Judge Classes – From L1 to L2

This post is the follow-up to the L0 to L1 class blog post, and instead focuses on the L1-L2 course that was also executed this year, and which is in the works for another run in the near future. The main difference between the L1-L2 course and the L0-L1 course is that the former covers policy in addition to rules topics. The way we handled running this course is also different, so I’ll go through that a bit.

It Takes A Village

This was the first bullet point of the previous class post, and it is still the most prominent here. The L2 course, by the nature of what is covered, is a longer and more in-depth series of classes. The method chosen to help spread out the work, and also to give more judges an opportunity to teach, was to have multiple volunteers identified early on who wanted to help. A Google form was put together and utilized to match potential instructors with topics that either challenged them or that they felt very comfortable presenting. Sometimes presenting on challenging material is more engaging for the presenter than redoing something “boring” that they already feel they know very well.

I’d like to thank Nicolette Apraez, Jess Dunks, and CJ Shrader for helping organize the first real run of this course, and also the multiple presenters and students who went through this together.


Once we had matched presenters to each week of the proposed syllabus, we got down to logistics. First off, a chat room for the course instructors was established in our regional judge Slack. This allowed all the instructors to be together in one place to coordinate sharing material, troubleshooting platform issues, and anything else that came up. We also created a Facebook group for the entire class, where the links to the meetings were posted, as well as follow-up questions, slides from previous classes, and  where anything else relevant could be posted and discussed. Keeping this group active and challenging students with example questions is quite important, and can be hard to manage. Thankfully, now that we’ve run the class once,  we have a small trove of questions to reuse or branch off from in future iterations.

Things to Consider

While going through the process, we learned a fair bit and have thoughts to improve the course in the future. Some key insights are as follows:

  • Try to ensure that every presenter attends the full course, not just their topic. Keeping consistent voices helps students engage with mentors, and someone may be more comfortable with one instructor over another for a variety of reasons, so having everyone stay current helps the students greatly.
  • Have redundancy ready. Make sure the class slides are available to more than just the presenter, so if something comes up, another person can step in and present that material.
  • Utilize all of the instructors to help ensure the presentations are accurate. Make sure the slides are “due” for review approximately a week before they are to be presented, so the instructors all know there is material ready, and also so it can be proofed/edited.
  • 14 weeks is a long commitment if done one class per week. Doubling up to 2/week if possible may make it more intense, but may also prevent it from dragging on. An alternative here would be to remove the rules portion, IF your candidates are already strong on rules and only need policy targeted.


As you can likely tell from the many posts I’ve written that cover judge education, I feel very strongly about helping the program grow stronger through study. If anything here doesn’t make sense to you, or if you have experiences or ideas to help improve the process, PLEASE comment or message me, as I’d love to discuss it. The current syllabus is included below.

L2 Judge Class Syllabus

Section I: Comprehensive Rules (Weeks 1-5)

Test run and introductions

    1. This class is to make sure everyone is set up correctly to see and hear the classes, introduce the class coordinators, explain how the classes will operate, and explain what we expect of the participants. We’ll also review the requirements for L2 and what it means to be L2.
      1. Rules
        1. Log in 5 minutes before start time
        2. Mute microphone
        3. “Mute” video feed
        4. Open chat panel – this is where questions should be posted
        5. Ensure that you can hear the speaker – post in chat if you cannot

Turn Structure, Priority, SBAs, and Special Actions

    1. 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.
    2. Other Resources
      1. JudgeCast #78 – A Spooky Combat Phase: http://judgecast.com/?p=573
      2. JudgeCast #147 –: State Based Action Sanitation Workers http://judgecast.com/?p=974
      3. Turn Structure PDF: https://pokeinthe.io/files/Magic%20the%20Gathering%20Turn%20Structure.pdf
      4. Cranial Insertion – Take Your Turn Again: http://www.cranialinsertion.com/article/1484
      5. What is Priority? – Judge’s Corner #6: https://youtu.be/P7VFyHMMXtc
      6. The Combat Phase, Part 1 – Judge’s Corner #48: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83wFJa9p_PA
      7. The Combat Phase, Part 2 – Judge’s Corner #52: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSOKRryTxVA
      8. State-Based Actions – Judge’s Corner #60: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YxjR_16It4

Steps of casting a spell

    1. 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).
    2. Other resources:
      1. JudgeCast #71 – You Cast A Spell On Me: http://judgecast.com/?p=531
      2. Cranial Insertion – All Crazy Teenagers: http://www.cranialinsertion.com/article/727
      3. How to Cast a Spell – Judge’s Corner #42: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSY1Ydoyfns

Continuous Effects (AKA Layers)

    1. How continuous effects are different from one-shot effects, what layers are, what they’re used for, and a general explanation of the interaction of continuous effects on objects in layers 1-6. Special attention will be paid to the Copy layer and CDAs.
    2. Other resources:
      1. JudgeCast #53 – Do You Copy?: http://judgecast.com/?p=22
      2. JudgeCast #61: Welcome to my “Layer” – Part 1: http://judgecast.com/?p=226
      3. JudgeCast #62: Welcome to my “Layer” – Part 2: http://judgecast.com/?p=487
      4. Judges Corner – An Introduction to Layers: https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLvxA59vwMksqKGn639LMf6nZ9xy4yw9jh&v=snoCqYGRrmw
      5. Clones & Copy Effects – Judge’s Corner #69: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjcdvkzTcHI

Replacement effects

    1. An explanation of replacement/prevention effects, how they interact, who chooses which to apply, and how they choose.
    2. Other resources:
      1. JudgeCast #45 – On This Episode, Skip Jess Dunks: http://judgecast.com/?p=410

Section II: Tournament Policy (Weeks 6-12)

Penalty Overview and Backups

    1. A discussion of the types of penalties and how they’re applied, and a look at backups and how they’re performed. Topics should include filling out match slips and basic ruling delivery, including how to deliver a Game Loss or a DQ for Dice Rolling. (This focuses specifically on ruling delivery. Paperwork and submitting DQs will be covered in another lesson)
      1. JudgeCast #112 – Be Kind, Don’t Rewind: http://judgecast.com/?p=776
      2. http://blogs.magicjudges.org/articles/2015/04/17/backing-up-to-the-future/

Game Play Errors I: Missed Triggers, GRVs, and FTMGS

    1. An overview of the three most commonly committed infractions, as well as how to investigate for them and apply them.
    2. Other resources:
      1. JudgeCast #134 – The Wonderful Thing About Triggers: http://judgecast.com/?p=912

Game Play Errors II: Hidden Card Error, Mulligan Procedure Error, and Looking at Extra Cards

    1. An explanation of how hidden things go wrong, how each of these infractions are different, and how to handle each one.
    2. Other resources:
      1. JudgeCast #144 – Hiddener Card Errors: http://judgecast.com/?p=962

Tournament Errors

    1. An overview of Tournament Errors listed in the MIPG.
    2. Other Resources:
      1. JudgeCast #83 – Cut Short: http://judgecast.com/?p=605
      2. JudgeCast #132 – Deck Checks Decktacular: http://judgecast.com/?p=903

Player Communication Policy and the standard Tournament Shortcuts (4.2)

    1. An overview of the Player Communication Policy, and how that leads to CPV. This will be followed by a discussion of MTR 4.2, the tournament shortcuts.
    2. Other resources
      1. JudgeCast #83 – Cut Short: http://judgecast.com/?p=605

Disqualification Infractions

    1. This focuses on how a disqualification is done, and will cover most of the disqualifiable offenses, including Bribery and Wagering, Improperly Determining a Winner, Stalling, Cheating, and Theft of Tournament Materials.
    2. Other Resources
      1. JudgeCast #5 – DQs and Shady Behavior Galore!: http://judgecast.com/?p=297
      2. JudgeCast #44 – Investigating Raging Levine: http://judgecast.com/?p=408
      3. How to Deal with Cheating – Judge’s Corner #61: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDt3w7Y7eCE

UC Minor, Major, and Aggressive Behaviour

    1. It’s relatively rare, but every judge seems to deal with unsporting behavior at some point.  This class will focus on what constitutes these behaviors as well as de-escalating conflict and properly addressing penalties.
    2. Other Resources:
      1. JudgeCast #77 – Unsporting Sneetches: http://judgecast.com/?p=565
      2. JudgeCast #97 – Sky Is Not Falling Edition – L2 Redefinition and New IPG: http://judgecast.com/?p=698 (40:40)

Section III: The last steps (Weeks 13-14)

Preparing to Head Judge events –

    1. This class overviews what discussions to have with store organizer prior to an event, what to bring with you, how to plan announcements and player meetings, how to run a top 8, and what to do with that L1 on staff.

Final Steps

    1. We revisit the L2 checklist and find out where everyone is at and what they’re missing.



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