Level Four

This page will be kept up to date with the definition of a Level Four Judge. To read about the philosophy of Level Four as of Judge Foundry’s launch, check out this blog post.


A Level Four Judge is an expert in tournament policy with experience head-judging events of 150+ players and small teams of judges. L4s are also comfortable leading a large team, like a 5-judge team at a Regional Championship. Not only are L4s comfortable with all of the tasks expected of a floor judge at a large event, they are experts with at least one team and can lead any team while training L2s and L3s on how to do those tasks. L4s are strong communicators and mentors. They train L2s to become L3s and mentor L3s to become L4s. In their local community, an L4 identifies judges who should be advancing, works one-on-one with judges, and encourages mentorship and collaboration within the entire community. An L4 should start looking towards L5 when they find themselves very comfortable in all of the L4 roles, mentoring multiple other judges towards L4, and are highly involved in the regional and national community.


To be promoted to Level Four, a candidate must complete the following requirements. Unlike the processes for Levels 1-3, these requirements occur in a prescribed order.

Experience as an L3

These requirements may be completed in any order.

  1. Work Events as a Level Three Judge
    1. Work at least six multi-day events
    2. Lead a team that is assigned each of these tasks at least once
      1. Pairings
      2. End of Round
      3. Deck Checks
      4. Scheduled Events
      5. On-demand Events
    3. Lead a team with 3 or more judges reporting to them at least 3 times
    4. Serve as head judge for a headlining event at a multi-day event
    5. Work at a competitive event with at least 20 other judges
  2. Write at least three reviews in the previous year, as an L3
    1. Must be from events that the candidate and the other judge both worked
    2. Must include at least one review of an L4+ judge
    3. Must include at least one review from a multi-day event
    4. Each review must contain detailed and actionable feedback.

Recommendation Review

After completing at least those requirements, candidates for L4 have two routes to advancement. 

  1. The candidate can work with an L5 mentor until that mentor is comfortable with their assessment that the candidate is ready for L4. Then the L5 writes a detailed review of the candidate, explaining how the candidate meets the requirements for L4. The review will be assessed by an approved L4 panel lead, who may advance them to the L4 panel process, or return the review to the L5 with feedback.
  2. The candidate can submit a self-review indicating their preparedness for L4 according to the following requirements. The review will be assessed by an approved L4 panel lead, who may advance them to the L4 panel process, or return the application with feedback for the candidate.

Exam and Practical

After being approved for the L4 panel process:

  • The candidate may take the Advanced Rules/Policy exam. They must complete the exam with a score of 70% or higher before a panel can occur.
  • The Advanced Testing Manager will choose an L5 approved to lead L4 panels as the panel lead. The panel lead and testing manager then choose at least one additional panelist. 

The assigned panel lead may request that the candidate complete a L4 practical assessment. The assessment happens at a multi-day event where an evaluator and the candidate are both on staff. The evaluator observes the candidate’s proficiencies, leadership, and success at the event and writes a review, assessing the candidate. The evaluator provides the review to the panel lead. 

The review should cover a broad range of skills expected from a Level Four Judge, including, but not limited to:

  1. Pre-event communication
  2. Preparation for team or head judge tasks
  3. Communication with other judges, leads, and head judges
  4. Success at team tasks
  5. Mentorship

Evaluators are strongly encouraged to include any assessment or feedback relevant to the L4 skillset. 

Panel Interview

The Testing Manager, candidate, panel lead and panelists will coordinate an appropriate time and venue for the panel. In-person panels are highly recommended, but online panels may be considered in circumstances where an in-person panel would be extremely difficult to schedule. 

The panel is a group interview where the panel asks questions of the candidate to assess them in each quality. The questions will vary, depending on the candidate’s known strengths and weaknesses. 

The panel lead will assess the candidate in each of the 4 quality categories, including each subcategory. 

Each category will be evaluated and assessed on this scale.

  1. Exceeds Expectations
  2. Meets Expectations
  3. Area for Improvement
  4. Deficient

Candidates who are evaluated by the panel lead during the panel to meet expectations in a majority of categories, with no deficiencies, are promoted to Level Four at the panel.

L4 panels are additionally regulated by the Level Four Panel and Testing Guide, maintained by existing L4s and L5s. Portions of the requirements are included here as examples. Generally, the L4 process is designed to assess whether the candidate: 

  1. Is capable and comfortable head-judging a competitive event with 150+ players and small teams of judges.
  2. Is capable and comfortable team-leading a team with 5 judges at a multi-day event
  3. Is an expert in the logistics and philosophy of at least one team’s tasks, and capable and comfortable with each other team’s tasks
  4. Is capable and comfortable mentoring judges to become L3
  5. Has strong personal skills that enable head-judging, team-leading, mentorship, and participation in the community

Level Four Judge Qualities

This is a brief description of how an L4 candidate might be evaluated on each quality. This is not exhaustive, but serves to give examples of how candidates might be evaluated and what general expectations are. This section replaces the Skills section from the other levels, as it also describes in detail what skills L4s are evaluated to have.

  • Game Knowledge
    • Rules 
      • Tested by the Advanced Rules/Policy Exam
      • With the exception of sections 801-809 and 811, the entire Comprehensive Rules may be included on this exam. Candidates should have a clear understanding of the rules of the game and be able to articulate its building blocks from memory
    • Tournament Policy Application
      • Tested by the Advanced Rules/Policy Exam
      • The entire IPG, MTR, and JAR may be included on this exam. Candidates should be able to answer questions about infractions, penalties and remedies from memory, including application to situations not directly described in examples, and to select the most applicable of each for described situations
      • Knowledge of the Digital MTR or other community supplemental tournament policy will not be tested
    • Tournament Policy Philosophy
      • The candidate must show strong understanding of the underlying philosophies that inform the MTR, IPG and JAR 
      • The candidate must show some ability to articulate how these philosophies are applied, and how they result in the written policy
      • A deficient candidate applies policy or its philosophy incorrectly, and may not understand the appropriate times to deviate from policy, or why not deviating is important
  • Event Skills
    • Tournament Operations Proficiency
      • The candidate shows good knowledge of each team and task utilized at large tournaments
      • The candidate shows knowledge of product distribution logistics, and limited procedures
      • A deficient candidate might not understand how one or more teams work, like forgetting that the paper team should make sure that pairings boards are in place before the tournament starts
    • Tournament Operations Philosophy
      • The candidate shows good knowledge of tournament philosophy, and the ability to balance results with the time cost involved
      • A deficient candidate cannot provide alternative solutions for problems that might occur at a tournament
    • Investigations
      • The candidate can identify instances for potential cheating, and doesn’t overlook them in judge calls
      • The candidate can explain the difference between opportunistic and premeditated cheating
      • The candidate can make a plan for talking to a player during a cheating investigation, operate that plan, and adjust based on new information
      • A deficient candidate may overlook the potential for advantage in an infraction or may make decisions based on “gut feel” rather than evidence
  • Leadership Skills
    • Team and Event Coordination
      • The candidate communicates appropriately with head judges, team leads, and other judges in preparation for and at events
      • The candidate coordinates team tasks with their team and with other teams
      • A deficient candidate may isolate themselves as a team lead, have difficulty communicating with other leads, be unable to delegate tasks, or unable to teach tasks
      • A deficient candidate may also be unable to manage a team while maintaining team morale and mentorship
    • Mentorship
      • The candidate is capable of mentoring judges to achieve Level Three, including performing L3 interviews
      • The candidate understands the definitions of L1, L2, and L3, and is able to appropriately evaluate judges based on those definitions
      • A deficient candidate may be unable to identify any meaningful weaknesses in their peers, or unable to provide critical feedback
      • A deficient candidate might not understand the requirements for L3, and might not be able to appropriately fail a candidate’s L3 interview if the candidate isn’t prepared
  • Personal Skills
    • Conflict Management
      • The candidate is capable of handling conflict, both involving themselves and between other judges
      • A deficient candidate may concede their position to their own detriment to avoid conflict or be unprepared to deal with a conflict between players
    • Diplomacy
      • A strong candidate is mature, trustworthy, amiable and well respected by their peers
      • A deficient candidate may have trouble working with others, or often fail to maintain decorum, diplomacy, and tact, either in person or in an online setting
      • A deficient candidate may have accumulated a trail of other judges who don’t like working with them, and is unable to resolve any of the issues
    • Self-Evaluation
      • The candidate understands their strengths and weaknesses, and works towards growing in places in which they aren’t proficient
      • A deficient candidate’s self-reflection lacks accuracy or depth, and the candidate may not put effort into actively improving where they are struggling
    • Maturity
      • The candidate is understanding of others, punctual, and understands and embodies professionalism
      • A deficient candidate may be often regarded as negative, tardy, irritating, difficult to work with, and might favor complaining about a problem over and over rather than trying to find a solution
    • Stress Management
      • The candidate is capable of dealing with stress, and understands how they operate in a stressful environment
      • A deficient candidate may fold under pressure, or actively avoid stressful situations to their own detriment
    • Teamwork
      • The candidate works well with a team, and knows their place within leadership structures as they change event-to event.
      • An excellent candidate thrives as a team member, bringing up the morale and teamwork of the entire team, while making their lead look good
      • A deficient candidate might have trouble taking directions, or trying new things that a lead asks them to do. They might also attempt to take over from an inexperienced lead instead of letting them grow


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

  1. Choose one
    • Pass three advanced set update quizzes since the previous maintenance period
    • Pass an Advanced Rules Practice and Advanced Policy Practice test
  2. Choose three —
    • Lead a total of 20 judges as a Team Lead at events
    • Head-judge an event with at least five judges
    • Work at least six multi-day events
    • Serve on one or more L4 advancement panels
    • Lead a core project
    • Create educational content (ex: article, conference presentation, video, etc.), subject to approval
  3. Choose one —
    • Write a self review
    • Receive an in-depth review, covering multiple events, from an L5
  4. Maintain membership in Judge Foundry by being up-to-date on their membership dues


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

  1. Use of title Level Four Judge or Judge Foundry Level Four
  2. Access to private Judge Foundry L4 resources, forums, and chats
  3. Ability to participate in Judge Foundry projects restricted to L4+
  4. Voting in Judge Foundry leadership elections
  5. Right to run for a election to the Judge Foundry Board
  6. Access to Advanced Update Quizzes
  7. Ability to certify judges
  8. Ability to serve on panels
  9. Ability to promote judges to Levels Two and Three


3/24: Updated update quiz requirement from “three out of four” to “three” (Philosophy)