Watch for Falling Skies

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It's been an odd week for announcements.

First, the PTQ structure is going to be changing. This is good for the LGS owners, but the mid-level vendor, a significant number of whom make up our readership, are already feeling the pinch.



With stores likely to be able to vend the smaller events without help and the PTQs themselves being handled by TOs, there is nowhere for the midlevel vendors to fit in like they used to at 300 person PTQ events. Having given Nick a hand at a PTQ and seen how thin the margins can be sometimes if the event is poorly run by the TO (they told people the wrong location and didn't wait for stragglers to show up) this is going to cause a sea change in the way a lot of vendors do business. Should we all close our online shops down? I can't say, but I feel like Nick's going back to TCG Player vending and I can't say that I blame him.

I have a policy against posting things from Facebook on public places, but there was another issue that popped up this week regarding the changes to the judge foil compensation program and I will excerpt a few of the responses I saw.

If this change is positive (which I assume it will be for judges), then I look forward to what we have in store and seeing you guys a bunch in the future. If this change is negative, I have friendships that I hope will last the rest of my life and memories that I'm sure will. I also have some sweet lines on my resume and more professional connections than I could have ever had staying at home. I also look forward to seeing you all slightly less in the future.

Change is scary. It has always been scary, but there's no point in fearing the future. Just live in the present.

I actually feel worst for the TOs...they are assuredly getting wrecked in this

I think a person who got into judging because of their love for the game will always be taken care of. Maybe less travel more community building or maybe the reverse who knows. In the end if you love it you will always be rewarded.

This is a scary time for judges. The announcement of the "Exemplar Program" found at this link has done away with blanket awarding of foils to judges in consideration for working events. Judges will be nominated as exemplary by their peers (friends, let's be honest, people are going to nominate their friends) and only exemplars will receive foils. Will the TOs have to pick up the slack and compensate judges? Will Wizards start to pay them? I can't say, but this has the potential to completely ruin all of Magic forever, and I can't imagine this would have been announced if that outcome was projected. There is an element we don't know yet, so I will wait and see.]

Is the sky falling? Maybe. But probably not. Card games that make it 20 years do so by weathering worse storms than this. Change is inevitable.

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Jason Alt

Jason Alt is a value trader and writer. He is Quiet Speculation's self-appointed web content archivist and co-captain of the interdepartmental dodgeball team. He enjoys craft microbrews and doing things ironically. You may have seen him at magic events; he wears black t-shirts and has a beard and a backpack so he's pretty easy to spot. You can hear him as co-host on the Brainstorm Brewery podcast or catch his articles on He is also the Community Manager at and writes the odd article there, too. Follow him on Twitter @JasonEAlt unless you don't like having your mind blown.

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4 thoughts on “Watch for Falling Skies

  1. Remember that only L3+ can recommend other judges at first and then only L2’s+. That makes up a pretty small section of the overall judge community and the vast, vast majority of them aren’t the “just recommend your friends” types.

    With a move away from allowing L1’s to participate in judging at the GP level, this is actually really good news for L1’s that do a lot for the community but simply don’t judge large events.

    But it definitely does cast some serious questions about how large events will get staffed by experienced judges going forward. We have a pretty tight group of “Super Judges” that travel everywhere and really know what they’re doing — and everyone (from the TO down to the player showing up at that even) is rewarded by that judge being on that event’s staff.

  2. Please explain me how a L1 working at 1 or 2 LGS can be recommanded by L2+ if there are non in his location ?


    Feels great for L1 in bug city with big community.

    Feels bad for isolated poor guy

  3. This ‘vote for people to get foils’ system seems ripe for abuse. While judges do a whole heck of a lot to help out Magic (and we very much appreciate that), that does not mean that they are paragons of virtue.

    Like the guy above mentioned, the lone judges in small communities will get snubbed in the voting. It’ll end up being just a big popular contest, where judges who end up on camera, or who tweet funny shit end up with the foils.

    This is probably me just being scared of change, or claiming the sky is falling, or whatever… But a vote system appears to be too idyllic to work in reality.

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