Level One Advancement and Maintenance

Historical Article

This article was written during the time between when Judge Foundry was announced and when we launched. While we’re keeping it live (for transparency and historical purposes, as well as to elucidate our philosophy), some of our policies and requirements might have changed. For the most current version of the process to advance to and maintain Level One, see this page.

As we continue to introduce the new certifications for Judge Foundry, we’re presenting here the path to L1. As with everything we’re sharing, we’re looking for your feedback on our plans before we go live. If you have feedback, share it on JudgeApps or Reddit, tell us on Facebook or Twitter, or send us an email

Caleb performs a deck check at the 2023 Hunter Burton Memorial Open. Photo © John Brian McCarthy
Caleb performs a deck check at the 2023 Hunter Burton Memorial Open. Photo © John Brian McCarthy


Level One Judges primarily run events at local game stores (LGS) or casual events outside of stores, and may occasionally attend a large event that’s close to them. They understand the fundamental rules of the game, help casual players at their store learn more about how the game works, and can resolve common issues. L1s are capable of serving as a Head Judge for events where the primary focus is on fun, and not on high stakes. An L1 should start looking towards L2 when they begin judging at competitive events, or attend large events. 


Candidates seeking advancement for a new level need to show their skills, as well as work with a mentor and complete the appropriate exams. For L1, each of these tasks is fairly simple: a new judge candidate should be able to achieve each task at their local game store in a couple of events. With the exception of the exam as the final step, these requirements don’t need to be finished in order, but they are presented in a rough order in which a candidate might commonly experience them. 

To be certified for Level One, a candidate must complete the following requirements:

1. Receive an endorsement of an event organizer, or L3+ Judge

A candidate needs an endorsement from a local game store. This doesn’t need to be complicated, it’s a nod that the future judge has a place where they are welcome and part of the community. They can also be endorsed by a larger organizer, or Level Three or higher judge.

2. Run at least one draft

3. Run at least one sealed or constructed event

4. Give opening announcements and round announcements at an event

A candidate needs some experience running events, and both drafts and other events are important to experience. They don’t need to be the head judge or organizer, but should be involved in getting players started playing, and making some announcements. The candidate is welcome to play in these events as well.

5. Receive an endorsement review from an L2+ Judge including at a minimum the following evaluated items:

  • Confidence and lack of major stress or distress giving a ruling
  • Understanding of Casual Play Philosophy
  • Understanding of JAR Serious Problems
  • Ability to create a plan for product distribution for a prerelease
  • Ability to recognize potential advantage when something goes wrong in a game
  • Mature behavior consistent with Judge Foundry values

The candidate finds an L2+ mentor to certify them, who observes them taking some judge calls, and talks about some philosophy for casual play. They should understand that casual play is all about fun and education, as well as what cheating might look like. A new Level One Judge working with a local game store might also be asked to work with Eventlink scorekeeping software, or help set up a prerelease, so these topics should be covered as well. Finally, the mentor writes a short endorsement review, briefly touching on these topics, and the candidate’s maturity. 

6. Become a member of Judge Foundry

To take an exam, a candidate must be a member of the organization.

7. Pass the Level 1 Exam with a score of 70 or better

After passing the exam, and the L2 mentor submitting the endorsement review, the candidate becomes a Level One Judge.

Ian watches a match at the 2023 Hunter Burton Memorial Open. Photo © John Brian McCarthy
Ian watches a match at the 2023 Hunter Burton Memorial Open. Photo © John Brian McCarthy


Once a judge has achieved Level One, judges complete annual maintenance to ensure our quality promise to Tournament Organizers and players. 

To maintain the Level One certification, a judge must complete the following items each year:

1. Pass the annual L1 rules refresh exam

A short refresh exam ensures continued judge quality. Level One Judges should keep up to date with new mechanics, and major changes to the game rules.

2. Choose one —

  • Work at least three events
  • Play in at least six events, and work at least one event.
  • Write or receive a short review about their involvement in events or the judging community

A choice appears! Judges need to remain part of the community, by playing and judging in events. The option to write a review, or work with a mentor on a review is included, as some highly involved L1s might find enumerating events more difficult than getting a review from a peer.

3. Maintain membership in Judge Foundry by being up-to-date on their membership dues


Judge Foundry views L1 as an indication to an organizer that the judge has certain skills and knowledge. The skills section re-frames the certification requirements in a way that organizers can understand what skills a judge will bring to an event. 

As a certified Level One Judge, a judge demonstrates the following proficiencies:

  1. Knowledge
    • Passed the L1 exam, which covers the rules and handling common casual play scenarios
    • Understanding of casual play philosophy
    • Understanding of policy priorities in casual play
    • Understanding of Serious Problems
  2. Event Skills
    • Basic understanding of running events in Eventlink
    • Ability to run a draft on their own
    • Ability to run a sealed or constructed event on their own
    • Ability to identify areas for potential advantage or cheating in judge calls
  3. Leadership Skills
    • Involvement in their local community
    • Engagement with a Level Two mentor and understanding of the mentorship process
    • Able to command the attention of players at a casual event
  4. Personal Skills
    • Ability to positively engage with players and create a welcoming environment
    • Ability to give rulings with confidence and without major stress or distress
    • Mature behavior consistent with Judge Foundry values


Judge levels each carry several benefits to the holder of the certification. Level One Judges are valued members of the Judge Foundry community, who get to contribute to the community through judge work, and may voice their opinions in leadership elections. 

Certified Level One Judges receive the following privileges as members of Judge Foundry:

  1. Use of title Level One Judge or Judge Foundry Level One
  2. Access to private Judge Foundry resources, forums, and chats
  3. Right to vote in Judge Foundry leadership elections