I wasn't even supposed to be here...
Since moving to Portland, I had spent exactly one weekend in town, the M14 Prerelease, and that was only because there was a community-wide moratorium on large Competitive REL events (read: GPs and SCG Opens) on Prerelease weekends. Gen Con Weekend was supposed to be my second break, another no-GP, no-Open weekend. Then Rob McKenzie decided to get married. Or more correctly, he decided to have a camping/gaming weekend to celebrate his nuptials with his gamer friends. Despite moving all over the place and ending up in Portland, Oregon, Tasha maintains deep ties with the Minnesota judge community, and I've been honorably adopted into the fold as well, so we got invites to this shindig.
I am always down for some airline travel, but in this case the price was not right. I try to maintain a certain cents per mile standard when it comes to my flying, especially when it is not to an event (since that can offset costs). So Tasha and I booked our flights with our redeemable miles, a bank of extra "money" that we save for occasions just like this. Meanwhile, sometime between now and then, the next installment of MOJO (Magic Online Judge Open) was announced. This is a MTGO Sealed tournament open to any certified judge to play in. Back during the first MOJO (played with Rise of the Eldrazi), I made Top 8.
This year, the two tournaments fell on weekends where I would unavailable to play, not very surprising with my schedule. One of those was Gen Con / Rob's camping party. The other is the SCG Philadelphia Open Weekend. Thus, it didn't even occur to me to register for an event that I couldn't play in. Free avatar for playing? Nope. Don't care. Free Sealed product? I have enough product online from other sources. As the saying goes, I came to game.
One day before we were supposed to fly off to Minneapolis for games and more games with Rob and friends, our cat Sedna got sick. We took her to the vet and she mostly checked out okay, but she would need two forms of medication to get better. I'm very much the doting father when it comes to these things, and Tasha could see how worried I was so we quickly agreed that it would be best for us to stay at home with her for the weekend and look after her.
I called up the airline to see what options we had for cancelling our flight, and it turned out that status is even better than I thought. The agent on the phone told me that since the flights had been booked using miles from a 1K status account (mine), it could be completely refunded, miles and fees (only about $20 total). With that out of the way, I came to the realization that we could play in the first MOJO event. Tasha had actually registered for MOJO on the off chance that something changed. I guess she's like that. I'm not like that and I didn't register for an event I wasn't planning on attended "just in case." I posted the following on Facebook:
"Had to cancel trip to Minnesota to stay home with Sedna. Realized that meant we could play in MOJO. I hadn't registered because I didn't expect to be able to play. Blow out."
It wasn't meant as a complaint, nor a cry for help. I was just describing what happened to me that day. I got several kind offers from folks to use their accounts because they would be unable to play. I have a very personal MTGO account name, Manriki Hayashi, and I wouldn't want other people playing on it, so I've never taken to account sharing or borrowing. Andy Heckt reinforced this by posting in the thread, " Do not use someone else's account. It is a violation of T&C (Terms and Conditions)." I know people violate this all the time, but as judges we should make sure that we hold ourselves to a high standard of conduct, especially in a public forum, and especially when it's for a free event.
Tasha decided that she wanted to MOJO at Guardian Games here in town with some other judges. It seemed like a chill way to spend a Saturday morning, so I agreed to come along and bird her or just write some reviews, when I got an unexpected gift. Andy Heckt had pulled some strings and gotten my account added to the upcoming MOJO event. I didn't ask for it. I don't even think that I strongly implied that "it sure would be great if..." It was something that Andy did independently out of the kindness of his heart and I greatly appreciated it. I know that there were probably other people who didn't forgot to register and would have liked to have played, and I sympathize with them a lot. It's why I usually don't ask for favors like this; I have a pretty strong sense of "you play the hand that you dealt yourself." When I missed the deadline to apply to judge GP Oakland, I asked Judge Manager Jess Dunks about the possibility of being a Scorekeeper for the event, rather than a judge. He offered to let me get in my application late (and pretty much guarantee that I was on staff( because I'm an L3 and we're still at a point in time when L3s rarely get rejected from GPs (although it happened to me this year for GP London). I appreciated Jess's offer, but didn't want to abuse the system like that so I politely declined. I didn't hear back on SKs, but they eventually got Kali Anderson for the main event and she's an excellent choice for them.
If I was willing to decline Jess's offer to get on staff for the GP, why didn't I also turn down Andy's MOJO offer? The difference is that the damage, or the kindness in this case, was already done. Andy had already talked to someone and added me to the event. It wasn't like I was competing for slots in the tournament. For Oakland, adding me and Tasha would have certainly taken spots away from other judges, judges who had applied for the event on time, and that was something I wasn't willing to do. (This is slightly different from events that put out a late call for L3 Judges after applications have closed; in that case, there is a need at the event that still requires filling. With over a dozen L3s on staff, this wasn't the case for Oakland.)
Back to the MOJO. I wish that I could make some grand gesture like Chris Pikula when Helen Bergeot told him that he was getting a Sponsor's Invite to PT Dublin. He announced that any winnings would be donated to Jon Finkel's charity, Gamers Helping Gamers. It just doesn't have the same ring if I were to donate a handful of booster packs versus hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars. The best way for me to repay Andy's kindness was to have fun with a bunch of judges. Tasha and I biked to Guardian Games, which is a treat to be able to do, and another reason I love Portland.
We had 7 judges gathered at Guardian Games. It was their new location, which I hadn't been to, and let me just say that I am looking forward to spending more time at this place and running events here.
My pool lacked heavy hitting bombs, but it did have a good Sliver synergy going with 2x Predatory, 2x Manaweft, 2x Battle, and a lone Galerider Sliver. That was the entirety of my Slivers (with a Clone thrown in that became a Sliver whenever possible); if I had more, I would have played them. The deck was a GB (no black Sliver, but I had 2x Liturgy of Blood and 2x Wring Flesh) base splashing for the Slivers, Clone and Time Ebb (which I never cast). Unfortunately, I lost the document that I had put all of my opponent's names on, but I remember I only played against one judge from the US that I had worked with. The rest were from Russia, the UK, the Czech Republic and China. It was great to have short chats with these international opponents. It's really the best part about MOJO; it gives you a sense of just how wide this community really is.