For years I have been quoted as saying that “free shit’s good except babies and diseases.” Despite what some people may think based on my derision towards the Star City Games judge rewards program, I still believe this to be true. So why such vitriol towards the program? Well let’s look at the facts. Note that I will be looking at this strictly from the standpoint of the floor judge. Results as head judge will vary, but there’s only one of them and lots of floor judges.
These Rewards Aren’t Free
What’s this? The judge rewards aren’t free? But you’re getting something for nothing, aren’t you? You are receiving some sort of benefit that was not there before, yes. However, it’s not being handed to you; you still have to earn it. The rewards only go to judges who are working long days for them, at not until a judge has worked 15 events. That means you have to work at least eight weekends for them in order to get these rewards. That means you put in considerable time and effort to earn that $25 store credit, applicable only to the most overpriced MTG store this side of Crazy Bob’s Assrape Emporium.
“But Jeebus, it’s still free! People were doing that work before and didn’t get it, that means it’s a free bonus!” Um, no it’s not, dumbass. It’s called a raise that you earned by being a loyal employee (or in this case more of a contract worker than an employee, but regardless). When you get a raise for working hard at your job do you throw your hands up in the air and yell “Free money!” for all your friends and coworkers to hear? No, because your time and hard work aren’t free and you have earned that compensation. If you got a considerable raise it’s not unrealistic that you might take your wife, girlfriend, or, far more likely for the MTG community, your neckbeard cohorts out for dinner or drinks to celebrate your extra 20% income. It is unrealistic, however, to think that you would drop to your knees and start gobbling the cock of the CEO then posting it on the internet so the world can see your love of the company’s generosity. Unless that’s how you got the raise in the first place.
Judge Rewards Aren’t a New Idea
Rewarding judges for their hard work beyond their regular compensation is a great idea. In fact, it’s such a good idea that WotC already started doing it years ago. However, when SCG starts doing it, “Oh my God! This is the greatest idea ever! Amazing!” Ironically, of all the comments I’ve seen about how brilliant this novel idea is, only one of those comments came from an actual judge. I think this speaks to the fact that players have no fucking idea what being a judge is like if they think this a big deal, but either way it’s already old hat. Oh yeah, and Wizards does it better too: and I’ll take a foil Xiahou Dun every major Wotc event over a $25 store credit every 15 major Star City events any day. Fun fact: that foil Xiahou Dun comes packaged with 13-19 other judge foils as well.
It’s Not Free, it’s a Raise. It’s Not a Raise, it’s an Insult
So we already covered that this isn’t free because you’re working for it and have to earn it. Well, it’s not even so much a raise as it is an insult. Here are the facts about judge compensation as provided to me by level 2 DCI judge Jeph Foster* (@rhythmik) who is also a really cool guy all around and has hooked me up with judge foils on multiple occasions.
*Note: The opinions and analysis in this article are not necessarily shared by Jeph. He merely provided empirical data.
- The average Star City Games Open event lasts 12-14 hours. We’ll split the difference and call it 13.
- Compensation per event is $150 cash or $180 store credit.
- Judges are offered a $20 stipend for lunch.
- When SCG stopped giving out foil promos to judges at events, compensation was raised, but they discontinued room compensation.
- SCG does not offer travel compensation (And didn’t back when they had room compensation either)
Math time! If we figure 13 hours for the average event, judges are making $11.54 per hour. The lunch stipend is not included in this because you can’t pocket the cash, it’s just a “free” meal. I say “free” because I’m pretty sure it’s a legal obligation based on the structure of the work day and not an act of generosity, but I don’t have time to double check. In order to earn a $25 store credit, you must do this 15 times. That’s 195 hours. Which is a raise of 12.8 cents per hour. Which is a 0.01% raise. Which is a fucking insult. Oh yeah, and it’s not even a cash raise. If you want to convert it to cash, you have to buy singles from SCG’s ridiculously overpriced inventory and then sell it. So for $25 I can get, say, an Elspeth Tirel. I can then either sell it below retail cause I’m not a store or sell it at retail on ebay and lose money to fees. Currently I could expect to actually get maybe $15-16 for that in my pocket. So now we’re look at a 0.0067% raise.
I Thought Everyone Cared About EV?
What’s the EV on being a judge at these events? If you work both events, you get $300 per weekend, for two 13 hour days. Minus travel expenses. Minus room expenses. So what does that make the EV on an event if you have to fly to it, $0 or less to work your ass off? I’d rather give a dude a hand job in an alley and get the $25 cash then have to dedicate 8 weekends to that. Good thing those expenses aren’t legally relevant too, because these are slave wages that people who travel to judge are making. “So just don’t travel, Jeebus! Quit being a bitch!” Fine, I won’t travel. I’ll just judge the events in Boston (Sure I could drive to New York easily, but that’s a lot of gas and I’d have to pay for a hotel overnight) and bust my ass for two extremely long days to make $300. I mean, there’s no EV on these events if I actually have to travel, so I’ll just earn my rewards here in the greatest city in America.
Wait, how many open weekends are in each city per year, two? I’m just eight years away from getting that Elspeth for only 140% of what it’s worth!
Thank You, Star City
Thank you for showing your judges how much you care by creating this program. Thank you for making the points retroactive and publishing the lisst so we can see that almost none of the judges have actually earned anything after a full year of opens. Thank you giving me absolutely no reason to travel around the country working for you to earn this pittance. But most importantly, thank you for showing us all that, like most “financial experts”, Jon Medina can be bought. His orgasmic response to this program which he’s clearly smart enough to know is insulting and meaningless is proof that he has sold his soul and (theoretically) good name to laud the greatness of whatever worthless tripe comes out of SCG. What happened to you, man? You used to be cool.
At this point I can only assume that Star City Games is run by an evil sorceress, and the only way to disrupt her hypnotic spell on the rest of the Magic community is to bake the hall in the candle of her brain…whatever that means.