|Prophecy Prerelease-Edmonton, AB, Canada
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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!!!!!
Calgary Alberta Canada