Hi and Hello, intros and all…

Hello people! Welcome to my personal blog.

First of all, my name is Philip Adrian Peña. Just call me “Phil”. If you want to know more about me as a judge, you should probably read this blog often. I will update from time to time, so stay tuned.

My simple about page will let you know a bit about me as well, but not too much.

If you read my about page, you should know why I created this blog. If you’re lazy enough to read it, then perhaps I should explain it here.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple: share my experiences as a DCI certified judge. This includes my travels, local MTG communities that I usually go/play with, personal thoughts on new rulings and product, and I might post some tournament schedules or two in this blog, for those local people here in the Philippines who reading this blog. I will also include a rules question here, that will be published in two different sites. One here in this blog, and one here, in my brother-in-law’s personal blog. So if you have any rules and policy questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail: R2D@frostratedfro.com. I will try to answer to the best of my abilities, and those questions will be published here!

So more about myself perhaps. I’ve been an active certified DCI judge since August 11, 2011, but I’ve been judging since 2007 when Time Spiral was released. At the time that Neutral Grounds were getting judges to judge for their events, particularly prerelease tournaments, they are offering booster packs for the volunteer’s services, plus food. So I was like, “free packs? Sign me up!”. In addition, our playgroup, which consists of close friends are really into the game. And most of the time, we are quarreling about the game rules. I was one of those people trying to surpass one person to who’s the most knowledgeable in the game rules. So I took mentorship under DJonathan Paculio, then level 2 judge, who’s also in-charge of most of the tournament operations that Neutral Grounds sanctioned at that time.

What I learned from him, is most of the things how a tournament operates. He’s been really patient with me, and I’m glad that he became my mentor and now a good friend.

And with most games, sometimes you can easily get tired of playing MTG. So I was one of the people who keeps going in and out of the scene, focusing on what the playgroup wants to play. I left the MTG scene when Morningtide came out (probably because I was not interested with the set, and most of my friends are into online games at the time). I came back playing when Conflux came out, and the deck that I want to build at that time was a five-color control deck (as much as I heard about when Lorwyn block was still active). Judging was not my concern then, I just want to play. I keep updating my rules knowledge, even to the extent of getting a rules advisor exam to test my knowledge about the game. I passed (barely…), and was quite happy with it.

At around 2009, Zendikar came out. DJ was leaving the scene already to focus on his personal career (of singing!), so I tried to take the level 1 exam with him. Sadly, I wasn’t able to pass the exam, so I didn’t try to pass it again. It was good on the first take, but there are a lot of questions that I wasn’t able to answer. I don’t know the terms “IPG”, and I was lacking knowledge regarding scenarios when a player should be penalized.

Fast forward to 2011, and the redefinition of level 1 judges was introduced. The exam got easier than the last time, so I just tried to take it for fun. After all, there won’t be any consequences if I didn’t pass it. And so I did. I became level 1. I was not sure of what I should do after. Maybe judge a few tournaments? Maybe try to judge a Grand Prix that is scheduled for next year? I was still lacking IPG knowledge at that time, and I still tried to judge to improve myself. I even went as far to introduce myself to a store owner in Las Piñas, now a very good friend of mine, to judge for his events. It worked out, and I was able to learn most of the things that I need to do during tournaments.

Fast forward to 2012, Grand Prix Manila came, and my first big tournament as a judge. I was sent to the paper team as my team assignment, and there, I met one of the best team leaders I could possibly had: John Alderfer. He thought a lot of things to us while he was leading. He always reminded us, “keep yourself hydrated at all times, because if you’re not hydrated well enough, you will have a hard time thinking, and you will deliver bad judgments”. It was a well-thought experience. I met a lot of judge-friends as well, and most of those judges now, are some of my close friends as well. Most notably Khanh le Thien from France. And Woosuk Lee from South Korea. There are a lot of people to mention, but these two people had been my greatest judge friends so far.

Grand Prix Singapore 2013 was announced, so I thought to myself that I should try judging there. It’ll be my first international event, and it happens that my uncle lives there, so accommodations won’t be a problem. Sadly, due to the redefinition of level 1 judges, level 2 judges and above will be only accepted to judge. I had no choice but to undergo level 2. I tested for level 2 last January 6, 2013. Luckily, I was able to pass it on the first try. Special thanks to Joel Bantiles for giving the exam, and it is through him that I made the vision of doing more for our community here in Laguna.

And that’s about it. I am now a very active judge, will probably roam around SE Asia when there are GPs announced. I’ve been to Thailand last June, and will go to Hong Kong this October.

And then, there are special people to be mentioned in this introduction. If not for them, I wouldn’t had made it this far (as a judge):

– Riccardo Tessitori, a level 5 judge from Italy. He’s the kindest head judge that I’ve met.
– Wearn Chong, a level 3 judge from Malaysia and the regional coordinator for SE Asia. It is through him that we are able to judge in GPs.
– Sashi “Loco” Balakrishnan, a level 2 judge from Malaysia. He’s been my mentor since judging in Singapore, and what I learned from him is of great value.
– My judge family here in the Philippines! You know who you are. Most of you had been supporting this past years. May I repay you in kind for all the experiences.
– My parents! They don’t like the idea of me playing MTG before when I was still studying, but they are the most supportive of this when I began judging.
– “Clan of the Zodiac Braves”, now known as “Neo Simon Famiglia”, my playgroup and my closest friends.
– The MTG Canlubang / Calamba chapter. I formed the group for them to have a regular MTG session, and it is through them that drives me to increase the community that we have there.
– R4 Hobby Shop and Team Jedi. They’ve accommodated me when I was still level 1, and I’ve been constantly judging their Grand Prix trials ever since. Without them, gaining experience as a judge will be much harder.
– Neutral Grounds (most notably sir Freddie and ma’am Des). If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t been able to become a judge in the first place.
– “A special someone”. She maybe not active in MTG right now, but her as an inspiration for me to do better is what drives me to do much more.
– And to some other people that I have not mentioned, thank you all.

See you in a few days! (or hours, maybe…)


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