The Three Judge System

The Three Judge System

By Terence Jason Dorman, former solo-judge

When I became the original judge of Grasshopper’s Comics for The Spoils, it was during a period of my life when I was becoming a judge for every game out there. As the guy who ran events at Grasshopper’s (this was during my tenure of employment there), I needed to be a judge for whatever games were holding events for, which including Spoils, WoW, Magic, Star Wars Miniatures, and others. Needless to say, my brain was full of rules and judging got a little hectic at times.

The most disappointing part of being a judge, though, was missing out on Spoils events. I couldn’t participate in the Seasonal Championships or Invitational Qualifiers as I was the judge for them (with the exception of a few that Dan or Moxless judged), so my competitive juices were always on the back burner, plus I was falling behind in STE points.

Had the Three Judge System existed back then, I would have been a happy camper.

For those who are unaware, the Three Judge System works as follows:

– The Three Judge System can be employed in any lower-level tournament and allows judges to participate in the events they are judging.
– The Three Judge System has no dedicated judge but instead relies upon three individuals knowledgeable enough in the rules. These three individuals do not have to be a judge but instead can be three players that the venue and/or rest of the players feel are knowledgeable enough in the rules to handle any situations that may arise. Out of the three judges one will be assigned the Head Judge and the other two will be Assistant Judges. One of the Assistant Judges should be denoted as the 2nd Judge and the other as the 3rd.
– The Head Judge judges all games, including the game that may occur when the 2nd and 3rd Judge have to play each other.
– The Head Judge is has the final say on any ruling that does not pertain to a game he is currently involved in.
– The 2nd Judge judges any games that the Head Judge plays in and has the final word on any ruling pertaining to these games.
– The 3rd Judge judges ( and has the final word on) the one game that may occur when the Head Judge and the 2nd Judge have to play each other.
– Assistant Judges can make rulings regarding any game they are not currently involved in.
– No Judge make make rulings regarding a game he is involved in.

The beauty of the Three Judge System is that it grants everyone who wants to play a chance to do so. While it isn’t applicable to high level events like Nationals, it completely eradicates the situations that I and many other judges had to deal with years ago.

The other added benefit is that it adds a checks and balances system that wouldn’t normally be present with one judge. While having one master judge means only one player has to know all the rules, it also means that one player has to be right all the time. With the three judge system, the three judges can converse on a ruling to make sure everyone is on the same (and hopefully correct) page so that incorrect rulings aren’t made.

The Three Judge System also creates a much more social and fun gaming environment than one with only a Head Judge. Instead of the Head Judge standing away from the action and appearing as the rules overlord and time master, the judges are in the thick of it and taking part in the festivities. This allows the other players to relax as they see the judges as “one of them,” and that should go a long way to lighten the mood.

I’m sure some groups out there have a dedicated judge who enjoys his work and doesn’t mind missing out on playing and I absolutely commend those judges. I was one of you for a long time and did enjoy my work, but at a certain point I just couldn’t resist the urge to play and was thrilled when the Three Judge System was implemented.

If your local gaming group/store/environment does not employ the Three Judge System for the lower level events then I greatly urge that you get some players to take the judge test and use it! It can only make your gaming experience better and if for some reason you don’t like it, you can always go back to the classic one judge system.

I have a feeling, though, that that won’t happen in many places.