Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Out Of Order Sequencing - End of 2016 Post

Hello readers, and welcome back to Exile.

Out Of Order Sequencing

Since Christmas is now behind us and we only have a few days left in 2016, I am going to skip ahead to my end of the year post now while the timing feels right.

Let's acknowledge the giant pink elephant in the room right away, shall we?   2016 absolutely sucked.  As far as our beloved celebrities go, 2016 may go down in infamy as the year that claimed so many of our most beloved famous folk.   A list of some of the most notable losses we all suffered this year include:

And there were so many, many more.

But despite the terrible year our celebrities were having in 2016, I was able to have an incredibly satisfying year filled with personal growth and several incredible adventures.

In Like a Lamb...

When 2016 began I was still a very green Level 1 Magic Judge, meaning that I had only ever judged a handful of events, mostly small Trial events at my local store while working by myself.  While this was great for the players in my area, it wasn't doing anything to help me learn or improve as a judge since I had no one else there for me to learn anything from.

Luckily for me, I would happen to run into one of the very few judges I had already met, Seth of Hairy T North, at an event that a buddy of mine and I had driven down to play in.  The very short version of the story is that Seth helped me get hired for my first few events in Toronto, and I gained a mountain of invaluable experience working with other more seasoned judges thanks to him.

Those events at Hairy T directly lead to me applying to work even larger events, which in Toronto can only mean one thing - the Face To Face Games Open Series.   These events - I'll call them 'F2F Opens' for short, are absolutely the best opportunity anyone could ask for when they want to become a better Magic Judge.  Suddenly I was working as part of a team, with 6 to 8 other judges, at an event with 150+ players, who were all playing competitive Magic in the Modern format.  The rules knowledge I was expected to have had jumped exponentially, but so had the support available to me, with so many experienced judges also on the floor working with me.  

I spent as much time as I could in 2016 doing as many F2F Opens as possible, learning everything I could and just taking it all in.  Fortunately, with all of the events I worked at both Hairy T and for Face To Face Games, it didn't take long at all for my hard work to pay off.

Welcome to GP Detroit, and Welcome to Level 2

Thanks to the recommendations of no less than 5 (!!!) judges on staff at GP Detroit, I was allowed to write my Level 2 exam with almost no advanced notice to the organizers.   Fortunately I had studied a ton, including some last minute prep work with a good judge friend of mine, 'Jeremy', and I was able to pass on my first attempt.  This was a huge accomplishment for me, and one that would later shape a lot of my year in 2016.

...And Out Like A Lion

Once I reached Level 2, so many exciting new opportunities were open to me.   Face To Face Games would be hosting it's first ever Grand Prix, right here at GP Toronto 2016.   My hard work in their F2F Opens paid off again, and I was finally officially on staff for a Grand Prix.  Working your first GP is a major accomplishment for any judge, and I was thrilled to finally have one under my belt.

Toronto lead to GP Montreal, where I first experienced working a major event in a city i wasn't familiar with.   Montreal led to me applying for Star City Games' New Jersey Invitational weekend, which was another huge milestone for me - judging in another country!  Luckily for me, SCG New Jersey literally led to me being invited to apply to judge GP Providence, which I was accepted to.

For GP Providence, I hit another major milestone.   For my first time ever, I was flying to a major event far away, and getting paid to judge it.   This, my friends, is what is known in life as a game changer.  You have to understand, I live in a small town and I hardly ever travel.  Or at least, that was the way my life had always been.  Before I got serious about judging, there were some years that I wouldn't even bother going into Toronto once in a YEAR.   I was small town for life.  Getting to fly somewhere new for a weekend away from my normal routine was literally a dream come true.  It didn't matter where I was going, I was just thrilled to be going.  I hopped on a plane with (who else?) my judge buddy Seth, and we were off.   We flew from Toronto to Boston, then took a train ride down to Providence, Rhode Island for a weekend of fun with our judge friends as we worked another Grand Prix.  

I managed to squeeze in one last, very crazy personal milestone in 2016, and it happened just a couple weeks ago for GP Milwaukee.   As someone who had never traveled regularly until this year, there was always a lot of things I was nervous (read: petrified) of doing.   One of my biggest fears in life has always been to travel by myself.   I understand that most people reading this simply won't be able to relate to what I'm saying, but as a small town guy I always lived a very routine existence.   I slowly built up a fear to trying new things over years of constantly enjoying a very 'safe' and familiar life.   But when I was accepted to GP Milwaukee, none of the people I had planned to travel with were accepted leaving me in a very unexpected circumstance - I wanted to travel somewhere new, and could afford to fly there, but I had no one to travel with.   

With a little help from reading what other judges were planning to do that weekend, I managed to book my own airfare to Chicago, find an express bus route that would get me from O'Hare to Milwaukee, and booked a hotel at the GP venue.   Then, when the time came to take the trip I jumped in my car and drove myself to Pearson International and hopped on a plane to an international adventure, all on my own.

My Final Thoughts of 2016

So you see, dear reader, I'm not exaggerating when I say that being a Magic Judge helped me to experience a huge amount of personal growth this year.   I look back on 2016 and I see that the man who I am today is a far cry from the person I was when this year began.   

I am far more self confident.  
I am far more knowledgeable on this hobby of mine.
I am eager to embrace being a mentor to others following a similar path.
I am eager to continue my journey of personal growth.
I am eager to continue my journey of becoming the best judge I can.
I am eager to explore more new places.
I am over my fear of flying.
And I am your Level 2 judge.



  1. LOve it jason and it was great spending time with you in New Jersey. Can't wait for Vegas? And beyond?!

  2. Agreed, and yes - Vegas is going to be another checkmark off my bucket list. 2017 seems almost guaranteed to be even more exciting than 2016 was.