by Terence Jason Dorman, Awesome Manager of Inspired Writings
This past weekend I attended the Darkmoon Faire Baltimore event for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. It was the first Darkmoon Faire I have ever attended, plus the first major WoW event I’ve been to with the exceptions of Gen-Con and Origins.
After a long Day One (I was on thirty two hours of no sleep due to having to drive to Baltimore when I had planned on sleeping in the car) I came away with a less than stellar tournament finish, some cards I needed for my collection, and the feeling that all of the judges hated me.
How could they hate someone as awesome as me?
Naturally, it turns out they didn’t hate me and I was just being paranoid. Maybe it was because I hadn’t slept in over a day. Maybe it was because I was part of a random deck check in round three. Maybe it was because there always seemed to be a judge standing over my shoulder watching my games. Maybe it was a combination of the bunch. Whatever it was, I kept getting the feeling that the judges were out to get me.
Over the course of the weekend, particularly during the big Team Sealed Event on Saturday, I began chatting with judges about various topics. All of the judges I had the chance to talk to were nice and knowledgeable people who were just like me. We even shared judging stories and discussed how judging big events basically means that you don’t eat for two days.
With my paranoid fear removed I had a lot more fun at the event and I can say with certainty that my trip to DMF Baltimore was a success. I had an absolute blast, my team did well (but Hans’ team did better, congratulations again!), and I learned a lot about the current meta.
But what if I had never chatted up the judges? It is possible that my irrational paranoia would have continued and may have put a damper on my event as a whole. Without the paranoia, though, I was able to laugh off the second random check I had to go through on Day Two and make jokes about how I was waiting for another deck check on Day Three.
So how should those WoW judges, or any judge for that matter, alleviate that paranoia? The answer is simple: they should be personable. Players understand that judges are there to run the events and enforce the rules, but players often forget that judges are real people and usually players as well. They are not simply rules robots that are programmed to ruin tournament.
This is why, at every tournament I judge, I try to interact with my players whenever possible. I’ll ask them what deck they’re playing, where they’re from, how long they’ve been playing the game, etc. These types of questions create a nice channel between the players and the judges that makes the event feel much more sociable and smooth.
Next time you are judging an event, try to keep this idea in mind. You will benefit from being personable as you will have more people to talk to/interact with, and your players will have a better experience because they won’t be fearing the almighty judge robots. Remember, though, not to overstep your boundaries as a judge and always remain professional and within the rules.
In short, just have fun being a judge!