DCI certified Judges provide an invaluable service to the Magic: the Gathering community, often volunteering to provide 8 to 12 hours of work for no monetary compensation. While most do it for the love of the game, one of the few perks they receive are sought after Judge foils of older reserved list cards for their personal collection or to sell on the secondary market for their work all day at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour.
Without judges, competitive play would be seriously hindered. The next time you attend either a casual tournament (such as an FNM), or even a higher level event (such as a PTQ, Grand Prix, or Pro Tour), be sure to take the time to thank the judges for their hard work and support.
I recently had the chance to interview several DCI Judges, taking the opportunity to get their opinions on the recent changes to the reserve list and how it affects them.
What is your name, and how long have you played Magic?
Sam – “Sam Straus, I’ve played since Timespiral.”
David – “David, and since Prophecy.”
Nima – “My name is Nima Badizadegan, and I have been playing Magic since Mirrodin block, so about 9 years.”
Ben – “My name is Ben Bowers.”
When and why did you decide to become a DCI judge?
Sam – “I certified a year ago because I enjoy teaching others and our local community needed more Judges.”
David – “I certified at GP Krakow in 2007, after a long dalliance with the idea. I’d wanted to give something back to the community that gave me so much.”
Nima – “I decided to become a DCI judge about a year ago, because:
(a) my play group wanted to be able to hold higher-level events.
(b) competitive Magic is a little out of my budget, and judging is a good way to stay involved in the community without having to buy expensive decks.
(c) what’s better than getting paid (however small an amount of money) to stay in touch with one of your favorite games?”
Ben – “I have been judging since 2004. I became a judge because I have always been interested in rules and wanted to help Magic grow.”
What is your level, and how hard did you work to get there?
Sam – “I’m a level one currently, it took a bit of studying and work. Answering questions on the rules forum really helped me build my working knowledge while also helping others and now it keeps me sharp.”
David – “I’m Level 2 right now (making progress on L3 though!). I’ve dedicated a lot of time to the programme, but it’s fun so it barely feels like work : )”
Nima – “I am level 1, and it did not take too much work to get there. I started by talking to my local level 3 judge after becoming a rules adviser. I read the IPG, CR, and MTR multiple times, which is less daunting a task than people may think, judged a few events, and took practice tests online. I took the exam and got certified at a PTQ.”
How does it make you feel to “give back” to your fellow players through judging events and helping answer rules questions?
Sam – “Primary reason I became a judge, I find it fun to help others plus I am a REALLY bad/unlucky player.”
David – “Really, honestly, it’s the best thing in my life right now. The people you meet through judging, the opportunities to travel and learn so many skills from so many excellent people, make me very happy that life lead me to Magic and to judging.”
Nima – “It feels good to help your fellow players improve, even through an unofficial capacity (of just answering questions when you are playing or when your friends ask them). Also, why become a storehouse of Magic knowledge when you can’t help others with it?”
How does the recent change in the Reserved List make you feel as a judge?
Sam – ” I don’t judge for the foils and try to dissuade anyone from doing so for that reason alone, I will use it to help recoup my expenses if I have to travel far for a larger event or put it towards being able to travel to another event in the future.
The lack of reserved list printings in foil won’t really affect the value of that compensation(there aren’t that many reserve list Judge Foils to my knowledge), there are still plenty of highly sought after cards that are not on the reserve list.”
David – “Judge gifts are a wonderful sign of appreciation from Wizards, and an important part of the system that makes GP travel more viable for more judges.
That being said, I’m not at all convinced that the Reserve list changes will make a major change to things. There have been plenty of valuable non-Reserved foils over the years. The fetches are the most recent example. I see no reason why careful picking and releasing of foils won’t continue this trend.”
Nima – “It doesn’t really bother me that much. Judge foils are nice cards to me because they are foils, not just because they are older cards, some of which may have been on the reserve list. I actually think it [reprints] is good for the game, even if it loses me some money, because it makes Legacy/Vintage more accessible to those who want to play it as some reprints have actually raised prices of the original cards and older printings, and there is no more opportunity for card prices to be changed by reprints (premium or otherwise). Even if the change in the list gets more exclusive, reprinting premium dual lands could raise the price of the originals even more than locking the chance of a reprint.”
Ben – “I feel that there are only so many non-reserved cards that they can print for the judges. I feel that by limiting the cards they can publish as judge foils puts an unnecessary burden on the judge manager. Judge foils come out in small amounts and do not really affect the value of the cards. It is always nice getting old cards in new foil versions for working at GPs and PTs.”
And as a player?
Sam – ” I am somewhat unhappy as a player because this means it will make it more difficult to get hold of some cards and I have recently taken a larger interest in Legacy.“
David – “Well, I play a little Vintage and Legacy, as well as EDH. As I don’t own very many cards, I borrow decks whenever I play any format. Legacy or Standard are much the same when you’ve liquidated your collection already : )”
Nima – “I don’t play the eternal formats, so this change does not impact me that much as a player. If I had a higher budget or dual lands became more accessible to me, I may begin to try to play legacy and vintage, but I have not seen its allure yet.”
Ben – “I really do not have a feeling on the list as a player. I work in a store and judge, so I hardly have a chance to play.”
What do you think should have been done to the Reserve List?
Sam – “I think it should be trashed altogether because the Legacy format is starting to reach saturation and with it being the healthiest and arguably most fun format this could be a major problem in the future.””
David – “Personally, I think that things were fine as they were. The loophole wasn’t being overly abused, and no one’s cards were much effected. It didn’t need urgent attention, unless there’s some legal aspect that I didn’t know about.”
Nima – “The reserve list is a good policy insofar as it has allowed collectors to keep value in their collections, so it should not be completely destroyed. However, I think that the reserve list should change, as Magic is a game that changes every few months, and the reserve list has been unchanging for a long time. I also think that Wizards should make premium reprints of some items on the reserve list (not necessarily the true collectors’ items but some of the less valuable cards, which they should take off the reserve list, as there is no need to collect protectors from losing value on a $0.50 card), so that everyone can play legacy and vintage, if not necessarily with the most expensive cards on the reserve list, but less expensive, yet still reserved, cards.”
Ben – “I feel that Wizards could have kept printing foils for the judges and stopped using the loop hole for sets that they sell.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Sam – ” I can understand completely why they decided to do what they have done even if I do not personally agree with it.
WotC made a promise to their players that they would not reprint certain cards in order to maintain the collector’s value of those cards. Going back on the promise would not be a very good thing.
I do hope they understand that making this change will limit the growth of eternal formats(specifically Legacy) by eventually creating an unacceptably high barrier to entry.”
David – “Not really- I think this isn’t a decision R&D wanted to make, and trust that they wouldn’t have made it if they didn’t genuinely have to do so.
The game’s been dying since 1993- it’ll outlive this : )”
Nima – “In general, the reserve list is not something that I think about a lot, because I have not really been a player of the eternal formats.”
Remember to personally thank any judges that you see at any of the Places to Play Magic around Boston!
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