Judge Foundry Launches

Brook and Sierra identify a starting table at MTG Summit in 2023. Photo © John Brian McCarthy
Brook and Sierra identify a starting table at MTG Summit in 2023. Photo © John Brian McCarthy

A month and a half ago, we announced Judge Foundry, a mentorship-based certification program for tournament officials in the United States and Canada. We’ve spent the time since that announcement sharing our plans for a new level system, the qualities our members will embody, a plan for electing new leadership, and more about our structure and goals. We’ve done all this so that judges, tournament organizers, players, and publishers could provide feedback and evaluate how Judge Foundry could help their events succeed. While we were talking about our plans, we were also working behind the scenes on the technical, legal, certification and financial infrastructure that needed to be in place before we could begin welcoming members.

Today, the wait is over: Judges in the United States and Canada can head to JudgeApps right now and register as members of Judge Foundry.

Judge Foundry members will be immediately assigned the level they most recently held with Judge Academy. If that level is inaccurate in JudgeApps, please visit this page and the JudgeApps team will get it fixed for you. If your level lapsed during the Judge Academy era, there’s an accelerated process to get you back to your old level and back out on the floor quickly. If you’re interested in being promoted quickly in keeping with our new level definitions, applications for checklist-based automatic promotion to Level Four and Level Five are open right now, with the first promotions happening two days, and expedited promotions will be opening as well so we can quickly promote enough L4s and L5s to make the first class of new L3s.

David and Abe discuss a scenario at MTG Summit in 2023. Photo © John Brian McCarthy
David and Abe discuss a scenario at MTG Summit in 2023. Photo © John Brian McCarthy


The Level One, Level Two, and Level Three tests are ready to go! We presently have enough questions for two attempts at the Level One exam and one attempt at each Level Two exam and the Level Three Exam (with the expectation that we’ll have enough for a second attempt before anyone’s cooldown on the first expires). These are all brand-new questions, fully owned by Judge Foundry – we’re extremely grateful to our volunteers for working so hard to create this exam content in time for launch!

Level Two and Three Judges – please review this guide on how to create an exam for a candidate before creating one.

We expect that we’ll have the Advanced Rules and Policy Exam ready by the end of 2023. It will be a little while before anyone is ready to advance to Level Four outside of the Automatic or Expedited processes, so we’ll be monitoring candidates progress through their checklists and don’t anticipate this being a bottleneck for anyone.


The JudgeApps developers have completed a series of upgrades to make JudgeApps our new home, and there’s more on the way!

Very soon, we’ll be leaving our temporary website here to move to our new site on WordPress. We set up on Squarespace to introduce you to Judge Foundry like we were moving into a hotel while redoing our kitchen, but at this point, we’ve had all the continental breakfast muffins we can eat and are excited to be back home! When we move, all the links to our articles should still work, and will send you to their new location.

Elaine and Tobi observe build at MTG Summit in 2023. Photo © John Brian McCarthy
Elaine and Tobi observe build at MTG Summit in 2023. Photo © John Brian McCarthy

What’s Next

The launch of Judge Foundry marks the beginning of the end of this interregnum for judges, but there’s still much more to do. Judges in the United States and Canada now have an organization for certification and training, and we are excited to see similar efforts taking place around the world. We look forward to working together with organizations like Suomen Magic-Tuomarit ry for judges in Finland, Jueces MTG México for judges in Mexico, International Judge Program for judges in Europe, and supporting other regional efforts like those we’ve heard coming together in Australia and New Zealand, Korea, Brazil, China, Great Britain, and elsewhere.

This is the era of the regional, member-driven judge program, when instead of one judge program that tries to govern the whole world monolithically, we get the advantages of many programs, each designed to work with their regions’ judge culture and organized play environment, and each accountable to and governed by the judges of that region. We expect that it will mean new challenges alongside new opportunities, and look forward to working with tournament organizers and publishers to craft experiences for players and judges that make tabletop tournaments the best they’ve ever been.

Today also marks the end of Judge Foundry’s exploratory committee, since we’ve finished exploring and filled in the map. Going forward, we’ll be referring to ourselves as the Board of Directors, both because this is an accurate legal designator and because it represents our role, directing the organization on behalf of the members. Our terms will end, as we promised when we started, on October 1, 2024, when the new board elected by the members takes over. 

Expect to keep hearing from us regularly as we build out Judge Foundry – there’s still so much more to do, including launching merchandise, additional operations certifications, and more. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, join our Discord, comment on JudgeApps and Reddit, or email us. And, if you’ve just finished reading the article and haven’t done so yet, you can join Judge Foundry today by heading to JudgeApps and paying your first month’s dues.

Thank you for all your support in making Judge Foundry a reality. We’re looking forward to what we can accomplish together, we’re proud of what we’ve done, and we look forward to what’s next.