Monday, 20 April 2009

Judgement day

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

I hope everyone is still excited about standard excited on the back of the national qualifier held this weekend, i know i certainly am. Sadly i may not be playing, depending on numbers, because i have, for some time now, said i was going to begin judging, and the next few weeks may well be the best time for me to make a start.

Having said this, with Rob not playing in order to secure nationals qualification on rating, there may be no point in offering myself as a judge for the next few weeks, which is a bit of a shame, but honestly i think i need the constructed practice, as i will be testing decks for the next qualifiers, and it serves me right for not judging when i had the chance.

Nevertheless, i have been preparing by familerising myself with the rules in various ways, reading reports on questions that judges are frequently asked, and so forth. I also got drunk and facebooked Riki Hayashi a few questions, so i thought i would post them on here, it is highly embarressing as i was very intoxicated, but here's some of the pearls of wisdom that Riki was kind enough to share.

1) What essential skills/pieces of knowledge should someone have before entering the judge programme?

Respect. And that cuts both ways. The candidate should obviously respect his or her mentors and the system, but somewhat underrated is that he or she should have the respect of the community of players. Essentially, you have to act like a Judge before you ever become one. And the same thing applies to each individual level. Promotions should be welcomed with a sense of "It's about time."

2) What peice of advice would you most like to have been told when you were a new judge?

I wish I had known more about the wider world of judging at GPs and PTs. As is, I got kind of a false start where I didn't go beyond my local area for several years. I've made up for things in the past two years though, and I think that one of the reasons I work so hard is to make up for lost time.

3) What is the best thing about being a magic judge?

Being in a program that allows you to excel. The entire system is set up to help you grow in whatever direction you want. If you put in the time and effort, you will become a better Judge and a better person. I've exploded onto the scene these past two years and I have received only encouragement and positive messages. In other organizations, I could easily see my ambitions being stifled out of fear, jealousy, or resistance to change. At the same time, if you are content with just judging FNMs and going no further, that's fine too.

4) What does it take to be a good magic judge?

The ability to give and take criticism. To become better, it is absolutely key that you listen to what people tell you. Even if you disagree with their assessment of you, it can be a huge benefit to understand why they might think that about you. On the flip side, if you are able to give good feedback and help other Judges grow, you will be more of an asset to the program.

5) What other magic judge do you admire the most?

Just one? Well, I'm not one to hedge my bets and make a long list, so I will say John Carter, L4 and current Judge Coordinator. In Magic terms, I am definitely his barn. His dedication to getting the job done right is something I strive for constantly.

Well there we have it, hope you find that interesting, maybe next week i will get pissed and email LSV about how to break extended? anyways, it's kind of cool Riki was kind enough to answer the questions, and he certainly gave me some advice about becoming a judge, and being good at it.

I guess i am a little nervous about the prospect of judging, knowing that perhaps i dont have a 100% knowledge of every rule an interaction (in fact, far from it), but then again it seems like most of these things are found out on the job, and there is also the internet and other judges to consult, and even if a judge makes a wrong call, im sure the guilt of doing so will ensure he/she never makes the same again (if only this were true of players).

If i am not needed in a judging capacity i am almost certainly going to be playing a new deck. Over the last couple days i 'decided' i was playing non-kithkin white weenie, i knocked up this list for it.

4 x figure of destiny
4 x knight of meadowgrain
4 x knight of the white orchid
2 x kitchen finks
4 x wilt leaf liege
4 x cloudgoat ranger

2 x ajani goldmane
1 x elspeth, knight errant
4 x spectral procession
3 x path to exile
3 x glorious anthem

4 x windbrisk heights
2 x mutavault
19 x plains

I still have the deck proxied up and have been testing with it on workstation, i like it a lot more than kithkin, because i i like that you can sit around with your 2 mana 2/2's doing all the beating, and not have to unload your hand to get a dominant board position, as with kithkin. This allows you to avoid over extending into a wrath effect, or in some cases, just dominate, as your first strikers get bigger with anthems and lieges.

So this is still a strong contended for me, but i would have to borrow a lot of the cards if i want to play it, so i thought i would knock up something else just in case.

Here's what i came up with

4 x kitchen finks
4 x broodmate dragon
3 x shriekmaw
2 x cloudthresher

4 x rampant growth
4 x fertile ground
2 x primal command

4 x garruk wildspeaker

4 x volcanic fallout
2 x firespout
2 x banefire
1 x loxodon warhammer

4 x savage lands
4 x treetop village
3 x fire-lit thicket
3 x twilight mire
2 x reflecting pool
4 x forest
2 x mountain
2 x swamp


4 x mind shatter
2 x puppeteer clique
2 x cloudthresher
2 x firespout
2 x primal command
1 x shriekmaw
2 x violent ultimatum

I have been fooling around with this deck at home a lot and i really like its matchups all round. I added 2 firespouts in the main to the staple 4 volcanic fallouts, and although it makes a control matchup a little worse, standard is all about the aggro at the moment. Lots of fatties in the form of cloudthresher and broodmate dragon mean that it only takes 1 creature to get the job done, and all i have to do is clear the board for it, plus i can make most of these guys turn 4 if i get good draws.

5cc looks like it might be a tough matchup, but i think it comes down to getting them to tap out in order to resolve a mind shatter, easier than it sounds, but with extra threshers boarded in i may be able to get something to stick.

So i will see everyone wednesday, I have contacted the guy who is supplying the Team Leeds t-shirts and he said they were getting delivered this week, so hopefully i will have them by wednesday. If you havent yet paid me for yours, bring some money along in the next couple weeks (£9). If you didnt order a t-shirt and want one, come talk to me and i can arrange to order some more if we get enough people, although they may be a couple of pounds more expensive if less people order.

See you all wednesday, either making you all mad by beating you with one of the above decks, or making you all mad wit hurrendous judge calls (or neither).

Until then,


As always, feel free to comment on anything about this article, or anything unrelated to magic whatsoever. If you would like to contribute to the TLM blog, please email any ideas, articles, pictures or anything else to


  1. Try some Makeshift Mannequin in the board for 5cc. Thay don't have too much spot removal, and getting into a fight on their turn is the best, as you clearly already know ;-)

    When do you think you'll side in the violent ultimatums? Mirror? And what about forge tender? Infest seems good...

  2. i thought the violent ultimatums would be good against dark bant, i can sweep birds and weenies, them blow up a creature and couple lands - im not really sure though, i guess you will know better than me.

    Yeah infest does seem goodm maybe the firespouts in the board should be infests, just to avoid forge tender, i think i should be ok with 6 wraths main though i think.

    Im probably going to take the noobhammer out, and possibly one of the shriekmaws, not sure though.

    Im not sold on makeshift mannequin though, 5cc only runs so many counter spells, and eventually i can force something through, because every spell is must counter. I will board in the extra cloudthreshers to give some Eot cryptic bait for a mind shatter.

    If it's ok could i look at your build.

    What were the matchups like? i assume 5cc is the only bad matchup, beyond multiple forge tender draws.

  3. My dark bant SB card of choice is the wonderful deathmark, as an example of it's use, on Saturday vs Bryan Connelly's bant deck.

    On the draw, he made a turn one hierarch, so I made a swamp and deathmarked it. This is pretty key versus dark bant, if you can slow them a turn or two by killing the first accelerant then you can start powering out bigger and better dudes. It's also pretty important to have deathmark given that shriekmaw can't kill doran.

    5cc is certainly the worst matchup, you have more threats than they have counters and wraths, but you have no way to draw them.I have found anything with ajani vengeant and wraths to be pretty rough to be honest, if he can keep your big man tapped down while increasing his loyalty, and force you to overcommit another fatty then they can wrath 2 threats.

    However, no deck plays Vengeant and wrath apart from Ben, and the 5cc player I played on Saturday. Awkward. Forge tender sucks, but if you run 3 shriekmaw and the whole complement of deathmarks out of the board (which is kinda necessary vs all those figures as well) then it's fine.

    Never remove the Noobhammer. It's the 1st commandment of manaramp. Test Mannequin. Have you ever cast it targeting Broodmate dragon?

    On saturday I ran:

    4 kitchen Finks
    4 Broodmate Dragon
    3 Chameleon Colossus
    3 Cloudthresher
    3 Shriekmaw

    3 Garruk Wildspeaker

    4 Rampant Growth
    4 Fertile Ground

    4 Firespout
    1 Jund charm (Wasn't sure what to run, gives some games vs Lark game 1)

    2 Primal command (Does everything and gives games vs Lark)

    2 Banefire

    1 Noobhammer

    23 land This has always been enough for me in Ramp with 8 turn 2 accelerants.


    Mind shatter
    ~Other stuff

  4. I'd follow the advice of Rampdy Edwards if I were you Jim. And yeah, DEathmark is the tech

  5. yeah deathmark is certainly the droid i was looking for, i can't believe i forgot it. 23 lands seems really tight, especially with only 3 garry's, but it might be fine.

    The noobhammer works better in yours, and i gues your right as far as pushing through the last points of damage, i have found myself getting stalled by a huge board.

    I really like your deck, ill speak to you on wednesday because obv we need to find room for new stuff (maelstrom pulse) etc.

    See you tomorrow