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PTQ Nice (Cork, Ireland) - Judge's Report

Thomas Ralph

Tournament Details:
Date: March 2nd, 2002, scheduled start time: 11 am.
Tournament Organizer: Oli Bird. Head Judge: Dave Kearney (Level 2). Other Judge: Thomas Ralph (Level 1)
Site: University College Cork - Food Science Building.
Format: Sealed Deck - 1 Odyssey Tournament Pack and 2 Torment Boosters, with Booster Draft for top 8 - 2 Odyssey Boosters and 1 Torment Booster.
Number of Players: 27. This is about average for a PTQ in these parts.
First Prize: 500 English, box of boosters, and invite to PT Nice.
Note: this tournament was transferred from Dublin in order to ensure that a scheduled PTQ would take place on the right date. Garry Jackson, who was originally meant to be TO, was in Scotland at a convention, and hence unavailable.

Note that all amounts of money are in Euro - EUR1 is approximately 60p English, and 87 US cents. All times are 24-hour clock (Military Time), Greenwich Mean Time (EST + 5 hours).

Let me tell you a bit about myself before I delve into the tournament and the action. I am 18 years old, and I live in Cork in the south of Ireland. This is the first tournament report I have written, although I have been playing Magic for over five years, and judging for over two. I welcome comments from everyone who reads this - please email me at judge@thomasralph.com.

Tournament Set-up
Having made most of my preparations the night before, I had just to get my bag and some food, and my mother brought me over to the university, on the other side of the city from me. I arrived on site at 10:02 - I was the first person there, as I expected. I observed one problem from the start - the tables there were very small, about 2.5 by 1.5 foot. They were arranged for lectures; all facing the front of the room, so I planned to place two tables together for each match, and turn the chairs around.

A more pressing matter concerned me, though: there were players (and the HJ) coming from as far away as the capital city Dublin, 140 miles away, and it was likely that they would not know the way to the tournament room. I prepared notices with the word "Magic" on them and was on the point of setting out to put some up, when the first player arrived at 10:07 - a young lady asking if the tournament had started yet. I informed her that it was due to start at 11:00, and she left again.

A dozen more players came in over the next ten minutes; the Head Judge was delayed, so they told me, and would not be down until after 12:00. As nothing was happening, I went off to put up the signposts. At one stage, this threatened to prove troublesome when a security guard demanded a contribution of EUR5 in order to post my notice, but my dubious look was enough to cause him to relent and admit that he was joking.

I got back to the tournament hall at 10:38, and I realised it was going to be a long day - and I had forgotten to pack a bottle of water to drink. With the nearest shop over five minutes away and no other staff to be seen, I resolved to go out as soon as was feasible to buy a couple bottles of water.

At about 11:00, many people start ringing the HJ's mobile phone (that's the Irish term for a cell phone), and it turns out the TO has family commitments and will not be joining us. The HJ is bringing down the product, but they had taken a wrong turn and were further delayed. I find out the price (EUR23, which raises a few complaints) and start registering people. I also get the tables numbered.

Disaster hits at 11:55 when Wargamers and L5R players start arriving - it seems the room was booked for all, so we're stuck with them. Luckily, they agree to keep to the other end of the room from us and I foresee few problems.

I remind players that they are required to have a visible method of keeping life total - pen and paper being preferred. I have learned that pens disappear when borrowed, so I charge 50 cent for a pen and pad - they won't forget it next time!

At 12:23, we get another phone call to say that the HJ and the Product are less than 10 minutes away. I try to get people seated, but all the impatience seems to have boiled over and not many people take any notice of me.

The product shows at 12:33 and Dave Kearney with it. They also brought a few extra players, whom I quickly register. We have no computer, so all must be done by hand. Dave opens up the product, and we discover that there are not enough Odyssey boosters to give Odyssey tournament pack, Odyssey booster, and Torment booster. As a result, we give the players an Odyssey tournament pack and two Torment boosters each, and get deck registration and construction underway at 12:45. Due to the delays, we decide not to run a deck swap. Land swap is, however, available, and players may swap as many land as they wish for any other land.

After things settle down, I go out to get my long-awaited water, and I make it to the shop and back in 9 minutes.

As the deck lists come in, I give them a quick sanity check and put them in a pile according to alphabetical order. Most people have only put their name on one of the lists, adding to the time-consuming nature of the task. In addition, very few players have filled in the First Letter of Last Name box, which annoys me as it leads to more work. We make the pairings during this time, but keep them secret for the moment.

We call time on deck registration at 13:35, and just three lists are late. By 13:40, we have all the lists, and are able to put out the pairings that we prepared. Thus, we get to ...

Round 1
13:44:40 Round one lasts 50 minutes, and ends at 14:44. You may begin!
Early in the round, I check that everyone has a visible method of keeping life total. Only two players are lacking, after my announcement earlier. They are playing at different tables, but the conversations are remarkably similar. When I ask them in turn, "Do you have a visible method of keeping life total?", they both point at their opponent's paper. Then I ask them again, "Do you have a visible method of keeping life total?", and on the inevitable negative response, I tell them to ensure they have one in the next round. I also remind players to shuffle their opponents' decks at the start of each game, as per the updated Universal Tournament Rules.

A player cannot discard the card to pay for itself

14:01 Judge Call - a player has Sonic Seizure as the only card in his hand and wants to know can he discard it to pay for itself. I rule that he cannot - the spell card goes on the stack before costs are paid, and the player cannot discard the card to pay for itself.
14:30 Judge Call - A player attacks with Crashing Centaur, to which he has given trample, and his opponent blocks with a Beloved Chaplain. The players want to know if trample damage will be dealt. I rule that it will - the Centaur must only deal enough damage to be lethal if none was prevented or replaced. Thus, it deals two damage to the defending player.
14:34:40 Time is up - Active Player finish your turn, then take five additional turns and report your result!
All results are in thirteen seconds later.

Round 2
14:38 Pairings go out for round two.
14:41 Dave makes some random announcements about the upcoming Regionals.
14:43:29 Round two lasts 50 minutes, and ends at 15:33. You may begin!
14:45 Dave is hungry and goes to find a sandwich. I become Deputy-Head-Judge.
14:52 Judge Call - A player plays Acceptable Losses, randomly discarding Fiery Temper from his hand, and playing it via Madness. The players want to know which one will resolve first. I rule that the Fiery Temper resolves first, as it was the last to go on the stack.
15:08 Dave returns with a BIG sandwich and takes back the Head Judge position. Shortly afterwards, I go out for fresh air. Despite the air conditioning, I am getting quite a headache.
15:23 Something peculiar to Ireland - I announce the latest scores in the Six Nations Rugby matches. For the record, they were Wales 47-10 Italy, and France 17-10 England. The second score line raises quite a cheer, as England had defeated Ireland quite brutally in the previous round of matches.
15:31:36 We do not get to call time, because all the results are in before the time runs out.

Round 3
15:33 Pairings go out for round three.
15:35:24 Round three lasts 50 minutes, and ends at 16:25. You may begin!
15:36 I observe that we used only 51 minutes 56 seconds in the last round. We would be ahead of schedule if not for the huge delay in starting.
15:37 We do deck-checks this round - as there are only two judges, we only check one table. One of the players calls Dave away just as we go to the side table to check the decks. I am left to check both. I check for mana weaving and marking, and begin to check one deck against the list. It works out OK, and Dave returns to check the other. He had given two players game-losses because one had left a Persuasion in the other's deck in the previous match. He winds up giving another one, because the deck list did not match the deck. It turned out that the player had marked Aven Archer instead of Aven Cloudchaser in his decklist, and was playing with Aven Cloudchaser. Oops! Game-loss for him, and he must change his deck to match the list.
16:04 Judge Call - A player wants to respond to a Cephalid Broker activation by dealing two damage to the Broker and killing it "before he can tap it". (It is the Broker player's turn.) I rule that he cannot do that, as the ability would be on the stack before he has the opportunity to deal two damage to it.
16:08 Judge Call - Stone-Tongue Basilisk is blocked by Crashing Centaur. Both players are at threshold. The defending player asserts that, because Crashing Centaur cannot be the target of spells or abilities, that the Stone-Tongue Basilisk's destruction ability won't affect it. I ruled that since the ability did not use the word "target", it was not a targeted ability, and hence it would affect the Centaur.
16:12 I announce the happy news that France had defeated England in the Six Nations Rugby Championship.
16:25:24 Time is up - Active Player finish your turn, then take five additional turns and report your result!
Many players take additional turns and plenty additional time; it takes until 16:30 to get all the results in.

Round 4
16:35 Pairings go out for round four.
16:36:31 Round four lasts 50 minutes, and ends at 17:26. You may begin!
16:36:32 The top two tables have four people at nine points each, and they Intentionally Draw.
17:02 A player repeatedly uses loud profanity and receives a warning for Unsporting Conduct - Minor.
17:07 Judge Call - the "biggest" ruling of the day.
A player has no cards in hand, and controls Twigwalker and Krosan Archer. His opponent targets the Krosan Archer with three damage. The player wants to activate Twigwalker's ability in response, and give Twigwalker and Krosan Archer +2/+2 until end of turn. His opponent argues that since Twigwalker must be sacrificed, it cannot target itself because it will not be a legal target. I rule that it can target itself, because targets are chosen before costs are paid. My ruling is appealed to the Head Judge (the first time, I believe, that any of my rulings has ever been appealed), who upholds it after a consultation with the Comprehensive Rules, citing rule 409.1, where it is clear that targets are chosen (at 409.1c) before costs are paid (at 409.1f).

Targets are chosen before costs are paid

17:10 Judge Call - A player wants to regenerate a creature with no reason other than to use up mana. His opponent contends that this is not allowed. I rule that it is.
17:22 All the results are in. Dave prepares provisional standings.

Round 5
17:29 Pairings go out for round five.
17:31:45 Round five lasts 50 minutes, and ends at 18:21. You may begin!
17:32 All the players on ten points and two of the players on nine points intentionally draw.
There were no rulings to be made in this round. At 18:12, we learn that we must leave the venue as it was only booked until 18:00. Matches finish at 18:19, and we calculate the top 8 (mercifully, no tiebreakers were needed) and relocate to the house of one of the top 8 players.

Top Eight Draft
19:10 After the relocation to the other side of the city, the top 8 draft begins.
19:37 The draft finishes and deck constructing begins.

20:00:01 The Quarter-Finals last one hour, and end at 21:00. You may begin!
Only one question came up in this round, near the end. A player controlled a Wild Mongrel and discarded an Arrogant Wurm for its ability at the end of his opponent's turn. He wanted to play it for its madness cost, but was unsure whether he could play a creature spell on his opponent's turn. I ruled that he could, as Madness does not follow the normal restrictions on announcing spells.

21:00:01 Your time is up, active player finish turn, and then take five additional turns, then higher life total wins. If neither player has a higher life total, you will play until one does.
21:01:23 The players finish on turn 1.

21:06:12 The semi-finals last one hour, and end at 22:06. You may begin!
No rules questions or events came up during this round.
21:57:52 Both semi-finals finish, and the winners decide to split the prizes. One of the finalists cannot make the Pro Tour, and drops to take half the cash prize and the entirety of the product.

Final Thoughts
The tournament passed off very smoothly despite the delays at the start. I would like to thank the UCC War-Gaming and Role-Playing Society for making the venue available, and their sponsors Bank of Ireland. More thanks to Dave Kearney, the Head Judge, and to all the players - we couldn't have done it without you. See you at Regionals!

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