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Grand Prix Los Angeles Head Judge Report

Sheldon Menery

Event: Grand Prix Los Angeles
Site: LAX Marriott
Date: 23-24 November 2002
Players: 483

Judging Staff:

Sheldon K. Menery (Head Judge), 3
Don Barkauskas (Judge Certification), 3
Matt Tabak, 2, Alex Charsky, 2, Suzy Life (Day 2 JSS Head Judge), 2, Tony Mayer, 2, Chris Wong, 2, Miki Urban, 2, David Noble, 2, Bill Guerin, 2, Chris Scanlon (Co-organizer), 2, Markus Marrott, 1, Bob Ash, 1

Tournament Setup

Sheldon Menery, Head Judge
I held my standard pre-tournament/post finish Judge meetings. You can read how I organize it in a previous edition of "Judge Points" here on the DCI Judge Certification page. This was the largest event that I've Head Judged, and things went off without a hitch. Deck registration and distribution was a little slower than I would have liked due to two factors. First, the organizer hadn't developed a plan. We overcame this rather easily using our collective experience. Second, the room was large enough to hold the event but little else. We only had space to set up three land stations, which cost us nearly an extra half hour.

I directly attribute the success of this event to the superb Judge staff. What we lacked in numbers we made up for in experience. First day team leaders Alex Charsky and Suzy Life and backup Head Judge Matt Tabak provided solutions to every problem that came up. The entire group displayed outstanding initiative, teamwork and competence. I didn't overturn a single appeal all weekend. Not once did I have to ask a second time for something to be done, nor did a player return to me with a problem unsolved after I had dispatched one of the team to fix it. I can easily say this was the best Judge staff I've had the pleasure to lead.

We played 8 rounds on Day One and 6 on Day Two. The first day was Onslaught Sealed Deck; the second was two Onslaught Rochester Drafts leading to a Top 8, also with an Onslaught Rochester Draft. Some players questioned why we played 8 rounds with only 483 players; the guidelines call for 512 players before going to 8. This was due to the number of byes. More than 180 players received byes for the event, skewing the numbers drastically, making the turnout effectively higher than the real number of players.

Relevant Rulings

With so many talented Judges, I had few opportunities to actually make rulings. Fortunately, we gathered at the end of the day to discuss what we thought was interesting.

Aurification: Changing the creature type of a creature with a gold counter completely overwrites all other creature types. This one came up repeatedly. One player argued extensively (after his match was over) that we were wrong. I pointed him to rule 214.4 and the Onslaught FAQ.

Ebonblade Reaper: If Ebonblade Reaper is face down when it's declared as an attacker, you don't lose half your life if you turn it face up before damage resolves (and its ability triggers). This is because the trigger only happens when it's declared as an attacker; if it's face down, it doesn't have the ability.

Skirk Commando: A player put the Commando's damage on the stack and then his opponent killed it. The Commando's ability didn't trigger because it was no longer in play when the damage resolved.

Krosan Tusker: When you cycle Krosan Tusker and use its cycle-triggered ability, you fetch the land first and then draw the card. This is because the cycling ability goes on the stack as soon as you announce it; the cycle trigger doesn't go on the stack until after you finish announcing the cycling. This was another frequent question.

Clone: When Clone comes into play, it copies the creature's original characteristics, not those that have been modified (such as Creature Type or Power/Toughness). In question was a Visara (a Legend) which had been changed into Goblin and then Cloned. At end of turn, the original Visara died due to the Legend rule because the Cloned Legend had been a Legendary permanent with that name the longest (rule 420.5e).

Dirge of Dread: In a particularly tight match, a player played Dirge of Dread as an Instant during his combat step (not the cycling ability, but as a spell) and attacked for the win. The opponent realized the error during shuffling for the next game, and the offending player agreed on the course of events. Although this might normally be ruled a Procedural Error: Major and warrant a Warning, we felt as though the timing of the infraction gave the player a significant enough advantage (he won a game he shouldn't have) to warrant Procedural Error: Severe and issued a Game Loss.

Future Sight: Despite articles on this site to the contrary, a player cycled a card from the top of his library with Future Sight in play. The offense went unnoticed for a turn until the opponent realized it. We could not effectively reconstruct the game state since several cards had been drawn and played via the Future Sight. The penalty was Drawing Extra Cards and warranted a Game Loss.

Trample: A player attacked with Krosan Colossus (9/9). His opponent blocked with Silvos (8/5). Before damage went on the stack, he played Pinpoint Avalanche on the Silvos and then gave the Colossus trample. The defending player argued, incorrectly, that he would only take 4 damage. When he appealed, I quoted to him rule 502.9, explaining exactly how trample works. He begrudgingly accepted my upholding of the Floor Judge's ruling, but I got the impression he still didn't believe me. I later offered to show it to him in the Comprehensive Rules, and he declined.

Procedural Errors: Applying the new, more lenient penalties for minor administrative errors, we were careful to issue Cautions for listing the wrong card on the decklist (such as Daru Healer vs. Daru Lancer). We issued a number of the traditional "Illegal Main Decklist" and "Illegal Sideboard List," with respective Match or Game losses, but these were fortunately few, especially for this size event. Kudos go to the players on this one.

Feeding Frenzy: The value of -X/-X based on the number of Zombies in play is determined during resolution, not announcement.

Slow Play: We handed some appropriate Slow Play Warnings early on, which were successful in sending the signal we were serious about it. The number of infractions decreased dramatically in subsequent rounds on the first day and were nearly non-existent on the second.

Unsporting Conduct: A player in a match and a player who had finished a match exchanged a few heated words (complete with inappropriate language for the tournament setting). The situation was diffused quickly due to the presence of several Judges, but the exchange warranted putting Unsporting Conduct: Minor warnings on their records. I spoke to both players separately after the incident, and they both conceded that they had stepped across the line and deserved the penalties they received. During the discussion with each player, I led them to reach the conclusion that they were at fault. I believe the fact that they came to it themselves (albeit with my gentle nudging) had more impact than just me telling them they were wrong.

Final Thoughts

Again, this was an outstanding event due to the superior Judge staff. Many thanks once again to Scott Larabee and Laura Kilgore for their great scorekeeping and companionship (and introducing me to Carl's Jr!). Thanks to organizer Karl Batdorff for the excellent treatment of the Judges. Super special thanks to Matt Tabak for standing in as Head Judge when I needed a break; I smell a Level 3 promotion in Matt's future. Final thanks, as always, to Jeff Donais and the folks at the DCI who have the faith to let me take on these events. I look forward to soon having the opportunity again.

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