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Adventures in GenCon – Part 2 – Who’s your Judge Guy?


When last we left our here, he was weary, but raring to go, and on the way to GenCon, day one.


Getting to the event site was a nice short walk, about two blocks. Getting my badge was worse. There were huge lines everywhere. Apparently the ticket system did not work out as planned this year, and people had huge problems signing up for events. Fortunately I got to avoid those lines, as I would not be signing up for any events all weekend.


The first place I looked for my badge was at the Sponsor Table, which seemed a fair place to try to start since GenCon had signs saying they were sponsored by UDE, Wizards, and a few other people. Alas, the booth person told me I needed to head over to the Vendor Booth, which was, for reasons unknown to me, on the other side of the convention center.


Trudging through hordes of people in line and angry about it, I finally made it there, and gave them my name, and told them my badge would either be under UDE or PES (Professional Event Services, Mike Guptil’s company). The gentleman behind the counter looked, then came back to inform me that all of the badges were picked up and were IN the TCG Hall. I grimaced a little and asked how I was supposed to get into the TCG hall without a badge. He just smiled slightly and said “Good Luck.”


Fair Enough.


Fortunately, the TCG Hall is indeed open without a badge right now, apparently because of this exact occurrence, so I get in and get my badge and “really cool” judge shirt with little hassle, change, and am ready to go to work! Looking at the schedule, I am going to work a Last Chance PCQ today, then the PC Friday and Saturday, then the Comic Book Tournament on Sunday. Seems like a good plan.


My last chance PCQ was single elimination, and I was merely a floor judge for it, a good warm up for me. I had been smart enough to print out the new comprehensive rules, penalties, and such, and put them in a binder to bring with me, with turned out to get good use by many people through out the weekend. Unfortunately only two notable occurrences happened during the PCQ.


First, I looked over at one point and saw some guy in a Your Move Games shirt saying hi to me. I greeted him back, although I did not immediately recognize him. I figured it’s one of the Pro Tour players that may know me from judging those, ad moved along. About a minute later, it sunk in. That was Chris Senhouse! Long time Internet friend and old #mtgwacky op. I hadn’t seen him in years! We sat and chatted, and I asked why he was playing in a last chance qualifier. He said he was already invited, but had not even played in a Versus tournament before in his life, so he wanted to practice.


This is kind of a sore point for me. I understand why UDE did the courtesy invites, but, and although I do love Chris dearly, this sort of incident is exactly the kind of thing that strongly devalues the invite that many people had to work very hard to earn. When you play your butt off every day for weeks, then do everything right on the day of the PCQ, and you earn your spot on the Pro Circuit through winning the invite, it’s a huge letdown when you then go to the Pro Circuit and sit down across from someone who has put almost zero testing/learning into the game and came just because they were invited. I really hope the courtesy invite system ends with this Pro Circuit.


The only other event of note was just a small funny. During the round of 16 players, I was walking around watching matches, when I heard, quite distinctly from one of the players, the words “I’ll actifate suweebwo.” (Say it out loud.)


Now, I’m not really someone who picks on people’s faults, including speech impediments, but I was just so unprepared for it I almost lost it right there. I had just enough presence of mind to turn and begin walking away before a huge smirk hit my face and tell the story to a couple other judges.


And that was day one, which was pretty much what I expected it. Day two was where things started changing a bit.


I showed up Friday morning, rested and ready to work the Pro Circuit and impart upon all the judges I could my knowledge. I had done the math in my head, and the only person there that had worked my Pro events was Jeff Donais himself, so I felt comfortable with my ability to help newer judges understand how events of this level worked, how to interact with players, and general work flow to keep things running smoothly.


So, I was incredibly surprise when I was asked to do Judge certification instead, which I ended up doing all weekend long instead of working the Pro Circuit. On the bright side, I got to sit down more often than other people, and I got to hang out with Curtis Schultz, my local Yu Gi Oh expert who just happened to be doing Yu Gi Oh certification.


There was one nice thing about doing UDE judge certification versus doing Wizards judge certification. In UDE judge certification, the level one test is online. That means that we don’t really have to deal with the never-ending line of people who want to take the level 1 test because they are bored, and figure out who should or should not be tested. I simply ask if they are level one, already, and if not, I send hem off to the website.


Level two testing is a little different than it is for Wizards. Versus is still a new game, so asking that someone have six months experience and a few head judging experiences for premier events under their belt is a bit much, as there is likely less than five people in the world with that experience. So, for level two testing UDE needs to be a little more lenient, basically looking for someone who is at least actively judging events, or even planning on actively judging events. In short, they want judges to be level two, not players who want to be able to say they are level two in hopes it makes a ruling go their way.


Which makes one of the interviews I had funny enough to want to share. Keep in mind this is paraphrasing from memory…


The dialog in IRC format follows:


<GUY> Hi, I want to test for level two.

<Me> Ok, have a seat... So, you are already a level one judge?

<GUY> Yes.

<Me> So, what kind of events are you running right now. (Note, I ask this instead of the generic “Are you running any events?” because while it’s easy to lie and just say yes, it’s harder to lie and come up with some events off the top of your head.)

<GUY> None.

<Me> ... ok.  Do you have any upcoming events you are planning on judging or anything?

<GUY> No.

<Me> .... Ok, well, if you don't mind me asking, why do you want to become a level two judge then?

<GUY> Because if I don't qualify for the Gen Con So Cal Pro Circuit, I want to get UDE to comp me to come to it, and I heard they will only want level two judges to compensate.

(If you haven't guessed by now, we are already at strike three, here, but it gets much better.)

<Me> Ok, well, just so you understand, there's a different between a level one and two judge. A level 1 judge is someone who took the online test, but most often is really a player who just sometimes judges. A level two is someone dedicated to judging, and then maybe sometimes gets to play. That plus, just because you are a level two judge does not mean you will get selected to judge the pro circuit. UDE is going to look at active judges trying hard to gain experience and be good judges, and bring them, whether they are level one or two.

<GUY> Ok, well I still want to test.

<Me> Well, I have to admit I don't think it’s a good idea to test you. We really want our level two's to have some experience, and you have no judging experience at all.

<GUY> Well, the website says anyone can come up and take the level two test.

<Me> Ermm, I do not believe it says that. It says anyone can come up to ask about taking the level two test, but we're not going to just test anyone.

<GUY> No, your web site says you will test anyone, and I think it’s really shady that you're not holding up your end of the deal.

<Me> I'm sorry you feel that way. I don't think the website does say that, but I am not sure exactly what it says and it’s really not going to help either of us to get into a semantics argument over it. Regardless, I don't think you qualify to test for level two, sorry.

<GUY> Well, you shouldn't get into a semantics argument with me, as I am an English major, and I think its really shady of you guys to not honor your agreements!


And he gets up and storms off. I look over at Curtis Schultz, and we just look at each other and laugh a bit like "WHAT was THAT?” slightly amused. We check the web site out of curiosity and it says that you can come for an "in person interview and skill test". I guess he didn't understand that he didn’t even pass the in person interview. Ah well.


The rest of the weekend was testing, testing and more testing. There were a couple interesting things that came up, but they all fall under the category of “things I can not tell because they would violate an NDA or at least get me into trouble.” The trip back was also devoid of issues, thankfully, and I spent it reading my newly acquired Paranoia XP, because what’s an RPG if you can’t kill off all the characters in it?


Tune in next week when I have no idea what I will write about, because I’m done traveling for a few weeks!






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