It started out as a favor to a friend. Judging small events is much harder for me to schedule lately, with my new job and all, but seeing Uri Pelleg as a TO was priceless, plus he has that book I want. So I went. And as always, the Gods of judging made me regret it, but hey, it’s not funny any other way, and who wants to read even more “we had 20 people and 40 judges, the event went smoothly” reports?
Thursday, 11 PM.
I realize I’ll finish the cursed set theory homework on time, and thus have time to judge PTQ Nagoya. So I call Uri up, tell him I’ll be there, and remind him the three foundations of running limited events: decklists, printer, lands. He says he’ll have them all. I finish my homework and go to sleep.
Saturday, 9 am.
I arrive at the tournament scene. Now, there’s this process I do when I arrive at tournament scenes, it’s something like “tragedy assessment”. Basically, I show up, and try to figure out all the catastrophes that are about to happen to me. So I ask around, and I find the following:
a) The person in charge of bringing the equipment is a very literal thinker. Ergo, I have a printer, but no ink or pages to print on.
b) While it’s true we have a whole box of lands (a rarer commodity than one might expect), we don’t have starters, only boosters, so we’re still short on land.
c) The power outlet where the computer is supposed to be hooked up is dead.
d) About 30 more people showed up than I expected.
But hey, no worries. I’ve had worse. So, I find another outlet, about 50 meters away from where the tournament is held, and set up a computer station there. I tell the printer to print in color, which is wasteful, but circumvents the need for actual black ink. Instead of A4 pages, I print on the other side of empty deck lists, and I send someone to go get another box of lands. The whole thing caused maybe 30 minutes of delay, which isn’t so bad.
In the meantime people finished registering product, we did the swap (only 69 people, which is pretty good for an Israeli PTQ, but still very easy to manage) and the players began to build their decks. I immediately announced the decks had to be compared to the deck lists FIRST, and built LATER, and 5 minutes after I announced that every problem with the deck list not reported in 5 minutes will be blamed on the player playing the deck, and not the player registering. This solved the common problem of people showing up after deck building, saying something like “uh, my pack had no rares, and also 29 cards are missing and I’m not even registered to the tournament”, and other such impossible problems that force me to delay everything. Other than the standard “whoops where’s my name” and the usual mismarkings (1 up, 1 instead of 2, etc), I had someone call me because he “couldn’t figure out what colors to pick to build his deck”. I dished out maybe two “procedural error” warnings during the entire deck register/swap/build process, which is a huge improvement, especially since many of the players were very young and not too experienced.
So, by noon everyone had a deck and a list and I had a printer and everybody’s happy. Round 1 was very uneventful, with the only question being about duplicating Swallowing Plague a with Uyo (yes, the value of X is copied).
The following rounds were similarly simple, rule-wise. A bunch of splice-related questions (I really don’t see why this is so hard – no, it doesn’t add a color. Yes, it’s still countered if all targets are illegal on resolution. I mean, it’s just a beefed up spell, why is it so confusing?). However, people-wise was a different story altogether. In round 2, a player got to within 3 seconds from me double-lossing his match because he decided to move his match with his opponent somewhere less crowded (admittedly, this time we were in a pretty cramped space inside the mall, but he should’ve at least asked me first). In round 3 I had to deal with the fact my scorekeeper missed entering 3 results and I had to chase the people around.
On round 5 I had a player verbally abuse his opponent, which made me watch over the match. Then, in game 2, I noticed he has a “unique” shuffling technique – he piled all his lands together, then laid a land, two cards, land, two cards, etc. After he was done blatantly mana-weaving, he pile-shuffled for 7, did some cuts, and presented. I, of course, swooped on the deck, showing him the deck he presented was anything BUT random. He seemed surprised, started arguing, I cut it short, awarded an extension to the match, shuffled his deck myself and sat through the entire thing. Afterwards I thoroughly explained to him why “but I only do it when the lands are really clumped after a long match” is not a very convincing argument, seeing as the shuffling is supposed to be random, etc. He was eventually convinced, and I thought I had my hard ruling for the day.
Round 6, a lot of excitement. A couple of tables intentional-draw, I deck check another, and notice they’re still discussing IDing. I comment about how they’re supposed to make up their mind fast, they say “sure, whatever”. Then they start playing.
40 minutes later, one of them goes to the computer station, and reports “intentional draw”. I comment on how I saw them play, he replied they were just playing for fun. Okay, if you say so. Two minutes later, one of my assistants tells me Player B from that match told him they were actually playing seriously, and had struck a deal where if Player B wins they report a draw, and if Player A wins they report Player A wins.
Did anyone say “blatant collusion?”.
So, I call them separately and ask them about what happened. Player B reported that they had played two games, after which player A, who stood to be kicked out of contention by a loss, offering him this deal, seeing as Player B was in the top 8, no matter what. Player B, though, was worried about being kicked out anyway if he lost, so player A sweetened the deal by offering him a couple of boosters should this happen.
Player A reported he “doesn’t remember” how many games they had played. After I pressed him, he said he “thinks they played one game, then decided to ID”, but he’s “not sure”, but certainly no goods were offered to Player B for anything, and it’s all Kosher and good.
Naturally both were disqualified, seeds 9 and 10 were magically bumped up into the top 8 (seeing as this was all resolved before announcing top 8, and happened before the cut was supposed to be made) and the rest went smoothly.
So, the lessons from this tournament:
- Having your computer station far away from the tournament area is a lot more disruptive than one might imagine, if you're short on staff. Whoever was sent there as scorekeeper always eventually wandered back because it's very boring staring at a wall for 50 minutes, and then players went to report, only to find out there's nobody there, so they did the only logical thing – not report to anyone. The best solution to such a situation is to hold a list of pairings by table, and take match results yourself on it (just mark who won and how on it). This saves you the need to chain a staff member to the computer station, which is always a hassle.
- Always always always bring an extra ink cartridge. This small detail can save tournaments. If I didn't have the color cartridge, I'd have had to call out all the pairings for six rounds, which is always very confusing and would've cost me a lot of time.
- Be nice to players, because reporting DQs is very tedious if you happen to live in a backwards country.
Until next time,
Doron Singer, DCI Level 2