Monday, December 14, 2015

WER: Local Player List

The Local Player List is one of WER's most useful features for store-level events. For players, it means that they don't have to worry about remembering their DCI number from week to week to play in Friday Night Magic or the next Prerelease. For judges and organizers, it means that they don't have to fiddle around with numbers for players that they know well.

You probably use this feature whenever you're running an event in WER. It looks something like this:

It's pretty easy to use this list to enroll players in events:

  • Use the "Search" box at the top to filter the results if your list is particularly long. You can also filter the list with the All, Enrolled, Unenrolled, and Judges buttons. Unenrolled is the default.
  • Click the checkbox under "Select" next to the player(s) you want to enroll.
  • Click the green "Enroll Selected" button at the bottom.

Note that you can check multiple players at once, in which case clicking "Enroll Selected" will add all of them to the event, including checked players that are currently hidden from view in your search results. There's a convenient Selected Players count at the bottom of the screen to help you keep track of how many players you're enrolling. 

What are all those other buttons for, then? I'm glad you asked! We'll go from left to right.


This button is gray until you've selected at least one player from your Local Player List, then it turns blue. Clicking on it will add these players to the event, but it will add them in a brand-new "Pre-enrolled" tab on the active player list:

Players on this list aren't actually active in the event, and if you start the event with players on this list, they won't be paired for round one. However, if you double-click a name on this list, the player will be moved to the "Players" tab, which actually enrolls them in the event.

This feature is great if you take registration in advance of some of your events, like Prereleases or PPTQs. It's especially useful if you have a maximum number of players that can participate in that event because you can track how many people have expressed interest or paid their entry fee.

On the morning of the event, as players check in, you can quickly transfer them to the list of enrolled players. When the event starts, you'll also have a handy list of the players who preregistered and didn't show up that you can reference to process refunds or whatever other bookkeeping you need to do.


This button opens a small dialogue that you can use to add players to your Local Player List. It won't add that player to your active event, but after you've added them to the list, you can use their entry to enroll them.

Since you can only pre-enroll players from the Local Player List, you'll need to use this to pre-enroll a player who's never played at your location before. It's also useful for adding judges who have never played in your events.

You don't need to manually add a player to the Local Player List if you're enrolling them into an event; if they aren't already there, they'll be added automatically.

Set As Judge

This button is grayed out unless one or more players are selected from the list. Clicking it flags all of the players you've selected as judges, which makes their names and other information appear in bold.

Yep. That's it.

Anyone who's been entered as a judge for an event (or DMed for a sanctioned D&D group) will also appear in bold on your Local Player List.


Editing a player works the same way that adding one does:

Well, with one caveat: you won't be able to edit the player's DCI number. Since that's the unique identifier that WER uses for players, you'll have to create a new record to use a different DCI number for a player. You can use this form to unmark a player as a judge or DM or edit their name or country.

However — and this is a big however — these changes only take effect on your computer. If a player has an issue with their name, you can fix it for them for your events only. They'll need to contact Wizards Customer Service to change it permanently.

(You can also edit a player's name from the enrollment fields on the Players tab, and those changes will be reflected in your Local Player List. You can do it as a player is enrolling by typing into the fields before adding them to the event. If they've already enrolled, click their name in the player list. make the necessary changes, and click "Update.")


You can permanently delete a player's information from the list with this button, and by "permanently," I mean "until they play in another event."

Removing a record can be useful if you've had to switch DCI numbers for one of your regular players. By removing the old number, you won't have to worry about enrolling them with the wrong record.

Exporting and Importing the Local Player List

Yes, of course you can do this! And, of course, I recommend that you keep an export saved somewhere safe, like on Dropbox or a separate computer, just in case you need to switch enrollment to a new computer or if something Bad Thing happens to your existing one. Especially at the local level, players don't always know their DCI numbers, and losing this information can cost a lot of time and hassle.

Backing up this information uses the same export/import process that WER's other backups use.

The Import and Export buttons are at the top right of the Local Players List, off to the side of the search bar.


This is the easy part.

  • Click Export Players
  • Choose a destination. Dropbox or another shared folder is a good choice.
  • Give the file a unique name. I like using the computer and the date: [Store] Event Laptop — 12-12-15
  • Save

The list is exported as an .xml file, which you can open in Notepad, Excel or similar programs. You shouldn't need to, but if Something Weird happens, you can. Opening it in a plain text editor will give you a bunch of names and numbers and symbols that will be harder to parse than the resulting Excel view:

Naturally, your export will have actual DCI numbers in that column. I've omitted them, as always, to protect the innocent.

In a pinch, you can use this to look up DCI numbers for your local players. Even better, you can just import the entire list into WER.


Importing a Local Player List works very similarly to other WER imports, except it has one extra step.

  • Click Import Players
  • Navigate to the file you want to import, which is most likely your most recent backup
  • Click Open
  • Set column headers*
  • Click Import
The column headers step has tricked quite a few people. When you've selected the file you want to import, a box will pop up that looks like this:

You won't be able to scroll down. This isn't the list you're importing, it's just a preview of the file layout, which you'll use to assign headers to each column.

Don't just click import. You have to assign column headers first. Otherwise, Bad Things will happen.

If you're importing a player list that you exported from WER, the column headers should be in this order:

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Middle Initial
  4. DCI Number
  5. Country
  6. Is Judge

By "Bad Things," I mean that I've seen imports without file headers randomly flip first and last names and some other silly things that you really don't want to have to clean up later.

This import will add the players to your Local Players List. Players that already exist won't be duplicated, but you won't get any confirmation about the number of players that were added or skipped from the import.

I'll stop here because you should go back up your Local Player List.

No, really. You should. Trust me. I know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015 Mid-Atlantic Judge Conference: Teams and Leading Them by Ryan Stapleton

One thing you learn when you're scorekeeping and judging is that there are about a dozen different ways to do things, and none of them are wrong. From structuring folders for backups to devising a seating plan for on-demand events, there are a variety of effective, streamlined strategies, and some of them work better for different people.

Me? I like to use Dropbox more than I should because its ability to restore previous versions of files has saved me in the past. Your Grand Prix Head Judge? They might want end-of-round procedures managed by the floor team, or they might have a dedicated team for it.

Ryan Stapleton is a Level 3 Judge from Northern Virginia, and his seminar from the judge conference in September was all about Grand Prix teams. He covered a lot of information, including:

  • Common teams and the things they're responsible for
  • Variations on team structures
  • How these structures apply to smaller and larger events

Whether you're gearing up to judge your first Grand Prix or trying to decide how to organize the staff for your large local event, understanding the nuances of these different structures will provide some insight into tournament operations that you might find helpful.

Ryan started his seminar by asking a question: What teams are there?

Here are my notes on the answers and the discussion that followed, in mind map form:

(View larger in Google Docs)

But this mind map is just a start. It's a rough tree of concepts, things that need to be done at large events and just one of the ways that workload can be divided up.

Common Structure Variations

Understanding your team's role is only part of the picture: Understanding how that role contributes to a smooth event is also important, and to do that, you first need to figure out what all of the other teams are doing. We talked quite a bit about the different ways these tasks and responsibilities could be divided up at events.

Deck checks tends to always be its own team. Unless your event is small enough that you're not using formal teams, there's a dedicated group of judges handling decklists and performing deck checks. Beyond this point, things become *very* flexible.

For example, the breaks and floor teams are often combined, and end-of-round procedure is often assigned to one of those teams, or maybe to paper.

There are pros and cons to every choice. Let's look at the delegation of end-of-round (EOR) procedure. Judges responsible for this task get a list of outstanding matches from the scorekeeper near the end of each round, and they use that list to make sure that those matches are accounted for and have whatever assistance they need to finish the round.

Some Head Judges assign EOR duties to members of the paper team because it puts them near the stage when rounds turnover to get pairings and result slips out quickly. Other Head Judges choose a different team because they want the paper team to have time between rounds for team meetings or other small breaks. Instead, they'll assign EOR to the floor team.

Sometimes there's not a dedicated floor team, so these duties are assigned to logistics. This choice is particularly popular at constructed events, where the logistics team doesn't have as much on their plate as they would at a limited event.

And sometimes, EOR is its own team.

Just from this one example, it's easy to see that the responsibilities of judges can be delegated in a ginormous number of ways, all of which are effective at achieving different sets of goals. The short and long of this section basically boils down to this: different Head Judges have different expectations about team organization. And that's kind of awesome.

Smaller and Larger Events

How does all this apply to your local 1k that has five judges on staff? What about a massive Grand Prix that has more than 100?

Small Events

At smaller events, there may not be a schedule with formal teams and team leaders, but the structure is still there. Even if you're at a PPTQ with only one other judge, some of these organizational elements are still there.

Instead of having a paper, logistics, deck checks, and floor teams, these events are commonly divided into just two teams: deck checks and everything else. Alternately, individual judges are delegated specific tasks, and everyone reports to the Head Judge with no team leader. At very small events, like your locak GPTs and PPTQs that often only have a Head Judge, there's only one team: the Everything Team.

(And yes, it is possible to check 10 percent of decks *and* post pairings and distribute slips and answer calls and scorekeep all by yourself...but I don't recommend it.)

Large Events

Larger events have the opposite problem. Beyond a team leader and five or six team members, it becomes difficult to communicate and organize actions effectively. So, what do you do if you need 20 judges in order to meet the 10 percent goal on deck checks? Split deck checks into two or three teams, each with a team lead. Sometimes these team leads report to a Deck Check Overlord, and sometimes they report to the Head Judge directly.

At GPs, the rooms are often so large that single paper and floor teams will struggle to manage the entire tournament floor on their own. In this case, these teams may also be split and assigned specific areas.

Large events may also have a team that isn't present at all at small events, and that's coverage. The coverage team is responsible for relaying information to the commentators and other on-site event coverage guys. They also often table judge camera matches to relay game information for the stream.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ryan Stapleton.

Thoughts on Team Leading

We spent so much time discussing why it's important to be flexible about team structures and assignments, so we only had a few minutes at the end of Ryan's presentation to talk about team leading. But, even in that short time, there were a few excellent points.

Team leaders have some basic responsibilities. They have to make sure the tasks assigned to their team are accomplished. That's pretty basic. They should also be aware of where their team members are, what they're doing, and whether they've taken a break and consumed copious amounts of water.

But they also have another responsibility that often gets overlooked: they are, in many cases, the leading contributor to the overall event experience of the judges on their team. They direct tasks and provide guidance, but there's also more that they can do.

Making Things Interesting

These are some of the examples we came up with of ways team leaders can make an "ordinary" day of judging an engaging learning experience.
  • Meetings
  • Scenarios
  • Games
  • Team-building activities, like getting to know each other
  • Team breaks
Keep in mind that Head Judges are team leaders too.

Ryan's seminar was a great introduction to staff organization for large events, and he also provided some insight into being a memorable and effective team leader. What experiences have you had, with or as a team leader, that stand out?