I'd like to talk about how a set of effective announcements can curb or eliminate certain problems. To do this I'm going to review some of my standard announcements, and what goal they accomplish. A set of announcements needs to be brief, clear, and target specific needs of the players, the staff, or the event as a whole. In the interest of full disclosure, I don't have a hard 'script' for my announcements, but I do have an outline, which makes sure I hit the same major points in every event I head-judge.
“Welcome everyone to
I start my announcement with a very basic introduction. Where are we? What kinda magic are we playing today? Who am I who is speaking to you? The risk that someone sat down in the wrong event space is slim, but I have had at least one player slink away during announcements. Some people like to stick a joke (or bad pun) here in the beginning. I personally don't do that, but if your player's expect it, it helps grab attention, elicit a response (a quiet chuckle, or groan), and gives you something to hook your audience. So, good for you if you can be that creative.
“The first thing I would like you to do is take a look at your deck lists. Please make sure that your NAME is somewhere on your deck list. Also be aware that your main deck should be at least 60 cards, and that your sideboard should be somewhere between 0 and 15 cards.”
Hopefully the player's have done their due diligence and have correct and legal deck lists to submit. The reality is there's one player somewhere frantically scratching out something to re-write it. Also mentioning 'name on deck list' has probably saved me more than one headache of having to figure out who deck list X belongs to by process of elimination. Also please note that I direct the player's attention to their deck list first, because I often don't collect it until I finish with announcements, which often gives those frantic players a full minute-or-two to correct whatever they need to correct.
“This event is Competitive REL, so please be slightly more precise. Maintain good communication with your opponent about how and when you wish to act. Please refrain from asking for or giving play advice for any match in progress.”
These 3 sentences have probably been my best friend over the last few years. A quick reminder to 'be slightly more precise' cuts down a lot on sloppy play and random GRV, at least in the early rounds. Maintaining good communication with your opponent has a similar effect. That last sentence about play advice, pretty sure that one comment is the reason why I haven't had to field an outside – assistance penalty since I started to include it in my announcements. Outside assistance comes with a match-loss penalty, which is a pretty serious deal and likely to ruin somebody's event.
“If you do encounter a rules question, or any other issue or problem arises, please raise your hand and call JUDGE! I will do my best to resolve the issue. Also please be aware that use of electronic devices that can take notes AND access the internet are restricted during a match (boogie boards are fine).”
These comments are really just about setting expectations. Hopefully everyone present knows how to call a judge, but I still demonstrate by raising my own hand and trying to project the word 'judge' a bit louder than the rest. Players have yet to get into the groove of being in a magic event, or they may be a bit self-conscious about calling a judge. The announcement about electronic devices is just enforcing tournament policy. Usually I don't have to speak to people about using the wrong device at the wrong time, so I judge it to be mostly effective.
“To make the most out of today DO NOT offer anything in exchange for a match result. Also please resolve your matches using sanctioned
I think just about every event I've ever been to has had some announcement that has attempted to help players avoid bribery and improperly determining a winner. This is also something that if it happens, somebody's day is over. I like to tell players what TO do, in addition to mention a few things not to do. Also I like including the bit about revealing cards from the top of the library, since that can be a gray area (did they already concede or not?)
I save these comments for last, because (1) they don't fit with the other categories of information that I've established in the rest of my outline, and (2) They are perhaps the most relevant to the actual progress of the tournament, which we are just about to get to.
“Are there any questions?”
I rarely get any questions at the end of my Head-Judge announcements. OK, I rarely get any serious questions, there's one player that likes asking me 'how are you?' at my home store. But I leave this at the end to try to cover anything that a player feels they need to know, but is not in my outline. Like I said, I rarely get questions, but the opportunity is there if I need it.
Speaking of which, I'll open the floor to questions and comments. Is there anything in my outline you would leave out for brevity? Anything you feel you need to add?