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What is a Judge Conference?

A Judge conference is an excellent way to help you and your peers grow and advance as Judges. At a conference, you will meet old friends, make new ones, expose yourself to innovative new judging techniques, engage in fun activities, and leave even more excited about our community and judging.

History of Judge Conferences

Judges of all types and levels belong to an international community devoted to improving themselves and the quality of the events they steward. One of the central tools Judges utilize to improve themselves is attending and/or organizing a Judge conference.

Originally Judges came together to present talks on aspects of judging as an educational tool. Typically held at game stores, large events, or conventions, early conference presentations were lectures and workshops where more experienced Judges presented on topics they were passionate about.  These events drew anywhere from a handful to hundreds of attendees and became a central feature of the Judge world. Over time, Judge conferences have evolved to fit the educational, research, and social needs of Judges.

Judge Academy Supported Conferences

Judge Academy Supported Conferences are our way of helping to facilitate the pooling of knowledge, increased mentorship, and community building that helps make the Judge Community what it is.

Attending a Conference:
We expect attendees to be present and engaged at the conferences they attend. Organizers will each have their own attendance or participation requirements, and may set other expectations on the event page. Judges who apply and are accepted to an event are expected to follow the expectations set by the organizer in order to receive support. If you have any feedback around conferences, organizers, these policies, or anything else, please use our Contact Us Form.

Attendees in 2020 received 2 conference exclusive promos, as well as 2 promos from previous rotations of member mailings. Since there won’t be member mailings in 2021, our rotation plan has changed for digital conferences starting in January 2021. Sponsorship includes one pack of four promos for each Judge Academy Certified Judge at the Conference, as well as additional packs for Judge Academy Presenters and Organizers. 

Conferences that are digital will request and mail out promos after the conference. For a detailed look at the distribution process and rough timeframes, see https://judgeacademy.com/mtg-conference-promo-distribution-process/

The Judge Academy Conference Promo Packs

These will include the two promos from the current wave, and two additional promos from previous waves.

September-December:

Conference Support includes 2 New Conference Promos, plus 2 promos from previous waves.

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Morophon, The Boundless, art by Svetlin Velinov

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Zacama, Primal Calamity, art by Yigit Koroglu

End-of-Year Conference Promos

For more information regarding these events, please see the in-depth post here.

Edgar Markon, art by Martina Fackova

Ezuri, Claw of Progress, art by Livia Prima

K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, art by Daniel Ljunggren

Mizzix of the Izmagnus, art by Zoltan Boros

Below are some examples of different types of Conferences. We are ALWAYS looking for new, innovative ways to gather Judges and spread knowledge. If you have an idea for a type of Conference not listed below, please email us at Nicolette@JudgeAcademy.com!

Explanation of Digital Conference Types

Regional Conferences

Regional Conferences are targeted to Judges from a specific region or part of a region, typically focus on addressing specific regional needs, and often bring in Regional Judges of all levels. They’re often run in the local language, although this may depend on the diversity of the Region. These can be large single or multi-track Conferences, and should have something for everyone to learn from.

Since the goal is to support Judges coming together, the digital venue for a Regional Conference should be able to hold at least 75-100 people, if not more. Regional Conferences may prioritize In-Region Judges, but should not have any other restrictions outside of a hard cap on the software being used.

Specialized Conferences

Specialized Conferences are smaller, and have their own specific rules. They can be focused on L3s, L2+ Judges, those in the Level 3 Advancement Process, those going for Advanced Certifications, or any other specialized group.

Mini-Conferences

Mini-Conferences are targeted at Judges from a small subset of a region, address mainly the needs of that area, and are smaller than a regional Conference. They’re often run in the local language, and typically have between 20-50 Judges in attendance.

Mini-Conferences tend to be focused on Level 1 and Level 2 development, use local Judges as presenters and help Judges meet and get to know other local Judges in their area.

Steps for Planning Your Judge Conference

If you want to host a Judge Conference the VERY first thing you should do, is read our current conference policies found HERE. After you’ve read through all the policies and requirements, you can submit a request through the Conference Support Form. Please make sure you are as detailed as possible about your plan and note that it can take up to two weeks to receive approval, so make sure that you fill out your request early, and leave enough time to ensure your conference will be successful.

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Announcing the Conference

To learn how to create an event on Judge Academy checkout our walkthrough! The initial announcement about the Conference should contain as much information as possible:

  • Date of conference
  • Estimated start and end times. Participants need to know this in order to plan their day.
  • Event link for registration, and registration deadline
  • Will participants receive Promos (i.e. is this a supported Conference?)
  • Information on seminars/presenters that you have already scheduled. Who is your target audience?
  • Call for presenters: who to contact if you want to present a seminar, what is expected.
  • Language: some Conferences are run in a language other than English. Some may even have seminars in several different languages.
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Presenters and Reviewing Content

You can start recruiting presenters or Conference leaders even before announcing the Conference to the general public. Posting a general call for presenters is common practice, but you might also contact individual Judges who are specialists in a particular topic or known for being skilled presenters.

Content for Conferences should be finalized at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Presentations that lack preparation negatively affect Conference attendees and can undermine the hard work that other presenters may invest in your event. As a Conference Organizer, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are providing attendees with a positive experience.

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Planning the Conference Schedule

Once you have your final list of topics and presenters, you should start planning the schedule. Each session is usually about 40-50 minutes long. A common setup is to allow 60 minutes per session: 40-45 minutes for the presentation, 10 for questions, and 5-10 for a break. That said, many organizers have found success using different set-ups, so there is always room for innovation!

You should consider a longer break for lunch in the middle of the day if the conference is going to go on for a long time. Don’t forget to allow some time at the beginning to give people a chance to work out any technology issues before the starting time.

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Feedback Forms + New Judge Welcome

It’s important to gather feedback, to help you plan a better Conference next time, and to help presenters improve their presentation skills. Judge Academy does not mandate the use of feedback forms for sponsored events. Many organizers have created before/after topic quizzes, virtual hand raises, or other ways to ensure their attendees stay engaged in the presentations.

You are welcome to use this Feedback Form Template, although you can feel free to use your own or find other ways to encourage and facilitate feedback. Our experience has shown that mandatory or anonymous feedback is not as constructive, and highly suggest ensuring that either the presenter (or you) have a way to reach out to the attendee if clarifications or more information is needed.

As the organizer, you’ll also need to share this link with any new judges who are attending their first/second conference of the year. All entries will be verified against membership and payment dates.