When is it wrong to call a judge?
by Mike White · Published · Updated
For some people calling a judge during a match feels wrong so they won’t do it. For others, calling a judge will only be used as a last resort because they believe that the very nature of calling a judge goes against sportsmanship. Or they might just want to avoid that feeling of confrontation altogether. I’m here to discuss why as a player it is never wrong to call a judge.
Stop me if this scenario has happened to you or one of your friends. You are playing in your first steamroller against a player you haven’t played against and they’re using a faction you aren’t familiar with either. Your opponent is friendly and engaging with you, then charges your model with a melee weapon and proceeds to use his gun afterwards because he has gunfighter. You think to yourself . ” I don’t think gunfighter let’s you make both melee and ranged attacks”. So you ask your opponent if they are sure their model can do this. They reply confidently and calmly ” Yep, it’s been that way since Mark II”. Still unsure you let your opponent proceed because they have been really nice and you don’t want to ruin the game by calling a judge. After the game you ask your buddy and they inform you that gunfighter does not let you do both, it clearly states that in the last sentence of the rules for gunfighter. You feel a little dejected and think “Wow they cheated me!”.
Scenario two, maybe you do call a judge and now you are met with rolling eyes from your opponent, who is not as friendly and engaging anymore after the judge corrects the situation. So now you feel you’ve done something wrong by calling the judge over. These along with other scenarios are common occurrences that happen in my meta and what they ultimately result in are newer players deciding to steer clear of tournaments and instead just play home games or the weekly Warmachine night. So you may see eight to ten players throwing down games on a Monday but come your next local tournament you only get four people.
What went wrong? There’s a couple things right off the bat, first is the human nature to want to avoid conflict. That avoidance of confrontation during a game just leads to bitterness and resentment afterwards. Second, is that your seasoned players and judges/TO’s aren’t encouraging newer players that a judge makes for a cleaner game and an overall better experience.
To avoid that negative experience, we need to understand that this game is complicated and everyone makes mistakes. In my three plus years of playing Warmachine, I have never felt an opponent intentionally tried to cheat me. Rather they felt their understanding of a rule to be correct. I can’t tell you the numbers of times I’ve told Billy his Hurricane can’t use his left field of fire because its blocked by terrain, even though he has line of sight through the right and the requirements are seperate lines it is not the same. To avoid judge-phobia I try to make sure my opponent knows that whenever a situation of doubt occurs we should call a judge to help keep our game clean.
At Adepticon for masters Travis Marg, event liaison and infernal Darklegacy, gave a players meeting which set the tone for calling a judge.
“Your opponent is not necessarily your friend. They are here to win the game. The judges are your friends. We’re here to help you play the best game you all can.”
Simply put encouraging your opponent to call a judge keeps the game cleaner, alleviates the stress of feeling like the bad guy, and creates a more positive experience for newer players to keep them showing up to your local tournaments and growing your meta in turn.
Hello, I'm currently the other half of Counter Charge where I primarily play Cryx. I've recently been diving more into Guildball with Brewers and been writing about them on Explosive Brew. I've also just dipped my toes into 40k with Astra Militarium.