Normally I don’t know how to begin an article. This one I almost don’t know how to put forth my thoughts at all, so I’ll put the bottom line up front, then dissect it in pieces.
The semi-finals match between BobbySapphire and Elrathion was an absolute mess and it was my fault from top to bottom. I’m going to improve my future judging decisions, and Artificery as a whole is going to make sure that neither I nor anyone else will be able to repeat the mistake.
Issue 1: The phantom re-roll.
In game one there was a point where Bobby had an ambush action and was thinking about his next move. In the time spent thinking, Elrathion discarded to reroll his dice and they ended on trash. I allowed his card to be taken back to hand and his dice to be rerolled in their entirety.
In this issue I think I’m justified in my call. IRL, the time it takes to physically discard a card and start gathering dice to reroll is more than adequate for an opponent to remind the player that he has another action. And if some sleight-of-hand master were to discard and reroll too swiftly for an opponent to speak up, then the action would be reversed and the dice reset to their original values.
Reason is that no legal action can be taken by the rerolling player at all, so the whole process is just seen as one player messing around with dice and confusing the board state. If FFG’s tournament rules were like other games, the likely result would be an official warning for the player to not act out of turn, but the game would continue (assuming there weren’t previous warnings or issues).
Where I Messed Up: Luckily in the moment, nothing Bobby would have done was predicated on anything showing on Elrathion’s dice, but allowing them to simply be moved to the side rather than properly reset during a game-pause was confusing to everyone watching and likely confusing to Bobby as well. It is mere luck on my part that the mistake wasn’t game-influential.
Lesson Learned: Pause game at any point there is a problem, explain the problem, then resolve the problem.
Issue 2: Where does the Lightsaber go?
This issue has multiple parts, and multiple places where I messed up. It is a bit complex, but I’ll go through it step by step.
In game 2, Kanan dies with a regular Lightsaber on him, which Elrathion does not move to QGJ before rolling him out.
Where I Messed Up Part 1: The RRG has the following to say about character death. When a character has damage on it equal to its health, it is immediately defeated. Remove all of its dice from the game (both its character dice and its upgrades), discard all upgrades on it, and remove the character card from the game.
Immediately on Kanan’s death, all of his dice should have been removed from the pool and all of his upgrades needed to go somewhere. Either discard or to QGJ, Elrathion’s choice. Literally nothing should happen until the character death is resolved. It is a somewhat common (bad) habit for people playing on TTS to not do this and it bled into an important match here. In a random game it’s not a big deal but in an important game it clearly can be.
As Elrathion is rolling out QGJ, I move the Lightsaber over to him and its die is added to the pool and rolled.
Where I Messed Up Part 2: Judges and commentators DO NOT TOUCH OR INFLUENCE THE GAME IN PROGRESS EXCEPT AS PART OF AN OFFICIAL RULING. Holy crap, that’s like rule number one of judging and I should know better having been a certified MTG judge in previous years.
Where I Messed Up Part 3: The card Lightsaber defines Redeploy, which is handy considering it is a starter card. Lightsaber says to move the upgrade. However, this is what the RRG has to say about Redeploy: This keyword only appears on upgrades. After the attached character is defeated, its controller -MAY- immediately move this upgrade to any of their other characters.
I failed by shortcutting my thinking in that what a card says should be taken as fact. I’d like to think I wouldn’t do this for something like the new “It’s A Trap” wording because of how well publicized it was, but a failure to redeploy is so uncommon to me that I never bothered to even consider it. As a face of Artificery, as someone who knows better, and as someone who wants to try and convince people on a regular basis that I know the first thing about this game, not knowing the exact wording of a major keyword off the top of my head (no matter when it was changed) is inexcusable.
Elrathion rolls lethal on board (including the erroneously added Lightsaber die), resolves two unblockable damage from the Lightsaber, then resolves 1 melee damage from a QGJ die with the second QGJ die and an Ancient Lightsaber die still in the pool. Co-commentator HonestlySarcastc then corrects me on the wording of redeploy, and I immediately remove two damage from Sabine in a repeat of Where I Messed Up Part 2.
Where I Messed Up Part 4: Even after all the previous mess-ups, things still aren’t parsecs beyond repair at this point. The game should have been paused, time should have been taken to deliberate the appropriate course of action and I should have gone into the player room to explain very clearly what happened and what was going to happen next. In retrospect, at this point, Elrathion’s 1 Melee resolution should not have happened, the two damage should have been removed from Sabine, and it should have been Elrathion’s turn to do an action. He still would be “behind” an action from the previous Lightsaber die resolution, but oh well. Instead I acted rashly, caring more about the entertainment of the stream viewers rather than about preserving game integrity.
Elrathion, with only a QGJ die and an Ancient Lightsaber die, then has to find three damage to kill Sabine. On his last reroll, a now unresolvable +3 rolls on the Ancient Lightsaber, which had there not been FOUR SEPERATE MESSUPS on my end would have been resolvable. I cost Elrathion a match.
Lessons Learned: Myriad.
First of all, Game Integrity needs to come first. Just because I’m comfortable in my own house (so to speak) doesn’t mean I get to neglect my foremost responsibility as a judge. At the end of the day I’m insanely lucky that I cost a friend the match. Had I screwed over someone who wasn’t a personal friend, who had paid Artificery good money in the rightful expectation of a totally professional operation, they would be in a position to (rightfully) demand any sort of restitution and I would be on the hook for much more than I am currently. At the very least this would be a resignation post rather than an explanation post [Yeti’s note – hypothetical resignation denied].
Secondly, I need to take Destiny judging as seriously as I did my previous MTG judging. Just because the rules are shorter and comparatively easier to understand does not mean I get to short-change everyone I come in contact with in my role as a judge by not doing my homework. I used to do a regular review of the MTG’s comprehensive rules and participate in the judge training sessions and lessons offered. For Destiny I will read the RRG word for word weekly, and make sure that I don’t commit to a role I’m not willing to put forth 100% effort in.
Thirdly, Elrathion being my friend means I should never have had word one to say in an official capacity as a judge regardless. The potential for a conflict of interest is enormous. When the original plan for Artificery’s stream and judging of that game fell through, instead of raising my hand and volunteering to take on two conflicting roles with a potential conflict of interest in one of those roles to boot, I should have demanded a delay of game. That will NEVER occur again.
Effective immediately, no Artificery staff member will officiate a game where another Artificery staff member is playing under any circumstances. A head Judge will be very clearly designated for every “Major” tournament or event such as a League, Online Store Championship, or the like, and that head judge will not participate in that event as a player in any way. Any game or rule issue that occurs where an Artificery member is involved will be adjudicated by a third party in as transparent a manner as possible.
In our regularly scheduled tournaments the head judge will still be able to play, but in keeping with the FFG tournament rules, we will ask for un-affiliated person participating in each tournament to volunteer to adjudicate any game issue where an Artificery staff member is playing.
We are also formalizing our duties for streamed games. Right now we divide ourselves between commentators and judges. This is due to the reality of scheduling – it is hard enough already to find a good time for two players and two commentators to get together for these games, throwing in a fifth person would make it even more challenging. When we can’t find or work in that fifth person to be a judge then one of the commentators will be designated the judge before the match begins. This means the entertainment side is going to take a hit – a commentator may have to drop from voice and the stream may have to be paused while issues are worked out.
I want to publicly apologize to Elrathion and BobbySapphire for my inadequate and unprofessional actions. For Elrathion, I cost you the match 100%, enough said there. For Bobby, I put you in an impossible situation where as a judge I was unreachable via voice or text because I was prioritizing streaming over professionalism and customer service and you deserve better.
To the general public, I apologize for giving you a terrible stream and product. People invested hundreds if not thousands of hours collectively in our League, having a semi-finals fail on both game-integrity and entertainment metrics is a disservice to you and to the trust you give me. I am not entitled to your trust, and I will be doing my best to earn it back.
To the rest of Artificery, I apologize for letting you down in such a public manner and causing a problem that should never have happened.