That Big, Long Article

Written by Gerrardfo on September 04, 2009




That Big, Long Article

by Gerrardfo

In the past several months I’ve wanted to write a couple of different articles for magic-league, but I’ve been hindered in that endeavor by various forces. The first problem was time: I didn’t have enough of it. The second issue regarded the topic: about what could I write? I wanted to publish a long analysis of the judge test, but I’d compromise the judge test by doing so. I wanted to chronicle magic-league’s development over the past several months, but given my extended absence over the past year, I wasn’t in a fantastic position to comment upon everything that had transpired. I wanted to discuss several pointers for new magic-league players, but Roo/Weedmonkey already beat me to that. So, I’ve reached the end of the road for consistent themes for an article. I’ll just write about whatever I can from topics that I’ve already proposed and other ideas that strike me along the way.

The Judge Test

I can’t discuss specific questions on the judge test. I can, however, regale readers with the story of the development of the judge test from its infant state on the site. No, I was not around for when the judge test was administered in IRC, but I was present for many of the revisions to the judge test.

A couple years ago staff (which I was not yet a part of) decided that we needed new questions for the judge test. In fact, we needed many new questions for the judge test because the existing database was very tiny. LordHawk invited several of his favorite judges to brainstorm new questions in the first half of 2006. I believe he might’ve held multiple sessions like that. One notable aspect of those sessions was that those invited received a preview of the upcoming j2s. The second later-noteworthy facet of those sessions was that the questions that were submitted were harder than the existing questions.

More sessions would be held to propose more and more questions for the judge test. Later we would also actively ask judges for question submissions, and CMA-Flippi, Shyft-, and niknight would become the bigger writers for the judge test instead of other j1s and j2s. We haven’t held a big judge-session where we discuss question proposals recently; judges sometimes submit questions, and then the judge managers and director approve or reject them while submitting their own.

I’ve only mentioned details relevant to submitting questions, and have hinted at the increased difficulty, which I should discuss more. That difficulty ramp became a problem very quickly: the passing rate on the judge test was very low for many resets. This problem then combined with the usual “person who passes the judge test goes AWOL” issue, which diminished the number of new judges each reset. There was a period of time during which only ten people would pass per reset, and three or four of them would be unreachable. You can imagine the frustration and ire of the league staff was something tantamount to how enraged I am when I play multiplayer with the guy who has Confusion of the Ranks and multiple Glitterfangs.

Some people failed the judge test because they flat-out didn’t know the rules (or couldn’t read the flipping card). Others received an unfair combination of very hard questions and would have passed had they gotten a fairer difficulty distribution of questions. An irritating number of people merely answered with yes/no, which meant that even if they were theoretically correct about the final situation, they were marked incorrect for providing no explanations. Some people were lucky and had to answer mostly easy questions—the judge staff was very displeased when those fortunate ones were the same people who had no comprehension of the rules or didn’t have the intellectual fortitude to finish Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Other problems resulted from the nature of some questions on the test—some were plain too hard or not as relevant as they could have been. I cannot produce any specifics, but I will say that these questions have been tossed. CMA-Flippi has been adamant about deactivating and rejecting questions that are random/needlessly long/hose applicants.

Fortunately for the players, Laplie instituted a question-weighting system after a few resets. Applicants to the judge test then all received tests that were of similar difficulty, so nobody had any random-chance advantages. After Laplie’s adjustment the number of new judges rose, but the number was still very low. We later altered the distribution, which vastly increased the success rate. niknight and CMA-Flippi also updated questions within the past year, which was not an easy task. And thus, the modern version of the judge test was born. Even further in time, I recede into a corner and hug my stuffed dog because the passing rate is scarily high.

Master Outreach

I like that we’ve been able to do split-format masters and limited-format masters. For years we were restricted to constructed formats—not that there was anything wrong with that. However, I enjoy when magic-league does something out of the ordinary. I remember when they held a Legacy master with unusual prizes. I was close to top 8 with a then-functional blue-red Flame Fusillade Time Vault combo deck. I somehow beat a mono blue control deck (he didn’t understand the then-combo and let me resolve everything game one), but I unfortunately faced two goblins decks that defeated me. I was incredibly upset and frustrated with those losses and how I missed out on a shot at the cool prize pool.

The concept of a limited master with sealed and draft top 8 had been tossed around for a while until CMA-Flippi and I finally figured out a way to make it work. We held it on an invitational scale so we could have a manageable field, though we did have to spend a long period of time organizing the draft portion. That delay won’t be as bad this time around.

Bushviper also stepped up and hosted a split format master with Standard and sealed. I do applaud the effort and think it was a cool idea in theory. However, in practice we face a scaling problem: is doing two formats over seven or eight rounds worth it? Would it be worthwhile to do three formats (sealed, Standard , draft)? We don’t have the player base (or maybe even the TC) possible for ten or fourteen rounds of split format, which is unfortunate.

Is Magic-League planning to do more with masters that’s out of the ordinary? I’d like to have a team master at some point in the next few months. We’ll see how that goes.

Podcasts

Roo/Weedmonkey recently began releasing podcasts hosted by him, neosystems, and brimstone. After listening to Roo’s solo effort, I yet again realized that mispronunciations on webcasts/podcasts even extends to magic-league nicknames. Sure, there are easy ones, but others possess ambiguities with where to place stress.

The issue I have with podcasting for magic-league is that there’s not enough magic-league-specific information on a weekly basis to create a podcast. There can’t really be an “official” magic-league podcast. There is a podcast that users and judges on magic-league might record, but it doesn’t have official association/we don’t know if we can endorse it.

Tips for Players

Please enable timestamps in your irc logs. You can do this by Alt+ o -> IRC -> messages -> check timestamp events with [HH:nn:ss] in the text box. If you have timestamps, proving tardiness cases and locating times for other issues becomes far easier.

I emphasize that rulings must occur in #judges4you. If a ruling doesn’t happen in #judges4you, there are potential problems. If a player joins #judges4you and claims to have received or requested a penalty that other judges cannot see. How do we know this happened? Where is the evidence? Could a player try to fabricate a penalty or circumstance or attempt to commit fraud in some other way? I believe there was a discussion a few years ago about how all rulings must be in #judges4you. The logic then was that we needed records (as I have just stated), and we couldn’t always accept logs from private messages—who knows when people are faking logs? When in doubt, people should know how to do screen shots (hit the “prnt scrn” button and paste into an image editing program).

Articles and Coverage

People are unclear about the state of articles these days on magic-league. Yes, we are accepting them, and I apologize for being unable to publish previous articles, but I was quite busy. If you’re unsure about an idea for an article, talk to me about it on IRC.

I have been incredibly impressed recently with the efforts of the revived coverage team. Years ago I used to write up feature matches, but I eventually didn’t have time to cover everything and didn’t have the same energy. I ended up only interviewing the top 8 players and the occasional feature match. Nowadays, multiple matches are covered by several people—that brings a smile to my face (this sentence is a joke for those who believe I am incapable of smiling).

However, I tend to see the same problem now as I did a few years ago: it’s hard to add an extra piece of flavor to each round consistently. SarcasticRat did a fantastic job with covering matches because he inserted jokes and made everything more lively (his recent coverage with Ronnan playing against MitchMachine also was great). Sometimes it’s more efficient not to do that though (unless you’re good at this humor thing, which I’m sure my critics are willing to lambast me about). The other part of that problem is that online logs don’t always give you the best opportunity to feature funny quotes or awesome traveling anecdotes. Sure, the players may occasionally say something worth mentioning, but it doesn’t always improve the flow or energy of the coverage. In real life, coverage of Osyp, Ruel, and others is usually enlivened by those players’ energy and stories. Who cares if player A had to move all of five feet to reach his computer and log in to submit his deck for the tournament? If flight mishaps or travel tales arise during real life tournament coverage, it’s far more interesting and invokes more emotion.

Magic-League Players at Nationals!   

The following magic-league players deserve a huge congratulations for their performance at nationals: dv8r, comodope, PV, Kev, NielsN, MiguelG, TheBalrog, Blancoke. Magic-League wishes those players good luck and success at worlds this year. If I’ve excluded people, please inform me and I can add your name to the list.

Magic-League Players in a Mini!

Some of you might have noticed that CMA-Flippi and I faced off in a battle between my netdecked All-In Green and his GB aggro-control deck. Game one, despite my misplays, went in my favor after I beat down Flippi then topdecked a Doomgape (with a Noble Hierarch out) with Impromptu Raid. Game two Flippi disrupted me with Shriekmaws and Thoughtseize, and I lowered him to a mere few life. Unfortunately, he had a Garruk Wildspeaker who was generating the overrun beats with a still-attacking Shriekmaw that could finish me off alongside a Birds of Paradise for damage in the sky. In game three Flippi dealt with my big-creature then began to ramp up with Garruk again, forcing a concession from me.

Activity

Yes, Koen was around recently—he was and is very busy, as is Nico, who is becoming busier soon. I too will be incredibly busy starting in a few weeks.

Formats

Why doesn’t anybody like Homelands Singleton? The amount of skill involved probably discourages players. The last time I played a match, I managed to draw the crucial few lands against MistyFatDog to secure a win in game three.

Anyway, recently we implemented the Cube for sealed. I have to admit: I’m a huge fan of cube sealed. I love it when Nemesis of Reason is milling me to death—and when I can suit up a 3/4 with Sword of Fire and Ice when Oblivion Stone is on my field and a Serendib Efreet is my opponent’s lone creature. Cube sealed is far more interesting than anything M10 sealed has to offer.

The only issue I have with Cube sealed is that setting it up onsite was a pain. Thankfully, with Xishem’s consulting, Neo’s cube list, and Roo’s scripts, we were able to enable the option for cube quickly.

Why Resign?

A year ago I asked Nico to find Koen so I could talk to him with the rest of the staff. The message was short: I’m stepping down from judge director. We then promoted Eliminator to j3, and, a short time later, CMA became the next judge director.

But why resign? School was beginning in a few weeks, and I knew I would be unable to commit the same energy and time I had previously. If I couldn’t invest as much time as I wanted to, I’d fade into inactivity while in the prime position of judge director, which would be a huge no-no. People often complained about inactive administrators, and there is no exception for one of the most important ones.  When nico was judge director, people complained about not seeing him often enough (though he was online pretty often in the shadows).

But beyond dodging scrutiny, I was sure that it would be best for the league if somebody who was active took the reigns. The goal is to improve magic-league, not hold it back by clutching onto a position. During the school year I wasn’t able to handle all too much. I did what I could, and if I had not resigned, it’s plausible that many issues might’ve gone without resolution.

I want to talk to Koen and staff again soon.

Minibegging?

I don’t understand the arguments supporting minibegging.  Minibegging is forbidden—it is spam. It contributes nothing to the conversation, and can even interrupt other conversations. Also, minibegging rarely has any influence over creating minis (re: makes a negligible difference). It does not help the league consistently because it’s not as though all of the judges have no clue they can make minis. Players expect judges to make minis, and judges know players want them to create minis. It certainly does not always improve a judge’s mood when a player spams him about creating a tournament. If a judge wants to form a mini, s/he will do so on his/her own accord. Whether that judge asks player(s) about what format is something else entirely.

If I’ve missed anything, talk to me.


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Comments:
by Kytep on 2009-09-04 21:15 CET

I agree that minibegging probably does more harm (disruption) than good (negligible influence on a judge to create a popular mini). But I wonder if there is a way that would allow for players to indicate which sorts of mini's would interest them at a given moment, so that judges can start mini's that are more likely to be popular, vs. post a mini for 30 mins, only to have 3 people sign up for it and it end up dying?

Do we want to explore ideas on the subject, or is this a non-starter?


by Teknolink on 2009-09-04 21:47 CET

Also, I was at nationals.. though I underperformed. But I will be in rome at that PTG STW thing ;)


by Gerrardfo on 2009-09-04 21:50 CET

Kytep, some people use alternate, non-league channels to suggest formats. Some judges do ask for formats when creating minis or have contests about what format to open. I also don't know if that 30-minute-entry-then-cancellation scenario occurs too often anymore. I fear that if we okay players to suggest mini formats randomly (without solicitation from judges such that we know the input is not spam), "mini please" will just transform into "t2 mini please," which is still minibegging. Did you have something particular in mind?


by Limithunter on 2009-09-04 22:04 CET

Yeah, I got to agree with Kytep.

I don't think it makes much sense that when someone express their interest for a certain kind of mini to be made (that is called minibegging btw) that he/she is met with a "ZOMG MINIBEGGING *kick*" and then be throwed a Homelands-Beta-Unglued-Legion random format crap that nobody cares about unless it is a trial or master and they have time to create a competitive deck for it.

I didn't got that kind of treatment myself, but I sure did saw a couple of judges having that attitude on the IRC channel.








by Lynolf on 2009-09-04 22:17 CET

And Gerrardfo rises from the shadows!


by OldBear on 2009-09-04 22:24 CET

You call this a long article gee people must have short attention spans these day's my dong is bigger than this article and I've had girls busrt into laughter at the sight of it.

It was a good read though.


by FlyingFreak on 2009-09-04 22:39 CET

Blancoke won the Belgian Nationals .... no congrats for him ? :(


by Gerrardfo on 2009-09-04 22:46 CET

Added him Rotstejn :).


by six on 2009-09-04 22:59 CET

I don't think it makes much sense that when someone express their interest for a certain kind of mini to be made (that is called minibegging btw) that he/she is met with a "ZOMG MINIBEGGING *kick*" and then be throwed a Homelands-Beta-Unglued-Legion random format crap that nobody cares about unless it is a trial or master and they have time to create a competitive deck for it.

"Judges run whatever minis they want to run." If you don't think there are enough crappy t2/ext minis being run, then become a judge yourself and run them. I know you've probably heard that before, but how about taking it for what it means? Study up and pass, all the while being a GOOD magic-leaguer (*ahem*gdhack*cough*) and you'll be a judge. Then you can run so many boring M10 drafts people will be reaching for the drillbit to end the pain.

I run minis that people will play, whether it's what most people want to play or not is another issue entirely. I don't make minis for people unless I feel like it. Get on my good side and pray I'm not busy and you may find yourself with too many minis to play in...


by neosystems on 2009-09-04 23:39 CET

Great read Gfo. It's almost like a "State of the league" thing. If you find the content, maybe you could even make this type of article a 4-times-a-year thing, providing you have the time.


by cmc on 2009-09-05 01:24 CET

t2 mini plz

p.s. ghastlord u


by sandoiche on 2009-09-05 02:41 CET

Is Magic-League planning to do more with masters that’s out of the ordinary? I’d like to have a team master at some point in the next few months. We’ll see how that goes.


:DDDDDDD


by Steveman on 2009-09-05 02:44 CET

You call this article big and long?


by brimstone on 2009-09-05 02:53 CET

tl;dr


by Shyft- on 2009-09-05 03:07 CET

Gfo you're such a slackass I even cashed at US Nats =P


by Kytep on 2009-09-05 04:35 CET

by Gerrardfo on 2009-09-04 16:50 CDT

Kytep, some people use alternate, non-league channels to suggest formats. Some judges do ask for formats when creating minis or have contests about what format to open. I also don't know if that 30-minute-entry-then-cancellation scenario occurs too often anymore. I fear that if we okay players to suggest mini formats randomly (without solicitation from judges such that we know the input is not spam), "mini please" will just transform into "t2 mini please," which is still minibegging. Did you have something particular in mind?

--------------------------------------

I don't have too much in mind; I was more suggesting we open it for discussion if we want to go there. To be clear, I was NOT suggesting that we allow people to mini-beg in an unsolicited fashion. One of the suggestions I came up with was for judges to sometimes present multiple options in the chat and let the people there vote for their favorites. It sounds like that already happens, so that's great. I also don't know how often my "30 min then die off" scenario happens; I've seen it a couple of times but I don't keep track. So maybe it's not even really a problem.

I think that alternate channels sounds reasonable; a judge could pop in there if they want suggestions. I don't know if it's practical, but it might be interesting to provide a multi-choice checkbox system: Yes/No to "I want to play in a mini now", then they can select the format(s) they would like to play. The overall "I want to play" checkbox would auto-clear every X minutes so a person has to keep it refreshed so the judges know the data are current. Then, the judges could see a tally of the most popular format choices for people who are ready to play, which might help them choose a format.

Just a thought. But if this isn't really a problem, then I wouldn't want to suggest spending much time trying to fix something that isn't broken.


by bushh on 2009-09-05 06:37 CET

i top8 ed indonesian nationals :)

and also could someone explain me what is the PTG STW thing linkman talked about ? i might go to rome if theres something interesting


by Alvaro21k on 2009-09-05 07:03 CET

I top8d nationals, and pretoriano won it, tho I am not going to worlds


by Burton911 on 2009-09-05 09:57 CET

It would help to have some kind of article where you can study, at least the basic rules that you have to know as a judge.
Even that would be alot of work, though.
Cause i don't want to spend the time to read through the Comprehensive Rules only to pass the test, and than never need most of them again.

Maybe someone can write a small article which covers at least the headlines of the rules book, which you should know as a judge like the layer system, and so on.


by brimstone on 2009-09-05 10:21 CET

Are you seriously that lazy?


by Weedmonkey on 2009-09-05 10:28 CET

I have to agree with brimstone here. If you're that lazy then chances are you won't cut it as a judge. Most of the rules ARE relevant in one situation or another (especially 500-700) and you should be at least familiar with most of them as a judge.


by Burton911 on 2009-09-05 11:00 CET

Ok after i looked throught the rules, i have to say that i overestimated them as only like 70 or something close to that pages are relevant and even that have alot of examples in it.

I don't think that you have to know how every single keyword ability works, exepct for the complicated ones in the latest expansion, so i don't think that the point 7. Additonal Rules is that importent to know by heart.


by Nantuko on 2009-09-05 13:44 CET

So long and thanks for the shoes.


by rast2 on 2009-09-05 15:19 CET

"Why doesn’t anybody like Homelands Singleton? The amount of skill involved probably discourages players. "

FAIL


by rentintin3 on 2009-09-05 19:35 CET

I have the best idea. Honestly you should create a new position in M-L. Like a reliable person to confirm and start rounds in minnis. So maybe like a minni commitee or something. So basically they can start minnis but not rule on them. Of course it would have to be work out on how many people would be in it. Also I am sure it would have to be worked out with judges4u and all you guys. But it would basicly delete this issue.


by derflippi on 2009-09-05 20:01 CET

Also I am sure it would have to be worked out with judges4u and all you guys.

But it would basicly delete this issue.

..except your "basically" forgets the most important thing of making minis -> being avaliable for help to players.


by Teknolink on 2009-09-05 21:27 CET

by bushh on 2009-09-05 08:37 CET

i top8 ed indonesian nationals :)

and also could someone explain me what is the PTG STW thing linkman talked about ? i might go to rome if theres something interesting
----

You can win a fully-payed trip to each PT next year at rome. It's called: Play the Game see the world, just google it.

I qualified for the event on sunday, and some sideevents will also be designated as 'qualifiers'. It's a euro thing :) Finally wizards takes care of the euro players.


by DrekheaD on 2009-09-06 01:27 CET

Responses to People

1. ML will never make a "tournament coordinator" position, ever.
2. Minibegging doesn't affect conversations unless the person is an idiot about it. 25% of people who have accounts at ML are idiots. amirite?
3. Top 8ing the indonesian nations couldn't have been nearly as hard as top 8ing the Japanese nationals.

Helpful Ideas Relating to the Discussion

Have the site run the minis no judge wants to run on a schedule, automatically. Judges in the channel (there's always someone) will note the schedule and be expecting the rush of stupid questions.

I'm sure your website already has the feature to do this, and if not Clariax err whoever could probably code that pretty easily.


by rast2 on 2009-09-06 02:29 CET

Suggestion: Don't allow 8-max sealed minis. Those tend to fill up in 90 seconds, leaving a ton of people who want to play sitting there in the channel... and often there isn't another sealed for hours. 16-max would be much much better and would still fill up in under 5 minutes almost any time of the day or night.


by DrekheaD on 2009-09-06 03:52 CET

16-max takes longer. The judge has to stay there until the tourney ends, but if this were all automated, then that wouldn't be a problem anymore


by MistyFatDog on 2009-09-06 06:36 CET

#mini4you obv and yes people need to realize that 16 max minis take longer on the judge no matter what, thus dont happen as much.

2. I GOT SCREWED OVER When I played vs gfo in the singleton, I should have had you if it wasnt for those damn lands!


by Acid_Christ on 2009-09-06 08:07 CET

Judges should become judges because they have knowledge of the rules AND want to run minis. Not for the social advancement. If someone wants to be a judge, they should be required to run minis when they are online. I don't care how long it takes, or if they think they have something better to do. They wanted to become a judge, so they should fulfill their obligations as being one. Too many times have I gotten on here to see a room full of judges, yet only see 2 maybe 3 minis an hour. This is rediculous. As is going to #j4u and asking a question, only to have a room full of judges sit quietly waiting for another judge to answer. I know the judges don't get reimbursed for their efforts but from what I see they shouldn't anyway, except a select few that actually fulfill their obligations.


by Weedmonkey on 2009-09-06 11:31 CET

I for one do my best to run minis and answer questions in #judges4you whenever i'm available to do so. As for other judges, some are idle while they're away doing other things. I'm not trying to justify everything since I do agree that there are some judges that don't pull their weight, but the merits of each individual judge is not the issue that we're discussing here.

As for the idea of non-judges or an automated tournament system, flippi is correct. One of the big reasons we only require judges to run tournaments is because it places accountability on that judge. If players have a question during a tournament, then AT LEAST that judge should be around to answer questions. Players shouldn't be waiting around for up to 10 minutes just for a judge to rule.

Acid_Christ: As for your grievances it's a fine line between whether you want judges around or not. I leave IRC on 24/7, and am around regularly during the day. However, I personally don't always have the energy or the focus to run a mini in the time i used to run one. We are doing much better in terms of tournament numbers than we were a couple of months ago (up roughly 1/3 if you want numbers), and we're only down 15% in comparison to when we had judge rewards (which is a great accomplishment).

However, the other side of the coin is that we wouldn't have the same size of the judge staff we do now. There are some judges that don't run minis often but rule well in #judges4you if players come in. There are also other judges that pop in every now and then and run the odd tournament.

I know what I've said isn't as coherent as I like, but these are the points that I am trying to get across:

- Judges are accountable for the tournaments they run, both in running and rulings. If anyone other than a judge was to run a tournament, then that accountability is gone for both.
- Many judges (in my opinion) do pull their weight when it comes to fulfilling their responsibilities. However, it's the ones that don't that stick out most.

It is good to see that this is stimulating discussion though :) One thing that I think needs work is transparency in issues like this where players can understand where judges are coming from and vice-versa.

P.S: Gogo walls of text XD


by TugaChampion on 2009-09-06 17:26 CET

GFSS top4 Portuguese Nationals and is going to worlds.


by Kytep on 2009-09-06 20:55 CET

by TugaChampion on 2009-09-06 12:26 CDT

GFSS top4 Portuguese Nationals and is going to worlds.

--------------------------

Congrats, GFSS!! Good luck at Worlds!


by Holzi on 2009-09-06 23:01 CET

add me to the list of congratulations, but not for the "good luck for worlds" list


by mufl0n on 2009-09-07 17:43 CET

article sucks balls, so does Holzi, just saying, no offense


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