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Ray Powers

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Not What You Expected


Life is pretty good at throwing you some curveballs. So many things you never expected to happen, do, and how you deal with these things that define who you are. Some of these things shock you not in their scope, or size, but in the pure unexpectedness of it.


Right now I am a stat at home dad, which is something I never thought I would be. But that is something big, it’s a life change you learn to adapt to because raising children is important, and you need to buck up and learn how to do it, and do it right.


The completed unexpected thing I am having problems adapting to, however, is that I am now the videotape salve. Since I am home all the day, it has become my job to tape West Wing for my wife now, so she can watch it. So now I am taping all of season four for her. Then, my mother lives fairly close by, and has become a Soprano’s fan, so lately I have had to tape her Soprano’s. Then, a lot of my friends like wrestling, and so I have taken to taping wrestling for different people. As I went to go to the store and buy more tapes this week, I realized that I am typing like ten hours of video a week, and when exactly did I become everyone’s videotape slave.


It was very disconcerting. There’s some things in life you adapt to easily, and other’s you severely question why you are doing them. Oddly, that was the one I have started questioning lately.


Speaking of unexpected occurrences, after months of preparing and testing, and begging Kai Budde for deck lists, it turns out I will not be playing at Regionals this year. Last week New Mexico posted an open call to the Judge List for a head judge. They knew I wanted to play, but evidently had been unable to come up with another judge, and rather than asking me, were being nice and doing a general judge call.


Once I saw the call, I felt obligated. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I’m not unhappy that I am head judging. Head Judging and Tournament Organizing is what I do, and if the players of the southwest, who I affectionately consider my players whether they may like me calling them that or not, need a good head judge for Regionals, I’d like it to be me. If it means I don’t end up playing, so be it.


So, since I am not playing now, but head judging, I thought I’d post a little “what not to do at Regionals” post. I’d like to preface this with the disclaimer that I am a very anti-rules lawyer judge. What I will NOT let you get away with some other judge may.  I personally however, believe that you should get a prize by out playing your opponent, not by out rules cheesing him, and my “things not to do” will be oriented as such.


1)      Pass Priority, or don’t Pass Priority, but let your opponent know

This first one sounds nice and simple, doesn’t it? But it’s a large issue many times in an event. Player A casts a spell. Player B goes to cast something. Player A says hold on, he did not pass priority. Player B says Player A paused a reasonable amount of time, or nodded to player B, or any number of things. Be CLEAR about whether you are passing priority or not. The stack is not your tool to lead a player into showing you what move he has planned next. If there is an error like this, I will lean towards helping player B is player A has been the least bit unclear. For repeated offenses, I’ll start moving towards Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties.


2)      When you say you are entering your Attack step, enter your attack step

Look, everyone knows the old “Declare an attack” trick. Its old and its dumb and its rule cheese. And if you happen to find someone dumb enough to not know it, and try to pull it on them, I’m not going to let you get away with it. Your attack step is the place where you turn your creatures sideways and try to deal lethal damage to your opponent. It is not a point in your turn to try to trick your opponent into prematurely doing something so you can cast a haste creature and hope to get in a couple extra points of damage. Please play it as such.


3)      Acceptable Shortcuts are everyone’s friends not just yours.

At a recent Friday Night Magic, I had the following scenario occur. Player 1 had an Arcbound Ravager in play, and a Disciple of the Vault. His opponent was at 6 life. He sacked a creature to the Arcbound Ravager and did one point of life to his opponent. He then sacked five more artifacts and said to his opponent “You’re dead.” His opponent argued that he had not declared the Disciple of the Vault and its targets, and therefore he should not be dead. This is an obvious shortcut. The player even did it once fully through to show what he was doing before executing the shortcut. The intent was 100% clear. Let me make it perfectly clear and state that if I get called over for an issue like this, not only will I rule that the shortcut stands, but the opponent will be getting an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Warning at the minimum.


4)      Be VERY clear when you have declared blockers

This one happens all the way up to the level of the Pro Tour with regularity, and is very similar to number one. Player A attacks with three creatures. Player B moves his creatures around, putting two creatures in front of two of player A’s attackers. Player A casts a spell to pump an attacker, and Player B says to hold on, he had not declared blockers yet, he was just thinking. This is likely to get you an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Warning at the minimum as well. Either you are declaring blockers, or are not declaring blockers. Once you start moving your creatures around, if you stop at any point, and it is NOT your final block, you need to be telling your opponent that. I have a pretty simple habit. When I get to declare blockers I say, “I’m going to move my creatures around to try to picture how combat will turn out.  I am not done declaring blockers until I specifically tell you I am.” If everyone were to do this simple step, my life would be so much easier.


To summarize it in a much easier way, communicate with your opponent. Let them know exactly where you are in your turns. Ask them where they are in their turn. Let them know when you are passing priority, and even more importantly, when you do NOT plan on passing priority, and have something you want to do in response to their own spells.


Play smart. Play fair. Play to win. That’s really all I want from you at Regionals this year.


While I’m at Regionals this year, I am going to be holding a Judge School. Over the next couple weeks, I’m going to let you guys in on what I did at the judge school, and give you insight into what I look for in a good judge. The entire judge school process should be very fun, and I think you guys will like to read about it.


See you at Regionals!




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Have a great week!

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