PTQ Amsterdam at Jellycon – Judge Report

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Event: PTQ Amsterdam at Jellycon, 25th of October 2003
Judges: Johanna Knuutinen(L2), Pasi Virtanen (L2), Jari Puranen (L1)
Number of Players: 67

This is a report I wrote some time ago (with some recent revisions) but didn’t submit for various reasons. Although it was not a total disaster, this event was not one of my best experiences. Looking back, I probably should have done some things differently.

A couple of years ago, the only multi-day Magic event in Finland was the Finnish Nationals. Not content with winning that tournament every year, Tomi “Jelly” Walamies wanted to try organizing a big event himself. He got together with a tournament organizer from Turku (the other Finnish city) and created “Jellycon”, a weekend of much Magic and little sleep. Which was just what Finnish Magic players wanted.

The third Jellycon was held in Turku on the 24th – 26th of October. This story shall focus on the Pro Tour Amsterdam Qualifier that was held on Saturday, but there were also four other tournaments.

I arrived in Turku around 7 pm on Friday with my best friend and fellow judge Pasi Virtanen. We found the Type 2 tournament in full swing, with Marko the Tournament Organizer scorekeeping and two judges, Jari and Jussi Timonen. judging.

Now, a few words about the venue are in order. Finnish gaming cons are small and Finnish con-goers are unwilling to spend lots of money on tournament fees. Accordingly, the venue was not a nice hotel but a cheap gym. Also, most Finnish Magic players expect to be allowed to sleep onsite in sleeping bags. It’s like camping! Sometimes people bring tents and portable grills! I was also planning to sleep at the site, stupid me. This was a highly suboptimal plan considering that there was no separate sleeping area; you either slept in the tournament hall (gym) or in the dressing rooms. Or the shower. Or the sauna, which will be important for our story later on (actually, the sauna would not have been a bad place to sleep in, compared to other options. The benches were nice and wide).

I spent Friday night playing some multiplayer Magic, watching the Type 2 event and talking to people. For some reason, I was the only one who wanted to go to sleep at midnight. Everyone else wanted to stay awake and yell a lot. I didn’t get much sleep that night, which is my own fault since I didn’t have enough sense to stay in a hotel. I woke up at 9. After a shower and a can of Red Bull I felt almost ready to HJ a PTQ.

67 players showed up. I consider that a good number for a Finnish PTQ. There was some confusion regarding the starting time; the advertised starting time was 10 am, but on Friday Night one of the organizers had told a number of people that it would start at 11 am. We decided to wait, several people showed up between 10 and 11, and the deck registration started promptly at 11.

There were no problems during deck registration. After product had been distributed, I instructed players to open their tournament packs, remove the basic lands and put them on the table. They were told that they could keep any foil basic lands from the tournament packs. They were then told to register the rest of the cards, including any foil basic lands that were in the booster packs. Players were told to sort the cards by color and also put them in alphabetical order if there was enough time.

Deck construction was not problem-free. It turned out that several players had registered the wrong Leonin or Neurok card, and a couple of players had forgotten to register their 75th card. In each case, I corrected the decklist to match the cards after talking to the registering players. I didn’t have reason to suspect cheating.

After time was called for deck construction several people were not finished filling out their decklists. One of these was a guy who had apparently spent some time sleeving his deck before registering it. I told him that in the future he should first make the list, and then sleeve the deck. After I had checked on other slow writers, I went back to this player, let’s call him Player A, who was still not finished after several minutes of extra time. I told him that he had one minute, without specifying what I would do if he failed to finish within that time. Then I went to talk to Pasi to see if we had all other lists. We were missing three lists, including Player A’s list. Now, one minute had passed but Player A was still sitting at his table with the list. At this point I decided to give him a game loss for Tardiness, since he had used deck construction time to sleeve his deck and had not managed to finish within the extra time given. He argued that he had finished within the extra minute I gave him, and that I had not said that the list would have to be in my hands within the minute (which is true; I did not say that but it most certainly was my intention). He was very unhappy with my ruling; he thought it was unfair that I gave him a game loss him because in his opinion he had finished within the extra minute I gave him.

After taking Player A’s list we were still missing two lists. After calling for the missing lists two guys turned up. One of them said that he was new to tournament Magic and that he didn’t know he was supposed to hand in the decklist. I didn’t consider this a valid excuse at PTQ level, especially since we had announced that decklists should be handed in at the judge station, so he received a game loss. The other guy said that he simply forgot and accepted his game loss without complaint. Usually people who are not finished with deck construction when time is called just need half a minute to finish recording their sideboard, which is not really something I want to give game losses for at any REL.

I realize now that two of the game losses might have been prevented if we’d had a land station instead of leaving the land on the deck construction tables. If you don’t allow the players get any land before handing in their decklist you at least make sure that nobody forgets to hand it in. I didn’t use a land station because the pile-of-lands-at-each-table - method had worked nicely at a GP Trial the previous week, and because we didn’t really have room for a land station.

I gave my usual speech before starting Round 1 and announced that several people had game losses for this round and that those players should inform their opponents about this. When I asked if there were any questions, player A asked if he really had a game loss, and I said that he did. He started to protest, and I told him that if he wanted to discuss the situation we could do that after the round, but my decision was final. He didn’t come to talk to me afterwards, but I heard that he gave his version of the story to everyone else who listened.

During round 1 Jari and I counted all the decklists while Pasi covered the floor. Two people had forgotten to register lands, one had registered a 39 card deck. I asked Pasi to take care of those. When the pairings were printed for round 2, he put a cross next to the names of players who had decklist problems, and announced that those people should come to see him. While he dealt with the decklist problems, Jari and I did a deck check. Both players had really bad sleeves, with bent corners, creases, scratches and dirt, so we asked them to remove the sleeves or get new ones. They opted to play without sleeves and we gave them some extra time for desleeving.

I took notes of some rules questions, so here they are:

Round 2: Player A attacks with a Slith creature and some other creatures. His opponent has a Pearl Shard and he wants to know if he can choose to prevent the damage from the Slith so it won’t gain a counter. This is possible according to rule 419.7b.

419.7b Some prevention effects refer to a specific amount of damage-for example, "Prevent the next 3 damage to target creature or player this turn." These work like ablative shields. Each 1 damage that would be dealt to the "shielded" creature or player is prevented. Preventing 1 damage reduces the remaining shield by 1. If damage would be dealt to the shielded creature or player by two or more sources at the same time, the player or the controller of the creature can choose which damage the shield prevents first. Once the shield has been reduced to 0, any remaining damage is dealt normally. Such effects count only the amount of damage; the number of events or sources dealing it doesn't matter.

Grab the Reins
Round 3: Player C casts Grab the Reins with Entwine, choosing two of Player D’s creatures as targets. Player D wanted to know what would happen if one of the targets was illegal on resolution. I answered that the spell would still affect the second target, it would do as much as it could. Player D then cast his own Grab the Reins, without Entwine, choosing only the latter part. He targeted one of Player C’s creatures and sacrificed the creature Player C wanted to gain control of, killing Player C’s biggest creature. Then player C’s Grab the Reins resolved: there was no creature to grab, but he still had to sacrifice a creature. However, none of his remaining creatures were big enough to kill the one he had targeted.

Round 6: Player E has a Fatespinner in play. His opponent, Player F, has chosen to skip his main phase. He attacks with something and then tries to play a land. I was watching this game, so I put the land back in his hand and gave him a warning. Later in the match, Player F has again chosen to skip his main phase. After some combat action, he wants to play an instant and says “in main phase…” Player E points out that he has no main phase, and asks me if his opponent should get an upgraded warning for making the same mistake again, because he said “in main phase”. I saw no reason to do this because it was an instant; he could have played the spell at the end of combat or at end of turn, it did not make any difference. He simply misspoke. No warnings were issued to either player.

Round 7: While shuffling his deck, a player discovers that he’s missing one card and he tells us that it’s likely to be found in his previous opponent’s deck. He names the opponent and I go find the guy. He has already started his game. I pick up the deck and find it easily, about fifth from the top – it’s in a black sleeve while the rest of the deck is in green sleeves. Mr. Greensleeve yells “WHAT????” and his expression is priceless. Although the player had started his game with an illegal deck, I decided not to give him a game loss because it was very easy to fix the situation and he could not have ended up playing the card by accident. I admit that his obvious surprise and the funny look on his face (and my lack of sleep) affected my decision somewhat, as I should have at least given him a lecture on sufficient shuffling – he should have noticed a black card among green cards.

Player G has a Duplicant in his hand and the biggest threat his opponent has in play is a Clockwork creature. He wants to know whether the Duplicant would get +1/+1 counters if he targets the Clockwork creature with it. The answer is no; Duplicant only copies the printed values for power and toughness, which are 0 on a Clockwork creature.

After the Swiss rounds we had a short break before the top 8 draft. There were two other tournaments starting in the main room right after the Swiss, so we thought it would be a good idea to move the draft to a more quiet area. There were all sorts of problems with small tables and big tables and chairs and benches in the dressing room, but then somebody remembered the sauna.

At this point the lack of sleep was starting to get to me. Of course the sauna was the perfect place for a top 8 draft! There were three nice benches and in the dressing room was a small table that would fit in the middle. Of course we had to do it there. What could be more Finnish than a draft in a cold sauna? Nobody objected, so the table and a chair (for me) were moved in and the draft was ready to begin. This might be the strangest place ever for a sanctioned draft. I will send a draft set to the first person who proves that he or she has participated in a sanctioned draft at a stranger location.

For deck construction I was able to put people in different rooms (the sauna, the shower rooms and the dressing rooms). Don’t worry, the top 8 was not played in the showers – we moved back in the main room for that.

The only problem during the top 8 draft was during the semis. The eventual winner of the tournament had been making Pest tokens with his Nuisance Engine for several rounds. He then cast a Broodstar, which was pretty big with all the tokens and other artifacts he had in play. On his turn, Player H (his opponent) cast a Duplicant: he tapped his mana, announced the spell and took the Broodstar. The Broodstar player Annulled the Duplicant. Player H claimed that his opponent had already said “OK” and let the Duplicant resolve. However, I had not heard him say anything. I let the Annul resolve. It was a pretty desperate attempt from a player who is known for his moments of unsportsmanlike behaviour. The Broodstar player won the game and the match, and went on to qualify for the Pro Tour because his final opponent did not want to go.

I think we handled this tournament reasonably well under the circumstances: everyone was tired and the venue was suboptimal. I will certainly try to avoid such situations in the future – the players deserve to have a judge who is functioning at 100%. I also think I could have handled the situation with Player A (the slow sleever) better. Comments and feedback are welcome at flame@bore.org.

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