Yes. Opponent must pay 4 total to prevent life gain.

Q: If I control no lands can I still attack with Lesser Gargadon? A: Yes. It is an effect, not a cost.

Rd 3:

Q: Can you use Forgotten Harvest more than once in the same upkeep?? A: Nope. Beg. of upkeep only happens once & thus this ability can only be triggered & resolved once.

Rd 4:

Side events began & a whole pack of foil cards gets opened by someone! I was just happy the guy didn't grab the pack & bolt which I probably would've been tempted to do (kidding). Instead: foils for everybody!

A player has a card in his deck that belonged to his prev. round's opponent. As he already began his match, he receives a game loss. The prev. round's opponent was still shuffling when this was discovered, so he got lucky. He received a warning nonetheless.

Rd 5:

This is a constant problem: We post the time that the rounds end every single round. I announce every five minutes the time left in the round starting with 20 min. left. I announce 3 mins & 1 min & time. Nevertheless there are often people that aren't present at the start of each round. They are usually people that are outside having a smoke or people embroiled in a trade of epic proportions. Either way, my patience wears a bit thin. I made mention of it at the start of round 3 & again at the start of round 4. This time I hand out warnings to every player that isn't seated when I say "go." One guy was trading 1 table away from the main event and KNEW his opponent was waiting for him. He winds up being 7 mins late and earns a game loss. No problems for the rest of the tourney though.

Q: Player A attacks with a Hazy Homunculus. In the Declare Attackers step, Player B does some stuff that allows him to tap out. He goes to block the Homunculus and Player A says that he was unblockable at the time he declared his attack & is thus still unblockable. A: Homonculus gets creamed by a big fat blocker.

Rd 6:

Q: "I thought Trap Runner was errated to no longer trigger "becomes blocked" abilities (like Laccoliths). A: Nope. Trap Runner was errated to only be played during the Declare Blockers step.

Rd 7:

Last round. I'm at the computer playing with DCI numbers and someone calls for a judge. Mike goes over & comes back a moment later. "J, I think we have a collusion problem," he says. "Luke (fake name) said that Han (equally bogus name) offered him 20 bucks and half his prize to take a loss." This is obviously a case of bribery as stated, so I want to make damn sure it wasn't a misinterpretation. We pulled aside Luke & asked him what happened. We pulled aside "Chewie" (an eye witness to the incident, and very trustworthy by our standards). Finally, we let Luke defend himself, but he couldn't really deny it. He tried to play the thing down by saying that he didn't realize that it was a big deal. We made it very clear that it was and summarily ejected him from the tournament. He then accused two other players of making the exact same deal beside him & felt that it was unfair that they got off scott free. Naturally, we were obligated to investigate.

After interviewing those participants, we discovered that this was in fact a case of players agreeing beforehand to split prizes regardless of the winner & carry on with the match. They had indeed played it out. This is perfectly acceptable.

While I realize that it is important that as judges we don't drag players through the mud by gossiping about these incidents, I was pleased to a certain degree that the word spread via the players about what happened. My hope is that this sent a clear message to the rest of the local community that bribery and collusion are serious and intolerable.

Everything else went off without a hitch! Great day. Many side events ran (thanks again Forrest and Mike). All in all much fun and revelry.

Day 2:

Just a reminder to myself and everyone else out there: If you find you're low on elastics after day 1, don't forget to buy more before day 2. Collecting decks & lists is a major pain without them. ;-)

Incidents of note/rulings:

Rd 1:

A player forgot to sac a land after he blocked his opponent's Thresher Beast. Neither of them noticed and he was able to play a spell or two with land that was supposed to be in the graveyard. Unable to back up properly, we just kept it at game state. Both players are responsible for noticing these things.

Q: What happens if 1 of the targets of Crooked Scales is gone by the time it goes to resolve? A: Carry on. All targets must be invalid for a spell or ability to fail/be countered.

Q: If I play Living Lands on a land does it have "Summoning Sickness." A: Not unless that land came into play that turn.

Rd 2: Nada

Rd 3:

Player accidentally peeks at next card in his draw phase. Warning. I show the coming card to opponent. Sidenote: I like this rule. It really is a kick in the head to give someone a game loss on an easily made mistake. Yet, it can be a big advantage knowing what that next card is. I think that showing it to their opponent more than offsets the advantage, and even in a way punishes the mistake without beating them over the head with it.

The following incident I think is one of some significance: A player declares some blockers and then plays instant(s). He then tries to declare another blocker. Now, normally at a prerelease this isn't a big issue. Lots of more inexperienced players do things like this: "block that guy with my 1/1 and prevent a point of dmg to it with my Alabaster wall, then block that guy with my 2/2." I tend to let this slide, though I will always remind a player the proper order and timing of things.

In this case, however an experienced player was involved. I KNOW he knows better. In my mind, he started playing effects & realized he'd forgotten something and tried to slip in another block to save his skin. His opponent stated what happened and before I could even give a ruling, the offending party pointed out that this was only "Rules Level 2" and that I would have to let him get away with it.

"Oh really!?" I thought to myself. I absolutely cannot abide by this attitude. People that use the letter of the law to skirt or even bend the spirit of the law really tick me off. To me, fairness means applying rules as each situation merits, sometimes even ruling completely differently in what would otherwise seem like the same situation. This player did not get to make his extra block & lost the match because of it.

Q: Can I count my opponent's library before I decide to play or draw: A: You can count your opponent's library at any point after he presents it to you for cutting/shuffling. You must declare your intention to play/draw before drawing your initial hand of 7 cards. So, um....yeah.

Rd 4:

This is a minor detail, but I keep telling players that they shouldn't start before I say. It does have the potential to give someone a subtle time advantage, and it ticks off players around them. This round I gave out a couple warnings for it. No biggie.

Rd 5: Nada.

Rd 6:

I'd done a deck check at the start of almost every round both days. Nothing had cropped up until this point. This time I checked a player that had 2 extra cards in his sideboard (Greel's Caress) and also had 20 uncommons in his decklist (but the right number of total cards). It seems to me that a person should only have 18 uncommons, no? 9 Prophecy, 11 Masques. I know something was amiss. As for the Caresses, apparently they were from previous opponents' decks. The uncommons he could not explain. I suppose it is remotely possible that he got extra uncommons in his deck. Nevertheless, it just seemed a little fishy, and I felt compelled to give a game for both transgressions. The fact that he didn't put up a fuss suggested that he got away with one.


A player seemed to think that if his Hollow Warrior was Arrested, the fact that another creature could be tapped to allow it to attack would somehow override the Arrest's preventing Hollow Warrior from attacking. I ruled that tapping a creature was simply an additional cost of attacking (much like tapping an attacker itself) and could not override the Arrest.

And that as they say is that.

Props go out to Kate for running (as usual) a spectacular event. Props as well to Mike and Forrest for excellent jobs.

Now I realize that the following story has nothing to do with Magic and may even be a little on the inappropriate side, but it's really so funny that it's worth mentioning:

After the tourney on Sat a few of us went out to a club for a friend's (who will remain anonymous) birthday. As I was both driving that night and judging the next morning, I avoided the use of "libations" for the evening. The birthday boy, however, did not. I'll spare you the sordid details but mention the pinnacle of his revelry: As we left the club to go home, we passed through a police check stop. My friend was in the front seat (passenger side of course), and the officer on his side of the car came up and asked "is there any beer or alcohol in the front seat." To which my good friend replied:

"No thank you officer. None for me."

Edmonton is always a great time. You guys rock! I'm out!!

See you all at NATIONALS!!!!!

Jason Ness
Level 2
Calgary Alberta Canada

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