Judge Academy Transition – Open Letter and FAQ

To the Magic judge community, especially the members of Judge Academy,

Wizards of the Coast will not be renewing its sponsorship agreement with Judge Academy. This means that we will no longer be under contract with Wizards to provide services to the Magic Judge Program after October 13.

I do not have specific information about Wizards’ plans. However, Wizards has consistently expressed to me their understanding of the importance of judges, and I believe Wizards will select another entity to provide services to the Magic Judge Program.

Because the community needs an interim solution, Judge Academy intends to continue offering training, testing, and certification of judges until another entity fills that role. Please see the attached FAQ for details on this and other changes.

At this time of transition for Judge Academy, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for including me in your community over the years. I appreciate the positive ways in which you have impacted my life, and the lives of each other and the players. You are the core of what makes this game and community so amazing and should be celebrated as such.

Judge Academy had been operating for only a few months when COVID hit. As the world shut down, the members of Judge Academy connected with each other through digital conferences and online forums and created many opportunities to help each other. And when the world reopened, it was judges who helped the Magic community come back together – event by event, player by player. Although times of transition can be uncomfortable, this community has demonstrated that it has the resourcefulness, intelligence, and dedication to weather transitions.

Thank you, again, for sharing this journey.

Tim Shields

Judge Academy Transition – FAQ

Why is Judge Academy changing?

Wizards of the Coast will not be renewing its sponsorship of Judge Academy.

This means that, effective October 13, 2023, Judge Academy will no longer be under contract with Wizards to provide services to the Magic Judge Program.

Who will be managing the Magic Judge Program next?

It has not yet been communicated to Judge Academy what the next steps are for the Magic Judge Program; however, Wizards has consistently expressed to us their understanding of the importance of judges to Magic: The Gathering organized play.

Although we have no specific information, we believe that Wizards will select another entity to provide services to the Magic Judge Program, and at that point, we will work with that entity to provide a smooth transition.

What will happen during the interim?

We understand continuity is important to this community, and because of that, we intend to continue offering training, testing, and certification of judges until another entity fills that role.

Because other services will be discontinued by the end of 2023, we are moving immediately from a paid-membership model to a free-membership model.

What specific changes will Judge Academy make to its service offerings?

As of today, Judge Academy will stop accepting paid memberships. The JudgeAcademy.com website and our discord server will remain available for use with free memberships.

As of October 13, 2023, Judge Academy’s contract with Wizards to provide community management for the Magic Judge Program will end.

Since our contract is over, Judge Academy will not be able to support Q4 conferences.

However, we will hold a final end-of-the year conference, supported with the Q3 and Q4 announced promotional foil cards. Judge Academy will not obtain Magic: The Gathering promotional foil cards for 2024.

For the foreseeable future, Judge Academy will continue to provide both coursework and testing opportunities for Magic judges; including the 1-on-1 testing of L3 judges. Content updates will be made to coursework and tests on an as-needed basis.

How can Judge Academy continue to operate without membership fees?

We are going to have two more merchandise kit offerings. These are scheduled for Q4 2023 and Q1 2024. We hope these will be successful enough to finance our core operations in the short term. We are actively looking for new revenue opportunities.

Will Judge Academy offer its services to other game publishers?

Judge Academy is proposing services to other game publishers, but is not currently under contract with any additional publishers.

What if my paid judge membership is still active after you switch to a free-membership model?

Your membership will remain active under the free model, and you will continue to have access to training and testing. Additionally, all legacy members with active paid subscriptions as of today’s switch to free memberships, will be eligible to receive promotional foils at the final Judge Academy end-of-year conferences, and will have the option to purchase special versions (including promotional foils) of the upcoming Q4 2023 and Q1 2024 Judge Academy merchandise kits.

Can I still be selected to run conferences?

We will select individuals to host end-of-the-year conferences for 2023. Judge Academy will support these conferences with the Q3 and Q4 announced promotional foils.

What can I expect from Judge Academy’s final conferences of 2023?

The final Judge Academy conferences of 2023 will be digital conferences and will be run similarly to the end-of-year conferences of previous years. This includes the same level of promotional foil support for conference organizers. The conferences will be open to all members, including those who register for free memberships; however, only legacy members with active paid subscriptions as of today’s switch to free memberships will be eligible to receive promotional foils. More details will be released in the coming weeks.

Will there be Judge Conferences in 2024 and beyond?

It is our hope that conferences will continue; however, Judge Academy will not be able to provide support for Magic: The Gathering judge conferences after 2023.

If I sign up as a free member, do I have access to promotional judge foils?

No. Judge Academy will not be receiving more promotional foils. And memberships which become active after today’s switch to free memberships will not be eligible for promotional judge foils, whether through conference attendance, merchandise kit purchases, or other promotions.

Can I attend the final 2023 conferences if I have a free membership?

Yes! We would love for you to attend the final 2023 conferences. However, it is important you are aware that as an unpaid member, you will not be eligible to receive promotional judge foils for your participation in the event.

What if I am currently a Level 2 pursuing a Level 3 certification?

We will continue to provide resources to you toward achieving this goal. We intend to continue operating the Judge Academy website and Discord channel and to continue offering 1-on-1 testing of L3 judges.

What does the future of the Magic Judge Program look like?

Wizards of the Coast has not provided Judge Academy with any information about the future of the Magic Judge Program.

At Wizards of the Coast’s direction, inquiries should be made through their online support request form.


  1. Dave

    since there’s still an end of year conference promo mailing, is JA going to make an effort to get the outstanding conference foils out to members who have not received them?

    Specifically there’s a Springfield conference from May 2022 that JA reached out about and never followed up on after collecting names, so I have to assume there’s more conferences like this during the delays/issues that were seen around that time.

    1. Dave

      to elaborate, this email went out in January…have not heard back from JA about it since then- did hear from EDB when I poked him about it in March and was told it’d be a priority after the Q2 conference applications were sorted out; but I haven’t heard a peep form either since then:

      JudgeAcademy Event Notification for Springfield Online conference

      If you have received this email you were listed as attending or on staff for the Springfield Online Conference in May 2022. [conference link] Please take a moment to fill out the following form regarding the event:
      This form will be open for two weeks, closing end of business Thursday, February 9.
      In two weeks we will assess the information that we have and decide on a course of action.
      If you are among those who have not received promos it is IMEPRATIVE that you fill out this form before 2/9/23. No new entries will be accepted after that. No exceptions.
      Questions can be directed to conferences@judgeacademy.com

  2. Tommy Lee

    There were a lot of us who did not renew our membership who were level judges, and now have been reduced to rules advisors. I find that unfortunate as it feels like it became a pay to play. There are a lot of level ones and level twos that are now rules advisors Because they did not renew for the current year because there had been rumors about judge Academy ending. Money was tight for a lot of people including myself, so I did not renew and because of that my rank was taken away even though I completed all of the prerequisites not only with wizards, but with judge Academy as well when they started, I’m sad that Judge Academy had to turn to that, and I do hope that in the future, whichever entity takes over, will be much more understanding of the time And money that many judges have put forth. I have been in L1 for quite a while, and judged many events from local stores to major events. When I left judge Academy, I was still a level one but because I did not pay, they took that certification away. I have met many people from all over the world who are judges, and I will continue judging, and I look forward to the new entity in whatever form that may be.

  3. Nicolás Gabriel

    It´s truly a shame. I hope you can refund members who payed the membership fee (myself, a month ago) and don´t event have access to your exclusive products that are only available in USA/Canada and Europe. If that´s not the case, this would be straight up taking money for nothing.

  4. Roj

    I had high hopes for JA, and was happy to pay the membership to be a judge. I understood that JA was a business, and businesses need to make money to function. It was cool that my membership could help fund projects that had long been on the back-burner, and to pay full-time employees to work on the site, the content, the legal stuff, translations, and more. If you drive, you pay to have a license. If your job requires certification, you pay for that class and the exams. If you apply to colleges, you pay for your SAT or ACT exam. If your job requires a license or a degree, you pay for the schooling to obtain that. It made sense for JA to do the same for judges. The price of membership in JA was the price of a booster box once a year. No big deal.

    That said, I’m sad about WotC’s decision that came with the silent treatment. That said, I believe that successful businesses make decisions based on lots of data, research, test trials, and design. A trading card game can’t last this long by leaders who make dumb decisions. My hope is that they have a great replacement idea that benefits us judges, the players, the LGS’s, and the community. We just don’t know what it is yet [Still, I’m disappointed that the Magic Companion doesn’t allow players to report draws. That has messed up our LGS prize structure.]

    One last thing. For those complaining about getting Basic Lands as promos, you’ll find that the Basic Lands from Terese Nielsen are worth a lot of money. The whole set is consistently worth about $400, and that’s only individually. Why? Because they can be used in all formats! They’ll never rotate out of Standard or Legacy or be banned.

    Thanks, JA, for all you’ve done for us and the players and the stores. You’ve done a great job. I’m retiring this year. I’m old and I don’t see or hear too well these days, but I’ll be watching as a player how things unfold here soon.