Site Updates and Level Redefinitions

Hey friends!

Thanks for your patience, this is a big update so please take some time to read this. As one last maintenance update, you all have been submitting emails faster than I can answer them. Because of this, I will not be streaming tomorrow (so I can focus on answering emails), and will not be pulling a final list for the July mailing until I have addressed any emails and maintenance issues or concerns that were sent in prior to the deadline.

ALSO! Please welcome Seno-san as our new Japan CC/LC. Akira Seno will be the new LC for Japan. We will be updating all of the information on the site this week to reflect the change. Thank you to those that applied, and to those that gave feedback!

Now! Before we get into levels, I am going to pass the torch and your attention to our Technical Project Manager, Chris, to talk about the updates that will be happening this week.

Hello Judges!

Chris Pompeo here, and though I rarely say much directly I’ve got some exciting developments that we’ve been hard at work to get ready for implementation on Judge Academy. Sometime over the next few days you’ll be seeing these items go live for use and I’m excited to tell you about them! We will need to experience some downtime to implement those changes. We will finalize a time and let you know when to experience this downtime as soon as possible.

Changes to the User Profile

  • First up, you’ll notice a refreshed graphic design to spruce up the experience
  • You’ll see new tabs to manage your personal events – ones you’ve applied to and ones you’ve attended in the past
  • A new tab for reviews will allow you to leave reviews of other Judges and see your own
  • New tabs for privacy options and event notification settings will be available as well
  • The skill tree has been redesigned with art by none other than Steve Argyle and we’re in love with it
  • We have implemented a Badge System on the user profile where you can earn and show off the badges you are proud to attain. This will be an easy way for other users and TO’s to see your accomplishments! It also allows us to have many new ways to create and give out awards and recognition in the future

Forum Upgrades and Changes

  • We’ve made subtle graphic improvements all around the forums to improve the user experience
  • The Judge Profile and the forums have been fully connected
  • We’ve modified the information visible when viewing threads to clearly show latest poster, topic, and timestamp without further drilling down
  • Additional options for marking posts ‘As Read’ and to nest threads for easier viewing
  • We’ve updated the editor to allow for much richer editing
  • There are clear buttons for subscriptions
  • Added new search features to help you find posts by subject or content

User Search Improvements

  • We’ve added lots of filtering and search options to make searching for Judges a much better experience
  • The search results will still respect the items that a user may mark as ‘Private’, so keep that in mind!

Registration Improvements

  • We’ve created a registration workflow to help new members find the best paths for their goals and get them where they need to get started

Level 2 and 3 Content Plans

  • We’ve put the frameworks in place to start loading the site with all of the Level 2 and 3 content we’ve been creating. You’ll see that start to fill in as we get each module polished and complete!

Player Event Search

  • We’ve added a specific version of the Events search designed for players to find events. No Judge specific functions will be there, but this should help fill your events with excited players!

Tournament Organizer Tools

  • We’ve added some new data tools for those organizing events to make the process of staffing and evaluation much easier
  • TO’s will be able to export applicants and accepted staff separately and then plan their schedules and roles

Level Re-Definitions

There’s one important thing I want to note about levels conceptually. Levels exist to help set a basic expectation of a judge’s knowledge for those unfamiliar with all of the inner workings of the Judge community. This means that while each level has a “floor” of what is expected, we recognize that a Judge’s level does not represent their “ceiling”. With this in mind, we’ve opened up the option, starting at level one, to achieve “Badges” that can be displayed on your profiles for completing both required content and content above the “floor” I mentioned earlier. You’ll read more about them in the description of each level.

Level re-definitions are below, along with a list of courses on the skill tree and additional prerequisites and continuing education requirements. We’ll be ironing out the exact wording to publish on the resources page, but I wanted to give you all the info on what will be showing up. Below you’ll see a description of each level, along with the details for the advancement process. RA and Level 1 will look VERY familiar, but L2 and L3 have some changes you will want to be aware of!

Rules Advisor

The Rules Advisor certification allows for a player to set themselves apart in their communities by recognizing a heightened understanding of Magic rules and interactions. This certification is perfect for a individual who wants to offer additional assistance in resolving complicated game situations or answer rules related questions from other players. RAs are only tested on the rules of the game, but have not been tested on how to run a tournament or deal with player issues. If you are a Rules Advisor who wants to learn how to help solve issues when things go wrong, or how to run an event at your local game store, than you’ll want to start looking at Level 1. RAs are non-paying members and not certified Judges, and therefore do not get access to Member Mailings or other Judge Benefits.

RAs will be awarded upon completion of the Magic Core Competencies track.

  • Steps and Phases of a Turn
  • Combat in Depth
  • Casting Spell and Activating Abilities
  • Replacement Effects and Triggered Abilities
  • Layers (Focus on Layer 7)
  • Priority and State Based Actions
  • Detail of Different Magic Formats
  • RA Exam

Level 1

In addition to demonstrating sufficient knowledge of the Magic Comprehensive Rules, a Level 1 Judge understands the Customer Service skills and Regular REL policies needed to run a small store-level event such as an FNM.

Level 1 Judges are not tested on more complex sections of the rules or on Competitive REL policies. Some Level 1 Judges will be capable of floor judging a Competitive REL event unsupervised, but this is not a default expectation of the role.

The Level 1 Curriculum Includes all of the RA modules and tests, as well as the following modules:

Community Building

  • Fostering a Positive Environment
  • Encouraging Sportsmanship
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Public Speaking
  • Teaching Skills
  • Event Promotion and Marketing
  • Building Relationships with Local Game Stores
  • Demoing Magic
  • Building Your Judge Brand

Event Management

  • Being an Effective Host
  • Making Announcements
  • Event Logistics
  • Introduction to Investigations
  • Delivering a Ruling
  • Magic Tournament Rules
  • The JAR in Depth
  • Basic Scorekeeping in WER

Additionally, Level 1 candidates will need to complete the following 2 prerequisites before unlocking the L1 Membership in the store:

  1. Level 2 or Level 3 Endorsement

A fully automatic system without a human checkpoint can lead to issues, so candidates will also need to get an endorsement from an L2+ (Level 2 or Level 3) Judge. They can endorse you from your profile page.

We listened to the feedback of Judges around the world, and came up with the endorsement system to help alleviate their concerns. In the past, every L1 Candidate needed to find one L2+ that was willing to help them to become Level 1. This has not changed. However, in the past, that L2+ needed to be physically present in order to interview and test the L1. That caused some high barriers to entry, and occasionally put a heavy burden on L2+ Judges, and that is something we changed about the system. Currently, the L2+ Judge endorsing you does not need to be physically present for any part of your process.

If you are looking for someone to endorse you, consider the Judges in your area. Our communication hub has forums, discord channels, and many local areas have their own Facebook groups. During normal circumstances, you can also always head to your local game store during an event to meet those that currently judge. While the process of getting an endorsement may be quick, it can take some time to get to know those in your area. Part of the benefit of requiring L1s to be responsible for finding their own endorsements is that is pushes them to start connecting with their local judge community. In both our local and global communities, judges lean on and depend on each other, and it’s important to know other judges and to be able to know where to go if you need help. Therefore, before you can become a Level 1 Judge, you need to show that you are resourceful enough to find help when you need it.

Endorsements do not have to be full reviews. It can be hard for remote judges to find another judge without traveling great distances, let alone a Level 2+. At this time, the endorsement can be made at any point prior to purchasing your membership. We suggest finding someone sooner rather than later in your process, as it can sometimes add unfair pressure on the L2+ for a candidate to say “Well, I’ve already passed the test, come on!”. Passing the rules and policy tests for L1 will be enough to prove they have met the base level expectation of what it means to be a Level 1 Judge from a knowledge side. With that taken care of, the endorsement is more about who the judge is as a person, since that is a thing we can’t check electronically.

Although we ask that you put some thought into the conversation you have with the candidate, we do not expect the process to take more than 30 min or so. Below I’ve listed some example items for the endorsing Judge that they might want to discuss with the candidate, although these are just suggestions:

  • Is this person a real person who is not already a certified judge?
  • How did they hear about Judge Academy, and why do they want to become a judge?
  • If you already knew this person, what kind of a community member are they? Are they a helpful player? Are they toxic to the community?
  • If you didn’t already know this person, why did they come to you? Are there other judges in their community?
  1. Test

Upon completion of the modules above the Level 1 final test will become available and a score of 80% or higher will be required to pass.

Level 1 Continuing Education Requirements

As rules, policies, and the state of Organized Play update and change, new or updated modules will be necessary to ensure that Level 1s stay up to date on their knowledge without a requirement to work a specific number of events. If new required courses are added in the future, judges will be notified by email and on the site itself. We are still debating whether or not to do something like add a special badge if you are “Up to date on all changes”.

Level 2

Level 1s do not need to be pursuing Level 2 in order to acquire the Badges available or begin to take the L2 courses.

A Level 2 judge has been certified to run events at Competitive REL, and has higher knowledge of the rules than that of a Level 1 Judge. They are responsible for most in-store Competitive REL events, and represent the bulk of judges on the floor of a large-scale tournaments. A Beginning Level 2 will be expected to have an understanding of the Comprehensive Rules that exceeds that expected of Level 1 Judges, including which section to refer to when they are unsure.

A newer Level 2 may find themselves placed into lead roles for the first time, including head judging smaller events with other judges in their store, or possibly leading a team at a mid-sized event. Because of this, it’s important that a new Level 2 is familiar with Event Logistics concerns such as Appeals and Deck Lists/Checks, which are generally not used at Regular REL events or small events with a single Judge.

Prerequisites for Level 2 Membership:

  1. Must hold an active Level 1 certification and have completed all Level 1 Required Courses (Core Competency, Event Management, Community Building tracks)
  2. Must complete all Level 2 Required Coursework:

Advanced Comprehensive Rules

  • 100s Game Concepts I
  • 100s Game Concepts II
  • 200s Parts of a Card
  • 300s Card Types 
  • 400s Zones 
  • 500s Turn Structure
  • 600s I Spells, Abilities
  • 600s II Effects 
  • 700s Additional Rules 
  • 800s+900s Multiplayer + Casual
  • Advanced Comprehensive Rules Test

**After Completing the Advanced Comprehensive Rules section, L1s will receive the Advanced Comprehensive Rules Badge on their profile.** 

Competitive REL

  • General Philosophy and the difference between RELs
  • Backing up (or not)
  • TEs I – Tardiness, OA, Slow Play, InSh
  • TEs II – DP, DLP, LPV, CPV, MC
  • UC I – Minor/Major, AG
  • UC II – IDW, BW,Theft, Stalling, Cheating
  • Competitive REL Policy Test

**After Completing the Competitive REL section, L1s will receive the Comp REL Badge on their profile.**

Event Management

  • Working with other Judges
  • Handling Decklists
  • Deck Checks
  • Basics of Leading at Events
  • Appeals
  • Disqualifications

3. Must have a recommendation review from judging together at a Competitive REL event written by a Level 2 or Level 3 Judge in the previous 12 months. 

You will notice that while a specific number of events is not mandatory, you will need to work at least one Competitive Event with a Level 2 or Level 3 Judge in order to get your review. We had a long discussion about the role of L2s and whether or not someone without experience should be able to go from Uncertified to Level 2 without ever having worked a Comp REL Event, or even any events at all. Our goal with this requirement is that L1s who gained experience prior to the covid pandemic will still be able to advance without lowering the bar for all L2s.

4. Level 2 Exam

Upon completion of the modules above the candidate can schedule their L2 Exam. This will be an open book, timed online test. There will be paper testing available as needed. If you need a paper test or any other accommodations, please let us know when you fill out the L2 request form.

L2 Continuing Education Requirements

Without a specific number of events required to remain active (just as with L1), and as rules, policies, and the state of Organized Play update and change, new or updated modules will be necessary to ensure that Level 2s stay up to date on their knowledge. This will include a yearly update exam for L2s. If new required courses are added in the future, judges will be notified by email and on the site itself. We are still debating whether or not to do something like add a special badge if you are “Up to date on all changes”. Update exams will be published with a deadline of at least one month after they become available. They are not intended to re-test L2s on basic knowledge, but rather ensure that they are aware of and up to date on anything that has changed recently.

Transition Time Frame

Throughout July, we will still be accepting the old L2 checklists, in addition to the new checklist that will be available once all L2 content has been loaded into the site. Starting August 1st, we will no longer accept the old L2 Checklist requirements, and anyone looking to test for L2 will need to follow coursework and classes listed above.

Level 3

Premier judges are experts in the field and the leaders of Premier Organized Play. They are the leaders on the floor of large competitive events, run many other Premier Events, and share their expertise and knowledge with other judges. They are involved with the global program at Judge Academy, and you will often see them participating in and/or leading program projects, discussions, etc.

Becoming Level 3 is a demanding process that requires the candidate to demonstrate exceptional commitment, skill, knowledge, and diplomacy. It is a substantial achievement and the highest recognized level of Magic Judge.

The L3 process is more involved, and therefore I’ve displayed the process in a Step by Step picture. There are two Badges on your way to L3. One that does not expire (TL on Sides at a large event) and one that does (Badge to TL on Large Event D2) You’ll notice that there are some parts of the process that are going to be weird or near impossible during Covid, so please make sure to read the Transition section.

So what changes are we looking at?

The first change you will notice is that the L3 Recommendations have moved to endorsement style checks of the event TL sides. You will need 2 endorsements for each of the 5 Pillars in that section. This puts less of a burden on Level 3s providing the endorsements, who tend to be extremely busy. The PPP and Investigations Recs do still need to be full recommendations, but the idea is that since they are only intended to be on 1-2 qualities, they will be much less of a time commitment, and easier logistically to get. The L3 exam happens prior to the first leading test (Yes there are two). This is to ensure that the leaders at the event have the necessary rules and policy knowledge to do so, and means that the candidate can focus on their practicals.

Once you get past Step 7, it becomes way less concrete, since we do not know when and if Premier OP will be returning in the state we know now. Which leads us to the transition between the past system, current system, and the future.

Transition Time Frame

Throughout July, we will still be accepting the old L3 checklists. Additionally, we will be working to help those who have already submitted their checklists and are partway through the L3 process to work out remote and safe options to finish their current process. 

Above we’ve posted what our current plan is for the Level 3 process. This includes the required classes and testing points. You will notice that the posted L3 process does have points where working at in-person events with other judges is necessary. In our discussions with Community Consultants and Advisors, we determined that showing and testing your skills at an event needs to be a part of the process for Level 3. We do not know what Organized Play will look like when it returns. Therefore, while these step/checks are planned, their focus and which events they can be tested at may need to shift as we get a better understanding of what the future of OP holds.

Similarly, while there is still going to be a Panel and testing process for Level 3, it’s hard to designate someone a “tournament expert” when there aren’t places to to test that knowledge physically. Because of this, we are going to pause incoming checklists at the end of July, finish the pipeline of those in the process, and wait to see more about what events looks like as they return. The Level 3 modules will be available, so people can continue to make progress on those, but the “Self Review” and “Endorsements” will not be available until we know when large events will come back, as we do not want to have people do work just to have it expire. For candidates who have submitted their checklist before the cutoff, we will try to work with them on a case-by-case basis to find remote solutions to finish the process.

If you have ANY questions about where you are in the process, and what you should be doing moving forward, PLEASE reach out to me at so we can open a dialogue and find a solution that works for you.