Since my visit to Gen Con 2011 I was under the impression that "judges do not interfere unless asked" is a official FFG policy for tournaments. I recently had a email exchange with Damon about this and also about the topic of scouting. I have removed some text from the mails since some content is personal but I have taken care as to not alter the meaning of this dialogue. Some examples are coming from the Call of Cthulhu LCG.
How should I deal (if I should deal at all) with scouting? Even if players were removed from the gaming area after their matches are done scouting/information advantage is still possible. As a judge I get to see other people's deck. This would put me at an advantage if scouting otherwise was prohibited.
As a former player and now designer what do you think of the matter?
Second topic: How active should a judge be?
Let's say I have to judge the final so I have a good chance to spot most mistakes. Should I interfere? Should I remind people to draw a third card because they have Tragic celebrity in play?
Scouting is a matter of sportsmanship. Anyone seeking to gain or give an unfair advantage by inquiring or informing or otherwise attempting to observe another players game, without permission, is acting in an unsportsmanlike manner. This should be discouraged. It is completely up to the TO how unsportsmanlike conduct should be handled, a verbal admonishment may be enough to discourage players. I would inform all players before the start of the game that scouting is viewed as unsportsmanlike behavior and everyone is highly discouraged from giving any unfair advantage to another player by discussing deck design of any deck other than your own with out players. People are welcome to watch others play if they have finished their game early, but only if they get approval first from both players (in other words it takes two yeses or one one no).
IF anyone is found to be scouting after that I would give them a single verbal warning. After that I would either deduct points from their standing or eliminate them from the game depending on the severity. Any player eliminated from a game should have all the games they had one turned into wins as a "bye" for the opponent who played them.
As a judge and a player in a tournament you should not look at any decklists. Decklists are there for calculating statistics after a tournament or to be referenced in case their is an accusation of cheating based on cards in the deck (too few cards in the deck, too many instances of a card in a deck, multiple restricted cards in the deck, or it contains one or more banned cards). If such an accusation arises and deck check must be done, you have a choice, have the owner of the venue that you are at check the decklist to the deck. If he or she is unable or unwilling then you will have to do it and if the deck is not in violation then you can either let them examine your deck if you end up facing them or take a loss against them if you face them.
Obviously we want as many people as possible to play in our regionals, but in the end if you are judging that needs to be your priority.
In regards to how active a jude should be they should enforce any and all rules of the game they observe. Players cannot choose to not resolve a Forced Response that the game has triggered. Actions, Responses, and Disrupts must be played within the correct window and resolve in the correct order. Players must draw cards or discard cards in the proper amounts, etc. etc. IF you are observing any round and someone violates the rules in any manner and their opponent does not call them on it, you, as the judge, must enforce the rules. But if you miss it and the other players have missed it you cannot force them to roll back time unless no other player actions have been taken, or if both players agree that the effect is one which can easily be resolved now (in the case of Bay of Ice I would have had you draw a card and knelt the Bay, that you didn't have the card in hand a step or action or two earlier is the "penalty" for having not been aware of the playstate).
In short if you notice a rules violation as a judge you should enforce it. If you don't, you just don't. Then you and the players must determine what is the most fair way of preceding from there.
Thank you very much for your elaborate answer. Is it okay for you if I post it in the forums as an official answer on the topics?
These are not "official" the official stance is for each TO to run the tournament in a fashion that fits their group. This is my personal stance and this is officially how I will be running and ruling the tournaments I am TO for. Other TO's may choose to follow this format if they choose.
Damon was alright with publishing this as his personal stance.