How did FNM promos lead to Jimmie Johnson co-founding a popular game store? The Store Spotlight shines on Across the Board Games in Mount Airy, NC!
Mr. Johnson ran events even before the store opened. In 2010 he founded a Magic: The Gathering club he describes as “Nothing formal at the time, just enough to get FNM promo cards.” After Wizards of the Coast discontinued the club program, Mr. Johnson and Edison Floyd pooled their savings and co-founded Across the Board Games, opening in April 2011 “primarily as a Magic store.” Since then they’ve added other games, including miniatures, RPGs, TCGs, and board games, but as Mr. Johnson puts it, “Magic has been here since day one.”
Once Across the Board Games was open, Mr. Johnson felt another pull, toward judging. Though becoming a judge would let him give his players “the final word” during events, he said, “I was in school as well at the time and did not feel I had the time needed to devote to judging, my store and my family.”
Once his schedule had cleared up, he had more time to study. “I read as much of the rules, Infraction Procedure Guide, and Tournament Rules as I could. I [also] took practice tests online.” When he was ready, Mr. Johnson worked at an SCG Open in Charlotte as a Level 0, shadowing a more experienced judge, and passed his Level 1 test during the weekend.
Becoming a certified judge had immediate benefits for Mr. Johnson and his store. While he cannot be head judge of a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier yet—that requires a Level 2—his experiences with the judge community have been invaluable, giving him insight into what it takes to run a major event and how the principles apply to his in-store tournaments.
There are more perks: “Other than not having to find judges for IQs and other events that require L1s, our players like to run competitive events to practice for Opens, Invitationals, GPs, etc. It’s also very helpful to be able to answer most questions that customers have.”
Mr. Johnson’s advice to tournament organizers thinking about becoming judges: “Just do it. If you need a deeper rules understanding, you will gain that. It adds a level of credibility to your store as well. Would you rather play in a store with a judge or one with a judge?”
“I would urge all TOs to at least get to know your local judges. Realize how much work they do when at events and what they do just to run FNM or IQs smoothly. There is a deep and welcoming community in the judge program that can benefit anyone that puts in the time and effort to get to know these great people.”