Your First Magic Event
Do you remember the first time you walked into an organized Magic event? Was it a Friday night draft at your local store? A Pro Tour qualifier or prerelease you went to with your friends? Did you skip right to the main event of a Grand Prix, or start off with a chaos draft, or a Commander’s Corner?
Try and remember what it felt like that first time you came into contact with MTG beyond your kitchen table or computer screen. How did you feel? Were you nervous? Excited? Did you wonder about the people you’d meet, and if you would make friends or find people like you? Were you excited to jump in or wondering if you were ready? What was that first experience like for you and… was a judge part of it?
As judges, there are so many ways we can affect the experience that players have at a tournament or other organized event. Our knowledge of the rules allows us to ensure the players get to play in a consistent and fair environment, confident that the way the cards work will be consistent from event to event. Our logistical skills help us create efficient, well-run events, without a lot of wasted time or confusion. I love those parts of judging, but my favorite is our ability to create an atmosphere that makes players feel welcome and comfortable. An environment that makes people want to come back and play again, no matter if they won or lost.
That environment matters to every player who comes into contact with it, but to me, there is just nothing like helping a player find their place in organized play. My first local game store had a great judge who created that kind of environment. It was a big part of what kept me coming back, and the chance to create that for others is a big part of why I am a judge, and why I’m so excited to be working with you all on how we as judges build and sustain communities. Organized play has brought so much to my life- I love being able to help create that for others, and I’m excited to help you all do the same.
My Role: To Help You Build & Sustain Your Corner of the Magic Community
As community champion, my role is a little different than that of my colleagues. Things like triggers and layers work the same for all of us, and there are only so many ways to sort deck lists or post pairings. But communities in the MTG or the judge world can look so different in so many different places and contexts. My role isn’t to simply tell you how to build your own community. Instead I want to provide you with the tools, the inspiration, and the support you need for your own community. Even more- I want to create ways for us to share, inspire, and learn from each other. I’m not here to give you all the answers. I’m here to help create conversations and inspire new ideas we can all benefit from, and teach you how to find the answers that are right for your community.
What does “community” look like for you? Is it the people who come to your local game store? People who share your love for a particular format, or who share a part of your identity? Is it the judges in your area, or the community that is formed every time players come together for a large event, or a weekend of drafts or commander’s corner?
Just as important- what kind of community building matters to you? Do you want to create events that bring people together, like charity events or judge dinners and game nights? Do you want to make every Magic event you are a part of a safe space for all players? Do you want to get better at mentoring? Do you care about running events that are great for players of all ages? Do you want to create ways for players and judges like yourself to find and support each other? Is your focus judge conferences, creating spaces where judges can learn, network, find support and build each other up? Or do you just want to make sure that every player who comes into your event has that feeling of being welcomed – whether it is their first event or their 50th. Maybe community isn’t your focus, but you just want to know how to welcome that new player, or find a judge to have dinner with when you’ve travelled for an event! I’m here to help make that happen.
I’m working on a number of plans and resources I’m excited to share with you. Prereleases have long been my favorite kind of MTG event to run, and a new module on prerelease best practices will go up on the Judge Academy site this week. Panel discussions and modules on topics like mentoring and working with younger players are coming soon, as are resources like a prerelease kit and mock tournament in a box. I’ve got a lot of great ideas, but I’m here for you! What kind of content do you want to see? How can Judge Academy support you and your community work? What kind of events or community building have you been doing that you can share with us? Let me know! You can go to the community corner on the Judge Academy discord, tweet about it with hashtag #MTGCommunity, or email me at Matthew@judgeacademy.com
All of us, in some way or another, had that moment of walking into a Magic event for the first time. Something happened that made us want to come back. Whatever that was- I want to help us create that moment for others, creating space that makes people want to come back to our events again and again. I’m looking forward to doing that together.