Class is in Session- From L0 to Certification


I’ve mentioned that the US – Southeast, particularly in Georgia, have been running online judge classes for a little while now. I have been involved with 3 online iterations at this point, and have learned a few things that may help others who want to give it a try.

It takes help. Finding others to assist in running the classes by organizing and presenting is a huge part of this. You can certainly solo a project like this, but it will be a massive amount of work, and the week in, week out nature can be quite wearing. That’s not a complaint, that’s simply the reality of repetitive work such as these classes are. I recommend leaving gaps if you intend to run classes one after another. Give yourself a chance to recoup for a week or two with no classes before launching into the next one. With regards to finding help, I’d like to specifically thank Nicolette Apraez, Jess Dunks, and CJ Shrader for helping organize the first real run of these classes, and of course the multiple presenters and students who went through this together.

Online interactions are, by their very nature, quite limiting. Judge classes offer perhaps the simplest form of judge education. As you’ll see below, the online resources to study the material a class covers is easily available. All classes can really do is to offer a structured framework in which to study as a small group, along with some instructors available to help answer questions and guide discussion. The MAJOR part of judging is, go figure, actually getting on the floor and judging, and online classes are no substitute for this. In a perfect world, these types of education initiatives are paired with staffing the students on events with the instructors so that they may get hands on, real life experience and mentoring to go along with the study.

Advertisement/recruitment will be very important. One method we’ve used for recruitment into the classes is to widely spread word that classes are going to be occurring, then post in a centralized group about them. A Facebook poll can be used to select a day and time that the most people can attend. Be ready for some complaints, as you simply won’t be able to schedule these to suit everyone. One way around those issues is to ensure everyone that you will be running them again in the future, and that missing one round doesn’t exclude them from ever attending. Also, don’t be afraid to continue mentoring candidates outside of the class. There is no reason the classes have to be the only route to certification, and emails, private messages, or in-person discussion are all still very valid means to that end.

Even with these drawbacks, classes are both fun and rewarding. It takes a large amount of time and energy to keep working to educate people, regardless of the topic, but watching others learn and start to “get it” is really one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. I have only had a few students tell me that the process didn’t work for them, and it was mainly because they were trying to do too many things while “in” class. It does take focused effort to pay attention and interact, otherwise it’s just a fairly boring “podcast.”

Attrition is real. It’s true in online classes just as I’ve found it true in in-person classes: people will drop. Real life happens for some, others simply lose interest. Don’t get discouraged by this, as it happens every time a class is run. Hopefully, after some of the dust has settled, you’ll still have a student or 3 that still are engaged, and you can continue with focus.

Alright, so that’s the overview part. Below you’ll find the class syllabus, which begins with a list of topics covered on the exam, followed by the week to week instruction. The resources linked for some are only a start, and are there as supplemental information. I highly recommend that students use those to prepare BEFORE each lesson, but you can only get anyone to do so much. Ideally, they’ll have studied some before so they have questions about he topic being discussed. If it’s the first time they are hearing and thinking about something, the interactivity suffers greatly.


The Syllabus for the L0 to L1 Class.

Materials to Study

(1) The Basic Rulebook (

(2) The Magic Tournament Rules, with a specific emphasis on Section 2, Section 10, and Appendix B
(3) The Judging at Regular REL Guide

NOTE: The IPG is not included here

Subjects Covered on the Exam

(1) General game concepts, such as the parts of a card. This covers card types, mana costs, etc.
(2) The different zones of the game, and what each zone is used to represent as well as objects in those zones.
(3) Understanding the turn structure, specifically the different phases and the steps of each phase. Also know what happens in each phase and step.
(4) Understanding the combat phase, specifically the specific steps in the phase. Be familiar with the game actions that take place, and what/when players can cast spells or activate abilities.
(5) The general process of casting a spell and/or activating an ability.
(6) The general process of handling triggered abilities and putting them onto the stack.
(7) The general process of resolving a spell and/or ability.
(8) Determining a creature’s abilities and/or its power and toughness.
(9) How do replacement and/or prevention effects work.
(10) What happens when a creature is copied.
(11) Be familiar with the basic rules and elements of Two-Headed Giant.
(12) Be familiar with the keyword actions and/or abilities present in Standard. (Referring to recent set FAQs can be helpful here.)
(13) Educating and helping players with Common Issues and Generally Unwanted Behaviors at Regular REL.
(14) Dealing with players who commit Serious Problems at Regular REL.
(15) How to sideboard in Limited and Constructed, especially at Regular REL events that don’t use decklists.
(16) The general match structure in an event.
(17) Minimum requirements to sanction and run an event.


Week 1 – Overview of course and connection tests

  • Make sure everyone is connected.
  • Introduce Organizers
  • Ask what everyone hopes to get out of the classes.
  • Talk about Exams
  • Discuss the various ways they can access the judging documents.
    • Phone apps, Yawgatog, etc.
  • Go over Section 1.6-1.8 of the MTR (Tournament Roles: TO, HJ, FJ)

Week 2 – General Concepts, The Golden Rule, and Game Zones

  • Parts of a card
  • Card Types
  • Mana Costs
  • Golden Rules
  • Game Zones

Week 3 – Turn Structure, Priority, SBAs, and Special Actions

This class focuses on the steps and phases of a turn, especially the combat and end phases. Special attention will be given to turn-based actions, priority and timing, and special actions. This also covers how and when State-Based Actions are performed, as well as how they interact with the upkeep and end step.

Week 4 – Steps to Casting a Spell

The process of casting spells, activating abilities, and putting triggered abilities on the stack. Explanation of choices made during casting vs. on resolution, and brief discussion of casting spells as part of the resolution of an effect (Madness, Goblin Dark-Dwellers) and putting copies of spells on the stack (Pyromancer’s Goggles).

Week 5 – Copy Effects

Week 6 – Layers

Week 7 – Replacement and Prevention effects

Week 8 – Keywords and Keyword Abilities in Standard, with a side of 2HG

Week 9 – MTR overview, Match structure, sideboarding, and sanctioning requirements

Week 10 – The JAR and you!


One thought on “Class is in Session- From L0 to Certification

  1. The classes have been an absolute joy. I’ve learned quite a lot over the weeks I’ve attended. I want to thank you all for taking the time to teach all of us. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Again. Thanks all of you!


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