Ask the Judge, 09/17/2004: Feature Friday
FEATURE FRIDAY: HISTORY OF MY WORLDS, PART 2
In Part 1, I covered the beginnings of the trip. Now, onto the conclusion, which includes the Elder Dragon Highlander challenge!:
Surprisingly enough, although I spend most of Saturday sitting down, it was the most tiring day of the event for me. From shortly after we arrived at the hall at 8am until sometime after 7pm, Jaap Brouwer (Level 4, Netherlands) and I did Level 3 interviews. Although I can't really go into the details of the interviews, I can tell you that it's draining for both interviewer and interviewee; doing them for 9-10 hours is tiring. There are many difficult questions asked and situations presented. Jaap and I spent considerable time preparing for each interview because each one is tailored to the candidate; every Judge has different strengths and areas for improvement.
If you're going to interview for Level 3 any time soon, let me give you a few pointers.
Be prepared. Think about the stuff that we might ask you. We're going to give you challenging scenarios to resolve. Think of what you've seen in the past, and how you fixed it (and if you'd do it that way again). If you've had difficulties of any kind (like a particularly troublesome player in your local area or a disagreement with an organizer), rest assured that they'll come up--not so that we can harass you with them, but so that we can evaluate your conflict resolution skills. Know your areas for improvement, and be ready to discuss how you're improving them. We don't expect you to be perfect, but we expect you to be making an effort.
Be polite. Arguing with the interviewers gets you nowhere. If you disagree with us on something, whether it's the interview process itself or the rules for Flanking, feel free to discuss it in a rational manner. Just don't lose your cool. Treating the interviewers professionally gives them (positive) insight into your character. If you have feedback for us feel free to give it, either at the interview or afterward.
Be aware. The interview process is long--and it starts the minute you show up for the event. We don't wait until you sit down across the table from us before beginning. If you're interviewing, you're being observed by more than just a few people. The interviewers are not your adversaries, but neither are we your friends (for the purposes of the interview). We'll be evaluating you in many areas--rules knowledge, people skills, event organization, and more. Here's the primary thing to be aware of: in testing for Level 3, the interview carries much more weight than the written test. Also be aware that the first-time non-passing rate is above 50%. Some of the top Judges in the world didn't make Level 3 on their first try (yours truly included).
Congrats to Australia's Dan Gow and USA's Scott Lelivelt for advancing!
After badgering Gis who was enjoying his day off and playing the in the Type 1, Jaap and I beat feet back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the Judge dinner, which is always one of my favorite parts of professional events. About 40 of us descended on a Chinese restaurant in Ghirardelli Square to enjoy some good food and the company of our fellow judges in a social setting. The place was a little tricky to find, so Steve Port and I covered the area between the hotel and restaurant and pointed people in the right direction. I shared a table with Steve, Suzy Life, Gustavo Montangie, Mike Goodman, Riccardo Tessitori, Seamus Campbell, and Johanna Knuutinen (who's flame- on IRC). Everyone was great about observing The Menery Judge Dinner Rule (instituted years ago, it decrees that there shall be no Magic talk at dinner) until Andy Heckt got up and discussed some exciting changes in the Judge program (after which, I willingly waived the rule for the evening).
A full report on the changes in the program is forthcoming, but to make a long story short, we're expanding the program a bit, making use of the existing Judge levels, and offering more opportunities for Judges. Congrats to Gis Hoogendijk, Collin Jackson, and Mike Guptil for being promoted to the once-unreachable Level 5!
I spent the majority of early Sunday doing administrative judge program stuff. Later in the afternoon, as the Finals were wrapping up, I started the Elder Dragon Highlander Challenge. Peter Jahn pretty much covered the details in Yawgmoth's Whimsy on Monday, but let me add a few bits.
There were six of us: Peter, other Peter (Cromat), Sebastian (Darigaaz), Jonathan (Sliver Overlord), Justin (Treva), and me (Arcades Sabboth). Several other judges who wanted to play (notably Peter's wife, Ingrid, for one, plus John Liu and Dan Gow), didn't get the opportunity the play because Side Events were far more busy than expected, and they worked overtime. Kudos to them for putting their responsibilities in front of their personal desires. After considerable thought, I think I'll run this at future events either on the night before the event begins or perhaps the evening of the first day. I'd really like as many people as possible to play. Special thanks for this event to Andy Heckt, who gave me some Judge foils to use as prizes. Once again, Andy went above and beyond.
I didn't change my deck much from what I posted in the original article, but I didn't put the Palinchron combo back in. I figured it was just too cheesy. Personally, I prefer non-combo decks, but I understand that others like them (although I'm still ready to ban Worldgorger Dragon).
The important part of game one was the fact that the Goblin Welder survived. Other Peter could have killed it with his Magma Mine, but chose not to (the words"never forgive" come to mind). I think he wasn't really worried, beause he was nearly ready to go off with his Worldgorger Dragon combo. Oops. Peter was inadvertently showing me his hand most of the game, and I knew bad things were going to happen, but no one would listen to me. The Welder is definitely the key and should not be suffered to live. The countering of the Molder Slug was met with mixed reaction by the table, and Peter continued to pile up mana. His Sundering Titan getting countered by Justin's Absorb was met far more favorably (a rousing cheer, actually). I played the first creature, Battlefield Scrounger, and drew first blood with in on Peter. After some board clearing, Peter established his lock with Darksteel Forge, Mycosynth Lattice, and March of the Machines. Scoopage ensued. Peter took all the foils since he got all the kills, but then he threw two of them at random back into the pot for whomever survived in game two.
Ruination and Back to Basics were bad beats for most folks, and I would certainly consider adding them to the Watch List, along with anything that specifically hoses non-basic lands. The format has loads of non-basics, and I'd much rather people be able to play than watch--which leads me to consider banning Balance. It's one of the most broken cards ever.
Game two looked to be a little more of the same, but Peter got whittled down to three, at which point everyone left him alone, mostly because he whined about being at three. No one would listen to me that he was a very serious threat (how short memories are these days), and I couldn't mount any threat against him by myself. I wasn't until the Greaves'd Welder started doing its business with Sundering Titan that everyone got the point. By that time, Back to Basics was in play, and we were all tied up. Fortunately, we teamed up to get rid of Greaves and Welder, and we could get rolling. I got rid of Peter, and Jonathan really didn't have much chance, given that I was over 100 life and had more stuff in play than he did--and I knew he didn't have too many reset buttons. His Constants Mists gave him some time, but it just wasn't enough.
Although the second game went way too long (I felt sorry that Ingrid, who had by then finished working, couldn't get into a game), we all had a great time. This format is loads of fun. I'll definitely run another one at Pro Tour Columbus, and perhaps even one at Grand Prix Austin (9-10 October). I'll report on the changes next week.
After a quick bite at the hotel restaurant (the Shrimp and Red Pepper Chowder was particularly good), I met up with some folks for celebratory cocktails and a cigar that I had been saving for a special occasion. A successful World Championships in the books seemed like a reasonable time.
See you next week.